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What Happens If You Fail an AP Exam? Not The End of The World

An AP exam, or Advanced Placement exam, is a test that students can take to earn college credit for advanced coursework in high school. If you fail an AP exam, you may retake the test, but you may also need to take the course again in order to earn college credit. Talk to your guidance counselor or academic advisor to determine the best course of action for you.

If you retake the AP exam and pass, you will receive college credit for the course. If you retake the AP exam and fail again, you may need to take the course again in order to earn college credit. In some cases, your school may offer a summer program or other type of accelerated course that can help you earn credit for the course.

Failing an AP exam can be a disheartening experience. You may feel like you have let yourself and your teachers down. But don’t worry, there is still hope!

In this article, we will discuss what happens if you fail an AP exam and what your options are. We will also provide some advice on how to prepare for the next test. Good luck!

The Consequences of Failing Your AP Exam

The good news is that nothing really happens when you fail an AP exam. Yeah, it sucks because you spent a lot of time preparing for it, and you aren’t going to benefit from  the extra college credit. But, you will still receive your high school diploma, and you can always retake the test.

The main consequence of failing an AP exam is that it may set you back academically. For example, if you were planning on using your AP credits to get out of taking a required course in college, you may now have to take that course. This can also delay your graduation date if you were planning on using AP credits to graduate early. In addition, you may have to pay for the exam again if you decide to retake it.

So, as you can see, the consequences of failing an AP exam are not too severe. You can always retake the test, and in most cases, the worst that will happen is that you’ll have to take a course in college that you were hoping to avoid.

Retaking the Test

If you decide to retake the test, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, do you have time for it? AP exams are only once a year around early May. If you’re taking other exams, like the SAT or ACT, you may not have time to prepare for another AP exam.

Second, are you willing to put in the work? It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for an AP exam. If you don’t think you can commit the necessary time, it may be better to wait until next year.

Third, how did you do on the first exam? If you didn’t do too well, it may be better to focus on other exams. However, if you were close to passing, it may be worth your while to retake the test.

Fourth, how important are the credits? In some cases, the course may not be required, or you may be able to take a less intensive version of it. In this case, it may not be worth your time to retake the test.

Only you can decide whether or not to retake an AP exam. Consider your situation and make the best decision for you.

How to Prepare for Your Next AP Exam

If you failed an AP exam, don’t despair! You can always retake the test, and there are things you can do to prepare for it.

First, it is important to figure out why you failed the exam. Was it because you didn’t know the material? Or was it because you didn’t do well on the essay portion of the test? Once you know why you failed, you can take steps to fix the problem.

If you didn’t know the material, then you need to go back and review the concepts that you missed. This may mean taking the course again, or working with a tutor.

If you didn’t do well on the essay portion of the test, then you need to work on your writing skills. Practice writing essays, and make sure you understand how to structure an argument.

Another way of improving your chances is by participating in a study group with your peers, or get help from a tutor.

Lastly, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Get enough sleep and exercise, and eat healthy food. This will help you stay focused and alert while you’re studying.

No matter what the reason was for your failure, there is always room for improvement. Just remember to take things one step at a time, and you will be able to succeed on your next AP exam.

Who Should Retake the AP Exam?

The main purpose of AP exams is to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of college-level course material. Basically, it’s a way to tell if you’re knowledgeable in a college’s introductory course on the exam’s topic.

At the end of the day, since AP exams don’t go on your college application, it’s really up to you whether or not you want to retake the exam. It’s mostly a personal achievement that won’t affect your future student life much.

Generally, it’s best to take an AP exam only if you’ve taken its respective AP course first, although it’s not necessary. This is because the AP course will prepare you much better for the exam than self-studying would. The course gives you a chance to ask questions, get feedback, and learn in a structured environment.

Also, AP courses boost your GPA (a fundamental parameter of your college application), and prepare you for university life by teaching skills such as time management.

Passing the exam itself is also extremely useful to some people, as it:

  • Boosts your college application—while many colleges don’t care about AP exams, you can still impress the committee judging your application with a strong AP exam score. It proves you’re willing to challenge yourself and that you’re capable of succeeding in college-level coursework.
  • Shaves a semester (or even a year) off your college degree—if you earn a high score on the exam, some colleges will let you skip the introductory class for that subject and go straight into more advanced courses. Let’s say you pass 2 AP exams and get 3 credits for each. That’s 6 credits you got for a very low price – or even free. A university credit costs around $200 on average, meaning you just saved yourself $1200. That’s quite the savings!
  • Improves your chances of getting a scholarship—some scholarships are given to students with strong AP exam scores. Even when you don’t get them, passing an AP exam gives you better preparation, which improves your grades. In turn, this gives you better access to scholarships.
  • Skip some classes—depending on your score, you may be able to place out of certain college classes, saving you additional time and money. Usually, you’ll need a score of at least 3 out of 5, but some colleges might be content with a 2, depending on the school.
  • Prepares you for college workload—by taking an AP exam, you get a taste of the workload of a college-level course. This can help you prepare for the challenges of university life. By studying for an AP exam, you’ll learn to manage your time and workload to complete your study program.

However, there are also some drawbacks to retaking an AP exam:

  • It’s expensive—the fee for each AP exam is $144, and that’s not including the cost of review materials.
  • It’s time-consuming—studying for an AP exam takes a lot of time and effort. You might have to sacrifice your social life or extracurricular activities in order to make enough time to study.
  • You might not do any better—sometimes, no matter how much you study, your score doesn’t improve. In this case, you would’ve wasted your time and money for nothing.

So, who should retake the AP exam? If you’re willing to put in the extra effort, anyone can benefit from retaking an AP exam. Just make sure you know what’s at stake before making your decision. Since AP exams are only once a year, it’s likely you won’t be able to retry them more than once. Studying college-level material when you’re still in high school can be  daunting, but the benefits of a good AP score make it worth your while.

Editor’s note: It’s not bad to get to college with 0 AP exams passed. In fact, many students do just that. College is a different beast from high school, and you’ll find that the workload is much heavier, AP exams or not. Nobody will bat an eye at college when you show up with your 0 exams passed.


Failing an AP exam happens. It is supposed to be hard, you’re  taking the test after all to see if you can get college level credit for a course. That’s beyond your current schooling level.

The best way to avoid having to retake an AP exam is by taking its respective AP course first. However, even if you don’t take the course there are many benefits to retaking an AP exam. These include but are not limited to: impressing colleges, getting college credit, and saving money.

There are also some drawbacks to retaking an AP exam which include the expense and time investment. You should only retake an AP exam if you feel confident that you can improve your score.

In the end, it is up to you whether or not to retake an AP exam but know that there are benefits and drawbacks to doing so. Consider your situation and what you hope to gain from retaking the exam. AP courses and exams are difficult but offer great rewards for those who can pass them.

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