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What Happens if You Fail an AP Exam?

As you begin studying for your AP exam, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind. If you’ve had trouble in your AP class, one of those questions may be, “What happens if you fail an AP exam?” Well, we are here to ease your worries. If you fail an AP exam, you won’t be at any disadvantage. Colleges do not require that you submit AP exam scores, so they will never even see it. Here’s a breakdown of what will happen if you fail an AP Exam:

Colleges will not look at your score

You will not be required to send your AP score to your colleges. If you opt to send it before taking the test, the college will receive it, but it likely will not be weighed in their decision. According to the College Board, over 75% of admissions officers surveyed said that a poor AP score would have no impact on an application.

If you are still worried that your college may be off put by a low score, you can opt not to send your AP score. Students have the option not to send their scores to any schools; you can wait until you get your score back to make any decisions.

You will not receive college credit

The most substantial consequence to failing an AP exam is that you will not receive college credit for the course. However, many colleges do not even offer credit for AP courses. So, you may not be missing out on an opportunity at all. 

Either way, you shouldn’t look at this as a scary consequence. The worst that can happen is that it is as if you never took the exam. It won’t actually impact you negatively, it will just fail to provide a possible benefit.

Related: How does AP credit work?

Your class grade will not be affected

A poor AP exam score will not affect your class grade. Typically, you receive your AP score far after your semester grades have already been submitted. So, you don’t have to worry about failing the course as a result of failing the AP exam.

It’s worth noting, however, that some AP teachers use practice AP tests as their course final. If this is the case, you’ll definitely want to do well on that practice test. Most teachers will tell their class of this rule long beforehand. If you know that your final will be an AP practice test, you should start studying for the test early and be especially focused on it.

Read more: How many AP classes should I take in high school?

You will still get a weighted GPA boost

Here’s some more good news – even if you fail your AP exam, you’ll be benefiting your weighted GPA by taking an AP course! While normal courses can only score up to a 4.0 on your GPA, an AP course can earn you a 5.0. And so, a B in an AP course is worth an A in a normal course. And an A in an AP course is higher than you could ever earn in a regular course.

This will help your weighted GPA, and additionally, colleges will see the course on your transcript. It’s impressive to do well in AP courses in high school. Colleges will take note of this and it will help your admissions chances.

Also see: Honors vs AP Courses: What are the differences?

How to avoid failing your AP exam

So, we’ve established that it’s not the worst thing in the world to fail an AP exam. But still, if you are able to, you should try your best to pass. You should make sure to get help from your teacher throughout the semester to address weak points you have in the class. Take practice tests throughout the semester to help prepare you for what might be on the test. It could also be a good idea to get a test prep tutor. But don’t let your AP exam take up too much of your life! Remember that extracurriculars and having an enjoyable high school experience are also important.

Related: Do I have to take the AP Exam if I take an AP class?

Summing it up

To sum everything up, don’t worry too much! Getting a good score on an AP exam can be a nice boost to your college application, and it may place you out of courses in college. But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t pass. Your class grade won’t be affected, and colleges will still be impressed that you took an AP course. Colleges won’t see your scores, and you won’t miss out on any opportunities. So, even if you are unsure if you’ll pass, it’s a good idea to opt to take an AP course. You miss all the shots you don’t take!

If you are getting ready to enter the college admissions process, we’ve got lots of other resources for you. Check out our 10 tips for a successful college application and our comparison of the SAT and ACT. You can also check out our guide to finding a financial safety school, and our guide on when to apply for college. Good luck with your application journey!

Also read: Advice for low test takers

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