Do AP Scores Really Matter When it Comes to College Admission?

AdmissionOne of the most common questions we get during our free college profile evaluations is “will my AP scores count?”  If you’ve done any research on the topic, you’ll find that the opinions are varied and there is no clear answer.  Veritas Prep breaks it down for you.

Should I take AP courses versus honors or regular courses?

The hierarchy of courses is regular courses, honors courses, AP courses, and then college courses.  Colleges will be looking at your transcript to see 1) what courses are offered at your high school, 2) what courses you took, 3) how academically rigorous your course schedule is compared to the courses offered at your high school, and 4) how you did in those classes.  Your high school academic course load represents a snapshot of your academic potential in college.  It shows the type of academic rigor that you might be able to handle and that you’re not afraid of challenging yourself.  Taking AP classes shows that you’re taking advantage of the toughest academics your school has to offer.

If I take the class and do well, do I have to take the AP exam?

Yes.  If you take an AP class, you should automatically plan to take the AP exam.  Taking the test and getting a score can verify that your grades are not inflated (i.e.: you got an A in the class, but a 2 on the exam vs. you got a B in the class, but a 4 on the exam) and that you can handle big exams (think college midterms and finals).  Not taking the exam can be a flag for colleges and may prompt them to ask the question “well, why didn’t they take the exam?”

Okay.  I took the exam, but I got a 2.  Am I not going to get into college?

Don’t worry.  The actual AP score will not affect your admissions.

Then why does it even matter?

There are several benefits to taking the AP exam and doing well.

For most public universities and select private universities, you can receive credit for your AP exams.  Usually, you need to score a 4 or 5 to get credit; sometimes there is a limit to how many total credits you can get.  Earning credits can mean that you can enter college with sophomore or junior standing which ultimately means that you may be able to cut the cost of your education significantly since you could potentially spend less time overall in college.

Even if your college does not accept AP exams as credit, they may use your AP scores for placement or to fulfill general education requirements.  For example, if you got a 4 on the AP statistics exam and your college has a quantitative reasoning requirement, you may be able to use your AP score to fulfill the requirement.  Or, if you got a 5 on the AP English Literature exam, you may be able to start taking upper level English classes without having to take the introductory classes.  AP tests may help you to cut the cost of your education by helping you advance more quickly through your coursework, but it can also free up time for you to take classes that you really enjoy or may not otherwise have time to take.

Finally, some colleges may offer scholarships for scoring high on a designated number of exams.  This will vary from state to state, but this would be another source of extra funding for your education.  In addition, for students who receive an AP Scholar Award, you could include this on your college applications under (academic) awards and honors.

What can I do if I’m not doing well in my AP class?

Your AP teacher can be one of your greatest resources if you’re struggling with your class.  Talk to your teacher to find out how you can do better and see if your school offers any additional tutoring for the classes.  You will find that this also applies when you get to college; talk to your professors or teaching assistants and find out of there are extra tutoring sessions you can attend.

If you’re able to study in a social setting, consider creating or joining a study group with a couple of your classmates.  Studying with your peers can help reinforce the information as well as troubleshoot areas where you might get stuck.  This is a resource that you can take to college as well since many college students also find study groups essential for doing well in their classes.

If you still find that you need help, consider working with a Veritas Prep private tutor who can help focus on your specific needs and excel in the class and on the exam.  With the exams less than 2 months away, this would be the time to ask for help!  If you think an AP tutor might be what you need, check out our private tutoring packages or call us for more information.

Need some AP help or still have questions about college admissions?  Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Jennifer Sohn Lim is Assistant Director of Admissions at Veritas Prep. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts at Wellesley College, followed by her Master of Education and Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling at the Harvard Graduate School of Education