If your school offers an AP® class, or 2, or 3, of 4, then you need to be taking them. But, AP® courses also have a reputation for being overwhelming and stressful. So, to avoid this fate, you might be wondering what the easiest AP® classes are. “Easy” might be a somewhat relative term, because obviously someone who loves science is going to be more prone to excelling in AP® Chemistry than someone who is a complete history buff. However, we can still look at the overall pass rates for all the students that take the AP® exams, see which ones do well across the board, and make choices to suit our interests.
This article will break down the numbers for you. We’ll tell you how many students get 4s and 5s on particular AP® exams, as well as who achieves the passing rate of 3. We will also walk you through how to interpret these numbers, so you can take the AP® classes that are easiest for you.
Are you ready to pick your courses?
Well then, here we go!
Why Should I Take AP® Classes?
Your high school transcript is one of the most important, if not themost important, part of your college applications. This is because the wide scope of time that it covers paints the most realistic picture of you as a student.
Most college admissions offices are dived into regions. Because of this setup, the admissions officers who originally read through your application are familiar with your school and are interested to see how ambitious you were academically and what opportunities you took advantage of. This is special code for “if your school offered AP® classes, did you take them, and did you excel in them.”
AP® classes, while they require more concentration and commitment than academic courses, and also tend to push students to develop better critical thinking skills, collaborative abilities, and a passion for the subject. This can help you transition into the academic environment of college more easily, and can also make you an ideal hire once it is time for you to hit the workforce.
But AP® classes are also hard. Because of this, you might have wondered, “in the world of college admissions, is it better to get an A in an academic class, or a B in an AP® class.” You might not like the answer: to get into the best schools, you need to be getting an A in the AP® classes you take.
So, here’s a list of the AP® exams that the most number of students receive great scores on. After you’ve looked over it, pick out a couple that you think you’d enjoy and would be a good fit for your skillset. Then, go ahead and talk to your school’s guidance counselor to see if your school offers them.
Complete List of the Easiest AP® Classes*
*Based on the pass rate of the respective AP® exam.
|Exam Name||Passing Rate (3+)||5 Rate||4 Rate|
|Studio Art Drawing||82.90%||16.80%||27.20%|
|Studio Art 2D Design||82.40%||14.30%||33.00%|
|Physics C Mech||76.10%||30.20%||27.40%|
|Studio Art 3D Design||74.70%||13.20%||25.80%|
|Physics C E&M||68.10%||32.00%||22.60%|
|Computer Science A||64.30%||20.70%||20.40%|
|Comparative Government and Politics||62.20%||20.60%||21.20%|
|English Language and Composition||55.30%||10.60%||17.50%|
|English Literature and Composition||54.60%||7.40%||17.70%|
|United States History||52.10%||11.70%||17.90%|
|US Government & Politics||50.90%||12.40%||13.50%|
Source: Total Registration and the College Board
Some Things to Consider when Choosing the Easiest APs:
What types of classes do you enjoy taking?
If you’ve consistently struggled in math, taking AP® Calculus is pretty much the kiss of death to your GPA. Even if the pass rate is nearly 50% for both types, if eking out a solid B in academic Algebra II nearly cost you your life, then you probably should avoid this class at all costs.
There are so many different kinds of AP® classes across so many different disciplines that there is really a chance for every type of student to shine. If you are more “right brain” dominant, meaning you excel in the arts and abstract thinking, then you could take AP® Studio Art (drawing, 2D and 3d design) or AP® Music Theory. Even though their passes rates are slightly lower, you might even excel in a history or English class because you would enjoy the material, so it would be easier for you to understand and absorb.
Before you choose your course schedule, take some time to review your personal interests, the classes you’ve excelled in at school so far, and what new subjects you would like to explore. After you have considered these factors, it’s time to take the next step.
What are the easiest AP® classes like at your school?
This can be both a blessing and a curse. Maybe Mrs. Smith has been teaching AP® Chemistry at your high school for over 15 years. Even though the national average for students receiving a 5 is about 10%, Mrs. Smith’s average is about 15% because she is passionate about the material, always available to help her students, and knows how to teach to the test.
