Which AP courses to take?
We get this question very often – Which AP course should we take? OR Which AP course will help my kid in college? With so many choices it is obvious to get perplexed.
The College Board created the Advanced Placement (AP) program to offer high school students college-level classes and exams. The College Board offers 38 AP courses in more than 20 subject areas.
Advantage of taking AP courses
The majority of US colleges allow students obtaining satisfactory AP exam scores to get college credit and allow them to skip some college courses. This can help by saving on paying for some college courses and make your transcript pretty impressive. Also taking AP classes is a great way to explore courses you might take in college – like computer science, premed, physics, economics, chemistry, or psychology. However, if you overdo, you may hurt your GPA and give up other important activities like extracurricular and SAT/ACT preparation.
For the most part, each AP exam costs $97, with reduced costs available to low-income families. This is a huge discount, considering that each semester-long class at top colleges typically costs somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000.
In the end, by taking AP courses and performing well shows colleges that you’re hardworking, willing to challenge yourself, and ready for college.
How Many AP Classes Should I Take?
Less Selective Universities and State Schools don't require students to have taken AP courses in their high school. The AP classes that you take is up to you and your goals. If you want to finish some basic college courses in high school and focus on harder classes in college then go ahead and load up your transcript with AP courses. This will prepare you better to start college and excel.
More Selective Universities and State School Honors Programs look at your transcript and see if you have taken the most challenging courses available to you at your high school. For example, The University of Pennsylvania's website notes, “The Admissions Selection Committee will review your curriculum within the context of what courses are available at your secondary school. Stanford says, “We expect you to challenge yourself throughout high school and to do very well. The most important credential that enables us to evaluate your academic record is the high school transcript. Remember, however, that our evaluation of your application goes beyond any numerical formula. There is no minimum GPA or test score; nor is there any specific number of AP or honors courses you must have on your transcript that will secure your admission to Stanford.” Harvard College says, “Most of all, we look for students who make the most of their opportunities and the resources available to them, and who are likely to continue to do so throughout their lives … You should demonstrate your proficiency in the areas described below by taking SAT II Subject Tests, Advanced Placement tests, and International Baccalaureate tests.” In essence, if you are applying to these selective universities you should take the toughest AP courses available at your school.
So which one?
One should base one’s decision on the college major and/or the degree being sought.
If you want to attend a liberal arts college, you have a wide choice of AP courses at your high school. It never hurts to have more credits than your prospective college will accept; you’ll be able to pick and choose which AP scores you ultimately cash in for college credit.
For example, if you are thinking of pursuing an engineering degree then a Math and Physics AP exam would definitely make sense. If you are going into the medical field then an AP Biology and Chemistry can add a lot of value.
Since the testing times of some AP exams overlap, you should look up the tests online and determine the dates of the exams beforehand. This way, you can plan ahead and arrange an alternate plan of action if you hope to take two overlapping exams.
Use the below table to guide you preparation.
We can help
We can definitely help in preparing your child for majority of the AP courses. At ACE College Academy we have excellent teachers who have been coaching popular AP courses such as Computer Science, Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Our tutors have access to exams that are not published or openly available to everyone to help your child get the coveted "5" on the APs. Please click here for inquiry.