Not taking the AP tests

Throughout highschool, I will be taking around 13-14 AP classes. However, with all of this COVID stuff happening during the time of my AP tests, I really don’t feel comfortable taking them. Will colleges look down upon me if I am taking all these AP classes but 0 of the tests?

Are you a freshmen in HS? If so, I would highly recommend taking the AP exam for your classes, at least in the subjects related to your intended major (i.e. AP Sciences and Math if a STEM major.) It’s not uncommon not to take a few tests, especially in classes unrelated to your major or classes that you’ll retake in college, but it’ll probably raise a few eyebrows if you take none—ESPECIALLY when you’ll be taking 10+ courses (not many schools care, if any, if you take tests your senior year or not, but check admissions websites during your junior year.)

If cost is an issue the College Board has a reduced fee option available (based on household income IIRC,) and your high school may subsidize the cost of AP testing. I would suggest reaching out to your guidance counselor or designated school AP coordinator for more information.

Hope that helps!

Also, taking the AP exams can allow you to take advanced placement in a subject if you do well enough from the point of view of the college you eventually attend. No point in wasting time and tuition in college repeating what you already know well (although you may want to try the college’s old final exams of the courses you are allowed to skip with AP scores just to be sure).

That is far in the future, but if you skip the AP exams while in high school, you will no longer have that option when you get to college.

Thank you guys, but @PikachuRocks15, you said it would raise a few eyebrows… why? I just don’t want or care for the college credit that it gives me. Will this actually be a red flag? Will I have to take these tests just to not have my admission chances impacted when applying to colleges? (I am a junior and do not have money problems)

How many tests are you talking about? What is your unweighted GPA?

I am guessing that you are not taking 13 or 14 AP classes right now. How many of these did you already take in previous years? What year are you in now?

What schools are you thinking of applying to?

Also, I am guessing that you will not be taking AP tests until the end of the year. That is quite a few months away. It is possible that the state of the pandemic might have changed by then.

Senior year of high school is stressful. One daughter skipped one of her AP tests just to reduce the stress. It did not have any impact on her applications, and she still got accepted to 6 out of 7 schools that she applied to (or it might have been 7 out of 8, it was a few years back). The only implication is that she did not get AP credit for that one particular class.

I noticed this thread earlier this evening but did not respond because there seemed to be too much that I did not understand about your situation.

@theconcernedkid I’m assuming that you’re aiming for selective schools b/c of the sheer number of AP courses you’ve taken, so see the following’s from the Harvard Admissions Dean:

"We have found that the best predictors at Harvard are Advanced Placement tests and International Baccalaureate Exams, closely followed by the College Board subject tests. High school grades are next in predictive power, followed by the SAT and ACT. The writing tests of the SAT and ACT have predictive power similar to the subject tests…

At Harvard the more curriculum-based tests such as the AP, IB, and subject tests are the best predictors of college grades. More research is needed to determine whether our experience is replicated elsewhere, and there was great interest on our 2008 NACAC Commission in developing future tests that would encourage students to focus on their high school curriculum rather than the many costly and relatively ineffective test prep programs. These programs, on average, boost scores by only 20 to 30 points on the old 1600 point scale."

While the article is a bit outdated (2009—when the SAT was out of 2400,) it still has extremely helpful advice. Although standard testing as a whole is rife with problems, AP/IB (and subject test scores to a lesser extent) are extremely helpful in reinforcing your school grade.

Think about it this way: will students do better on a tests set by their school teacher where the teacher’s teaching them exactly what is and isn’t on the tests (b/c they wrote it) or on a test that isn’t created by their teacher and their teacher doesn’t know exactly what’s tested (i.e. they have to prepare them for any concept that could show up?) Students would do better when it comes to their school grades, and this is why AP/IB test scores are useful: to show colleges that you didn’t just get an A or a B b/c your school is grade-inflated but b/c you actually know the subject matter on a STANDARDIZED exam taken by students across the country, one that’s not written by your teacher.

So what does this mean for you? Now, there’s not much you can do about the tests from before your junior year (unless you were to take the RELEVANT ones this year, and that’s a case by case decision i.e. don’t need to take AB if you’re taking the BC exam but if you’re applying for a Bio major then take the AP Bio test if possible IMO) but I highly, highly recommend taking AP tests this year if you’re planning on applying to schools like Harvard: especially in a SAT/ACT test-optional atmosphere, it’s beneficial to have less biased tests (than your school grades,) in your fields of interest to show that you have a strong background in what you’re studying, and that you’ll be able to handle the rigors of the coursework at Harvard or elsewhere. Also, as @ucbalumnus states, you might be able to get credit for general-education or other introductory course requirements: saving time and money, as college is extremely expensive.

Hope that helps!

So, you are Junior, taking 6/7 AP classes this year and another 6/7 next year, and b/c of Covid you want to decide now (in October) that you won’t take the exams in May?

I also note from other threads that you are taking DE classes at your local CC, and that you are aiming for highly selective colleges.

Somehow this doesn’t add up. I’m not sure how you can take 6/7 AP classes + DE classes at the same time. Also, I’m not sure why you want to decide now that you aren’t going to take the exam: I don’t buy the Covid anxiety line, as you can do the coursework now, and evaluate the situation closer to time.

A highly selective college looking at a student listed as taking 6/7 AP classes as a Junior and reporting no scores raises the question- why? especially if that is out of the norm for that school. if the student has good scores, why not report them? Why is the student taking the APs in the first place? etc. They are just questions, and the answers won’t necessarily ding your app, but you want to minimize the number of questions your app raises that it doesn’t answer in a clear (& posititve) way.

AP credits aren’t just for graduating early: they are also good for class placement. For example, if you are interested in studying economics at Emory, and have a 4/5 on AP Micro & Macro, you can be exempted from the otherwise required Intro Micro & Macro, which lets you get on to the more interesting electives faster- an approach a lot of ambitious students take. On the other hand, if you have taken the AP courses, but not done the exam, you will have to sit through the same classes all over again.

So, besides Covid anxiety, why don’t you want to take the tests?

@collegemom3717 I don’t know, I don’t trust in my ability to remember everything from my junior year to my first year at college of a course. I just want to make sure I get the correct intro information as well for the following class, and I don’t trust the whole AP test thing to gauge how ready I am to just be exempt of that class. Thanks for your response!

@PikachuRocks15 Thank you! I really appreciate your response, helps a lot. So it’s fine if I skip on some government AP test if I don’t want to take it and want to go into science, and just take the tests of the classes I actually care about?

@DadTwoGirls my unweighted right now is 4.0, and I just don’t wanna take the tests of the 6-7 classes I’m in right now. Thanks for your response, I appreciate your story as it does relate to my situation.

@theconcernedkid Sure, but I’d recommend taking one or two outside (English, History etc.) to show breadth, given that most selective schools are liberal-arts in nature. However, strong ACT or SAT scores can show this as well, in-addition to class grades. You might also be able to test out of general education requirements and mainly take the courses you’re interested in. :smile:

Hope that helps!

Thanks for everything! @PikachuRocks15 , helps me a lot!