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How Many AP Classes Should I Take?

The time you spend on the more complex material in these classes will pay off in the long run. So how many AP classes should you take? The answer is different for everyone: some people do well with three courses, while others feel comfortable with four or more.

How many AP classes should I take for top schools?

Colleges want to see you taking AP classes in subjects you are passionate about. Most students who get accepted to top schools have taken AP classes throughout all four years of high school. Most of these students have taken three to five AP classes each in their junior and senior year. The more AP classes you can take that you are passionate about and can handle, the better. For students applying to selective colleges 7-12 AP classes is expected. For less competitive colleges, taking 4 or 5 AP classes is good.

If you’re looking for something to help you get into college, then going above and beyond is your best bet. Taking just one or two AP courses won’t do much for your chances of getting into college. But if you take five or six AP classes (or maybe even more!) and do well in those classes, then that can show admissions officers at top schools that you’re hardworking, motivated, smart, like to challenge yourself, and are serious about learning complex material.

In addition to helping with admissions, taking multiple AP classes can also give you less time for yourself during high school and extracurriculars.

Why you should take AP classes

If you’re looking for a leg up on the admission process, AP classes can be the way to go. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, taking an AP class in high school is one of the strongest predictors of college success. The more complex your coursework is in high school, the higher your chances are of getting into a competitive college and earning good grades there.

When you take an AP class as a student, you get an extra challenge while proving that you can handle it—which is exactly what colleges want. If this isn’t enough motivation on its own… well, then maybe money will do it. Taking AP classes could actually save you money because they count toward college credits at most colleges.

That means that some colleges may waive part or all of their tuition costs if they see evidence that you took an advanced class during high school (i.e., an A+ grade).

Even if this isn’t enough motivation for some people, consider how much more exciting life would be if everyone had more money than they know what else to do with; wouldn’t that change everything?

how many ap classes should i take

Considerations for AP courses

If you’re thinking about signing up for Advanced Placement classes, here are some things to consider:

  • Your interests: Think about what subjects interest you and what kinds of classes would be a good fit. If you’re into art, maybe AP Art History is the way to go. If writing is your jam, then maybe AP English Literature and Composition would be a good fit for you.
  • Your schedule: How much time do you have available? Do you already have a full workload with honors or AP courses in your current schedule? Are there any other activities like sports or clubs that will take up more time this year? The amount of free time that’s left over may determine whether an additional class is feasible (and necessary) or not.
  • GPA concerns: You may think that taking on an extra course will help boost your GPA by boosting your total number of A’s earned in high school; however, keep in mind that each college sets its own standard for what constitutes an “A” grade—it might even vary from department to department within the same university! So if being accepted into a certain school is important to you, it might be better not to risk getting too many A’s now so as not to jeopardize admission later on down the road if their standards change. 
  • For example, if Harvard University has set its cutoff at 4 As out of 5, APs taken but then later changes their policy such that only 3 As are needed out of 5 total credits attempted (including regular classes), having gotten all 4 As beforehand won’t help since they wouldn’t apply anymore anyway. In this case, it would’ve been better to get 3 As instead because those could still give her five perfect scores but also allow her enough room afterward without penalty should Harvard change policies again later down the line once they receive another year’s worth of data from applicants.”

Rules for choosing the number of AP classes to take.

  • If you can handle it, take as many AP classes as you can.
  • The more AP classes you take, the more college credits and experience in your chosen field that you will have upon graduation from high school. This will help cut down on time it takes to graduate from college and get a job after graduation by allowing you to skip some lower-level courses (or take them at a community college).
  • Taking AP courses builds skills that are important for higher education such as problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which make it easier to succeed in introductory college courses related to the subject matter covered by your AP coursework (e.g., calculus or biology).

Your goal should be to challenge yourself without feeling overwhelmed.

While there’s no magic formula for how many AP classes to take, your goal should be to challenge yourself without feeling overwhelmed.

The best way to gauge this is by looking at the course description and reading feedback from students who have already taken the class.

If it sounds like something you’d enjoy, then it’s probably worth taking!

If the course has a lab component that requires special equipment or lots of time outside of class (e.g., field trips), keep in mind any additional requirements when planning your schedule and budgeting for supplies.


Now that you know the benefits and considerations of taking AP classes, it’s time to start planning your schedule. 

One last tip: don’t forget about non-AP classes too. Even though AP classes are great for challenging yourself and getting into a good college, they can also be hard on your social life and other interests. 

So if you feel like you want to take fewer APs than what we recommend here, don’t let us stop you.

Other resources

You can read about how many credits are AP classes.

You can read about if you can take AP classes over the summer.

You can read about Pre AP Classes.

You can read about what happens if you fail an AP class.

You can also read about the easiest AP classes.

You can read about are AP classes worth it.

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