In this sort of situation, taking AP® Chemistry, even if you are not a science wiz, could be a great idea for both your GPA and college admission chances. Obviously, Mrs. Smith has an interest in her student’s success, and while the material might be tricky, it would be worth it to try your hand at the class because everyone loves this lady!
But there is also a second realistic situation, and here it is:
You love science! You’ve taken AP® Biology and are ready to continue your study of science in Mrs. Smith’s class. But, everyone knows that she is a terrible teacher. Her pass rate might be consistent with the national average, but everyone who takes her class is miserable because of her boring teacher tactics and huge workload. Unfortunately, this happens often at high schools across the country.
So, how do you make sure you end up with a teacher like the first Mrs. Smith?
You ask questions!
Talk to your teachers.
As you need their help to take AP® classes anyway, your current teachers are great place to get started. After you have thought about what kinds of AP® classes you want to take, bring your list to a teacher in that subject area and ask their opinion. While they might not be able to give you an opinion on their colleague, they can let you know which AP® classes they think would be the best fit, and therefore easiest, for you.
Talk to your friends.
This is where you will find the most unfiltered opinions about certain classes and teachers. If you have any older siblings, start by asking them which AP® classes they enjoyed and why. If more than one person teaches a particular subject, ask them which teacher they had, and if they wish they were in a different class.
You can also talk to upperclassmen at your school. Or, if the high school social hierarchy somehow prevents you from doing so, you can see if your school’s teachers are listed on Rate My Teachers.
Do keep in mind that when you are talking to students, you are going to get a large array of opinions and to take each with a grain of salt. That means that sometimes people leave negative reviews because they did poorly in the class, not because the teacher was mean or bad at his or her job. So use your best judgment when reading through these.
Talk to your school’s guidance counselor.
This is a great option because not only will this person know what kinds of classes you can excel in, they will also be able to give you candid feedback on different teachers are your school. For example, maybe you have a particular learning style (you like to be more hands on, you don’t respond well to sarcasm, etc.) your guidance counselor will be able to tell you which teachers fit your style and which AP® classes will therefore be easiest for you.
While teachers might not be able to speak “poorly” of their colleagues, in the confidential setting of a guidance counselor’s office, it’s okay to ask questions like “I heard Mrs. Smith picks favorites, is that true?” or “Mrs. Jones’ students always score higher than average on the AP® Chemistry exam. Why is that?”
Remember: don’t be afraid to ask questions about your school’s so-called easiest APs, because you want to make sure that they are truly the easiest classes for you.
How Hard will the Actual AP® Class be?
As a general rule, the classes with the least amount of material to learn before the AP® exam in May tend to be the easiest. This is because there is less to cram in, so they move at a slower pace. The classes with this reputation are AP® US Government, AP® Psychology, AP® Human Geography, and AP® Environmental Science. There is a set amount of information to cover for these exams, so your teacher can slow down or speed up the process as necessary. For example, many students also like taking AP® US Government because the information might already be familiar to them due to previous classes and experiences.
Here’s a sample question:
This question would be “easy” because the landmark case would have been heavily discussed in class, making it easy to recall. The correct answer, D, would all but jump out to you.
It’s the same thing with AP® Environmental Science: some of the material in this class might feel like a throwback to middle school Earth Science.
While this might be the first thing on your mind now, if you’re fresh out of the course, the answers, C, will be painfully obvious. The test is full of simple facts like this.
While these AP® exams seem to have low passing rates, that doesn’t mean you can’t still get an A in the class associated with them.
Another thing to consider is that nearly everyone who takes the AP® Chinese exam passes it. Not only that, but also more than half of the students earn a 5. Why is that? It is not because Chinese is an easy class – it certainly isn’t, but because everyone who takes the exam has a highly specialized interest in the subject as has put in many hours of hard work to succeed.
This is why it’s important to consider your own strengths and weaknesses when picking out the easiest AP® classes, and not solely rely on the average number of passing scores. If you do only that, and you don’t use any common sense, you’ll end up with a C- in AP® Chinese and failing score on the exam. Not so good for your college chances.
