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Are Low AP Scores an Elite-College Deal-Breaker?

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Replies to: Are Low AP Scores an Elite-College Deal-Breaker?

  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,590 Senior Member
    @camrun and @haytheir20 -I think it's a slippery slope if I start advising students on this thread about which AP exams to submit without knowing A LOT about their backgrounds and goals. Over the years, I have usually counseled students to submit all scores of 3 or above. But lots of factors come into play when I dole out specific suggestions about AP score submission, including the student's high school and curriculum, socioeconomic background, target colleges, prospective major, how many AP exams were taken overall, when they were taken, etc.

    But the bottom line is this: There are lots of things to anguish over during the college process, but try not to make this one of them. AP scores can serve as "tie-breakers," especially at the most hyper-competitive colleges, but there are plenty of other application components that admission officials will weigh more heavily.
  • SalutationSalutation Registered User Posts: 486 Member
    Do taking AP exams increase your odds of getting into a college?
  • bringit1bringit1 Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    That's great to hear. Thanks for the post. I've always thought that that AP scores didn't mean anything for admissions but I have quite a few 4s and 5s and National AP Scholar so it's nice to know that they can positively affect my application.
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 4,753 Senior Member
    I have never heard of any college *requiring* AP scores to be sent or reported before the summer after high school. Could someone please post a list of schools or point me to a link that shows schools that actually require AP scores to be reported?
  • fretfulmotherfretfulmother Registered User Posts: 1,839 Senior Member
    This issue concerned me as well, because watching those well-publicized videos of the Stanford Ad-Com indicated that even one *4* among the rest 5s, could lead to raised eyebrows (simply because of comparison and "missing tile syndrome" - where your eye is drawn to the one wrong thing).
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Honorary Super Mod Posts: 25,129 Inactive
    @haytheir20

    This probably won't really answer your question, but I'll put it out there anyway. For neuro, at least, psych really isn't all that relevant. Chemistry (specifically biochem) and biology are really at the heart of that discipline. Sure, one of the end results is to help explain behavior (psychology). But people doing neuro research are concerned with discovering in detail how the brain works at a molecular level. They don't really have to know if what they are seeing and explaining has any real world impact on behavior or is an artifact of evolution and no longer manifests itself in some kind of outcome. Much like molecular geneticists long ago discovered and continue to discover many dormant or discarded genes that apparently at one time were active and had some kind of purpose to survival.

    Another example: it is a bit like someone that understands at the quantum level what is going on that explains the properties of polymers. It is nice if they also understand at a macro level how this results in properties that concern a materials engineer, but they don't have to at all. They are more interested in the pure science and often let others worry about how that translates into "real-world" discoveries. Interestingly, this is why more and more these days the hard sciences are being housed with the engineers, so that there is more cross-pollination between theory, micro discoveries, and macro applications. Also the way I have described it is with brighter lines than currently tend to exist. The bleed over in knowledge is greater all the time, not insignificantly because of the breaking down of these walls between the "pure" sciences and application driven science.

    Now that is all well and good, but whether admissions people understand all that is another matter. Which is why I say it really doesn't answer your question. But to whatever extent that might help in an interview or something, unlikely though that may be, there you have it.
  • Ksty1098Ksty1098 Registered User Posts: 280 Junior Member
    How bad are my scores going to look to top 10 schools? 5 Calc BC, 5 Physics 1, 5 Chemistry, 5 Macro, 4 Gov, 3 English lang?

    @fretfulmother Could you link the video, I dont think i've seen it.

  • soosoo948soosoo948 Registered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
    I'm having trouble understanding whether or not 3's should be reported. I know if they are not reported, they might assume you got a one or two, but then again 3's on more than one AP exam will make AO's question the true rigor of the course. Which one looks worse?
  • planner03planner03 Registered User Posts: 1,156 Senior Member
    I have never heard of any college *requiring* AP scores to be sent or reported before the summer after high school.

    I have seen posts over the last 2 admission cycles where colleges have asked to see AP scores when the student didn't self report them. I am pretty sure there was a Yale post this year.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 25,140 Super Moderator
    I have seen posts over the last 2 admission cycles where colleges have asked to see AP scores when the student didn't self report them. I am pretty sure there was a Yale post this year.
    That's different. AO's can (and do) contact the GC (or the student) about any of a number of things regarding the application, including AP scores not being reported where a class appears on the transcript. Yale does not require AP scores to be reported. Personally, I am not aware of any college in the US that requires the score to be reported, although I am sure there are some.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,590 Senior Member
    Likewise, I haven't personally encountered a domestic college that requires AP scores from all applicants for admission purposes. However, there are "test flexible" schools that demand AP test results from students who refuse to send SAT or ACT scores ... or from those who didn't take the SAT or ACT at all. So that doesn't really count as an AP "requirement" since the students do have choices.

    But, as suggested by @skieurope, there are times when admission officials need additional information and may contact the high school counselor to get it. This additional information might include AP results, although I bet that this happens infrequently.

    Also beware of transcripts: Students may THINK that they are withholding AP exam scores but the high school may put the scores (along with SAT and ACT scores) right on the transcript that the colleges will see. This practice seems to be decreasing, as privacy concerns escalate, but it's still wise to find out exactly what colleges will don the transcript. (I've even seen transcripts that list all the colleges to which other transcripts have been sent ... talk about a privacy violation!). #-o

  • TheNICKNAMETheNICKNAME Registered User Posts: 99 Junior Member
    How bad will a 2 on one AP exam (physics 1) affect my chances for top 20ish schools, given that it was the first year of the test and over 60% of kids were in the 1-2 range. My other 4 scores are all 4's. Will a 700+ subject test score likely draw attention away from the 2?
  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,766 Senior Member
    Yale apparently just "recommends" that AP results be self-reported: http://admissions.yale.edu/standardized-testing

    If I'm not mistaken, this is a change from the past, when I think they instructed you to self report the scores. You really have to look at the application and instructions for each college for the year you are applying.
  • JuicyMangoJuicyMango Registered User Posts: 1,183 Senior Member
    edited July 2015
    Do colleges take in to account the grade level at which a student took a certain AP test? For example, is there a difference between getting a 5 in AP Calculus BC as a sophomore versus as a junior?
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