Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
Do You Have to Take the AP Exam if You Take an AP Class?
If you struggled in an AP class, you may be wondering if you have to take the AP exam afterwards. Well, the short answer is, no. But before you make your decision, you should know that you don’t have much to lose in taking an AP exam. It may be worth taking the exam just to see how you do. To help you make your decision, we’ll go into the pros and cons of each choice in this article.
Also read: What happens if I fail an AP exam?
What happens if you don’t take the AP exam?
If you don’t take an exam, you won’t face any real consequences. Some AP teachers offer extra credit to incentivize students to take the exam, so you may miss out on that. But otherwise, there will be no issues. You won’t have any score for the exam, you won’t send anything to colleges, and they won’t look at you any differently.
Many students take AP courses without taking the exam for a variety of reasons. These could include a variety of reasons. Perhaps the test was too expensive, or they couldn’t make the exam date. It could also be because none of their potential colleges accept AP credits. Either way, colleges will not look down on you for abstaining from taking the exam.
Possible advantages of taking the exam
Although there are no consequences from skipping the exam, you might be missing out on some opportunities. The first and most obvious advantage is the college credit. Although many colleges are highly selective about AP results, or don’t accept them at all, some still will give you credit. This means that you could set yourself on a course to graduate early. You could also make it easier for yourself down the line if you decide to double major or switch majors.
Additionally, a good AP score can make your college application more attractive. AP scores are far from the most important factor that colleges look at, but they can still speak to your ability to balance responsibilities and perform in class. You shouldn’t weigh this opportunity too heavily, but it is one to consider.
Good reasons not to take the exam
So, now that you know the possible advantages of going ahead and taking the exam, let’s go over reasons not to take it. As with most things, it comes down to a question of setting your priorities. In general, your grades are more important than your AP scores. AP tests come around the beginning of May, which could be crunch time for some students. If your AP test falls on the weekend before a huge final or due date, and you don’t think you’ll pass the exam, it may be a better idea to spend your time studying for your final.
Additionally, the cost of AP exams may deter you from taking them. Especially if it seems unlikely that you’ll pass the test, it could make sense to skip out on it. If this is an issue, we recommend looking into reduced cost test vouchers. While these might not make them affordable for everyone, they might convince you to try the test out.
But remember, being scared of hurting your college chances should not be a reason to abstain from the exam! You don’t have to send your AP results to colleges. And even if you sent them a failing grade, over 75% of admissions officers report that it has no effect on their decisions.
To sum everything up, you don’t have to take the AP exam if you take an AP class. That being said, you probably should. Unless you are too busy at the end of the year or you have trouble affording the exam, you have nothing to lose. You could come away from it with valuable college credit and a more attractive college application. You may thank yourself in 2 years when you are building your course schedule and can take an extra class that you are interested in.
As you begin to apply to colleges, make sure to check out our other resources! We can help you decide when to start applying to schools and how to pick a school. If you need help finding a financial safety school or figuring out when to take the SAT, we’ve got you. Good luck!
Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool
Frequently asked questions about AP exams
Can I take an AP exam if I haven’t taken the class?
Yes! If you feel like you can pass an AP exam and your college accepts them for credit, this might be a good idea. It will be difficult to pass without having taken the course, but some may be easier than others. For example, exams that don’t require overly specialized knowledge, such as English, might be passable. That being said, it’s certainly possible to pass an AP exam without taking the class. Try starting with our guide to how to self study for AP exams.
What happens if I fail an AP exam?
If you fail an AP exam, you won’t face any serious consequences. You can choose whether you’d like to send it to colleges, and even if you do send failing scores, they do not weigh these results heavily whatsoever. You shouldn’t worry too much about the possibility. For more information on the results of failing an AP exam, check out our article.