This is good advice to consider for any of the language exams. While their pass rates might seem initially high, to actually do well on any of them, you can’t just take one year of Italian and expect to snag a 5. These AP® tests require students to have near-fluent grasp of grammar, speech patterns, idioms, tonality, and more. Usually, students who do well on the AP® language tests either speak the language at home, have traveled extensively in the region where the language is spoken, or have studied the material for more than 3 years.
AP® Studio Art is another special case. Many students are earning high scores on these exams, but it is not because they are the easiest classes. It is because these kids are actually pretty great artists. The AP® Art exams are also not really an exam at all, but rather a submitted portfolio of the work they have been doing all year.
If you love art and can actually create proportional, rich images, then go for it! But if your artistic talent peaks at stick figures on napkins, AP® Art is not going to be an easy A or easy 5, for that matter. If you find yourself an art lover with no artistic talent, consider taking AP® Art History to put your skills to work.
Finally, remember that in the age-old “is it better to get a B in an academic class or an A in an AP® class” debate, it’s always better to get an A in an AP® class. However, you do need to remember that most schools weight AP® classes, so doing well in them can significantly increase your GPA.
Remember, when selecting the easiest APs:
- The AP® test with the highest pass rate might still be hard for you, because many of them are paired with highly specialized classes.
- Pick classes that highlight your academic interests and strengths.
- Ask around about specific classes and teachers before you commit.
- Hard AP® exams might be paired easy AP® classes, so if you want to boost your GPA, they could still be worth it.
- The easiest APs are the ones with the least amount of content to absorb before test day.
You need to use common sense when selecting your course load. Don’t take random AP® classes for the sake of beefing up your transcript. If your school has a wide array of courses, take the time to do your homework on each one and select the classes that fit your academic interests, your busy schedule, and your learning style.
Of course, you might attend a small high school that only offers a couple of AP® classes. In this case, you need to take them, no matter what they are. If you are truly concerned about your ability to do well, like if you are terrible at math and the only AP® at your school is AP® Calculus, talk to your guidance counselor ASAP® about your options. Sometimes, he or she can contact the College Board and arrange for you to take an AP® class through a licensed online provider.
Okay, what do I do next?
After you’ve decided which AP® classes are the easiest for you, you should read this guide about when you should start studying for the AP® test. Hint: it’s at the beginning of the school year.
After you have nailed down your AP® study timeline, take a look at this article on how to study for the AP® tests. You’ll be glad that you did.
Make sure to tell your friends about these resources as well. You’ll notice that if both you and your friends are succeeding in your AP® classes, life will be less stressful and better for everyone.
Good luck out there!
By the way, in case you’re curious, you can also read our post on the hardest AP® classes here.
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Kickstartyour APprepwith Albert. Start your AP® exam prep today.
Which AP test is the easiest? ›
Easiest AP exams by pass rate
AP Calculus BC. AP Chinese Language. AP English Literature. AP French Language.
The 4 easiest AP exams to self-study are Psychology (3.4/10), Computer Science Principles (3.8 / 10), Microeconomics (3.9/10) and Environmental Science (3.9/10), as rated by over 2,900 real AP class alumnae reviewers who rated self-study difficulty from 1 (easiest to self-study) to 10 (hardest to self-study).Is Albert IO good for AP tests? ›
“The Albert tool offers the best solution for AP or ACT prep by helping to practice skills and knowledge. The questions in Albert are highly rated which is something that helps students get authentic practice and helps them understand what is required for these important assessments.”What AP has the lowest pass rate? ›
AP Physics 1
Despite a reputation as one of the most difficult AP classes, Physics 1 is also one of the most popular—144,526 students took it in 2022. Physics 1 has the lowest pass rate of any AP exam (43.3%) along with one of the lowest percentages of students scoring a 5 (just 7.9%).
