Do Colleges Care About AP Scores?  (2023)

In 2022, 3.95k students registered for over 770k AP Exams. Student registrations keep increasing every year.

Why would so many students undergo rigorous study and tough AP tests if colleges didn’t consider AP scores.

So my dear friend, YES, colleges do care about AP scores. Let’s read through to know how much colleges prefer AP scores.

Table of Contents hide

Do Colleges look at AP Exam Scores?

How much does an AP Score matter in College Admission?

What If You Score High

(Video) What happens if I fail my AP exam? // The TRUTH about scoring a 1 or 2 on AP tests!

What If You Score Low

What Does Test Flexible College Consider

Do AP Courses Make Any Difference?

AP Scholar or Not: What’s the Difference

Is AP Compulsory to Get into a College?

More Resources


Bottom Line

(Video) What's a Good AP® Score?

Do Colleges look at AP Exam Scores?

The answer to this pivotal question is yes. While applying for colleges, some colleges ask for AP scores in the application form, some do not.

You do not need to submit an official report while applying, but you need to self-report it in your application form. Now, this is obvious; if it is in the form, the admission committee WILL take a look.

The admission committee finds the best student considering the good GPA and AP scores mentioned in the student’s application form.

How much does an AP Score matter in College Admission?

AP score does matter in college admission because of the manifold benefits of AP courses. But this is not the ultimatum to enter a college.

How the AP score matters during admission varies depending on a few factors. Such as;

What If You Score High

It is for sure that a high AP score will add value to your application.

Even though there are other essential matters that your chosen college or university considers, such as test scores and transcripts, AP can put you at an advantage compared to other brilliant students.

To earn college credit through AP, you need to score high, i.e., a perfect 5. (Some colleges prefer 4 or 3.)

But the score must be consistent. A couple of 5s will win no great impression from the admission counsel. A string of 5s is required to work in your favor.

What If You Score Low

If you score low on an AP test, you should not report it to the colleges. As the AP score is not a critical aspect of the process, you can choose not to disclose your score.

Moreover, if you choose to report your AP test score as your standardized test score, you can pay some extra to withhold the scores. You can withhold the scores when you do not want the college to see them.

In that case, one must submit the official scorecard instead of self-reporting.

What Does Test Flexible College Consider

AP scores become crucial for test-flexible colleges. If you want to enroll in a college that allows reporting any standardized test (SAT /ACT/AP test), your AP score becomes an important factor.

(Video) Should You Send Your AP Scores to Colleges?

Such test-flexible colleges pay attention to the AP scores. And a consistent 5s in the scorecard seems quite appealing.

Universities such as NYU and the University of Rochester give privileges to AP scores to meet their requirement of the standardized testing score for admission.

Remember, as you submit the scores as standardized scores, you need to cite the official report card.

Do AP Courses Make Any Difference?

AP score is not an essential factor for admission to college. But AP courses are necessary. There are many benefits of AP courses as it makes a difference in students’ transcript.

Here are a few advantages of AP courses.

  • You need good grades if you want to get into a well-renowned college or university. And for good grades, you need a good GPA. AP courses boost GPA.
  • As the course structure and difficulty level of AP courses are equivalent to preparatory college courses, many colleges give credits. In short, AP courses help to earn college credits. It is undoubtedly an advantage for any student when being admitted to a college.
  • One of the excellent benefits of taking an advanced placement course is it is internationally accepted. Colleges in Canada and the United Kingdom also give importance to the credentials of AP courses.
  • As AP subjects involve rigorous study, it proves your prowess in the subject matter.
  • Many need to learn that AP can help them to win scholarships. As AP boosts your GPA, you can win scholarships for a good GPA.

AP Scholar or Not: What’s the Difference

AP Scholar or not makes no such difference while getting admission to the college. But there are a few advantages you can get being an AP scholar.

You can win rewards if you attain certain scores through the AP Scholar program. Such as, if you got 3+ on three exams, you can win an AP Scholar award and a National AP Scholar award if you got 4+ on eight or more AP exams.

You can get into the AP International Diploma Course, which similarly awards a diploma after fulfilling specific requirements.

All of these rewards are reported to the college when one applies to the school for admission. The international diploma program is helpful for those who want to study aboard.

Is AP Compulsory to Get into a College?

Now that you have come this far, you must wonder whether AP is compulsory to get into a college. The answer to the question is no. It is not.

Colleges prefer a standardized test; for example, few colleges prefer IB or Honors courses. It is a fact that AP courses are not easy and it is only fit for some.

In that case, you can prepare for other tests after doing some research and ace them.

