Can I explain my extenuating circumstances for APs somewhere?

I am taking AP CS A, and I have to take the exam soon, and my mental state is not very good. My family is struggling with extenuating circumstances and I’m afraid I’ll forget everything ( my mcqs are okay but I cannot for the life of me understand frqs extremely well) and score low on the exam. I was also thinking of going into CS but my mental situation is kind of low and I’m worried this will reflect badly upon me by colleges. Is there somewhere I can explain what is going on? My counselor is aware. I also have to take APWH but I have even less hope for that AP. Both of these exams are digital and these are my first APs as a sophomore ever. My grades in the class are good. I do however, go to a top school district and many overachieving students are at my school so I am afraid it will make my situation worse. Any guidance is appreciated. Thanks!

When one is sending AP scores to colleges, I’m not sure that one can pick and choose which ones to send. I think it is an all or nothing choice.

But… you don’t have to TAKE the AP exams if you don’t want to, unless your school has made it mandatory. You say you have good grades in the classes. If you don’t care about getting credit, maybe just not take them? Also, if you do have good grades in the classes, maybe you are just having test anxiety, and you’re going to do better than you expect?

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*Edit: see RichInPitt’s response for a correction to this first paragraph. Sorry for the misinformation.

*AP scores don’t affect college admissions. They’re just used to help you get credits if your college takes them. Your grade in the class matters more, so focus on that - just don’t submit your score if it’s low. You don’t have to take AP exams, you can cancel them (albeit w/o a refund) if you feel it would impact your mental health.

But for reference, last year, 29.6% of students got less than a three on the AP CS A exam, and 39.8% of students got less than a three on the APWH exam. Many people don’t get a great score on these exams. AP exams are designed to be tougher than high school exams, but getting a bad grade on them doesn’t affect your ability to go into those fields of education in the future. So it would be a waste of space to explain extenuating circumstances for AP exams.

TL;DR: You don’t need to explain your AP scores with your circumstances because AP scores won’t majorly affect your applications, but if these circumstances affect other areas of your life, note them. Keep your grades up and take care of yourself please.

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My son self reported his AP scores, I believe on the Common app. You can choose which scores to report. When it comes time to send the official AP score report (summer after HS graduation), you can cancel scores you don’t like. But at that point you’ve already been admitted so it doesn’t even matter.

OP, don’t stress (I know it’s hard). Just go in and do your best–there’s really nothing to lose. If you score poorly, colleges don’t need to know your score on that particular exam. Your course grade is more important for college admissions.

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I hope you are getting help for whatever ails you. That is more important than scores, regardless. And yes, if your school does not require you to take the test, it is a good option not to in your situation.

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It’s just that coronavirus is wrecking the country where my extended family lives and we are quite literally terrified. Not just me, my mother is frantic and my dad is focusing on his job so he doesn’t get panicked for his family. The exam is in 2/3 days, so I may as well take it and see how I do :(. My teacher did mention I could take like a makeup exam but those tend to be harder, and I have to bring up my school GPA as well.

Oh I am so sorry to hear what is happening for your family and extended family. Does your school require the AP exam?

I will check, but I don’t think they actually do this year. Would you suggest cancelling my tests? Usually they’re a bit stricter but we all have to take digital exams and there’s also a overcrowding problem at our school so they’re letting students cancel.

If you are under stress and don’t feel prepared, cancelling might be a good option.

https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/score-reporting-services/withhold-scores

You can request that the AP Program withhold one or more AP Exam scores from any college or scholarship program that you chose as a score recipient. The score will be withheld from any future score reports sent to that college or scholarship program.

This is not accurate.

“In a 2009 New York Times article, the Dean of Admissions at Harvard responded to questions as to the relative importance of AP exams, noting that “the best predictors at Harvard are Advanced Placement tests and International Baccalaureate Exams, closely followed by the College Board subject tests.” Predictors of college success make up a large portion of the college deliberation process, so in this sense, it seems that Harvard has considered AP exams as relevant to their admissions process. Reasonably, it could be presumed that many other schools of similar caliber might hold AP scores in similar regard.”

The AO at our info session and Harvard confirmed this, as have numerous others. CMU is to only one that told us they don’t consider APs in admissions, and that was 3 years ago, before they started ignoring Subject Tests.

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OP, I would suggest taking the test and omitting the scores if they are not what you would like. I wouldn’t recommend trying to “explain” scores/grades unless it was a specific, severe situation that broadly impacted your performance. Not for just an AP score.

If you wanted to retake the exam you would have to wait a year(and pay a fee). Ask your counselor if they can shift you to the next digital administration. The next digital test administration period starts in June. It may or may not be harder, but your mental health is more important than a number between 1-5.

AP Exam schedule

My apologies. I think I meant to say more that it wouldn’t play a big role in the decision-making process (since they’re optional to report and not reporting bad scores won’t affect the app) but I didn’t mean to sound so matter of fact. I retract my comment then