How Many AP Classes Should I Take? - Crimson Education US (2024)

When applying to universities in the US, Advanced Placement courses and strong AP test scores can provide a significant advantage — especially if your sights are set on the Ivy League or similarly competitive schools. Read on to learn about the benefits of AP classes, how many to take, and how international students can access AP curricula from anywhere in the world!

What are AP courses?

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are entry-level college courses offered as high school classes that are standardized and administered by the CollegeBoard. There are 38 different AP exams offered globally, ranging in areas like Psychology, Art, Humanities, Science, Math, History, and Languages. AP courses are designed to prepare students for college-level work by offering a more accelerated approach to the traditional courses offered in high school.

AP classes differ from traditional classes in the sense that they are designed to prepare students for a standardized test each spring that’s developed by the CollegeBoard with the goal of demonstrating a student’s comprehension of college-level subjects. The standardization ensures that every student who passes the AP exam is actually able to keep up with college-level coursework!

How Many AP Classes Should You Take?

The recommended number of AP courses/exams to take varies based on the kind of universities you’re hoping to apply to. A 2013 study conducted by admissions officials at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill found that students should “pursue at least five college-level courses" during high school; however, it’s important to keep in mind that since the study was conducted, acceptance rates have decreased significantly and the competition is fiercer than ever.

Here are some tips to help you choose the course that is right for you:

  1. Figure out what subjects you are interested in and what subjects you generally do well in school. This will help you narrow down your options.
  2. Think about what college majors and careers interest you, and then take courses related to those. This will help demonstrate your interest as well as expertise in the field.
  3. Research the AP policies of your college of interest. Some colleges award credit or placement, and knowing what you are eligible for will help you understand how many AP classes you need to take.

Why AP Exams Matter More Than Ever With Crimson CEO Jamie Beaton

How Many AP Classes Should You Take for Ivy Leagues and Other Top US Universities?

For students aiming for the Ivy League and Top 20 schools in the United States, a good target is to take (and pass) 10-14 AP classes throughout your high school career — or 3-4 each year. Keep in mind that this course load is not realistic for every student, and if you feel that you’re not capable of taking 10-14 APs while also taking care of your mental health and balancing things like extracurriculars, consider pursuing 7-8. It is more important for you to do well in fewer AP classes than to earn mediocre grades in many.

If students do well in the course but not on the exam, not to worry! The transcript admissions officers see will still benefit from a rigorous course load. However, a strong score, or recommendation, is quite advantageous — especially for applicants to the most competitive universities — so if your test scores are strong, you will want to submit them!

“Despite widespread test-optional policies, we noticed [last year] that the vast majority of STEM applicants (70%+) still submitted test scores in just the EA/ED round. Standardized tests are still considered a valuable data point for Admissions Officers and a strong score still helps students stand out. This is especially true for regions where the vast majority of students are submitting scores — you don’t want to be the one student without one! On the flip side, if your peers are all unable to test due to cancellations, then you are also fine in not submitting a score, but this also provides an opportunity for you to stand out even further with a strong score (if you are able to safely take the test, of course),” says Senior Crimson Strategist, Brice.

How are AP classes scored?

The APs arecompletely externally assessedthrough one standardized examination at the end of the academic year. AP exams are scored on ascale of 1-5.

What are some advantages and disadvantages of AP courses?

AP (Advanced Placement) courses offer a range of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the main ones:

Advantages of AP courses:

  1. College credit: One of the primary advantages of AP courses is the opportunity to earn college credit. Many colleges and universities grant credit or advanced standing to students who perform well on AP exams, allowing them to skip introductory-level courses and potentially graduate early.
  2. Rigorous curriculum: AP courses are designed to provide a challenging and rigorous academic experience. They can help students develop critical thinking skills, analytical abilities, and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
  3. College admissions: Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admissions officers that students are willing to take on challenging coursework and have a strong work ethic. It can enhance their college applications and make them stand out among other applicants.
  4. Subject specialization: AP courses allow students to delve deeper into specific subjects that they are passionate about or interested in pursuing in college. It offers an opportunity to explore a particular area of study at an advanced level.

Disadvantages of AP courses:

  1. Heavy workload: AP courses can be demanding and require a significant amount of time and effort. Students may find themselves overwhelmed by the workload, especially if they are taking multiple AP courses simultaneously.
  2. High-stakes exams: AP courses culminate in AP exams, which are typically high-stakes tests. These exams can be stressful and may require additional preparation outside of regular coursework. Performance on the exams can also impact college credit eligibility.
  3. Reduced flexibility: Taking AP courses can limit students' flexibility in choosing elective courses or pursuing other interests outside of academics. The demanding nature of AP courses may leave less time for extracurricular activities or part-time jobs.

Ultimately, the decision to take AP courses should consider individual circ*mstances, academic goals, and personal preferences. It's important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to determine whether AP courses align with a student's educational aspirations.

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Final Thoughts

Now you might be wondering how you can take AP classes. Maybe you are studying at a school that does not offer AP classes, or you don’t have access to the subjects you are interested in. Crimson Global Academy is here to help you. We are an international online high school that offers AP classes from the comfort of your home.