More Resources

AP Classes Benefits: Things You Need to Know for a Bright FutureDisadvantages of AP Classes: Are They Worth It?
Can You Get into College without AP?Where to Take AP Exams outside of School?


How much do colleges care about AP scores?

When it comes to finding out the best students from the pile of application forms for admission, the college council gives preference to students who self-report their AP results. A test score of AP makes them superior in competition with others.

Will colleges see my AP scores?

(Video) Does UCLA care about AP scores?

Colleges will see your AP score for sure. If it is mentioned in the application form and the college considers it a standardized test, they will look at AP scores to find out the best applicants.

Can I choose which AP scores I send to colleges?

You can choose AP scores before sending them to any college, university, or scholarship program. If you want to avoid the college seeing a particular test score, you can withhold it by paying extra costs.

Do colleges care about senior year AP scores?

AP score is not a crucial factor for your admittance to college. It can strengthen your application, but it cannot affect the process in any other way.

What do colleges look for in high school students?

There are a few factors that colleges look for in a high school student. These factors are grades, performance in college prep courses, test scores, and extracurricular activities.

Do Colleges Care About AP Scores? (1)

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Bottom Line

AP courses are not prerequisites for college admission. But it has many advantages.

(Video) Do colleges look at bad AP scores?

And for the benefits, it can boost your chances of getting into your dream college. You can skip some prerequisite courses of college with your high AP scores.

As you can see, there are many opportunities you can pick due to Advance Placement classes. You can choose one for yourself to make your future brighter!


Do colleges really care about AP Exam scores? ›

Yes! It's important to remember that AP scores are not only part of the college admissions process; they can also be valuable once you get to college. Policies vary quite widely in terms of which colleges grant credit for which tests.

How much do colleges care about AP Exam scores? ›

While your AP scores won't affect your college admission chances, many schools may still request (or even require) that you submit the information once you receive your results.

What happens if you don't answer all the questions on an AP Exam? ›

Total scores on the multiple-choice section are based on the number of questions answered correctly. Points are not deducted for incorrect answers and no points are awarded for unanswered questions.

Does getting 5s on AP exams help with college admissions? ›

Submitting strong AP scores can also emphasize your academic strengths to a college—for example, a pre-med applicant who submits 4s or 5s in AP Chem and AP Bio is showing that they're prepared for the rigorous science classes their major will require.

Should I report low AP scores? ›

You don't need to send or self-report anything lower than a 3. Those 3s probably won't hurt you, and your 4s and 5s could help you because some schools do use AP scores to help as they evaluate your application. AP scores can supplement and boost grades and your other test scores that might not be as strong.

Is it better to take an AP test and fail or not take it? ›

The most substantial consequence to failing an AP exam is that you will not receive college credit for the course. However, many colleges do not even offer credit for AP courses. So, you may not be missing out on an opportunity at all. Either way, you shouldn't look at this as a scary consequence.

What is a 70% on the AP exam? ›

Usually, a 70 to 75 percent out of 100 translates to a 5. However, there are some exams that are exceptions to this rule of thumb. The AP Grades that are reported to students, high schools, colleges, and universities in July are on AP's five-point scale: 5: Extremely well qualified.

Should I report a 4 on an AP exam to Ivy League? ›

In terms of Ivy League and Top 20 schools, even a 4 is a relatively low score to earn on an AP exam. It is routine for Ivy League admissions officers to review applications from students who have scored 5s on multiple AP tests.

Should I submit 4s on APs? ›

For these reasons, an AP® score like a 4 looks great on your application. If you score a 3 or higher, then more selective colleges will begin to accept your AP® exam scores. The score of 4 is deemed by the College Board as “well qualified”, meaning that you know the material and could do well in the college class.

Do colleges care if you don't pass an AP Exam? ›

It's not a big deal. The majority of colleges don't require that you submit AP exam scores, and you can simply not submit that low score. Some high schools might automatically send out AP exam scores as part of a transcript, however.

Do colleges care if you fail an AP test? ›

AP scores have very, very little impact on college admissions, especially if the exam has nothing to do with your major. If you don't report, they probably won't really notice. They can't assume you failed, as maybe you never took the exam in the first place. They care more about your grade in the class.

Do colleges care if you don't take an AP Exam? ›

Perhaps the test was too expensive, or they couldn't make the exam date. It could also be because none of their potential colleges accept AP credits. Either way, colleges will not look down on you for abstaining from taking the exam.

Do colleges prefer AP or honors? ›

Colleges like them both. Both honors and AP courses are rigorous courses that most high schools weight more heavily on your transcript. AP courses, however, culminate in the AP Exam. Good AP scores show colleges you are ready to succeed at college-level work and can even earn you college credits.

