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Colleges Won't Accept AP Credits? Find Out Whether You Should Take the Tests Anyway

CCEdit_TorreyCCEdit_Torrey 35 replies347 threads Editor
Here's how to determine whether to take AP tests when your target schools won't accept the credits. https://www.collegeconfidential.com/articles/should-you-take-ap-exams-if-colleges-wont-accept-the-credits/
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Replies to: Colleges Won't Accept AP Credits? Find Out Whether You Should Take the Tests Anyway

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80192 replies720 threads Senior Member
    That article misses some reasons to take AP tests:

    1. Even if the college does not give credits toward graduation, it (or its departments) may use AP tests for subject credit or advanced placement.

    2. If you transfer to a different college, the other college may use AP tests to your advantage.

    But there could be another reason not to take AP tests:

    3. If you are a pre-med who intends to retake the course in college anyway, not having the AP score at all removes all possibility of having to mark "repeat" on the medical school application.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40492 replies7523 threads Super Moderator
    You may hear from your counselor or an admissions officer that one of the schools you’re applying to might change its AP credit policy soon.
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I have never seen a case where a change in AP credit policy by college will result in more credit. If the college does not grant credit for APHG now, I doubt that it will change in the future.
    The AP Scholar Awards program has five categories for US high school students, with the most basic category requiring a score of three or higher on at least three different AP exams. These distinctions can help your application stand out
    I think the author is overstating the impact of an AP Scholar award on an AO.

    That said, unless finances are an issue or the student is really bombing the class, I see no valid reason for a non-senior student not to take the exam. If the score ends up being unsatisfactory, s/he can simply not report on a college application and omit from the score report sent to the college attending.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    For us, in the end it was worth it. Shelling out $1300 for 13 tests did give my kid 41 semester credits towards graduation (of which most of it useless) which helps with getting a better time for registration. But more importantly, his 5s in AP Calc BC and AP English Lit it gave subject credits for 4 mandatory classes which he’ll never have to take, which for a public school is one semester and worth $7K.
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  • LynnskiLynnski 245 replies12 threads Junior Member
    My kid's anxiety is such that we figured she would want to take the first level of college classes regardless of AP test scores. So we encouraged her to skip the exams regardless of potential college credit. Her HS teachers didn't like that much, but it made sense for us.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80192 replies720 threads Senior Member
    But more importantly, his 5s in AP Calc BC and AP English Lit it gave subject credits for 4 mandatory classes which he’ll never have to take, which for a public school is one semester and worth $7K.

    It is only worth the monetary value if the student would otherwise need more semesters or credits at extra cost to graduate.

    However, even if the student will not graduate any earlier to save money, having subject credit and/or advanced placement can allow the student to take additional electives and/or higher level courses that s/he would otherwise be able to take if s/he had to repeat what s/he learned in high school. Given how it is often said on these forums that college is about more than just the monetary return-on-investment, it seems odd that the conventional wisdom on these forums is that students should repeat their AP credit, even when the college gives subject credit and/or advanced placement that is an opportunity for the student to learn more new things than s/he would otherwise be able to learn.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13221 replies247 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus Given how it is often said on these forums that college is about more than just the monetary return-on-investment, it seems odd that the conventional wisdom on these forums is that students should repeat their AP credit, even when the college gives subject credit and/or advanced placement that is an opportunity for the student to learn more new things than s/he would otherwise be able to learn.

    Sometimes the AP version is a LOT easier than the college version. I think some colleges insist you take their own Intro (let's say Chem), because they want all students to be similarly prepared.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80192 replies720 threads Senior Member
    OHMomof2 wrote:
    Sometimes the AP version is a LOT easier than the college version. I think some colleges insist you take their own Intro (let's say Chem), because they want all students to be similarly prepared.

    That is why I wrote "even when the college gives subject credit and/or advanced placement" to exclude those situations where the college does not consider the AP score sufficient for subject credit and/or advanced placement.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13221 replies247 threads Senior Member
    I think there are times when the college will allow it but the student still should not. @ucbalumnus
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80192 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    Yes, if the student intends to take a course for which the course allowed to be skipped is a prerequisite, but finds that the college's old final exam for that course is too hard.

    But that is not the conventional wisdom found on these forums, which is to unconditionally repeat one's AP credit.
    edited April 2019
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40492 replies7523 threads Super Moderator
    But that is not the conventional wisdom found on these forums, which is to unconditionally repeat one's AP credit.
    While some may say that, I would not classify it as "conventional wisdom." For the record, I've stated numerous times that in most cases, I would not suggest taking a college course for which AP credit had been already granted.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13221 replies247 threads Senior Member
    I've always appreciated your advice to get an old final, @ucbalumnus . If possible, it's a great way to help make that decision.

    But this board doesn't have much in the way of conventional wisdom, IMO!
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  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie 2407 replies0 threads Senior Member
    Sometimes the AP version is a LOT easier than the college version. I think some colleges insist you take their own Intro (let's say Chem), because they want all students to be similarly prepared.

    There is also an element of tuition revenue protection in some of the policies on AP credit. And the marketing aspect of "Sure your 5 on Y AP exam shows you are strong in Y but we need to know you are X college strong in Y" is big (even if its not true).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80192 replies720 threads Senior Member
    There is also an element of tuition revenue protection in some of the policies on AP credit.

