Why You Should Take an AP Class (2024)

There are many benefits to taking APs, from building valuable new skills to buffing your college resume. If you're on the fence about whether an AP is for you, here's why you should at least consider taking one.

Why You Should Take an AP Class (1)

AP Classes Build Important Skills

AP classes are meant for anyone and everyone who is willing to work hard. Like any class, you are meant to learn as you go, and teachers don’t expect you to know all the skills necessary to do well on day one. You’re supposed to use a solid foundation, often from prerequisite courses, to learn these more advanced skills throughout the course.

That's why we recommend that you try to take at least one AP course. Each one will give you unique content knowledge, depending on the specific subject , but any one will expose you to universally applicable tools that you’ll be able to apply in your other high school classes, in college, and in your future career. From time management and study habits to critical thinking, you’ll learn a lot from APs and your instructors. The confidence boost that comes from completing a challenging course also helps!

Demonstrate College Readiness

An AP course holds its students to a higher standard, which means by taking one of these rigorous classes, you’re already conveying to colleges that you care about your education. That doesn’t mean you should take just any AP class; be strategic about it! You want your transcript to not only reflect outstanding academic performance (which it won’t if you overwhelm yourself with too many challenging classes), but also give colleges an idea of what you’re passionate and excited about.

These classes are designed to give you a taste of college coursework. Admission officers are familiar with the intense academic nature of these courses and the work that’s required to perform well in them and on the exams. Getting good grades and passing the exam show them that you’re ready to take on college work.

Open Up More Opportunities in College

Many schools offer college credit, advanced course placement, or some combination of the two. This means that you can have more flexibility with how you spend your time in college. For example, you might be able to shave a semester (or even two!) off college, which can save a lot of money. Alternatively, you can use that free time to pick up a second major, which can be useful to your future career. At the very least, getting prerequisites and general classes out of the way frees you up to jump directly into your core classes, or to enroll in an elective you otherwise wouldn’t have had time for.

APs Pay Off

College is expensive. One credit can cost hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars. A standard AP exam, on the other hand, costs $93 per exam ($123 if you’re at an international test site). Even if your selected college doesn’t end up saving you thousands in course credit, APs are still a relatively low cost investment that can pay for itself if it helps you earn grants or scholarships , and, in some cases, ones you’d otherwise be ineligible for. These awards would require you to earn at least a 3, though often higher scores make you a more competitive candidate. Keep hitting the books and taking practice AP tests so you can set yourself up for success when scholarship applications roll around.

Each college treats AP scores differently. While some will grant credit to those who score a 3, others only accept 4s or 5s. When you’re checking out potential schools, make sure to look up their AP score policies and factor it into your considerations when decision time comes. Challenging yourself and getting outside of your comfort zone academically may be intimidating, but we’re confident that you can do it! Plus, there’s plenty of support through the College Board website and talented teachers to guide you along the way. For more on APs and college readiness, subscribe to our YouTube channel .

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Why You Should Take an AP Class (2024)


Why You Should Take an AP Class? ›

These classes are designed to give you a taste of college coursework. Admission officers are familiar with the intense academic nature of these courses and the work that's required to perform well in them and on the exams. Getting good grades and passing the exam show them that you're ready to take on college work.

Do colleges prefer AP classes? ›

While experts say AP courses are viewed favorably by admissions officers, Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling at Khan Lab School, a private K-12 school in California, notes colleges will consider a students' applications in the context of the curriculum offered at their high school, meaning applicants won't ...

Should my child take AP classes? ›

If your child really wants to attend college but lacks some of the skills necessary to handle a college-level workload, the AP program offers the challenges of college academics, without the cost of college tuition. AP courses can help to instill the needed work ethic and study skills before your child attends college.

Do APS actually matter? ›

Do Colleges Care About AP Scores? As with many college-admissions related questions, the answer to this question is, "It depends." However, as a general rule, your AP exam scores aren't going to be a major make-or-break factor in whether you get into a college or not.

Why should I self study an AP? ›

As opposed to just taking an AP class through your high school, self-studying lets you study whatever subject interests you most, allows you to structure the learning around your schedule, and can be impressive to college admissions.

Is taking AP classes worth it? ›

Save Money & Earn Credit

Financially, taking AP classes can be a twofold benefit. While high school is free for most, college is not. Save yourself some tuition money by taking AP classes in high school. You'll earn college credits without paying college tuition and also get a head start on your college requirements.

Is 2 AP classes enough 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.

What are the cons of AP classes? ›

One drawback of taking AP classes is that to take the exam and potentially earn college credit, students have to pay $98 per exam. Some people don't even pass the exam. These classes are also much harder than regular classes, as they are college level courses.

Are AP classes for smart kids? ›

Not always. AP classes are designed for students who are willing to put in the extra work and maintain the grades needed for college credit. They tend to preform academically and have a more demanding workload. But not every qualified student takes the class.

Is it OK if I don't take AP classes? ›

I can understand why you might be concerned, but the good news is that not taking AP classes doesn't necessarily mean you won't get into a good college. Admissions officers look at the whole picture, meaning your GPA, extracurriculars, and other factors play important roles in determining your acceptance.

Will bad AP scores hurt me? ›

You will not receive college credit

Either way, you shouldn't look at this as a scary consequence. The worst that can happen is that it is as if you never took the exam, if you don't self-report or send in the official score. It won't actually impact you negatively, it will just fail to provide a possible benefit.

Does Harvard look at AP scores? ›

Advanced Placement (AP) Scores

In order for your AP scores to be included in your student record, you must send an official score report to Harvard through the College Board (use code 3434). If you have invalid or missing scores in your Placement and Scores Report, please email placementexams@fas.harvard.edu.

What AP classes impress colleges? ›

For seniors, the most common ones would be “AP Statistics or Calculus, AP Physics, AP US Government and Politics, and AP English Literature and Composition). Even if you want to do different courses, that's okay! But having some from each subject is highly beneficial.

Why do I want to take an AP class? ›

Demonstrate College Readiness

An AP course holds its students to a higher standard, which means by taking one of these rigorous classes, you're already conveying to colleges that you care about your education.

What is the easiest AP test? ›

Easiest AP exams by pass rate
  • AP French Language.
  • AP Government & Politics.
  • AP Italian Language.
  • AP Japanese Language.
  • AP Physics C Mechanics.
  • AP Research.
  • AP Seminar.
  • AP Spanish Language.
Jan 13, 2023

How do I take AP classes if my school doesn't offer them? ›

What should I do? Talk to your counselor about taking the course through an authorized online provider. You should also know that you can self-study for most AP Exams*—you don't have to take the course beforehand, although we recommend you do.

Do AP scores look good for college? ›

While strong AP exam scores can help your application, they are not the only factor that matters. However, it's fair to note that more competitive schools, like Ivy League institutions, get many applicants who mainly took AP classes by their senior year and did well on the exams.

Is taking 4 APs too much? ›

If you're serious about school and learning a lot before university, then I think taking 4 AP classes is fine. I took 4 APs during my junior year (Gov+Politics, Biology, Calc AB, Lang+Comp), and the workload was quite manageable.

Will colleges accept a 3 on an AP exam? ›

Colleges are generally looking for a 4 (“well-qualified”) or 5 (“extremely qualified”) on the AP exam, but some may grant credit for a 3 (“qualified”). These scores mean you have proven yourself capable of doing the work in an introductory-level college course.

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