Can You Retake an AP Exam?

Yes, you can retake an AP exam. However, AP exams are only held in May, which means you will have to wait a year to retake the test. But should you? Here are some things you need to know about AP test scores, college credit, and retaking the exam.

How are AP Exams Scored?

AP exams are scored between 1 and 5. 3 is considered a passing score. Each exam has a multiple choice section and a free response section which can be written, spoken, or both. The exact percentage each section is worth depends on the subject. Some AP exams don’t have tests but instead require a portfolio of your work.

This table can show you how each score stacks up against grades:

AP Exam Score Grade Equivalent
5 A+ or A
4 A-, B+, or B
3 B-, C+, or C
1-2 N/A

What Do You Need to Score on an AP Exam In Order to Get College Credit?

Students generally will need to earn a 3 or higher on an AP exam in order to get college credit. Most colleges will grant elective credit for a 3 and 1:1 credit for a 4 or a 5.

For example, if you took the AP U.S. History test and scored a 4, your college would likely give you credit for U.S. History at their school. You would not have to retake this course as part of your general education requirements.

However, if you scored a 3, you would receive credit for the class towards your degree, but it would be counted as an elective. You would have to retake U.S. History at your college.

If you scored a 1 or 2, you likely will receive no college credit.

What if You Fail an AP Exam?

If you fail an AP test, you will not receive college credit for that class, but it should have no bearing on your high school GPA. AP exams are difficult, so don’t beat yourself up if you should score a 1 or a 2. Even if colleges don’t see your AP test results, they will see you had academic rigor that year and it will give your application a boost.

If you don’t want your future colleges to see your AP test score(s), you can opt to cancel or withhold them. Score cancellation must be done by June 15 of the year you took the AP exam through the AP Score Cancellation Form. Choosing this option means your scores are completely deleted from the College Board and cannot be reinstated at a later date. Canceling AP scores is free.

If you opt to withhold your scores, your colleges will not be notified you sat for the exam. If you scored a 1 or 2 on the test, you might want to choose this option. You can choose this option by completing the AP Score Withholding Form. However, withholding your scores is $10 per school report. If you ever wish to reinstate your score, it is $15 per school report. It also has a deadline of June 15 of the year you took the AP exam.

Can You Retake an AP Exam?

Yes, you can retake an AP exam. However, AP exams are only offered once a year, in May, so students will have to wait an entire year before they can sit again for the test. However, if you’re a graduating senior, you likely won’t get a chance to take it again.

Should You Retake an AP Exam?

Whether or not you retake the AP exam is completely up to you. However, it is important to note that you will have to wait an entire year to sit for the test again. You will need a solid game plan for studying and prep. This can get time consuming and expensive.

If you scored a 4, however, it is generally not recommended that you retake the test, even if you want to earn a 5! Most colleges will accept a 4 as 1:1 college credit.

If you decide to retake the AP test, you should

  • Study early. Even though the exam is a year away, it doesn’t mean you should start studying 8 months from now. An early start can make the difference for your exam
  • Determine what you did wrong the first time. You won’t be able to see your answers from your first AP test, so you will want to focus on what you think were your weaker areas going into round 2.
  • Ask for help. Working with a tutor can be a great way to get prepared for your second AP test, especially since you won’t be taking the course this year.

While you can absolutely retake an AP exam, it might not be worth it to you in the long run, especially if you earned a 3 or a 4. However, if you do decide to sit for the test again, be sure to start your studying process early! This will help prevent you from getting rusty on the material and help you put your best foot forward for round 2.

Do you want to know more about which colleges accept AP credits? Sign up now for our FREE College Match Tool and find your best fit college. Use it for free today.

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