    Especially since the frosh-level courses tend to be less expensive for the college than the upper level courses that the student may take if allowed to skip the frosh-level courses.

    However, note that public universities are often quite generous with credit units for AP scores, even though they may not be as generous with subject credit or advanced placement as they are for credit units. That is likely because most students are subsidized in-state students, so getting them to graduate as quickly as possible is better for the public universities' finances and capacity management.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8745 replies82 threads Senior Member
    It certainly varies college by college but for my D, she came into school as a 2nd sophomore which had perks for priority scheduling, and then for housing for next year. Because of engineering course sequences, she can't graduate early but it allows her to take courses for a special certification and to easily add a minor.
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  • bopperbopper 14299 replies101 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Also if you want credit for the AP tests...apply to colleges where you will get credit for the AP tests.
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  • UndercrackersUndercrackers 872 replies2 threads Member
    D could have skipped some calc courses as she got 5's on the A/B and B/C tests. However, because her college is highly competitive and she wanted a solid math foundation moving forward into a STEM major, she retook the classes. A's in both (although she concedes they weren't exactly cakewalks and there were a few things she learned) - set her up well for multivariable. She DID use her scores on the AP Lang/Lit tests to bypass freshman English classes, which saved her some time. She may have been able to swing graduating a semester early if she applied all of her AP scores, but certainly not a year as she's also pursuing a minor AND her major requires a year-long senior year thesis project. She is hearing that people on the quarter system with similar stats are able to graduate earlier, so semester vs. quarter may make a difference.

    No one has a crystal ball - I'd say hedge your bets and take the test if you think the class has prepared you.
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  • mjinncmjinnc 17 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Help me out, please. My son is unmotivated to study for his 3 AP tests. He has been accepted to a "dream school" - Princeton. He plans to study math and get his PhD in it. I have thoroughly reviewed Princeton's AP policy. They do not give any credit for AP's. They give advanced standing for some AP courses, mostly limited to a score of 5. He got 5's on calc BC (which gets him out of calc 1 and 2) and physics C mech last year (see below), 4 on Eng lang (gets him nil).

    He's homeschooled and taking online AP Eng Lit now (which includes test prep and he's fine with that). He self-studied physics C E/M and Comp Sci but doesn't want to prepare any more. He is practice-testing at low-to middle 4's on both. His point is that he won't get credit anyway. Comp Sci won't get him placed higher, even with a 5 (he knows Python well and is frustrated by the cumbersome syntax of Java he has to learn for Comp Sci A). If he gets a second physics C 5 to go with last year's mech score, he can place out of first year physics. He says he doesn't care since he probably won't take physics anyway, and if he did, he wouldn't claim the advanced standing.

    I'm telling him about perseverance and doing one's best always, since he will certainly encounter a college class he doesn't like but needs to do well in.

    Should I:
    1) Keep encouraging him to prepare better? He has the time, but not the will.
    2) Let him prepare lightly and probably get 4's? He won't lose his spot, and it won't really affect college cost or his projected course of study. I really don't care about him just having a "pretty transcript" with more 5's when he's done.
    3) Call Princeton and ask if they would withdraw his offer if he doesn't take one or two of the 3 AP tests? All 3 classes are on his homeschool transcript.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40492 replies7523 threads Super Moderator
    edited April 2019
    Call Princeton and ask if they would withdraw his offer if he doesn't take one or two of the 3 AP tests?
    One hopes that you are not being serious. I can just imagine the eyeroll of the person at Princeton taking that phone call.

    Tying in with my earlier comments, I see no reason for him to put much/any time into prepping for CS when there is no credit to be gained anyway. In terms of E&M, when you say he self-studied, what does that mean? He used no outside resources, no online class, nothing more than reading a text on his own? Depending upon how he prepared all year, it might be tough for him to get a 5, or it might not. He'd know better than I. But I would compromise on shifting resources away from prepping for CS into E&M. If that does not work, I'm not sure that this is the battle on which you choose to fall on the sword. A 4 is a fine score. Since he's leaving for Princeton in a few months, where, presumably, you will not be setting his schedule, I'd let him choose how to allocate his time.
    edited April 2019
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • mom2twogirlsmom2twogirls 2254 replies29 threads Senior Member
    @mjinnc my daughter was accepted to Cornell for next year. She didn’t even choose to take AP Lit this year because our high school had a number of more interesting English courses and no colleges on her list would have given credit for both AP Lang and AP Lit anyway.

    I give that context because it kind of shows she already had a lack of motivation to just take a class with a test just for fun, lol.

    Anyway, she is currently taking AP Physics C and AP Gov. She will take the AP exam for Physics because she will use the credit if she gets a 5. AP Gov gets her no credit, regardless of score. Her opinion is that it’s a waste of time and money to take the exam. She is enjoying the class and learning plenty, but feels no need to pointlessly take an exam to prove it. For what? One way to look at it is that as a future engineer, this shows she already is the kind of person who doesn’t tend to be in favor of wasting time and money!

    I had left the decision up to my daughter, since she would be the one taking (or not) the exam and if she is old enough to go to college, she’s old enough to make this choice too.
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