College admissions, or at least the earliest stages of the process, comes down to numbers. Any applicant is best served by providing an admissions office the grades and test scores required for more focused scrutiny. In other words, if your numbers don’t meet the predetermined value set by a college, there’s a very good chance those admissions personnel will never take the time to discover what a special snowflake you are!
Of course, even this simple step becomes complicated by the variety of sources from which your numbers are drawn. Your school, obviously, reports your grades, classes, and, where applicable, state tests like Regents in an official transcript. SAT and ACT scores must arrive in official score reports from the College Board and ACT, Inc. respectively. But what about AP classes?
AP classes can complicate the admissions process. These courses represent the standard for academic rigor, which means that students who have access to AP classes should most certainly take many if they seek admission to competitive colleges. However, not every student has access to a full slate of AP classes. And regardless of whether a high school offers a particular AP course, students can still take the corresponding test. So how should applicants make colleges aware of their AP accomplishments?
According to a comprehensive article in the Examiner, applicants can and should self-report AP scores as long as they earned at least a 3 in the test. Keep quiet about anything lower. Colleges are perfectly content with self-reported scores at this point in the process.
Note that this policy applies only to the admissions process. Once you’ve earned admission and want to claim college credit for your 4’s and 5’s, you’ll need to send official score reports. Considering how much money you’ll be saving per credit, that’s a great investment!