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AP test disappointment... Now what?

JD7777JD7777 39 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
My 11th grade son got his AP exam results recently and is quite disappointed. He earned a 4 in Calculus AB, a 3 in English and a 2 in AP Chemistry. Based on his practice tests going in he expected a 4 in math, a 4 in English and a 3 in Chem so he scored significantly worse than he expected. Both my spouse and I work in public high schools so we are around this craziness all the time, but my own son is struggling to dig out of this one and have it be "not a big deal." He is convinced that his low AP scores will have a significant impact on his ability to get $ for college. (Our financial situation is such, and I posted on it before where we are going to struggle to come up with more than 20K per year and some net price calculators, like my alma mater Brown U, have us with 47,000 EFC. Gulp.) So we are likely looking at our state schools here in Oregon or a smaller private school if he finds a tremendous financial package. So is an AP 2 in Chemistry, which is a "failing" score, a big deal? What advice would you give a parent trying to convince a strong student that this likely won't be as big of an issue. He has 4.0 unweighted and 1360/31 test scores and some pretty unique ECs so he will be OK but he is really struggling with this setback.
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Replies to: AP test disappointment... Now what?

  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1329 replies19 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    You don't have to report AP scores. I really think that the likelihood that he would have gotten a merit scholarship that made a school affordable with better AP scores that he wouldn't get now approaches zero.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 3570 replies40 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 13
    Talk less about the AP scores and more about appropriate schools vs conversations about romantic notions of big merit $$. His SAT/ACT test scores weren't any surprise? Those test scores are much more relevant to merit $ than APs. Did he really study for his SAT and APs?
    edited July 13
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  • JD7777JD7777 39 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    His SAT scores were not a surprise. His AP Human Geo was not a surprise. His AP US History was a not a surprise. His Calculus was not a surprise but these other 2 were certainly surprising. That is why we were all left scratching our heads a little. I have been in public high schools for 23 years and I have very mixed feelings about the AP program in general- the quality of education that students get with the "AP" program versus what kids would kid with a great teacher in an accelerated class is debatable. The 15 to 20k our students pay to College Board? That is an entirely different topic.

    Really just trying to get some sense of the impact of a very low AP score. Does it matter? Do universities really even care that much aboout AP exam scores?
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  • bobo44bobo44 220 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    $15-20K to College Board???? What am I missing?
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  • isitfridayyetisitfridayyet 32 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    The most important part of a college application is your son's interests and talents coming through on the application. What is he interested in? Are those AP classes reflective of his interests? You say he has some unique EC's and it sounds like he can probably create a pretty compelling college app based on that. AP scores are self reported so if they don't reflect his interests / story and are not what were expected (i.e. can hurt application), then don't report them. Another option is that he can retake them- not sure what grade he is in- if there is time. Self study with review books.. these classes can be self taught.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 3570 replies40 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 13
    IMO if he is going to focus on any tests, it would be improving his ACT/SAT. I would put those APs in the "is what it is" basket. You could ask for a re-score though? If you think it is an error.
    edited July 13
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6488 replies52 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 14
    some sense of the impact of a very low AP score. Does it matter? Do universities really even care that much about AP exam scores?

    Nope. It doesn't matter & they don't care very much about AP exam scores. They like to see the rigor of taking the class & getting a good grade in it.

    I am so sorry that he is so distraught about this- esp b/c it is unlikely to make any difference at all to his ability to get merit scholarships. GPA & SAT/ACT & special talents are really what counts.
    edited July 14
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  • JD7777JD7777 39 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks all. Appreciate the thoughtful responses.
    Bobo44,
    The 15-20k figure it what my school, a larger public high school pays each spring to AP for exams.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5285 replies1 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I concur with others that the chances of getting enough merit scholarships to get the cost down to $20k per year seems low even with a 5's on all AP tests. I also don't think that these AP test scores will matter much if at all for either admissions or scholarships. To me the most likely impact of these AP scores is only that he will not get AP credit for chemistry, and possibly not for English. I don't see this as a big deal.

    With a $20k budget and a $47k EFC, to me it seems likely that you will need to stay in-state. The WUE schools might also be worth looking at.

    Quite a few students seem to want to go out of state. However, Oregon has very good public universities. An unweighted 4.0 in high school suggests that your son is well prepared to do very well at Oregon or at Oregon State.

    It might be time for an ice cream sunday, or gelato if your son prefers. We went out for ice cream right after my younger daughter got her B+. To her I was saying "it is not a big deal". Inside I was thrilled because she learned that she does not need to be perfect.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 1957 replies26 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    As many of the other posters have mentioned, AP scores are not an important factor in admissions or scholarships. He does not have to submit the 2 to colleges, but he might still want to ask his guidance counselor if the high school will report it on their transcript.

    If he want to major in a chemistry-related field, feels he needs to validate a high chemistry grade, or just wants to feel better, he could consider taking the SAT II subject test in chemistry. I wouldn't expect this test to do much for him in the way of admissions (unless the colleges to which he is applying require them) or scholarships any more than AP tests, but if he has something to prove to himself, this is a quick and somewhat inexpensive way to do it.
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  • JD7777JD7777 39 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Dad2girls,
    That figure is running the NPC at my school, Brown U. They included a LOT of additional info and my guess is that the value of our home changed the number considerably as it is a much higher number than local private schools. We bought a short sale house and then the market in our area when bonkers and now the value is close to double. Kinda a bummer that circumstances such as that would impact need based aid but not much to do about that.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28778 replies56 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 14
    The AP scores are highly unlikely to matter in terms of getting more merit money. I suggest he doesn't submit the ones that are unfavorable. My kids got merit money, some substantial, even with AP scores they left out. It’s the SAT1/ACT scores and GPA that tends to drive merit awards. I agree with @Sybelle that any focus on test scores should be in getting higher SaT1 or ACT scores. His current test scores do not translate into substantial merit , IMO. You are in a state with good state schools, and I concur that they are your best bet to bring the COA to your affordable level.

