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So it’s July, fireworks celebrations have come and gone, and it’s finally time for those AP scores to be released on College Board’s website. Chances are, you’re feeling excitement, anxiety, dread, or a mixture of the three. Or apathy, if you’re one of those people who was forced to take an AP exam and ended up drawing a different moose on each of the pages in the free response booklet. Anyway, you log on to the website and see the AP exams you took just two months before with a number next to them. These numbers are between one and five, inclusive, and are probably the prime determinant of your mood for the moment. But what do you do after you’ve read and mentally processed these scores?

For Rising Sophomores and Juniors

If you’re at this stage in your high school career, you can relax pretty safely regardless of what your score is. Of course, do your celebrations and give yourself an obligatory pat on the back if you’re happy with your scores, but don’t stress too much if they’re lower than what you want. They’ll impact how much college credit you can get or prerequisites you can place out of in the future, but there’s nothing you really can do to change your score. Thus, there’s no point in worrying about it. Nevertheless, if you are dissatisfied with your scores, you can always use that as motivation to work harder the next AP season–evaluate how and what you used to study and try to improve on that.

I also wouldn’t suggest sending them to colleges this early in the game, simply because it’ll cost money and you probably don’t know for sure where you’ll be after graduating high school. The college I wanted to attend in ninth and tenth grade is different than the one I will be attending in just a couple of months, so even if you think you know where you’re going, it’s ideal to wait until your senior year. Now enjoy the rest of your summer!

For Rising Seniors

For those of you who will be applying to colleges in the fall, I suggest using your scores to figure out where you might see yourself attending after high school. This is mainly to maximize the gains from the money you spent paying for exams (unless your school paid for them) and the time you spent studying for them. For instance, if you got 3’s and 4’s on most of your exams, but a school only accepts 5’s to get college credit, then it might not be the most cost-effective place to spend hours writing essays for. Tuition, of course, is still a consideration though. Of course, if you have a dream school that fits all your wants, don’t let the fact that they don’t take a 3 on the Spanish Language exam deter you from applying there.

You also can start considering sending your scores to colleges. I would still advise waiting another year before doing so, since by then you’ll probably know for sure where you’ll be attending, but if you think it’ll help you in the college admissions process (something that is debatable–while colleges may look at them, they generally aren’t a significant factor, at least not as significant as how well you actually performed in those AP classes throughout the year and whether your teachers speak well of you). You may also end up needing to report your AP scores to scholarship programs in order to be considered–if so, now is the time to do so!

For Rising College Freshman

This is hopefully a given, but if you didn’t already put down your college’s four digit number down on your first AP answer sheet (in which case your scores would be sent there for free), then now’s definitely the time to do so online. This way you can go into orientation and course selections with full knowledge of what credit you’ll be able to get and what courses you can bypass, so you can accurately determine what your next four years of college are going to look like–and maybe even realize that you’ll be able to graduate early!

Also, regardless of whether your score was higher or lower than what you wished, take solace in the fact that you never have to take another AP exam ever again!

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