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Articles / Preparing for College / What to Do With a Low AP Score

Sept. 18, 2019

What to Do With a Low AP Score

What to Do With a Low AP Score


Don't be misled by the abbreviation. AP stands for Advanced Placement, which means these tests are designed to be difficult. Now, I strongly believe that solid prep work can help you get a higher score. But unlike other standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT, you've only got one shot at taking each AP, and you might be dissatisfied with your score. It's okay -- if you received a low AP score, we've got some advice.

Stay Positive

First things first: do not beat yourself up over a lower score. Like I said, these exams are difficult. And believe it or not, nearly half of all students who take AP Exams score a 1 or a 2, depending on the test. Take comfort in that. Being hard on yourself won't change your score, but it can change your mood — and certainly not for the better.

Instead, look at the road that's gotten you here. To take the AP Exam, you've most likely taken the associated AP course. That means you've studied hard all year, and your grade in the AP coursereflects that! Since your transcript is a huge part of your application, if you have great grades in your AP courses, admissions officers will see that and know that you worked hard in your classes even if you didn't do as well on the tests.

Consider Your Options

You do not have to automatically submit an AP score. Since a 1 or 2 probably won't help your chances for admission, you might decide not to include it as part of your application, instead choosing to let your grade in the AP course stand on its own.

However, if you've taken multiple AP Exams, things get trickier. When you send one score, the College Board tends to send all of them, so in this case, you'll have to pay a small fee to specifically withhold a score. If you've already been accepted, don't worry about any of this. Your scores might be too low to earn you credit, but they aren't a reason for a school to rescind acceptance.

Look Toward the Future

A score is just a number, but the class and the test are part of your overall academic experience. The work you've done thus far will only better prepare you for the future. Take what you've learned — positive or otherwise — from the course and exam and use it to become a better student. If you're a senior about to enter college, you're readier to tackle that increased rigor with more efficiency and confidence.

If you're planning on taking more APs, you now know what additional preparation you might need in order to earn some college credit! With one round of AP exams under your belt, you'll be better prepared to score well next time around. Plus, you can always build upon the assistance you get in the course itself by checking out our suite of AP Exam prep books or by getting help from one of our expert tutors. With your experience and a little extra boost of prep, you'll be on your way to scoring how you want.

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

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