AP classes are college-level courses offered to high school students to help them prepare for college and earn college credit. They provide students with the opportunity to take classes that aren’t part of a typical high school curriculum like psychology and computer science.
AP classes culminate in an extensive, standardized test that any high school student can take, and if a student scores high enough, it may be counted as college credit. Navigating AP classes can be tricky, but follow these few tips and you’ll be ready to go!
Focus on the difficulty ratio, rather than the number of AP classes
A lot of students worry about the number of AP classes they’ve taken, concerned that they aren’t taking enough, or that their high school doesn’t offer more. The important thing to remember is that colleges look at the ratio of AP classes rather than just the number. The ratio is the number you’ve taken, compared to the number offered at your school. This allows colleges to standardize the AP class profile across all high schools. If your high school only offers 5 AP classes, and you’ve taken 4 of them, your ratio is high. Focus on getting your ratio up, so that you can demonstrate you are challenging yourself as much as possible within the curriculum that this offered.
Prioritize the number of A’s over the number of AP classes
Taking AP classes sounds prestigious and students often believe the greater the number, the more it will bolster their academic profile However, if your overall GPA is going to suffer because you've overworked yourself or taken AP classes in subjects you’re not strong in, it’s not worth it. When colleges look at your application, they will look at your GPA before they look at the rigor of the classes you taken. It is very important that you don’t let the prestige of challenging classes hurt your overall academic performance. Focus on personal growth rather than competition with your peers!
Use AP classes as a way to highlight academic strengths and interests
AP classes are a great way to show a college you’re applying to, what subjects you’re most interested in. If you’re interested in medicine, take AP biology and chemistry. If you’re interested in law, take AP government and politics and US History. Use these challenging courses to show colleges your dedication to the individual subjects that relate to your major in college.
Not sure what to major in yet? Then use AP classes as a way to test your interests and explore new topics. In many cases, high school will offer AP classes in subjects that aren’t part of the normal high school curriculum, giving students the opportunity to try new things. If you’re going into college undecided and want universities to know that you’re open to new things, take AP courses that cover a broad number of topics.