Thoughts on taking an AP exam that might not go well?

At our school, we are given the option to skip Physics 1 and go right to 2, and we take both exams the same year. However, the AP Physics 2 class this year did not really prepare the students for the AP exam very well and we’re all not super prepared. I decided to take the Physics 1 exam today and I’m deciding whether to take AP Physics 2 tomorrow. I think I got a solid 4 on Physics 1, but I’m not feeling very confident for the next exam…

Would it hurt me to attempt the AP Exam and risk getting a 2 or 3? I received an A in the class both semesters, so I’m wondering if getting a low score on the AP Exam could be a red flag, especially since I plan on going into STEM (Computer Science). However, there is still the chance that I luck out and get a 4. What are the pros and cons to taking it tomorrow – is there anything to lose? What do you all think? Thank you.

Silly question. If you don’t submit the score for credit it doesn’t matter. So take the test.

That’s what I was thinking – but I’ve been told that some colleges require all scores to be submitted (usually higher-end colleges), regardless of whether I did poorly or wish to not submit. Do you know if this is true? Thanks.

a grand total of zero colleges require all AP scores to be submitted. And given the year we have had, no college will care if you don’t submit an AP score from this year or last year.


There were two colleges, maybe now down to one, that required all SAT/ACT scores last year, AFAIK (down from dozens a few years ago), if that’s what you’re thinking.

Even they don’t require all AP scores. I’m not aware of any school that does.

If you’re registered for the test and took the course, I see no downside in taking the test.

Unless you are a senior whose college admission letter has taking planned AP test as part of the conditions of admission, taking the AP exam is optional from your point of view.

As a prospective computer science major, AP physics 1 or 2 scores are unlikely to be useful for your major, but may be useful for general education in some cases.

  • Engineering-based CS majors will require calculus-based physics, so AP physics 1 or 2 scores will not be useful for this purpose (and any credit is likely to be cancelled after taking calculus-based physics).
  • Liberal arts CS majors often do not require physics. They may or may not allow AP physics 1 or 2 scores to fulfill general education requirements.

However, if you change major, an AP physics 1 or 2 score may be more useful. The only possible downside is if you decide to be a pre-med, get subject credit for it, and then have to repeat it in college (because medical schools want college courses instead of AP credit, and non-calculus-based physics does not lead to more advanced physics courses that you could take instead) and have to mark “repeat” on the college courses on your medical school application.

Colleges definitely care more about the grade you received in the class than what you got on the exam. Take the exam, it won’t hurt you but only help.