Can I get into Harvard with 5 APS? ›

Harvard does accept AP Credit for classes in which a student earned a 5 on the AP Exam. These credits are accepted under a program called “Advanced Standing.” To qualify, students must earn a 5 on a minimum of 4 AP tests, transferring a total of 32 credits.

Does Harvard accept 4 on AP? ›

Harvard only accepts AP® scores of 5 for course credit. If you have 4 scores of 5, you can opt to obtain Advanced Standing. You can use AP® credits to opt-out of lower-level classes. Harvard has general academic requirements that all students must take.

Can you hide bad AP scores? ›

You can request that the AP Program withhold one or more AP Exam scores from any college, university, or scholarship program that you chose as a score recipient. The score will be withheld from any future score reports sent to that college, university, or scholarship program.

Should I submit a bad AP score? ›

If you find yourself in a position where you did not do well on the AP Test, you do not need to report that score. Your grade in your class will matter more to the college than the AP Test anyway. Therefore, if you got less than a 3, or do not feel good about that 3, then we don't recommend you send it.

Should I send an AP score of 1? ›

Sending your AP exam score to colleges is optional.

If your exam score is eligible for credit, self-report it on the college application and send the official report through the CollegeBoard. Never report or send an exam score of a 1 or 2. They are not considered “passing” scores.

What is the most failed AP exam? ›

The most failed AP exams are Physics 1 (failed by 48.4% of all students), Environmental Science (failed by 46.6% of all students), and Chemistry (failed by 43.9% of all students). For a full chart of the hardest AP exams (those with the lowest passing rate), check out this site.

Do senior AP scores matter? ›

Senior APs do count. Colleges look at your senior courses to see that youre still taking challenging courses and your grades in your midyear report.

Is it bad to get A 1 or 2 on AP exam? ›

The findings show that AP students who earn scores of 1 and 2 have significantly stronger college outcomes than college students who did not take an AP course and exam. AP students may be more likely to attend college and succeed for many reasons in addition to their AP coursework.

What is the hardest AP class? ›

The Three Hardest AP Classes
  1. AP Physics 1. Despite a reputation as one of the most difficult AP classes, Physics 1 is also one of the most popular—144,526 students took it in 2022. ...
  2. AP U.S. History. AP U.S. History is one of the hardest AP classes in the humanities and in general. ...
  3. AP United States Government and Politics.
Feb 9, 2023

How much do AP classes boost your GPA? ›

While honors courses usually add 0.5 points to your GPA, AP classes often add 1 point. In other words, a 3.5 GPA would be boosted to a 4.0 in an honors class and a 4.5 in an AP class.

What is a 2 on an AP Exam equivalent to? ›

Possibly qualified

Do 4s on AP exams look bad? ›

A score of 3 or higher is generally considered good, because that means you passed the exam! A 4 is considered very good, and a 5 is especially impressive since it is the highest score. Also keep in mind that every college sets its own policy about AP credit. Some schools only give credit for scores of 4 or 5.

Do colleges accept 4s on AP exams? ›

Colleges are generally looking for a 4 (“well-qualified”) or 5 (“extremely qualified”) on the AP exam, but some may grant credit for a 3 (“qualified”). These scores mean you have proven yourself capable of doing the work in an introductory-level college course.

How many kids get AP Scholar? ›

Nationwide, only about 10% of students earn the distinction of AP Scholar or higher by the time they graduate (based on historic data provided by the College Board).

How many APs is too much junior year? ›

Aim for four to eight AP exams in your junior and senior years. For competitive Ivy League schools, admission officers also want to see AP courses for core subject areas and additional courses. If possible, aim to pass about seven to 12 AP exams if applying to these highly selective schools.

How many APs is too little? ›

Take as many as you can handle without spreading yourself thin, and make sure you will have time to study for the ACT or SAT this year. An Ivy League hopeful might take 3 to 5 AP classes, while if you're aiming for less-selective schools, 2 to 4 would be enough.

Is 4 APs too much junior year? ›

Junior Year

Depending on what kind of school you want to go to, you should be taking between 3 and 5 AP® classes this year. You will need to manage your time well, however, as you also need to study for the SAT® or ACT® during this time.

Are B's in AP classes good? ›

If you take AP classes and get B's, don't worry too much. Colleges take the difficulty of your classes into consideration, and a lot of admissions officers are impressed by students who challenge themselves with the tougher courses.

Do colleges care more about grades or AP scores? ›

While your score on the AP exam might not be reported, your grade in these classes definitely is, and your GPA is generally a primary factor on your college application. Remember, AP classes are designed to be college level work, so your performance in them is indicative of your ability to perform at the college level.