At CGA, students study to their ability, not age, so you can take the classes you want regardless of what you are studying in school. Besides AP classes, we offer International GCSE, A Level and US Diploma courses for students aged 8-18. There are also a variety of extracurricular activities, internships and leadership opportunities at CGA.

What is Crimson Global Academy?

How Many AP Classes Should I Take? - Crimson Education US (2024)


How Many AP Classes Should I Take? - Crimson Education US? ›

For students aiming for the Ivy League and Top 20 schools in the United States, a good target is to take (and pass) 10-14 AP classes throughout your high school career — or 3-4 each year.

How many AP classes are you supposed to take? ›

College counselors recommend that students strive to take 5-8 AP classes throughout their high school career, especially if they are interested in attending a highly-selective institution such as an Ivy League college. That said, you shouldn't feel pressured to take more AP classes than you can comfortably manage.

Is 10 AP classes enough for Ivy League? ›

Aim for four to eight AP exams in your junior and senior years. For competitive Ivy League schools, admission officers also want to see AP courses for core subject areas and additional courses. If possible, aim to pass about seven to 12 AP exams if applying to these highly selective schools.

Is 3 AP classes at once too much? ›

An Ivy League hopeful might take 3 to 5 AP classes, while if you're aiming for less-selective schools, 2 to 4 would be enough. Senior Year: Take more APs in core subjects and additional subjects, again being careful not to overburden your schedule and to leave time for college applications.

Is 4 AP classes too much? ›

However, students who take 4-5 AP courses can still qualify for good schools, including many of the country's top public research institutions. Students should balance taking AP courses with maintaining a healthy schedule to avoid burnout.

Is 2 AP classes too much? ›

Our own research shows that is not necessary for college readiness. Simply taking one or two AP classes at most per year of high school optimizes the type of college readiness that comes from taking that type of challenging class.

Is 14 AP classes too many? ›

To be competitive at some of the most highly selective colleges in the country, 8-12 AP courses may be the sweet spot amount, assuming the student can handle that level of rigor. There are no colleges out there that require you to take 14, 17, or some other obscene number of Advanced Placement offerings.

Is 4 APs too much junior year? ›

Junior Year

Depending on what kind of school you want to go to, you should be taking between 3 and 5 AP® classes this year. You will need to manage your time well, however, as you also need to study for the SAT® or ACT® during this time.

Which AP is easiest? ›

Easiest AP exams by pass rate
AP SubjectPass Rate (Exam Score of 3+)Median Score
Ap Physics C Mechanics73.4%3.41
AP Psychology58.3%2.71
AP Research82.7%3.3
AP Seminar82.6%3.19
34 more rows
Jan 13, 2023

What is the minimum AP classes for Harvard? ›

Freshmen who have taken College Board Advanced Placement exams need a total of four full credits to be eligible for Advanced Standing. Credits are earned by scoring 5 on a minimum of four AP tests.

Is 5 APs too much junior year? ›

You can definitely take 5 APs, but just make sure to stay on top of your work and spend a good amount of time studying to make sure you know the material.

Is 3 AP classes too much sophom*ore year? ›

I recommend taking only 2 APs sophom*ore year, 4-5 Junior year, and 3 to 4 Senior year. That puts you in the 9-11 range which more than enough. Also keep in mind that if you apply to Brown with 12 APs, you've wasted your time since they give you ZERO AP credit.

Is 6 AP classes in one year too much? ›

Applicants aiming for highly selective colleges usually take 5-6 AP classes this year, but keep your limits and schedule in mind. At this point, adding one more AP class might not have a huge impact on your college chances, but it could reduce the time spent on applications to a great extent.

Should I take more AP classes junior or senior year? ›

Most people take APUSH their junior year. Also, it is recommended to take more AP's your junior year than senior year since you can have a "last minute" gpa boost and colleges tend to look at your sophom*ore and junior year grades more. Senior year grades are just to see if you are still keeping up that rigor.

How many AP classes is too many junior year? ›

A typical recommendation for high-achieving students might be 3 to 5 AP classes during their junior year. It's important to strike a balance between challenging yourself academically and maintaining your overall well-being, so don't feel like you have to take every AP class offered by your school.

Is taking 7 AP classes enough? ›

6–7 AP classes is plenty. Many people get admitted to UC with fewer than that. Instead of adding another AP course, look to make sure you have extracurriculars showing leadership and at least a couple teachers who know you well who can write you strong recommendations.

Is it okay to only take 2 AP classes? ›

If you have a good GPA, a solid SAT/ACT score, a few extracurriculars, and a good story for your college essays, then 2–3 AP courses isn't something bad at all. You can still get into college, and you might find it easier than others who murdered their GPA's with taking too heavy a load of AP classes.

Is 11 AP classes enough? ›

Many competitive applicants at top universities take anywhere from 7 – 12 AP classes throughout high school. In fact, some universities even require students to take multiple AP classes in order for any of them to count as college credit.

Can you take 4 AP classes at once? ›

It's doable if you manage your time properly. I had a similar course load in junior year except that I took Physics C. The only class I would be a bit wary of is AP Lang because the assignments and essays take a considerable amount of time. The other classes shouldn't present much of a problem.

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