Do AP Scores Affect College Admissions?

At Signature College Counseling, we are often asked if AP scores impact college admissions. In general, they don’t really affect your admissions chances. As with many questions about college admissions, however, the answer is it really depends upon the student. While this may be a frustrating answer, whether or not your AP score will impact your admissions chances is part and parcel of the bigger picture of your credentials, i.e., transcript, AP test results, how the AP subjects relate to your intended major, activities, other standardized test scores, etc. Let’s explore this answer a bit more to help you understand what we mean.

You DON’T Need to Submit AP Scores as Part of the Admissions Process

It’s important to understand that you typically do not ever have to submit your AP scores to colleges during the application process – or even after – though there are a few schools that may want you to do so because they want you to submit all scores. Generally, submitting AP scores is optional. You can self report them if you want to, but you don’t have to do so. The only time you really need to submit your scores is after you’ve decided where you’re going to attend. At that time, you would submit your AP scores to see if you’ll be able to get college credit from that institution, which typically occurs if you receive a 4 or 5 on the AP test; however, depending on the subject and the college, you may be able to receive college credit if you earn a 3 on the test

When Should You Submit AP Scores as Part of the Admissions Process?

We look at our students AP scores and if they scored a 4 or 5 on ALL of their AP exams – whether it’s two or eight exams – we recommend they self-report their scores.

If they have a mix of scores – for example they took five AP exams and two of them have scores of 2, one has a score of 3, and the other two scores are 4’s or 5’s – they probably shouldn’t self- report the results or submit them through the College Board. Note that it is not going to be a detriment to your college applications if you don’t report your AP scores.

As another example, let’s say that a student who is applying as an engineering or math major took seven AP exams of which five are in the science and math categories. They received 4s on the science and math AP exams, but received 2s or 3s on the other exams, i.e. AP Lang, U.S. History, etc. In this instance, we would recommend that they self-report their scores because it shows their proficiency in the subject areas that relate to the major.

Whether AP Scores Impact Your Admissions Chances Is Not Cut and Dry

As you can see, how AP scores affect your admissions results really hinges on your personal circumstances. At Signature College Counseling, we assess every student’s whole package to determine if it is appropriate to provide AP scores along with their college applications. Unfortunately, whether your scores will impact admissions is not necessarily straightforward. What we can say is that not submitting your scores will not affect your application.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.