You’ve spent tons of time studying and preparing, but sometimes, taking a test doesn’t go as planned. If you don’t score as well as you are hoping, can you retake an an AP exam? The short answer is yes, but there’s more that you need to know before making a decision. AP exams are only offered once per year in the spring, but it is possible to retake an AP exam in a future school year. Unless you cancel or withhold a score, all scores from all AP exams you take will be reported on your official score report. Most colleges don’t ask for official score reports with your application; this typically comes later in the process as schools decide to offer financial aid or credit for your AP courses.

Can you retake an AP exam?

As mentioned, you have the option to withhold or cancel your AP scores, and you may choose to do so if you did not score well on the exam. Withholding your scores prevents them from being reported to the colleges you selected; colleges will not even know that you took the exam at all. Withheld scores are reversible if you change your mind, but it’s an additional cost. There is a fee of $10 for each school recipient you want the score withheld from, and an additional $15 for each to undo the withholding process. The withholding process is completed through a form on the College Board website and must be completed by June 15th of the year you took the exam.

Canceling your scores is different from withholding them. Canceling eliminates the score entirely from your College Board record, and the process is irreversible. It does not cost any money to cancel your score, but it also must be done through a form on the College Board website by June 15th of the year you took the exam.

You should only consider retaking an AP exam if you are able to commit considerable time and energy to preparing for it. Keep in mind that you will have new classes in the following school year you will also be studying for, and the retake will occur a year after you take the course! If you have extenuating circumstances explaining your less-than-stellar score, you could always work this into an application essay and describe what you learned from the experience!

Some examples of situations where it may make sense to consider a retake include:

  • You were sick on the day of the exam and unable to focus entirely.
  • You realized that a primary resource you were using for studying was out of date or referred to an old version of the exam.
  • You were diagnosed with a learning disability after the exam and may have performed better if accommodations had been in place.
  • You were not able to commit to the course load required of your AP course, such as keeping up with homework, but your schedule has opened up to allow for more prep time.
  • You forgot a critical test-taking strategy, such as using a calculator or referencing the formula sheet, when you were taking the exam.

So, can you retake an AP exam? When deciding if you should, really focus on whether or not a change in your score will significantly impact your college application or potential financial aid. Whatever your decision, the good news is that you have the option to retake.