What if I don’t do well on tests but still want to supplement my résumé?
A great score on an AP can serve many functions. High scores on your AP exams might impress a college admissions officer and get you into your dream university. A 4 or 5 in your AP subjects will usually give you college credit for the course and allow you to skip certain introductory classes. AP tests are not easy, however! The College Board designs these exams to be difficult, and often — especially for math and science tests — many AP teachers don’t cover 100% of the curriculum that you are expected to know. Additionally, all of the studying you do for an AP course can be for naught if you don’t manage to perform well on test day: you get one chance to make your mark on the exam, and that’s it! So is there an alternative to AP tests?
Yes! Instead of taking AP classes with AP students, a safer alternative is to complete an online college-level course. Students take these courses at their own pace. Thus, students exert a great amount of control over their grades. It also means that they can take the exams only when they feel 100% ready. For this reason, you may be much more likely to get a great score in an online course. Additionally, a good grade in an online class signals to colleges and universities that you’ve taken the independent initiative to pass a self-paced course. An advanced online computer science course with an emphasis on spectacular projects can influence an admissions officer.
The downside of this option, of course, is that it is much more expensive than an AP course at a high school. Somewhere on the order of $1,000! Given the cost, we suggest you talk this option over with your parents and AP coordinator. AP courses are much cheaper. Some find that the pressure associated with the AP test and score report highly stressful. If this is the case, you might find that this alternative to AP tests is right for you.