Updated: December 7, 2023

How Many AP Classes Should I Take?

Students taking Advanced Placement Classes

There are a numnber of reasons to take advanced placement or "AP" classes in high school if you are able to do so. One that leaps to mind is that you stand to save anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 in college tuition, depending on the college you attend. Naturally, there are myria other reasons, which we will explore in this article.

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The Key to Elevating Your High School Experience

Contemplating the right balance of Advanced Placement (AP) classes? It can feel like being at a crossroad, right? One way is a busy street full of AP classes. It's full of academic hurdles, sure to stretch your mind in new ways. This route, even though a bit tough, dangles a shiny reward - the possibility of college credit at the end.

The other way is a calm path that urges you to keep a more balanced life. This way leaves lots of room for fun - quality time with family, chats with friends, following hobbies, and just kicking back. By picking this path, you can gradually dip into the AP program, making sure it doesn't overwhelm you. It's a tough choice, right?

Don't worry! We're here for you at Scholarships.com. Think of us as your friendly guides, ready to help you navigate through the maze of the AP journey. Our goal is to give you the info you need to make the scholarship choice that fits your school dreams, without feeling swamped.

Consider us as your roadmap, helping you plot the best course on your school trip. Ready to dive in? Let's explore this topic together.

The ABCs of the AP Program

The AP program comprises college-level courses provided by about 70% of U.S. high schools. With 38 distinct AP courses, the program offers a diverse range of subjects. The culmination of an AP class is the corresponding AP test, with the score determining whether you receive college credit in that subject.

Universities worldwide recognize and accept AP scores for college credit, allowing students to bypass prerequisite courses. For example, acing the AP Biology exam could grant you direct access to advanced Biology courses in college.

Even without the AP test, an AP class remains a valuable asset. It offers a more challenging academic environment that enriches your high school experience. Interestingly, you can also take an AP test without the associated class, a viable option to earn college credit for pre-existing knowledge. For instance, a lifetime of playing the piano could set you up for the AP music theory test.

The Perks of Enrolling in AP Classes

The advantages of (AP) advanced placement courses extend beyond the classroom. The most tangible benefit is the potential to save money on college costs. By earning college credits in high school, you could potentially graduate from college earlier, saving on tuition fees and additional college costs.

Also, AP classes simulate the rigors of college, allowing you to acclimate to the academic intensity of college while still in high school. This exposure can foster more engagement and interest during your high school years.

Lastly, AP classes can enhance your college applications. They demonstrate your willingness to challenge yourself and strive for excellence, traits that colleges appreciate. However, this does not imply that a jam-packed AP schedule guarantees college class acceptance. Quality always trumps quantity, and this most certainly goes a long way with the school district's decision-makers also known as college admission officers.

What is the suggested amount of AP classes to enroll in?

The answer is subjective, hinging on your college aspirations. Less selective schools grant you more flexibility in your AP class selection. Instead of juggling multiple AP classes, you can focus on excelling in a select few that align with your academic ambitions.

On the other hand, highly selective elite colleges prefer applicants who have embraced demanding courses and rigorous courses their high schools offer. This doesn't necessarily translate into a specific 'magic number' of AP classes, but it does imply a challenging academic track record filled with advanced courses with some difficult courses as well. For example, Stanford University emphasizes the importance of a challenging high school transcript over a specific GPA or number of AP classes. Your core courses must be impressive if your goal is to transfer to a top four-year college (honors classes a plus).

Should you aspire to attend a highly selective competitive college, your high school course load should be a reflection of the academic rigor you can handle. A balanced mix of AP classes, encompassing core subjects like math, English, history, and science, along with non-core subjects like psychology or art history, can demonstrate your academic diversity and drive and show that your academic performance is on a journey for success.

What are some examples of top ranked Advanced Placement (AP) Classes?

Selecting the best AP classes is a personalized process that varies depending on each student's interests, academic goals, and their school's academic environment.

That being said, here's a curated collection of some of the most coveted and highly commended AP classes:

You must remember that the "best" or "top" AP classes are reflective mirrors of a student's individual interests, academic plan, and career dreams. Given the rigorous academic demands of AP classes, which surpass the typical high school courses, it's vital for students to balance their academic subjects with a healthy respect for their workload.

A Year-by-Year Breakdown of Your AP Journey

Final Considerations for Your AP Journey

Amid the frenzy of college degree preparation, it's important to align your course selection with your interests. Choose classes that ignite your passion; your engagement will reflect in your performance. If you feel stretched thin, consider scaling back your AP load. It's a balance of pushing your boundaries and maintaining your overall performance.

Your counselor can provide invaluable advice, having navigated this journey with countless students before you. Additionally, interacting with upperclassmen at your high school or students at your prospective college can offer insights into their AP experiences.

Trust in your judgment, don't succumb to the AP mania, and leverage your strengths as a student.

More Resources for Students

Once you've mapped out your AP schedule, there are numerous ways to further prepare for college. That's why we created Scholarships.com, to be your #1 information source for all things education.

Visit our homepage for valuable resources, set-by-step college scholarship success plans, and MORE!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of taking AP classes?

AP classes can help you save money by earning college credits in high school. They also prepare you for the academic rigor of college, and they look good on your college applications.

What is the recommended number of AP classes to take in high school?

The number of AP classes you should take depends on your college aspirations. If you're targeting highly selective colleges, you should be prepared to take a challenging course load, including multiple AP classes. If you're aiming for a less selective school, you have more flexibility.

What if I feel overwhelmed with too many AP classes?

If those report card numbers are heading south or if you're feeling like a circus act trying to keep all your commitments in the air, it might be a sign that your plate is a bit too full of AP classes. It might be worth having a chat with your school counselor about your timetable and how you can make some course changes to ease your stress. Keep your chin up!