3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Is it possible to improve an academic profile with tests alone?

The way my school does AP is that you need to maintain a certain GPA then apply for AP classes. I got rejected from every single AP class I signed up for. So I can't rely on class rigor to improve my academic profile. I also won't be able to raise my 2.7 GPA to anything beyond a 3.0 (Freshmen year really did a number on that.) So is it possible to improve my academics with high test scores on every AP I take and with my SAT/ ACT?


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago

The primary thing that admissions officers look for in applicants is strong academic standing. This means choosing the most rigorous course load obtainable. This also means maintaining high grades in these classes. Other factors (extracurriculars, test scores, letters of recommendation, etc.) are still considered. However, academics are weighted more during the application process.

Still, I recommend that you prepare extra hard for the SAT and other standardized tests. This can offset a low GPA a little bit.

If you really want to take a specific AP test that your school isn’t allowing (or offering), then look into other options. You might be able to take an AP class at another school, online, or you can even self study. AP classes are weighted at most high schools. This means that an A in an AP class can be a 4.5 on a traditional 4.0 GPA scale. However, if you are not able to take AP classes try your hardest in the classes that you are able to take. This way you will maintain good grades, which would prevent further GPA damage.

Good luck in school, your applications, and your future endeavors!

3 years ago[edited]

I would look into either finding an Online HS that will allow you to take AP courses or to transfer to another HS either public or private that will allow you to take AP courses. The third option is to stick it out and apply as a post-graduate student at a private boarding school after you graduate so you can take all AP courses and show your course rigor.

I have no problem recommending that it's perfectly fine and normal to either find another venue or to repeat some classes to get your course rigor up. There is no shame in going to a PG program after HS because it's like a do-over opportunity for students who know they are high achieving but haven't lived up to their potential yet.



I'm considering going to a PG program if I can't be on my college campus this fall. I would rather take a productive gap year than start Columbia U. from a laptop in my hometown. Some people will not understand this but that's okay.

My take on standardized tests is that since all colleges went test-optional this cycle, most likely they will be test-optional next cycle. 1/2 the Ivys already said they are going test-optional for Class of 2026. Therefore, high SAT/ACT scores can only help you if you have met the rigorous threshold for academic and EC expectations to the schools you are applying to. They alone will not be a surrogate replacement for a low GPA or lack of ECs or other important criteria.

So if you have a 3.7/3.8 UWGPA and applying to an IVY league college, you are going up against many applicants with 3.9-4.0 UWGPAS. If you have a 1500+ SAT or 34+ ACT, that will help you establish that you have shown evidence of knowing how to master the material and take tests. While that's no guaranty, there is a positive correlation between high test scores and getting good grades in college. (According to previous articles I've read from Harvard admissions).

If you get 1500+/34+ on your test scores and have a 2.7/3.0, that looks like you didn't apply yourself. This kind of high test score, low GPA is very typical with recruited athletes that go on to Stanford or Ivy League programs. It's more typical with Cis White Affluent males who spend a lot of time on the Lacrosse or Football field. They are high aptitude students but they are stretched with time so they let their grades fall behind, even though they take hard classes. I imagine you are not recruited athlete or in that category, so this kind of loophole may not apply to you.

Therefore, if you are trying to get into a top liberal arts college like Amherst or Williams or an Elite college like UVA, U Mich, or UCLA, then you need to get your grades up to at least a 3.6+ Unweighted, 4.1 Weighted to be a viable candidate. If you don't have the runway to do in your school with all the restrictions, you need to be radical and creative and make the rules for yourself and do something out of the box.

(I didn't mention dual enrollment because that can be political if your counselors do not agree that taking such courses merits giving you a weighted credit for them. For example. I took 24 dual enrollment credits while in HS and 6 college credits. All 30 credits were not counted as weighted classes for me, otherwise, I would have had like a 3.98 UNGPA and a 4.6 WGPA instead of a 4.38 WGPA but once you hit a near-perfect GPA, it really doesn't matter.)

Good luck.

3 years ago

Is it possible for you to take a Duel Enrollment class or maybe one over the summer? For the most part they're weighted the same as AP classes.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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