How Many AP Classes Should I Take? How Many Is Too Many?

How Many AP Classes Should I Take?

As you transition from high school to college, it is best to be ready on all aspects – including the academic workload and stress present at the tertiary level. To better prepare the students for these challenges, introductory courses such as the Advanced Placement (AP) courses were created.

AP Courses: what are they?

Currently, there are over 30 AP courses available, covering an academic workload equal to a 100-level college course. Each of these courses provides students with the basic skills, knowledge, and discipline required for the subject matter.

Moreover, these AP courses are credited too, allowing students to finish a semester or even a year earlier. Not to mention it helps save tons on tuition or student loans.

Like most things, several students have subscribed to a “The more/higher, the better” mindset regarding AP classes. As much as there is an absolute truth to that, it also depends on the AP classes available in your high school and your overall GPA.

How many AP classes should I take?

This is one of the most common questions high school students ask themselves when considering AP courses. As mentioned, there is no definite number, and there are lots of other factors to consider when taking AP classes to boost your college application.

Below are some things to note when wondering how many AP classes to take

  • Schools do not have a specific number of AP classes required to be admitted
  • Taking too many AP classes might bring more harm than good when it starts dragging down your GPA
  • When choosing AP classes, combine some that you are genuinely interested in, along with many core courses such as AP English Literature, Statistics, Calculus, World History, Spanish language, and at least one Science courses like Environmental Science, Physics, or Chemistry.
  • A big part of what schools take note of is how you take advantage of the opportunities available in your high school – this means that two high schools might have different numbers of AP classes available, and that is ok. The important part is to demonstrate your interest in challenging yourself with AP courses and doing very well in them too. Your high school may not have as many AP classes available as other schools, but it poses a good standing for your application if you can ace the ones you took.
  • Another important factor when deciding on the number of your AP classes is the school you are targeting. Different schools have different standards when it comes to accepting applications as well.

If you aim for Ivy League universities or the one of the top 10 schools in the country, the average AP classes of its admitted students are 7-12. For the top 100 schools, 4-8, and less selective schools, 1-5 AP classes. Note that this can serve as a guide and is in no way the definite required quantity.

Managing your time for AP classes

To handle your AP classes, strategic planning, time management, and discipline are crucial.

You can start taking a few less demanding AP classes during your freshman year and then build on it through your sophomore year. You can even add one of the more challenging AP courses to help you ease into more next year.

As a junior, you are now more adjusted to the AP classes and can take on additional core courses such as Calculus BC, Biology, or AP English language. This is also the time to prepare for the SAT or ACT, so make sure you are not spreading yourself too thin.

During your senior year, add in more core courses and ones you are interested in, such as Psychology or Computer Science. Just make sure the classes still work well with your schedule and other commitments.

How Many is Too Many?

When it starts to hurt your GPA and affects your schedule badly — that is when you are taking too many AP classes. The key here is to slowly begin with a few and then build on it as you become more comfortable and accustomed to AP courses’ college-level requirements.

When it comes to AP classes, start early and take it slow. If you are eyeing admission to elite schools, it might be necessary to take as many AP classes as the top students. This can be more challenging than usual, but not impossible.

On the other hand, if you are not aiming for the top 10 or 20 schools, it is best to start with APs related to your areas of interest. In the end, the easiest AP courses will usually be the ones in which the topic is of genuine interest to you, and the hardest AP courses will be those in which you have little interest outside of securing the college credits.

Remember that college applications look more than just how many APs you have completed. It is an all-encompassing selection process that takes note of other vital information, including GPA, SAT scores, ACT scores and extracurricular activities, to name a few.

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Hannah Young

Contributor at ExamCave. Hannah is pursuing a degree in middle school English education at The Ohio State University. Hannah has worked as a writing and math tutor for elementary, middle school, and high school students.