Many of the least popular AP exams are world language tests, as these exams generally target a more niche group of students. What's more, some languages are less commonly taught at high schools than others (e.g., Japanese and Italian courses are rarer than Spanish courses).What is the most failed AP exam? ›
The most failed AP exams are Physics 1 (failed by 48.4% of all students), Environmental Science (failed by 46.6% of all students), and Chemistry (failed by 43.9% of all students). For a full chart of the hardest AP exams (those with the lowest passing rate), check out this site.How easy is it to get a 1 on an AP exam? ›
The lowest possible score you can get on an AP exam, a 1 indicates that students were completely unfamiliar with the material. No U.S. colleges currently offer college credit for a score of 1. In some exams, earning a 1 is extremely rare, like in AP Studio Art, where only 1.1% of students earn a 1.What is the hardest AP to get a 5 on? ›
|AP Class/Exam||Pass Rate (3+)||Perfect Score (5)|
|2. Environmental Science||53.4%||11.9%|
|4. U.S. Government and Politics||57.5%||15.5%|
|5. U.S. History||58.7%||13.0%|
To be a competitive candidate for admission, you will need to take at least 8 AP® classes, more if you can. It is a good idea to take 1 AP® course in each of the following core disciplines: English, Foreign Language, History, Math, and Science to impress the admissions officers.Can you study for an AP in a week? ›
How many hours you need to spend on studying for AP tests every week is going to depend a lot on how much material you need to review and how comfortable you are with the format of the exam questions. In general, though, you should expect to study for several hours a week split over two to three sessions.
Is taking 10 AP classes enough? ›
For students aiming for the Ivy League and Top 20 schools in the United States, a good target is to take (and pass) 10-14 AP classes throughout your high school career — or 3-4 each year.What is the easiest AP exam to get a 5? ›
The five easiest exams for self-study are as follows:
AP Environmental Science. AP Human Geography. AP Psychology. AP US Government and Politics.
If you come across a question or two on the AP exam that you're not sure of the answer, it's okay to take a guess. There is no penalty for guessing on any of the AP exams, so it's important to make sure that you try to answer every question.Should you guess on the AP test? ›
Remember that you will not be penalized for wrong multiple-choice answers so it is better to guess rather than skip questions. Even eliminating a single answer choice will pay off if you can even marginally increase odds of guessing the right answer over the course of an entire AP exam.What grade is AP failing? ›
The College Board considers a score of 3 or higher a passing grade. That said, some colleges require a 4 or 5 to award credit. Whether a 3 is a good AP score depends on the colleges you're applying to.What is a 70 on the AP exam? ›
Usually, a 70 to 75 percent out of 100 translates to a 5. However, there are some exams that are exceptions to this rule of thumb. The AP Grades that are reported to students, high schools, colleges, and universities in July are on AP's five-point scale: 5: Extremely well qualified.Does failing an AP class affect GPA? ›
If you fail an AP class, then your GPA will likely drop as it would for a normal class. This grade also shows up on your transcript. However, you may be able to retake the class the following year to raise your grade and increase your GPA.What is the most liked AP class? ›
- AP English Language and Composition.
- AP United States History.
- AP Psychology.
- AP Calculus AB.
- AP Spanish Language and Culture.
#1: AP English Language and Composition | 476,735 Students
In AP English Language and Composition, you'll “learn about the elements of argument and composition as you develop your critical-reading and writing skills.
Aim for four to eight AP exams in your junior and senior years. For competitive Ivy League schools, admission officers also want to see AP courses for core subject areas and additional courses. If possible, aim to pass about seven to 12 AP exams if applying to these highly selective schools.