Is a B+ in an AP class good? ›

Colleges definitely prefer the B+ in an honors/AP class. Honestly, colleges don't give a crap about regular classes unless it is a mediocre or low quality college. Colleges will understand if you got a B+ in a harder class because it is harder and it is still almost an A.

Does Yale accept 4 on AP? ›

Yale awards acceleration credit to students for scores of 4 or 5 on some AP exams. Acceleration credit may offer some students the option to graduate in fewer than eight terms, but only after completing specific courses in specific departments.

Is 17 AP classes too much? ›

To be competitive at some of the most highly selective colleges in the country, 8-12 AP courses may be the sweet spot amount, assuming the student can handle that level of rigor. There are no colleges out there that require you to take 14, 17, or some other obscene number of Advanced Placement offerings.

Is 10 APs enough for Ivy League? ›

For students aiming for the Ivy League and Top 20 schools in the United States, a good target is to take (and pass) 10-14 AP classes throughout your high school career — or 3-4 each year.

Can I go to Ivy League without AP? ›

The Ivy leagues don't discriminate if your school doesn't offer you AP classes. However, if your school offers AP classes and you don't take the opportunity to take them all they will notice that and it's not a good thing. This really depends on how many your school offers.

How many APs does the average student take? ›

If that answer isn't fully satisfying, here is a look at the average number of APs students tend to take over the course of their high school years, broken down by college selectivity: Selective schools: around 7–12 APs. Semi-selective schools: 4–8 APs. Less selective schools: 1–5 APs.

Is it OK to send bad AP scores to colleges? ›

You absolutely can choose not to send them, but there's no harm in sending them, they may get you out of a few classes. Do you get an AP credit for taking the exam but not the course? College credit for AP is based entirely on the exam score. AP will allow you to take the test without having taken the class.

Can colleges see bad AP scores? ›

The Bottom Line: Do Colleges Look at AP Scores? Colleges typically ask students to self-report their AP scores on applications. As a result, they will see any scores you choose to report (and won't see any you choose not to report).

Is it bad not to send AP scores to colleges? ›

AP scores have very, very little impact on college admissions, especially if the exam has nothing to do with your major. If you don't report, they probably won't really notice. They can't assume you failed, as maybe you never took the exam in the first place. They care more about your grade in the class.

Do colleges like honors or AP More? ›

Colleges like them both. Both honors and AP courses are rigorous courses that most high schools weight more heavily on your transcript. AP courses, however, culminate in the AP Exam. Good AP scores show colleges you are ready to succeed at college-level work and can even earn you college credits.

Do Ivy Leagues care about AP scores? ›

It is routine for Ivy League admissions officers to review applications from students who have scored 5s on multiple AP tests.

Should I send my AP scores if I got a 1? ›

If your exam score is eligible for credit, self-report it on the college application and send the official report through the CollegeBoard. Never report or send an exam score of a 1 or 2. They are not considered “passing” scores.

Should you report a 4 AP score? ›

An AP score of 4 is like getting a B on the AP test. Most schools accept a 4 for credit. Before you take any AP exam, check with the colleges you're considering to find out what their policies are for granting AP credit. Each school sets its own AP policies.

What happens if I send a 2 AP score to a college? ›

One website notes: "This score is usually not accepted by colleges unless there are extenuating circumstances. A 2 means that you may have studied hard and prepared; however, something may have gone amiss while taking your exam. Perhaps you did not truly understand the material or did not utilize it properly."

How do I hide my bad AP scores? ›

Download and fill out the AP Score Withholding Form.

Fill out the form with your information, including which exam scores you want to withhold and from which recipients, and sign it. Form to request AP Exam score withholding from a score recipient.

Should I cancel bad AP scores? ›

To cancel a score is to completely remove it from the College Board's and your record. For that reason, you should not cancel unless you are certain that you never want anyone to know you took the exam in the future.

What if you fail an AP class but pass the exam? ›

On the other hand, if you fail the class but pass the exam, the outcome depends a bit on your school's grade policy. Some schools might allow failed grades to be changed on a transcript with a passing AP score, but these policies vary from school to school.

Should I retake an AP Exam if I got a 2? ›

If you got a 2 on your AP® English Language exam, it is definitely worth trying to retake it. Make it worth the added time and expense by taking these steps to improve your score. Track your scores on the multiple choice section. As you prepare, carefully note your score on the multiple choice section.


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3. Do Colleges Care About Class Rank?
4. Which AP Credits Do Colleges Take?
5. When NOT to submit AP exam scores in your college application
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