Are you a high school student wondering how best to prepare yourself for college? If yes, AP classes may be the right step to take. Perhaps, you are wondering what AP classes are and how they can help you excel in your academic pursuit. Don’t worry; this article will explain everything you need to learn. The article also includes a guide to help you get the best out of your AP classes if you decide to join. Read on to find out more.
Why Were AP Classes Created?
Advanced Placement (AP) classes are classes administered by the College Board that offer college-level courses and exams for high school students. These courses are somewhat equivalent to undergraduate college courses and are more complex than the regular high school classes. When you take AP classes and pass the exams, you will earn credits and get advanced placement in American colleges and universities, putting you at the top of the list for college admissions.
Advanced placement classes aim to help nurture and prepare high school students for the vigorous life of college education and coursework. Several studies and research show that high school students who take AP courses are more likely to get into college and graduate with higher grades. After World War II, the Ford Foundation set up a fund that conducted two studies to advance education. These studies all had one aim, to encourage high school students to engage in college coursework and motivate students with a curriculum that will ensure they transition smoothly to college.
The College Board allows students to participate in advanced placement exams regardless of whether their high schools offer AP classes or their school is at home.
Why Take AP Classes in High School?
Taking Advanced Placement courses in high school will help you earn college credits, saving you time and money. AP courses offer students college-level coursework that allows them to skip introductory classes once in college, saving them time and money.
Taking and passing AP courses helps high school students to gain admission into competitive and elite colleges. It shows the colleges that you can handle and complete college-level coursework. Therefore, it’s not surprising that serious students aiming for admissions into the best colleges take AP classes in high school. We can safely say that it does more than preparing students for college life. Apart from giving high school students a peek into what they’ll likely face in college, AP classes show the college you are applying for that you are serious and have the necessary qualifications to do well.
What are the Benefits of AP Classes in High School?
As explained earlier, AP courses do much more than bridge the gap between high school and college education. It prepared students for life beyond high school. You can’t fully understand what AP classes are without talking about their advantages. Fortunately, there are numerous benefits attached to AP courses. Some of them include:
Earning college credits
Taking AP classes in high school offers you the potential to earn college credits before setting foot on a college campus. Students will earn college credit when they score between 3 and above on an AP test. The college credits students make are essential in calculating the cost of tuition, residency, and minimum degree requirements and determining the grade point average (GPA) of students. In addition, having college credits will help a student to qualify for a federal loan or grant.
Furthermore, students who pass their AP classes can often skip introductory courses in college, allowing them to move ahead quickly through their major coursework.
Save money and time
When you take AP classes, it enables you to skip introductory courses in college, which reduces the amount of time you would normally spend to get a college degree. You can eliminate a semester or more from your college education by taking AP classes, saving you a lot of money from tuition fees. With AP, you can earn a semester’s worth of credits, significantly costing you less than earning credits at a four-year college.
In addition, many colleges consider students who take AP classes when giving out scholarships. As a result, AP classes increase your chances of getting a scholarship into college. AP classes will open up your schedule and allow you to graduate early.
Improves chances of college admission
A student’s grades remain the most significant factor in gaining college admissions. AP courses are usually very advanced, and passing them will signal to a college’s admission board that a student is ready to take on the pressure that comes with college study.
If you want to get into the most prestigious and top-level colleges and universities, you’ll need to work harder than other applicants. This is where extra courses like AP courses come into play. Having AP courses on your transcripts, along with other extracurricular activities, will boost your chances.
Prepares students for college
AP classes are demanding and offer better mental stimulation than regular high school courses and expose students to college education rigors. It sharpens critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills and improves writing skills.
College is a different ball game. AP classes better prepare students for college-level coursework, helping them learn study habits, time management, and organizational skills needed to navigate challenging college coursework.
What is the Most Popular AP Class in High School?
The College Board does an excellent job of collecting and archiving all data regarding AP courses. The board compiles data to show the performance, volume, and participation in AP exams, as well as show which exams were more populated by the number of students participating.
According to the board, here are the most popular courses by volume of students taking them;
- English Language
- US History
- English Literature
- US Government & Politics
- World History
- Calculus AB
- Human geography
- Spanish Language
- Environmental Science
- Physics 1
What are the Hardest AP Classes in High School?
Advanced Placement classes offer students many benefits, including saving time and money and increasing their chances of gaining admission into a top-level college and university. However, they can also be tricky, and failing them will reflect on your transcript and negatively affect your admission chances. Therefore, it’s not surprising that so many students tend to rank classes according to difficulty levels. Of course, students will naturally want to run away from more challenging courses. According to this review from over 2000 Reddit AP Students, the following classes are considered the most challenging AP classes;
- Physics C – Electricity and Magnetism
- English Literature
- Physics C – Mechanics
- Physics 1
- Physics 2
- European History
- World History
- US History
It is important to note that AP classes have a much greater level of rigor. Most top-level colleges and universities appreciate students who take challenging courses and excel at them with a high GPA. Before you take an AP class, you should consider the difficulty level because one of the disadvantages of AP classes is that poor performance may negatively affect your overall GPA.
Which AP Classes are the Best to Take?
