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Which AP Classes Should You Take? Planning Guide

Jan 18, 2023
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Do you have any plans to take an AP class? If yes, then you might even want to take more than one! Welcome! Enrolling in AP classes is a brilliant way to start pushing yourself academically in high school.

I am now coming to the most challenging part: selecting the best AP classes. This article will lead you through many criteria to take into account and assist you in choosing the best AP classes.

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Planning Guide: What are the Best AP Classes to take?

Selecting an AP course involves much more than just picking one that looks interesting or one your classmates are taking. Taking AP classes can be advantageous since they can improve your university applications and grant you college credit.

Furthermore, if you don’t pick your AP subjects carefully, you can find yourself in a tedious, monotonous class that lowers your GPA since you can’t earn a good grade.

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You may maximize the advantages of taking AP classes while eliminating the disadvantages by thoughtfully choosing which ones to enroll in. These are the six significant aspects you may follow to be sure you’ve thought about all the important aspects of selecting suitable AP classes.

1. Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses in your Subject

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Before even taking a thorough look at the programs offered at your college, start by considering the areas and subjects you are most interested in.

Even if you are enthusiastic about the subject matter, AP classes can be incredibly stressful, so it would be particularly challenging to motivate yourself to prepare for something you lament, even if you believe that taking a particular AP class will look attractive on an application form.

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Therefore, you should first take a sincere examination of your educational strengths and weaknesses. For instance, if Math is your most vital Subject, you might want to take AP statistics, computer science, and calculus classes. But, on the other hand, you don’t need to add that additional pressure if you know that Math is not your strong point.

Enroll in AP Physics or AP Chemistry if you enjoy science. A student who outperforms in the Social Science or Humanities and Arts might like AP classes in English literature, art history, foreign languages, or music theory.

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2. Discover the Prerequisites Required

After you’ve thought about your unique strengths, consider the classes you’ve attended that might have helped you prepare for an AP class. Don’t just go into an AP class without any preparation!

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Prerequisites are frequently required by your school, such as pre-calculus, so that you can study AB or BC Calculus. In addition, to enroll in specific AP subjects, some colleges even necessitate that you take a placement test!

If your school lacks prerequisites or has trouble choosing between subjects, consider all your preparation in your school. It may just involve just one former class. For instance, you would probably be well prepared for AP English Literature or AP English Language if you have taken Honors English since seventh grade and have also written for the school newspaper.

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Let’s imagine, though, that you struggled in Honors Biology last year. Although you officially meet the prerequisite, you’ll likely find AP Biology difficult. Therefore, you shouldn’t compel yourself to take AP Bio just because you believe it will look attractive on your resume unless you enjoy biology and are prepared for the effort.

Simply put, consider your preparedness and the prerequisites that your college requires. Then, when selecting the best AP classes to take, try to pick the ones you feel prepared for, especially if it’s your first AP course.

You must ensure your introductory AP class is in a subject you excel in, as you must learn how to prepare for a comprehensive exam in an AP class or a single assessment covering an overall year’s study content. Don’t undervalue the AP exam’s additional difficulty.

3. Your General Workload

In high school, kids can have high expectations for themselves, especially when aspiring to a prestigious college or university. Unfortunately, instead of achievement, this may result in stress and exhaustion.

Consider your entire workload. Examine your extracurricular activities, volunteer work, other school programs, and personal or family responsibilities. If you’re already preoccupied, taking additional AP classes could prevent you from achieving your objectives.

There are different levels of difficulty among AP courses. For instance, AP Environmental Science (success rate of 53.4%) and AP Physics 1 (pass rate of 51.6%) were two of the most challenging AP examinations to achieve in May 2020.

4. Your Faculty and School

Each faculty and school has unique advantages and disadvantages. Some professors have a natural talent for a specific subject. Particular AP courses are better known at some campuses than others.

Select a professor with an excellent track record if you can since they are more likely to guide you in achieving success in your AP class. Request access to the pass rates for particular AP courses and examinations from your school. You can assess a teacher’s ability using their pass rates.

5. AP Credit Policies at your Prospective Colleges

Each college establishes its own rules for giving college credit for AP classes. For example, some schools cap the number of AP credits students can obtain, while others accept credit for specific courses or only grant credit to students who receive a 4 or 5.

If you are sure of the college where you want to enroll, learn about the admissions requirements there. In this way, you may maximize the value of your college transfer credits.

6. Examine the Areas of Interest and Potential Study

While weighing the aforementioned practical factors, it’s equally important to keep your preferences in mind. If you prefer Latin or European History, consider signing up for those classes.

You can choose the best AP classes to take by considering your future college studies. Naturally, it’s acceptable if you haven’t decided on your college major yet. However, you can match your AP classes to the Subject you want to study if you think about what you want to learn.

Planning Guide: How many AP Classes should I take?

Your objectives will determine how many AP classes you should take. First, analyze your potential colleges’ level of competition—the more demanding the school, the more AP classes you might need to take. Many scholarships also prefer students who challenge themselves academically by enrolling in AP programs. 

For Colleges and Universities with High Competition

If you wish to apply to some of the most prestigious colleges in the country, You can exemplify to the admissions staff your capability to take challenging courses. Students occasionally enroll in 7, 8, or even up to 12 AP classes during their senior year of high school in preparation for applying to some of the best colleges. Selective state colleges may also prefer students with 4-6 AP classes.

You can further improve your resume by receiving an AP Scholar Award. Students who “have exhibited excellent college-level performance on AP exams” are recognized with these prizes. In addition, students who score well on several examinations may be eligible for an AP Scholar Award.

For Colleges with Lower Competition

Colleges with low competition might be delighted to discover AP coursework on applicants’ transcripts, although it would not be necessary. However, taking these classes can still increase your chances of getting accepted, particularly if you pass at least 2-4 examinations.

Plus, you can enjoy the advantages of AP classes in other forms, such as by strengthening your studying skills. In addition, you might be eligible for scholarships to help with a portion of the expenses of attending college or use AP programs to get college credit.

For Scholarships

Multiple AP classes can still benefit you even if you opt not to enroll in the most selective universities in the nation. Many scholarship committees award money following merit. They enjoy seeing high school students push themselves intellectually.

According to College Board research, 31% of universities consider students’ AP achievements when awarding scholarships. Therefore, completing numerous AP subjects could ultimately lower your college expenses.

When Do I take AP Classes?

Students frequently use the first year of high school to lay a foundation and become used to the more challenging coursework. As a result, many first-year students want to ease into high school before enrolling in AP subjects. In some schools, ninth graders aren’t even offered AP subjects.

As an alternative, students usually begin by enrolling in 1-3 AP classes in their sophomore year, starting with some more accessible classes. After that, they might step up the momentum in their junior year by enrolling in more advanced courses. Again, these programs can improve your academic record and raise your GPA.

Your junior year is the ideal time to make a relatively impressive impact because your senior year is when you’ll submit college applications. However, don’t let up your senior year. Even if specific AP courses might not impact college admissions choices, your AP test results can still affect the amount of college credit you receive.

Don’t overcommit yourself. Try to balance your AP classes, honors classes, extracurricular activities, SAT/ACT preparation, volunteer work, and other personal obligations.

Conclusion: The Best AP Classes to take

We’ve discussed vital elements to consider while choosing the best AP classes for you. However, to determine what you naturally have a good chance of succeeding in, you need first consider your strengths and prerequisites.

Once you’ve determined which classes you can manage and which are beyond your capabilities, take a look at your schedule and research the popularity of AP courses offered at your school.

Finally, consider the application type you want to present to colleges. By doing this, you can organize your courses to support your objectives.

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