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How Students Can Leverage AP Test Scores

If you are a student in AP courses, you’ve likely been reviewing for the tests that begin next month. And while you may know the material, there are other aspects of taking AP tests that we want to make sure you know as well. For example, should you request that your scores be sent to colleges? Are college admissions officers using AP test scores as they consider applicants? Do all colleges award credit for high AP scores?

Should you indicate that you want your scores to be sent to any colleges?

No, because you won’t know how you did on the exam until summer (check score availability here). However, if you already selected one or more schools when you registered at the College Board’s MY AP (many people don’t notice the fine print allowing you to opt out of score submission), you can cancel this request using the AP Score Cancellation Form. Fill it out and mail or fax (yes, that’s right, mail or fax) before June 15, 2023, but AFTER you receive your score – otherwise, you’ll never know how you did. The score will be permanently erased from College Board records.

You can also opt to withhold a score (for a fee) from any colleges you had previously selected to receive it. Your high school would still receive the score, and it will be factored into the AP Scholar criteria.

Knowing that you have these options may ease some stress as you wait for results!

Do colleges evaluate AP test scores as a factor in admissions?

A few colleges require you to self-report any AP test scores at the time you submit your college application; Yale and Princeton are among them. UC Berkeley states outright that AP test scores, if submitted, will be considered as part of its holistic review process.

Any schools that accept the Common Application will see the scores if you choose to self-report them, but their weight in admissions isn’t always clear. Certainly, if you are applying to competitive majors (biological sciences, engineering, business), strong scores on AP math and science-related tests can only enhance your application. Generally, self-reporting scores of 4 or 5 is advised. The only time to think about it would be if you took multiple AP tests and only did well on one. Your transcript will show that you took the AP classes, so only one reported score could raise questions.

Interestingly, for the 2023-24 admissions cycle, New York University remains test optional but does allow applicants to submit three AP exam scores (one math or science, one humanities, and one of the applicant’s choice) instead of an SAT or ACT score. (There are options for students from IB high schools as well.)

Finally, if you are applying to a test-optional school with no test score, submitting strong AP scores may help you stand out.

Will I get college credit?

Eventually, of course, the school at which you choose to enroll will see all of your scores as you seek course credit. (But don’t worry, your admission will not be revoked for less-than-stellar AP test scores!)

Colleges have different policies about awarding credit for AP tests. For the vast majority of schools, a score of 3 is adequate to receive credit. Schools on the top echelon usually require a 4 or 5.  Some schools allow students to use AP classes in place of an introductory class, but do not award the type of credit that would help a student graduate early. Every school is a little bit different. Here are links to a few schools’ AP credit policies:

We wish all students well on upcoming AP exams!