How Many AP Classes Should You Take | Revolution Prep (2024)

How Many AP Classes Should You Take | Revolution Prep (1)

How Many AP Classes Should You Take?

Hardworking high school students are eager to make their college applications stand out, and AP classes are one way to impress college admission boards. While it would be easy if there were a set number of AP courses needed to guarantee a spot in a top college, the truth is there is no magic number. The number of AP classes students should take depends on their colleges of choice, the availability of AP classes at their school, and their ability to handle a heavy course load.

Students taking AP classes should consider the impact advanced classes will have on other factors that influence college applications, including their GPA, extracurricular activities, and time needed to study for the SAT or ACT. A high GPA and SAT result coupled with high scores on a limited number of AP tests serves a student better than multiple AP exams with low passing scores. So how do you determine how many AP classes you should take? Read on for a helpful breakdown.

Why Take AP Classes?

Students have several reasons to take AP courses:

  • High AP test scores can lead to college credit or advanced placement.
  • Passing AP exams proves your ability to pass introductory college classes.
  • Scores of 4 or 5 on AP exams impress college admission boards.
  • AP classes offer opportunities for students to challenge themselves.
  • Taking AP classes is a chance to explore a new subject area, such as a foreign language.

Do Students With More AP Classes Have an Advantage With College Admissions?

High school students’ ability to access AP classes varies depending on the courses their school offers. One school can have access to multiple AP courses, while another school only has access to, say, English and Environmental Science.

College admissions officers are well aware of this discrepancy. You won’t be penalized for not taking AP courses that were not offered at your school. Highly selective colleges do, however, expect you to take the most challenging courses available, whether they are AP classes, honors classes, or IB courses.

Is an A in an AP Exam Better Than an A in a Regular Class?

Because AP courses are much more challenging than regular high school classes, they are weighted differently when calculating your GPA. While normal classes are scored on a four-point GPA, AP courses are scored on a five-point system. This means that an A in an AP class has a value of 5.0 when used to calculate your weighted GPA, making it better than the 4.0 you’d receive for an A in a normal class.

How Many AP Courses Should I Take for State Schools?

State colleges generally award credit for AP classes but won’t deny entrance to students without AP classes on their transcripts. If your goal is acceptance into a state college, ask yourself which introductory-level college courses you want to complete as a high school student so you can start advanced classes when you begin college. By all means, take AP classes, but don’t overload yourself. Two AP courses with scores of 4 or 5 look much better on college applications than four AP classes with scores of 2 or 3.

How Many AP Classes Should You Take for Competitive Colleges?

If you’re applying to competitive colleges such as the Ivy League schools, you’ll need to demonstrate you took the most challenging courses you could in your junior and senior years, including honors classes and AP courses. Again, there’s no magic number of AP classes you should take, as AP course availability differs from one school to another.

The top 100 schools in the United States typically want to see you’ve taken AP classes in any available core courses, including English, Mathematics, Science, History, and Foreign Languages (AP Spanish is very popular with college-bound students). Taking a couple of additional courses that match your intended major is also recommended. 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. College admission officers look for evidence you made the most of your educational opportunities as a high school student. If you’re applying for scholarships, remember that scholarship boards also want evidence of your willingness to take challenging courses — and your ability to pass them. With the rise of virtual learning, you may be able to take AP courses online if they are not offered at your school.

What Are the Best AP Courses to Take?

The best AP courses are those that relate to your chosen field of study, but colleges are also looking for a variety of subjects. Consider the following courses:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English Language and Composition
  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • US History
  • European World History
  • World History

Tutoring helps students achieve the best possible scores on their AP exams. A skilled tutor teaches both course materials and how to study and prepare for tests — skills that serve students well throughout their college career. Contact Revolution Prep for more information on AP exam tutoring and how to get the most out of AP courses.

How Many AP Classes Should You Take | Revolution Prep (2024)


How many AP classes should I take in total? ›

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.

Is taking 7 AP classes too much? ›

To be a competitive candidate for admission, you will need to take at least 8 AP® classes, more if you can. It is a good idea to take 1 AP® course in each of the following core disciplines: English, Foreign Language, History, Math, and Science to impress the admissions officers.

Is taking 3 AP classes too little? ›

In addition, ensure you devote enough time to studying for the SAT or ACT this year. For example, if you are hoping for an Ivy League, you will need to take 3-5 AP classes. On the other hand, taking 2-4 APs would be enough if you are aiming for less-competitive schools.

Is 2 APs enough sophom*ore year? ›

Instead, students typically start by taking 1-3 AP classes during their sophom*ore year, beginning with some of the less demanding courses. They may then pick up the pace during their junior year, enrolling in more challenging options. These courses can enhance your transcript and boost your GPA.

Is 4 APs too much junior year? ›

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 10 APs enough for Ivy League? ›

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.

Is 7 AP classes enough for Harvard? ›

Going up the selectivity chain, the average at Harvard is eight AP classes. 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.

Is 8 AP classes enough for Ivy League? ›

Most students who attend extremely selective schools have taken anywhere from 7 to 12 AP courses in high school, although there are exceptions to this rule. If a high school offers only a limited number of AP courses or none at all, colleges will not fault students for taking fewer of these classes.

Is 7 AP classes enough for Ivy League? ›

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.

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

Is 2 AP classes too little? ›

The number of AP classes you take should align with your personal academic strengths and interests. Taking two AP courses in your junior year could certainly be viewed as a rigorous courseload, especially if the APs are in subjects that you are passionate about and plan to dedicate considerable effort.

Is 6 AP classes too much senior year? ›

Taking 6 APs might be perfect because you already have taken 6 APs before and got all As and 4s and 5s on your AP tests. Or it might be getting over your skis as the expression goes. I think it depends on what your track record is thus far.

Is a 2.5 GPA bad for a sophom*ore? ›

Sophom*ore: To summarize this article's material, a 2.5 GPA as a sophom*ore isn't a problem, but it will significantly limit your college search if it doesn't improve before senior year. You still have the rest of your junior year to raise your GPA, so make the most of it. Start thinking about standardized tests.

Is a 2.0 GPA bad for a sophom*ore? ›

Even if your odds don't look great right now, remember that things can easily change in the next couple years. If you have a 2.0 GPA your sophom*ore year, you could be heading towards a difficult time with college applications.

How many AP classes does an average student take? ›

The Key Number

If that answer isn't fully satisfying, here is a look at the average number of APs students tend to take over the course of their high school years, broken down by college selectivity: Selective schools: around 7–12 APs. Semi-selective schools: 4–8 APs. Less selective schools: 1–5 APs.

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 13 AP classes good? ›

3 answers. Don't worry 13 APs is definitely a good amount and makes you competitive in terms of academic rigor for top colleges. In fact, it is recommended that you have at least 7-9 APs for selective schools.

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.

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