I'm currently deciding if I should dedicate my time to studying for the SAT/ACT or my AP Exams. Is it true that AP scores are not an important part of your application? Are they self-reported? Do colleges see them at all? If so, should I even bother with studying for my ap exams this year? I know for sure I want a good SAT/ACT score to send to colleges instead.
In priority, your SAT/ACT are like 5X or 10X more important if you have a high score versus your AP test scores.
1. College Admissions officer can tell by your grades like A in the class if you did well in AP Calculus. That speaks to mastering the material more than getting a 4 or 5 on the AP exam. It's important to take a good amount of APs because it shows you can handle college level material and get good grade in them. Now if you get all 5s on your 10 AP exams that indeed is impressive but most people end up with a mix of 3s,4s and 5s that get into top universities. If you take 10 APs you should sit for at least 5 of the exams and aim for a 4 or 5.
2. As long as 85-90% of colleges are test optional, submitting a high SAT/ACT will always be beneficial because it differentiates you from other applicants with similar grades, coursework, and ECs. Not so much if the schools were test blind like Caltech and UC Schools, then the SAT/ACT matter less. But with other schools it's still a biggie.
Yes, like the SAT/ACT, reporting APs is self-reported. Once you report them on the common app or coalition app, you have to order the report from CollegeBoard and sent it to the colleges you have determined should have your AP test scores for whatever price they charge.
You should study for your AP exams! From the Collegeboard website: "Check the admissions websites of the colleges that interest you to see if sending your official scores will help support your application. In general, colleges want to see that you’re taking the most rigorous coursework available to you. By enrolling in AP courses, you demonstrate that you’re interested in challenging yourself and learning at a college level." Doing well on these exams shows colleges that you understood high levels of material. You can also get college credit for AP exam scores, so if you score well, you can save thousands! Some schools will have you self-report scores, and others will ask you to have Collegeboard send them a score report.
Your ACT/SAT score is probably more important, as it contributes to what is called your Academic Index at more selective schools. They want to make sure you are academically up to snuff, and your GPA and test scores are the first thing they look at. Once you get past that stage, they look at your activities, AP scores, etc. High scores in everything is obviously best. Decide what you want to focus on most depending on where you are in your academic journey. If you're a junior, and can take the ACT more than once, I would focus more on AP tests and see how you do on the ACT if you haven't taken it already, as you get multiple tries on that and not on the AP exams.
AP exams are definitely important! I would definitely try and allocate some time to studying at least a little bit, as I think they'll turn up on your school transcript?
AP Exams are important from a challenge aspect, because it shows that you took a challenging course and did well, but they aren't the most important thing! Good luck!
To keep this community safe and supportive: