Dec. 10, 2020
AP classes are a great way to challenge yourself academically and show college admission teams you're ready for college-level work. If you're trying to incorporate AP classes into your schedule, you may be wondering where to start. Use the following guiding questions to help you sign up for one (or more) of the 38 APs.
The vast majority of students who take an AP do so through the school where they're currently enrolled, so when you're choosing an AP, it's a good idea to first start with that list, as it's the most accessible. You're also likelier to be familiar with these teachers — you may have even had other classes with them — which can help you determine whether an AP-level course would be a good fit.
However, if your school doesn't offer any courses that you're interested in, or if you're a nontraditional or home-schooled student, you should still look at the full list of APs. Eliminate any subjects that you think would be too difficult to study on your own (due to a lack of familiarity) and consider taking a practice AP exam to see how well your non-AP knowledge of a subject (like World History) might translate. Note that you may be able to take a course at a local college, another nearby school, or even online, so don't rule out an AP that you feel passionate about but unprepared for so long as you can get a teacher or mentor to help you prepare for it.
Some schools require you to complete certain prerequisites in order to enroll in an AP class. For example, you need to take Chemistry I before you take AP Chemistry, or algebra, geometry and pre-calc before AP Calculus. These requirements are not set in place by the College Board but are implemented by schools to help set you up for success. When you meet with your counselor to register for classes, make sure to mention any APs you might be interested in so you know which prerequisites to work into your four-year plan.
Even if your school doesn't require you to take a certain course prior to enrolling in an AP, it's in your best interest to make sure you've developed skills you'll need to use in those classes. For example, if you want to take Microeconomics, you want to make sure your math skills are solid. If you're not sure which classes might help, talk to an AP teacher in the subject.
Consult with your guidance counselor about AP course registration timelines at your school. If an AP class you're interested in is particularly popular and fills up quickly, you'll want to make sure you're prepared to finalize your schedule in a timely fashion. Additionally, it can help to confirm any add/drop deadlines in case you want to switch in or out of an AP class for any reason.
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