    Also, I don’t think one point off expectations to be any surprise. To get a 2 when expecting to blast that test with a 5 is a surprise. Or getting a 5 when expectingvs 1 or 0 (if there is such a score) rates as a surprise. One point off is not significantly worse. It’s slightly worse and within the margin of error
    edited July 14
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  • TquibianTquibian 1 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    I don't think AP exam scores matter much in terms of financial aid. I have passed 10 AP exams with a majority being 4's and 5's and received 0 money from anywhere.
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  • avaavaavaava 2 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Hey! I wanted to just wish your son luck on his journey.

    I only had 2 5s and 1 4 when I applied to college...the rest were threes, twos, and a very rough one on Calc AB. I had a 1440 SAT, a ton of extracurriculars in which I practiced leadership, and I worked really hard on my essays. My dad is college educated, we’re middle class, and I don’t face as many hurdles as other students might, so I was really scared that I wouldn’t get need based financial aid. And, I didn’t.

    With a 3.9 uw/4.3 w GPA, I got a full, merit-based scholarship to USC and a 3/4 scholarship to Duke.

    Kid...you’ll be fine. Just keep doing your best, and everything will fall into place. Stay focused, stay on your deadlines, and don’t beat yourself up for things you can’t change. People are looking out for you in admissions offices, believe it or not! They don’t want to drive great students away lest they don’t seem like a good fit for the school (which is for your own good).

    so, good luck. breathe. APs will not make or break you!!!! and I’d recommend sharing your scores with the schools to which you apply, that easy they know that you attempted the credit:)
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  • avaavaavaava 2 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    And one of the biggest things I noticed in my scholarship interviews...I had the lowest SAT score in the room. Food for thought. If you plan on taking another SAT, I highly recommend Khan Academy...they can sync to your college board acc for targeted practice.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33113 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Any idea what colleges he'd like to target or what tier? What major does he have in mind? If it's stem, that's so different than if he wants humanities.

    AP scores can matter in admissions, we've got to get past the wishful thinking some show and get into some triage. BUT, where they matter most is when applying to the "most competitive" and "highly competitive" colleges or if you live in an area where there'll be lots of competition from other kids applying to the same set of colleges.

    For that reason, it makes sense to cast the net far and wide and include colleges less likely to care about AP scores. (Lots of great colleges won't.) Then you dig into the nature of those schools, what they offer (academics and other,) what they want in the class and might love about your son, as a match. This admissions strategy, unfortunately, comes along with the merit hopes. Remember also, that match is more than stats. You need to check their "mid-50th percentile" gpa and score figures and the safer bet is to be at the top of that range or better. Then assess his ECs.

    I suppose if there's a merit scholarship at College X for tops in stem or chem, that AP score could play. But you'd need to look at the merit offerings in more detail.

    I think you can do this. Get started and then one thing CC loves to do is make college suggestions. :smile:
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  • Anne ShirleyAnne Shirley 89 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Stop worrying. My oldest child was Mr perfect in high school. He didnt have his first failure until college and was devastated. My younger has always had the harder time. Yet with lower state's AND yes a 2 on an AP exam, she managed to get into the same college as her brother. Yep. Same college. They are both at a state school ( well known) and the full price no scholarships is 23,000.

    Failure should be celebrated. It's how we all learned growing up. We are raising a generation of score and grade obsessed kids. What happened? We weren't raised that way. At least not my generation (I'm 50).
    Remember the old phrase "you win some you lose some?"
    P.S. state schools....esp. the big ones....are well known all across the country. You could do much worse
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  • IowaMom66IowaMom66 23 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Getting a score that won't earn credit at college is a small setback but he only needs one in each category. So if you look at his dream school..you might see they require 1-2 sciences as gen eds. So he can still get a 4 in another science perhaps. He can also see on the AP page what % of people get which score. That normalizes it. Most schools will only take a 4 or 5. So that's hard to do. The other thing is he can look for other ways to save once he gets to college. The college where I work let's you take 4-6 classes for the same cost. Most students take five. He could take six and make up for that AP test. :)
    I also remind my students that the test tests the teacher not the student. This is particularly true of AP tests where much depends on how much the teacher covered and how many practice tests they had them do. My oldest got 5's on all 14 of her AP tests. Her younger sisters have had mix of 3s,, 4s and a couple 5s. The teachers did things differently. So just tell him to keep working hard. He will be fine. Look for other scholarships for band, art, science, etc
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5495 replies10 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The guidance you have here is good. Don't report scores that aren't 4s and 5s (since they are all self-reported) and know that a slew of 5s would not have been merit money. Sure, at some schools they might be credits or at least placement, but this is nothing to sweat.

    If you wanted to make this constructive, you could ask how your son might do this differently next time. Go through a review book on his own? Get a tutor? Online videos? How can he figure out if he is getting everything he needs from his class? Teaching quality and styles vary enormously, and figuring out what you need to know and how to learn it are critical skills. At some point, that'll be on him.
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  • Nicki20Nicki20 365 replies4 postsRegistered User Member
    I must be missing something here. While I agree that there is nothing to do now about your AP score and getting a scholarship isn’t the reason to take AP. Our niece got out of a year of classes at a state school because of it. Wouldn’t most people willing to give around $1000 to receive 15 grand in return. In that way IMO you should be disappointed about a score below 3 on an AP.
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