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AP Courses Everything You Need To Know!


AP courses are highly advanced and help students to get a head start on their college education. Students who take an AP course are typically targeting good competitive colleges. Taking an AP course gives a boost to a student’s profile and gives them an additional benefit in the college admission process.

But which course to select? How many to select? Is it even worth it? These are some questions students might think of. So, with this blog, we will try to help you clear your mind on AP courses as much as possible!

Want to know more about AP? Read our latest blog, “What is AP?

What are the benefits of taking an AP course?

As the years have gone by, more and more high schools have started offering AP courses. Students need to take into consideration their schedule, experience, and aptitude in the subject they would like to take. Taking an AP course and exam while you’re in high school can be extremely beneficial for you in the following ways:

  1. You can earn college credits and placement
    • Taking an AP course gives you an opportunity to earn college credits before even officially starting college. Mostly, AP students who have a four-year college degree have some credits when they start college.
  2. It keeps your options open
    • An AP course has a wide array of benefits as you could pursue a second degree, you could study abroad, and even seek internships!
  3. You stand out in your college application
    • Taking an AP course shows determination and zeal to learn thus if it shows on your college application, you are bound to stand out for sure. 
  4. It saves your time and money
    • Earning a credit or a placement is always beneficial. You might be able to finish your degree early if you have the desired AP score as well.

College-bound students work on a tight schedule and the application process is becoming extremely competitive, SAT scores, extracurriculars, and various other aspects are taken into account. 

AP courses list

After knowing about AP courses, it is time to look into the types of AP Courses available.  Now to know more about this the best thing is to ask your school’s AP coordinator about the courses which might be available to you as it depends on the school itself. 

Following is the list of AP courses offered by the College Boards AP Program:

  1. AP Art History
  2. AP Music Theory
  3. AP English Language and Composition
  4. AP English Literature and Composition
  5. AP Comparative Government and Politics
  6. AP European History
  7. AP Human Geography
  8. AP Macroeconomics
  9. AP Microeconomics
  10. AP Psychology
  11. AP United States Government and Politics
  12. AP United States History
  13. AP World History: Modern
  14. AP Calculus AB
  15. AP Calculus BC
  16. AP Computer Science A
  17. AP Computer Science Principles
  18. AP Statistics
  19. AP Biology
  20. AP Chemistry
  21. AP Environmental Science
  22. AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based
  23. AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based
  24. AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  25. AP Physics C: Mechanics
  26. AP Chinese Language and Culture
  27. AP French Language and Culture
  28. AP German Language and Culture
  29. AP Italian Language and Culture
  30. AP Japanese Language and Culture
  31. AP Latin
  32. AP Spanish Language and Culture
  33. AP Spanish Literature and Culture
  34. AP Capstone Diploma Program:
    • AP Research
    • AP Seminar
  35. AP Art & Design Program:
    • AP 2-D Art and Design
    • AP 3-D Art and Design
    • AP Drawing

Now, it is crucial to find out which courses your school offers before making up your mind. Mostly, all of the AP courses are followed by an AP exam. For instance, AP Calculus AB often leads to college credit for a Calculus I course. The credit amount and minimum required AP exam score to earn that college credit are determined by each college’s policies, which you can often find on their respective websites.

Benefits of taking an AP course

Taking an AP course gives you a lot of clarity as a high school student as to what you want to pursue. If you actually like a subject and can do well in it. According to research, students who decide to take an AP course are better prepared for college than those who don’t. They are more likely to get into college and graduate in four years.

  1. Get a minor experience in college
    • By taking an AP course you get familiar with college-level work. Experiencing this workload helps to boost your confidence.
  2. Develop college skills
    • You will learn skills like time management, scholarly writing, and many more skills that will benefit you in the later years of your life.
  3. Discover your passion
    • You may be on the path to building your career by taking this course as it might open you up to more knowledge and can help you discover what you are passionate about.
  4. Boost your GPA
    • You should make sure to check with your school as taking an AP course and exam could help you boost your GPA. 

How to choose your AP course?

There are 38 AP courses from which you can choose. The courses are based on subjects like arts, math, English, history, science, computer science, world language, and culture among others. You should choose an AP course that you like and interests you plus the ones that you score well in classes. 

Who can take an AP course?

There are no specific criteria for taking an AP Course but some schools may have some criteria to meet, an enrollment policy. Therefore, it is advised to talk to your school counselor or AP coordinator who can guide you through this process. In order to succeed in an AP course you must be motivated and work really hard and prepare yourself well.

What are the easiest AP courses?

Every year, the College Board organizes AP classes and exams to help students improve their skills. Furthermore, AP classes provide many benefits and rewards to students and encourage them to continue their education.

The easiest AP classes are those in which students typically perform well and can easily achieve three or more points. However, it is also likely to depend on the student’s ability to grasp and keep the subject and keep it consistent.

1. AP Environmental Science

AP Environmental Science is considered quite easy in comparison to other AP courses. If you have a good foundation and a strong interest in Biology then this will be a perfect fit for you. This course deals with scientific principles, methodologies, and concepts to understand the relationships within the natural world.

This AP course teaches to analyze environmental problems and how to search for solutions to those problems.

2. AP Spanish Literature

If you are well-versed in Spanish, this appears to be the easiest AP course. This course enables you to earn college credits if you are fluent in Spanish. You, too, can be a part of the high pass rate.

