Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (2024)

Here are answers to 5 common questions about AP exams, AP score reports, and how AP scores affect college admissions chances.

(1) Do AP scores matter when applying to top colleges?

Yes. AP scores demonstrate proficiency in a subject that has been standardized in a way that can be used to evaluate candidates across the country. Itused to be expectedthat for schools like Stanford/MIT/Ivies, applicants should have at least half a dozen AP scores with 4’s and 5’s (assuming that their high school offered them).

However, low AP exam scores are not necessarily bad, as will be explained below.

(2) What is the distribution of AP exam scores?

In 2018, the distribution of AP exam scores for all exams was as follows.(Data taken from this Tableau visualization)

STEM Exams

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (1)

Arts & Humanities Exams

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (2)

Language Exams

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (3)

Social Sciences Exams

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (4)

(3) Does having mostly AP scores of 3's and 4’s hurt my college admissions chances?

Yes, if that’s the best you have to offer. An AP Score of 3 or 4 will likely not get you any college credit or respect at a top school like Stanford/Ivies/MIT.

A score of 5 may not either — top colleges like to think that their courses are more rigorous than APs and thus should not be passed out of, and earning a 5 is simply expected for top admits.

(4) Since I can self-report by AP exam scores, do I have to report all of my scores to colleges or do I not have that obligation? Will low AP scores hurt my chances?

You can save yourself from low AP exam scores by simply choosing toNOT self-reportyour 3’s.

Colleges ask you to self-report scores for a reason. If you were expected to submit all of your exam scores, then colleges would simply make reporting mandatory, just as they already do for the SAT/ACT.

Top colleges will let you self-report your AP scores. Take advantage of that and don’t report scores that you don't want to share. Including 3’s will weaken your application to a school like Stanford.

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (5)

Only a year ago, this would not have been the case. Schools would have read your omission of AP scores as suspicious.

However, things aredifferent in 2020because of COVID-19. Schools are much moreunderstandingof students who report fewer AP scores this cycle.

But don’t take my word for it.

Here isYale’sDean of Admissions Jeremiah Quinlanon the matter:

Students who have completed AP Exams, IB Exams, or AICE Exams prior to submitting their applications may opt to self-report scores in the application, but there isno expectationthat students enrolled in academic-year courses associated with any of these tests complete exams in spring or summer 2020.”

AndDartmouth’sDean of Admissions Lee Coffin:

At Dartmouth, we will welcome any testing element a student chooses to share—the SAT, the ACT, a subject test, an AP score—or none at all.

Our admission committee will review each candidacywithout second-guessing the omissionor presence of a testing element.

And an official statement fromColumbia’sAdmissions Office:

Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), SAT Subject Test and other proficiency exam scores are not required by Columbia, but we will accept your results if you choose to submit them in the testing section of your Common Application or Coalition Application. Optional SAT Subject Test scores can also be submitted on the Columbia application status page after you have applied.

You willnot be at a disadvantageshould you choose not to take these optional tests or submit the scores to Columbia.

(5) How do I know which AP scores I should report? Don't schools have different standards for what they consider a "good" or "bad" score?

Here’s a quick method for determining whether you should submit your score to a specific school or not (Stanford is shown below).

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (6)

First, go to the College Board'sAP Credit Checker here.

Second, type in the college to which you’re applying. The website will pull up a list of every AP exam and the school’s policy on granting academic credit for that exam.

Third, look at theMin Score Requiredcolumn of results. This tells you the minimum score needed for that college to give you academic credit for taking that AP.

If your AP score is below this threshold, then you probably shouldnotreport it. You shouldonly self-report scores that make you look smart.

(6) How prestigious is the "AP Scholar with Honour" award? Will it increase my chances of getting into a top college in the US?

Let’s do some math. According toThe College Board,in 2019 the following numbers of students received AP Scholar awards (listed in increasing prestige):

  • AP Scholar: 305,822 students
  • AP Scholar with Honor: 128,491 students
  • AP Scholar with Distinction: 219,925 students

The “AP Scholar with Honor” is the 2nd most prestigious AP merit award.

That means that every year, 348,416 students will receive an AP Scholarship award that is equivalent to or more prestigious than your AP Scholar with Honor award.

According toThe College Board,the “AP Scholar with Honor” is given to students who fulfill this criterion:

Granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams

The College Board used to give out 10 AP-based merit awards. However, in an effort to “reduce the burden on students, the AP Program is discontinuing awards that encourage students to take large numbers of exams” starting in 2021.

