back to Admissions Advice Q&A
• 07/15/2020 at 05:17PM

Will having all 4s on AP Exams look bad

I am a rising high school junior. I have taken 3 AP classes so far and scored 4s on all 3 AP Exams I have taken. The 3 AP’s I have done are AP Human Geo, AP US History, and AP Psychology. Would this look bad for Ivy League admissions? Do I need some or all 5s for Ivy Leagues? Will having all 4s be bad on my transcript?

NewYou earn karma when your answer is accepted or upvoted.

3 answers

• 07/16/2020 at 06:38PM

Hey @IvyLeagueGirl, great question! When you eventually get to filling out your college application in a few years you'll notice that there is not a space dedicated to entering your AP scores because they technically aren't required. There is a place to submit your test scores though which means you're able to self-report any AP scores you receive. Obviously being able to write that you received all 5s on your tests would be great and might help set you apart from some candidates but some 4s probably won't be looked at particularly positively or negatively. What admissions officers will look for more is your course load and academic rigor. The fact you've already taken 3 APs through 10th grade, and did well on the exams, will most likely have a more positive impact on your application than submitting some 4s, which will likely have almost no impact on your chances.

For a bit more context, the actual weight of an AP score on your admissions chances are typically pretty minimal. Of course, this will vary from school to school but AP scores shouldn't be considered a make-or-break aspect of your application. Where they might be used is if an Admissions Officer is considering two almost identical students for admission to their school. If one student took APs and one didn't, the one who took APs will get the boost (assuming the scores are solid. If they aren't it would be more beneficial to submit nothing). If both took APs then it will come down more to the difference in which APs were taken and the scores received on those tests. When it comes to Ivy League admissions you'll need whatever edge you can get to stand out. If you're able to get 5s these next two years you could consider only submitting the 5s but I don't think three 4s, while you were in 10th grade, will have a negative impact. Luckily you're in control for which scores you want to submit so if you're afraid only 4s will have a negative impact on your chances you could just not submit scores.

This article ( goes into AP scores a bit more and expands a little on what I wrote here. I'd recommend checking it out. If you have questions on anything I wrote or follow-up questions you'd like answered let me know, more than happy to help!

Accepted Answer
• 07/15/2020 at 07:56PM[edited]

Awesome job in my opinion because a.) you took these classes as 10th grader and b.) 4s are really good scores. It's a balancing act so Ivys are not going to punish you for getting 4s as a 10th grader. When you are a 11th/12th grader you can focus on getting 5s and that will show some progression. But again its a balancing act so don't sign up for 10-12 more AP exams thinking you are going to get 5s in all of them. Sign up for the AP exams that a.) reflect your strengths, interests, and spike b.) and those that you think you have a great shot at getting a 5. So if you take 3 more AP exams 11th grade and get a 5,5,5 and 3 more in 12ths and get a 5,5,5. That is better than signing up for 10 AP exams and getting 5,4,5,4,5,4,5,4,5,4,5. Remember that most of the IVYs only give college credit for 5s and some CAP the maximum number of credits they will accept as AP credit as well. If you apply to Harvard, only 5s count for course credit. If you apply to Brown, they give you ZERO AP Credit. If you are looking at MIT, they only take humanities APs if they are 5s, no STEM APS whatsoever, similar to CalTech. And other top schools like Williams will give you ZERO AP credit. Good luck.

Here is a complete list of what AP credit you get at the 8 IVYS

• 07/15/2020 at 05:21PM

I know you’re disappointed but you should realize that a 4 is incredible and. Most Ivies aren’t gonna give you credit regardless cause of policy so the score you get doesn’t matter in that sense (whereas the gap between a 4 and a 5 is a big deal. No, it won’t look bad. You should have a smattering of fives next year, but even if you get all fours it will still look favorable, especially since you’ve already taken three ap exams so far. IMO having all fours won’t be bad if you have stellar course grades that are in-sync with your AP exam scores. Sure, having 5s would give you an advantage but AP exams are mattering less and less especially since they were optional this year. Colleges really only care about them now for the optional SAT Subject test since a lot of elite colleges are now accepting AP scores in place of those.

[🎤 AUTHOR]@IvyLeagueGirl07/15/2020 at 05:25PM

I don’t know if this matters, but I got As every quarter in US History, Psychology, and Human Geography

@crsgo042207/15/2020 at 06:08PM

yeah, you’re gonna be fine. for ivys as long as you take 8 or more APs (or as many as your school offers) and have a gpa either high 3.8 low 3.9 or above you’ll clear the academic threshold

@DebaterMAX07/15/2020 at 06:47PM Really good AP score resource.