Students who are not fluent in Spanish might struggle with this course. The course content typically focuses on six major Spanish literary concepts as well as reading comprehension.

The exam is divided into multiple-choice questions and a free-response section with a text-based prompt and essay questions.

3. AP Computer Science A

In the AP course computer science A, students will learn about the concepts and tools of computer science and also learn about a subset of Java programming language.

This is a very basic and introductory course to computer science. Students learn how to design program, develop algorithms, write codes, and implements them.

4. AP Psychology

This AP course is simple due to its relatively simple syllabus. The curriculum includes tests, projects, and quizzes that must be completed throughout the school year. This exam will last two hours. The exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice questions and an essay writing section.

Students may take the AP Psychology exam on paper or online. The two-hour exam includes multiple-choice questions as well as a free-response section, and it covers topics such as psychological research papers, theory, and quantitative data.

AP courses ranked by the number of test takers

Exam Name# of Students Taking (2022)
English Language and Composition520,771
United States History456,520
English Literature and Composition339,401
World History314,716
Gov. and Politics – United States298,118
Calculus AB268,352
Human Geography221,815
Environmental Science179,957
Spanish Language and Culture155,931
Physics 1144,526
Computer Science Principles134,651
Calculus BC120,238
European History80,152
Computer Science A77,753
Physics C: Mechanics46,301
Art and Design: 2-D Design37,045
Spanish Literature23,009
Art History20,970
Gov. and Politics – Comparative20,949
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism19,978
French Language and Culture19,554
Art and Design: Drawing19,210
Physics 217,842
Music Theory15,594
Chinese Language and Culture15,277
Art and Design: 3-D Design5,377
German Language and Culture4,450
Japanese Language and Culture;2,765
Italian Language and Culture2,194

Source – college board

AP courses ranked by difficulty

Exam NamePassing Rate (3+)5 Rate
Art and Design: Drawing88%15%
Chinese Language and Culture (Total Group)87%49%
Art and Design: 2-D Design87%11%
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group)82%24%
Spanish Language and Culture (Standard Group)78%16%
English Literature and Composition78%17%
Calculus BC77%41%
Japanese Language and Culture (Total Group)75%49%
Art and Design: 3-D Design74%6%
Physics C: Mechanics73%26%
French Language and Culture (Total Group)72%13%
Italian Language and Culture (Total Group)71%23%
Gov. and Politics – Comparative71%16%
Physics 270%16%
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism69%32%
French Language and Culture (Standard Group)69%8%
Computer Science A68%27%
Italian Language and Culture (Standard Group)66%11%
German Language and Culture (Total Group)66%20%
Chinese Language and Culture (Standard Group)65%16%
Computer Science Principles64%11%
Spanish Literature64%8%
Music Theory62%19%
Art History62%14%
World History62%13%
European History59%14%
German Language and Culture (Standard Group)58%8%
English Language and Composition56%10%
Calculus AB56%20%
Japanese Language and Culture (Standard Group)54%16%
Environmental Science54%9%
Human Geography53%15%
Gov. and Politics – United States49%12%
United States History48%11%
Physics 143%8%

As you can see from the above table, the percentages of students who earned a passing score on the mentioned AP exams indicated the level of difficulty of that AP course.

But the list is not definitive. As you can see that some course like AP Physics C: Mechanics which is considered to be one of the most challenging has a passing rate of 73% and easy class like Human Geography has a passing rate of 53%.

So, there are a number of factors that affects the passing rates of a course. Factor like student participation has a huge impact. Courses like Spanish literature and German language will only be taken by students having some background in the language or students who have an immense passion for the languages.

Additionally, some schools put some strict requisites for some courses which automatically eliminate interested students.

Source – college board

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What are some of the hardest AP courses?

AP Calculus BC, Physics C, Biology, US History, Chemistry, and English literature are considered to be some of the hardest AP courses.

Is an AP course necessary for college admission?

Although no college in the US explicitly declares that AP courses are required, students are well aware that college admissions officers highly value these higher-level courses because they demonstrate a student’s aptitude for effectively completing college-level work. 

How many AP courses are available? 

There are 38 courses in AP. In subjects like the arts, English, history, social science, math and computer science, the sciences, and world languages and culture, there are 38 AP courses available.

How many ap courses should I take?

If you are looking for an answer from the perspective of college admission, then here is a breakdown based on high to low competitive colleges:
1. Competitive schools- 7-12 AP courses
2. Semi-competitive schools- 4-8 AP courses
3. Low-competitive schools- 1-5 AP courses.
We would like to add that you should take AP courses based on your interests and capabilities and not feel pressurized into taking too many courses because you might end up performing badly and that won’t benefit you at all.

What are the new AP courses coming out in 2023?

Two new AP courses are planned to be launched in 2023 and they are AP Precalculus and AP African American Studies.

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About Wiingy

Wiingy provides 1-to-1 online tutoring, instructor-led online technology courses, and web tutorials to school students, university students, and working professionals across the globe.

Wiingy works with top verified, qualified, and experienced instructors to deliver online lessons in Coding, Math, Science, and over 50 other subjects.

Parents and students have rated the teaching experience as 4.8/5 and above.

We are a community of over 20,000 students across 10+ countries growing daily.

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(M) +(1) 618-827-5802

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Copyright Wiingy Pvt Ltd © 2021. All Rights Reserved