Despite the numerous benefits of AP classes, you must note that the classes you take in high school are essential parts of your college application. Therefore, it’s important to note different AP classes available and which will suit your preferred study field. We understand how difficult it can be for students to make the right choice, especially when they are yet to explore their courses. Therefore, we have compiled a guide below to help you choose the best AP classes to take in high school to help your college admission prospects. These classes are so important you cannot afford not to take them.
Best AP classes for Pre Med students
For students interested in studying medicine, the focus should be on science AP courses. To help you make the best choice, here are the best AP classes for pre-med students:
Please note that each of these courses differs in context and contents. So it’ll be best for you to review their contents before choosing properly.
Best AP classes for a law degree
If you plan to have a law career, you will have to major in English, political science, history, psychology, etc. Picking the suitable AP classes can help set you up for a successful college life. To help, here are some of the best classes to try if you are pursuing a law degree.
Best AP classes for an engineering degree
For a degree in engineering, you should focus on science and math courses such as;
- AP Physics 1 and 2
- AP Chemistry
- AP Calculus A/B
- AP Calculus B/C
- AP Computer science
- AP Biology
Best AP classes for Art School
Students in art school will benefit from courses that connect politics, cultures, and geography. As a result, the best AP classes for Art School will include;
- AP World History
- AP English
- AP US History
- AP European History
- AP Art History
Best AP Classes for a Business Major
A business degree involves a wide array of courses that help study patterns, behaviors, psychology, and decision-making. The best classes include the following;
- AP English
- AP Economics (Micro and Macro)
- AP Psychology
- AP Foreign Language
How Many AP Classes Should You Take?
College admissions are competitive, and taking AP classes will set you apart. Note that taking AP classes is not the only route to college admissions. There are other aspects such as studying for ACTS/SATS and extracurricular activities. It is more important to be strategic about the AP courses you take than taking on a whole load of classes.
The number of AP classes you take should depend on the type of college you want to attend. To help serve as a guide, this section highlights some of the best ways to choose AP classes that would suit your course.
AP classes for Ivy League schools (top 20)
To be a competitive candidate for Ivy League schools, you need to take at least 8- 12 AP classes to give you an edge. You should take the most challenging AP courses available; at least 1 AP course in English, Foreign Language, Math, history, and science alongside other AP courses that relate to your career goals.
AP classes for less selective and competitive Schools (top 100)
Unlike Ivy League schools, less competitive schools are easier to get in. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be putting in any work. These schools, which often include state universities and art colleges, require a minimum of 4 AP classes in core courses and additional AP courses you excel in.
AP classes for other schools
You should take at least 1 AP course to gain better thinking or studying skills and boost your chances of qualifying and earning scholarships ahead of other candidates. Students need to be careful not to overload themselves with a heavy course load and pick subjects that genuinely interest them.
How to Fit these Courses Into High School?
To avoid burnout and depression from a heavy course load, students can fit these AP courses into a four-year high school plan. Here are tips you can leverage to combine the workload with other college works.
Freshman year (9th grade)
Consider taking 1-2 AP classes that are easier, such as psychology, human geography, and environmental science, to help you build skills for more demanding AP classes as you progress.
Sophomore year (10th grade)
Consider taking 2-3 classes and add at least 1 challenging AP class such as US history, World History, Physics, etc.
Junior year (11thgrade)
At this stage, you should start taking more challenging AP classes in your core courses such as AP Physics, AP biology, AP, etc. For Ivy League schools, you should take up to 4-5 core AP classes. For the less selective schools, 2-4 core AP classes are often enough.
Senior year (12th grade)
In senior year, a student should take up to 5 or 6 challenging core AP classes in core subjects like AP English, world history, US History, Physics, Chemistry, etc.
Factors to Consider Before Taking an AP Class
You may be considering taking some advanced placement classes to boost your college applications. However, there are some factors you should consider before taking an AP class to know which ones are right for you.
Consider your academic goals.
AP courses prepare students for college education by offering students the opportunity to earn college credits. Earning credits will enable students to skip introductory classes in college, giving them time for more experiences. However, not all colleges will acknowledge and offer students credits for high AP scores. Check the requirements of your preferred college to see if they provide credits. AP courses are worth the money and time only if the prospective college acknowledges them.
Know your subject strengths
The goal of every AP class is to pass. Therefore, it is essential to have the necessary background to be successful in an AP course. It would be best to consider taking AP classes in familiar subjects because you will be learning at a fast pace.
Consider your course load.
Note that it is possible to sit for and pass an AP exam without attending the class. Therefore, you should consider your course load before enrolling to avoid the burnout and frustration of having too many challenging courses at a time.
Consider other options
While taking and passing AP classes help your prospects in gaining college admissions, it is not the only route to college admission. College admissions committees consider other aspects such as internships, extracurricular activities, and grades. Combining all these with AP classes will be challenging and will require balance. It would be best to put all aspects into consideration before taking up AP classes.
Wrapping Things Up: What are AP Classes in High School
There you have it, a detailed look at what AP classes are and how they affect high school life. However you choose to look at it, the truth remains that taking AP classes in high school has a lot of benefits. However, students have to be cautious to avoid overextending themselves. AP classes are suitable for college admission, but so are extracurricular activities, work experience, and internships. High school students must find how to balance all of them to better prepare themselves for high school. We understand how burdensome it can be, and that’s why we’ve explained everything you need to know about taking AP classes in high school. Before you take AP classes, you should know your subject strengths, passion and consider the workload.