AP Exam Scores: To Report Or Not To Report?

High school students everywhere received their AP exam scores last week. Some were undoubtedly received with elation, while others may have caused a few tears. It’s a no-brainer that you’ll report scores you’re proud of to the schools you’re applying to. On the other hand, if you aren’t proud of a score or accidentally flubbed an exam, you’ll likely omit that score from your application. The scores that fall right in the middle – the ones that make you think, “Eh… it’s not great, but it’s not bad either” – are the ones you’re probably a bit confused about.

Obviously, the decision to report or not report is completely up to you. The advice I received as a high school student was to always self-report any score of 3 and above, and let the chips fall where they may. That said, there are a few things to consider if you’re on the fence about sending a subpar or low score.

First, schools typically care more about your overall grade than they care about your AP score.

A good grade in the course shows that you can work hard, day in and day out – which is exactly the kind of student they want to enroll. If you have a great final grade in the class and a low score on the AP exam, you may want to hold your score back.

Second, if an AP exam doesn’t relate to your future major, don’t sweat it too much.

If you’re a future chemistry major who didn’t do very well on your Government AP exam…  well, it’s likely not make or break to include a middle-of-the-road score or withhold a low score. Colleges will likely overlook the omitted score without a second thought.

Third, remember that AP exams are voluntary in the first place.

Not all students who take an AP course even take the AP exam, whether that be for financial reasons or simply because they don’t believe it will be beneficial to them. Additionally, many seniors take AP courses and don’t even have their exam score to report by the time they apply. If you don’t feel good about submitting a score, you’re entitled to hold that score back. Admissions officers can’t judge you for something not submitted.

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