These are marked with asterisks in the chart below:

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (7)

And the State AP Scholarships were also discontinued:

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (8)

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? (2024)


Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report? ›

Be sure to include your full name, mailing address, date of birth, gender, eight-digit AP ID, and your six-digit high school code number. Score reports include both this year's and past AP Exam

AP Exam
The Advanced Placement® Program (AP) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. The AP Program develops college-level courses that high schools can choose to offer and corresponding AP Exams that are administered once a year. › about-ap › ap-a-glance
scores, along with certain demographic information about you and other information you provide during testing.

Should I report my AP scores to colleges? ›

Admissions Officers Expect to See AP Scores for AP Courses Taken. If a student takes an AP course at their high school, admissions officers expect to see that score. If the score is not self-reported, admissions officers will be inclined to presume the student scored a 1 or a 2 on the exam.

Should I report a 3 on an AP exam on Common App? ›

The first thing that you should do is check the AP Score credit policy for the colleges that you are applying to. If they will give you credit for the 3, then by all means report it! On the other hand, if they only give credit for a 5 on that exam (not even for a 4), you may want to hold off.

Should I report an AP score of 2 to UC? ›

Although the College Board reports all AP test results to us, students should be aware AP test scores lower than 3 will not adversely affect their chances for admission.

Should I report a 3 on an AP exam to Ivy League? ›

An AP Score of 3 or 4 will likely not get you any college credit or respect at a top school like Stanford/Ivies/MIT. A score of 5 may not either — top colleges like to think that their courses are more rigorous than APs and thus should not be passed out of, and earning a 5 is simply expected for top admits.

Does it look bad to not send AP scores? ›

Do Colleges Look at AP Scores for Admission? While you don't typically need to send official AP score reports to colleges you're applying to, some schools will have space on their applications for you to self-report your AP scores. And if your scores are on your application, admissions committees will see them.

Will colleges accept a 3 on an AP exam? ›

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.

Should I report a 3 on an AP exam to UC Berkeley? ›

Please submit your official results for Advanced (A) and Ordinary (O) Level Exams. ALL final, official exam results must be postmarked by July 15th. Please submit your official scores for all Advanced Placement exams for which you have earned a score of 3 or higher.

Should I submit an AP score of 2? ›

Particularly high AP scores (i.e., 5s in a variety of subjects) may be helpful for very selective institutions where every bit of edge to differentiate you from other elite students can count. Similarly, low AP scores (i.e., 1 or 2) can be a red flag to selective institutions.

Do I send AP scores before or after acceptance? ›

Applicants should send a college their AP scores only after being accepted into a program. Students should check their individual college's deadline for submitting AP scores.

Do I have to self report all AP scores? ›

If you're submitting AP scores as your standardized test scores, they must be on an official score report or on a report by a school official. In other words, you can't just self-report your scores.

Can you choose which AP scores to send to colleges? ›

Your score report contains scores from all of the AP Exams you have ever taken. Your college will only use those scores that meet the minimum required score to receive credit or placement. You do have the option to withhold a score from a particular college, or cancel a score altogether.

Should I report a 3 on an AP exam to UCLA? ›

Provided we receive your official results, credit from these exams should appear on your record sometime during your first term at UCLA. AP Credit awarded at UCLA: UCLA awards credit for AP exams with scores of 3 or higher.

Should I self-report AP scores on Common App? ›

Most people self-report and then depending on the college, they either pay Collegeboard immediately to send the AP scores or wait until they are admitted. Each college has its own policy as to when it needs the actual Collegeboard Official AP scores, to corroborate your self-reported test scores.

Can colleges see bad AP scores? ›

Your class grade won't be affected, and colleges will still be impressed that you took an AP course. Colleges won't see your scores, if you don't report them. So, even if you are unsure if you'll pass, it's a good idea to opt to take an AP course.

Should you send official score reports to colleges? ›

Yes. Institutions generally require you to send your scores directly from the College Board and will not accept printouts or copies of your score reports or school transcripts that include your scores.

Do colleges care which APS you take? ›

While colleges definitely seek out students whose transcripts are peppered with plenty of Advanced Placement courses, the AP exam scores are unlikely to have a significant impact on your odds of admission. However, that doesn't mean you should skip the AP classes in favor of a less rigorous course of study.

Should I send AP scores to Harvard? ›

Yes. Applicants may provide self-reported SAT and ACT test scores (including Subject Tests, Advanced Placement, IB, etc.). Admitted students who decide to enroll at Harvard College will be required to submit official test scores.

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