Is AP Bio or Chem harder? ›
However, our son thinks taking AP bio in junior year makes more sense since AP biology tends to be relatively 'easier' than AP chemistry for most kids and his next year classes are rigorous.Do colleges care if you don't take an AP exam? ›
Perhaps the test was too expensive, or they couldn't make the exam date. It could also be because none of their potential colleges accept AP credits. Either way, colleges will not look down on you for abstaining from taking the exam.Are AP tests curved? ›
In other words, AP scores are not graded on a curve but instead calculated specifically to reflect consistency in scoring from year to year.Should I send my AP scores if I got a 1? ›
If your exam score is eligible for credit, self-report it on the college application and send the official report through the CollegeBoard. Never report or send an exam score of a 1 or 2. They are not considered “passing” scores.Is it OK to get a 2 on an AP exam? ›
Students who earn AP scores of 2 are well prepared to succeed in introductory college coursework. Compared to academically similar college peers who did not take the AP course, AP students who earn scores of 2 perform as well or better when they take those introductory college courses.What is a 75 on an AP test? ›
|If you got a percentage of...||If you got a raw score of... (For FINAL EXAM)||And your AP score is...|
Is AP Biology Easy Or Hard? AP Biology is considered quite hard, with class alumnae rating it 6.4/10 for overall difficulty (the 8th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed). The pass rate is about average vs other AP classes, with 68% graduating with a 3 or higher.Is AP Bio the hardest AP? ›
AP Biology is one of the more difficult APs based on its challenging curriculum, the low rate of students who earn 5s on the exam, and the consensus from students on the demanding nature of the class. Ideally, you should take an Intro to Biology class before you take AP Biology so that you're fully prepared for it.What is the fail rate for AP World? ›
AP World History is the 10th hardest AP class with the least passing rate of 60.2%. This class is about 800 years of world history, from 1200 CE to the present. World history focuses on many central themes.Which AP test is the hardest? ›
AP Physics 1 is the hardest AP class with the least passing rate of 51.6. It means almost half of the students fail this exam. It's 3 hours exam consist of 50 MCQs and 5 free-response questions.
Is AP macro or micro easier? ›
While the course content for AP econ macro vs micro vary significantly (as you'd expect), the AP exam format and difficulty are about the same between the two. Neither course is seen as more impressive or valuable to colleges, although microeconomics is sometimes seen as useful for a wider variety of subjects.What is the best AP exam to take? ›
- AP World Languages. ...
- AP Art and Design. ...
- AP Psychology. ...
- AP Environmental Science. ...
- AP Comparative Government and Politics. ...
- AP Human Geography. ...
- AP English Language / AP English Literature.
|AP Class/Exam||Pass Rate (3+)||Perfect Score (5)|
|1. Physics 1||51.6%||8.8%|
|2. Environmental Science||53.4%||11.9%|
|4. U.S. Government and Politics||57.5%||15.5%|
Aim for four to eight AP exams in your junior and senior years. For competitive Ivy League schools, admission officers also want to see AP courses for core subject areas and additional courses. If possible, aim to pass about seven to 12 AP exams if applying to these highly selective schools.What AP test has the highest 5 rate? ›
Furthermore, some decidedly hard exams, like Chinese, Calculus BC, and Physics C, have very high 5 rates—up to 49%+ for Chinese!Is self studying AP worth it? ›
Self-studying for an AP exam will be especially worth it if you already have a working knowledge of the subject you're hoping to study for. Remember that you'll want to aim for a score of four or higher. Most colleges won't give credit for a lower score.What percent of AP students get a 5? ›
AP Score Distributions.
|Exam||AP Human Geography|
AP Macroeconomics is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.6/10 for overall difficulty (the 19th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed). The pass rate is lower than other AP classes, with 51% graduating with a 3 or higher.How hard is AP Psychology? ›
Is AP Psychology Easy Or Hard? AP Psychology is considered very easy, with class alumnae rating it 3.5/10 for overall difficulty (the 2nd-easiest out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed). The pass rate is slightly lower than other AP classes, with 59% graduating with a 3 or higher.Is it better to fail an AP exam or not take it at all? ›
The most substantial consequence to failing an AP exam is that you will not receive college credit for the course. However, many colleges do not even offer credit for AP courses. So, you may not be missing out on an opportunity at all. Either way, you shouldn't look at this as a scary consequence.
Is a 70% a 5 on the AP exam? ›
Usually, a 70 to 75 percent out of 100 translates to a 5. However, there are some exams that are exceptions to this rule of thumb. The AP Grades that are reported to students, high schools, colleges, and universities in July are on AP's five-point scale: 5: Extremely well qualified.