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Complete List of AP Courses and Tests

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Have you ever seen the full list of AP classes? Are you confused about which ones you should take? We'll help you choose by showing you a list of all AP courses available. We'll also reveal which ones are the most popular and which are the hardest to pass. Read on for advice to help you pick your ideal advanced placement courses!

 

Complete List of AP Exams

First things first: here is the full list of AP tests. Before we delve into popularity and difficulty, this basic list can be really helpful. Scope it out and see which topics look interesting to you! There are 38 courses in total:

  • Research
  • Seminar
  • Art and Design (formerly Studio Art): 2-D Design
  • Art and Design (formerly Studio Art): 3-D Design
  • Art and Design (formerly Studio Art): Drawing
  • Art History
  • Biology
  • Calculus AB
  • Calculus BC
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese Language and Culture
  • Computer Science A
  • Computer Science Principles
  • English Language and Composition
  • English Literature and Composition
  • Environmental Science
  • European History
  • French Language and Culture
  • German Language and Culture
  • Government and Politics (Comparative)
  • Government and Politics (US)
  • Human Geography
  • Italian Language and Culture
  • Japanese Language and Culture
  • Latin
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Music Theory
  • Physics 1: Algebra-Based
  • Physics 2: Algebra-Based
  • Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • Physics C: Mechanics
  • Psychology
  • Spanish Language and Culture
  • Spanish Literature and Culture
  • Statistics
  • US History
  • World History: Modern

When reading through this list, think about subjects you already enjoy and want to delve into more. For example, if you've always liked math, challenging yourself with the BC Calculus course (and exam) could be a rewarding experience.

You can also look ahead to college. AP classes are a great way to explore subjects that aren't usually part of high school curricula. Many AP classes, such as Computer Science, Psychology, and Economics, can give you a taste of college courses while you're still in high school.

 

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AP classes: perfect if you're dreaming of life on campus.

 

Also, think about the tests that could make you a more competitive applicant to the colleges you're applying to. You want to showcase your strengths, after all! For example, if you're applying as a science major and have done several science-related extracurriculars, it would be a smart idea to take (and ace!) the science AP tests, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Before you sign up for an AP course or test, think about your prior preparation. In most cases, you shouldn't jump into an AP class if you have no experience in that subject. For instance, many high schools have students take a regular or honors biology class before they can take AP Biology.

Moreover, consider which AP courses are offered at your high school. Most schools don't offer every single AP subject as a class. It is definitely possible to study on your own for a test, but it's much easier if you take a class. This is especially true for the tougher subjects like Calculus and Literature.

For a full description of each AP class and its exam, check out the AP Student website.

 

 

Which AP Tests Are the Most Popular?

Just knowing which AP classes exist won't help you totally narrow down your choices. To give you a better perspective, check out this list of AP courses, organized by popularity (i.e., the number of students taking them):

Exam Name
# of Students Taking (2022)
English Language and Composition
520,771
United States History
456,520
English Literature and Composition
339,401
World History
314,716
Gov. and Politics - United States
298,118
Psychology
292,501
Calculus AB
268,352
Biology
237,338
Human Geography
221,815
Statistics
216,968
Environmental Science
179,957
Spanish Language and Culture
155,931
Physics 1
144,526
Computer Science Principles
134,651
Macroeconomics
134,413
Chemistry
124,780
Calculus BC
120,238
Microeconomics
84,386
European History
80,152
Computer Science A
77,753
Seminar
56,766
Physics C: Mechanics
46,301
Art and Design: 2-D Design
37,045
Research
26,947
Spanish Literature
23,009
Art History
20,970
Gov. and Politics - Comparative
20,949
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism
19,978
French Language and Culture
19,554
Art and Design: Drawing
19,210
Physics 2
17,842
Music Theory
15,594
Chinese Language and Culture
15,277
Art and Design: 3-D Design
5,377
Latin
4,832
German Language and Culture
4,450
Japanese Language and Culture;
2,765
Italian Language and Culture
2,194


Source: The College Board

Taking a more popular AP exam has a lot of benefits. For one, the class is more likely to be offered at your high school. Another plus is that there are more study guides and resources you can use for the test—both online and in print. It will also be easier to find other students to study with.

On the flip side, you can distinguish yourself by taking and passing a less popular AP test. For example, having AP Japanese or AP Government and Politics under your belt can set you apart from other high-achieving students, especially in college applications.

 

AP Test Passing Rates

In addition to knowing all your AP exam choices and how popular each test is, it's helpful to know how many students pass each exam. (AP tests are scored between 1 and 5, with anything 3 and higher considered passing.)

Most AP tests have a pass rate of around 60% or higher. The high score of 5 is rarer—usually between 10% and 20% of a test's scores.

Check out our table below, organized in order of the passing rate of each exam.

 

AP Test Passing Rates 2022

Exam Name
Passing Rate (3+)
5 Rate
Art and Design: Drawing
88%
15%
Chinese Language and Culture (Total Group)
87%
49%
Art and Design: 2-D Design
87%
11%
Seminar
83%
12%
Research
83%
13%
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group)
82%
24%
Spanish Language and Culture (Standard Group)
78%
16%
English Literature and Composition
78%
17%
Calculus BC
77%
41%
Japanese Language and Culture (Total Group)
75%
49%
Art and Design: 3-D Design
74%
6%
Physics C: Mechanics
73%
26%
French Language and Culture (Total Group)
72%
13%
Italian Language and Culture (Total Group)
71%
23%
Gov. and Politics - Comparative
71%
16%
Physics 2
70%
16%
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism
69%
32%
French Language and Culture (Standard Group)
69%
8%
Computer Science A
68%
27%
Biology
68%
15%
Italian Language and Culture (Standard Group)
66%
11%
German Language and Culture (Total Group)
66%
20%
Chinese Language and Culture (Standard Group)
65%
16%
Computer Science Principles
64%
11%
Spanish Literature
64%
8%
Music Theory
62%
19%
Art History
62%
14%
World History
62%
13%
Statistics
61%
15%
Microeconomics
59%
18%
European History
59%
14%
German Language and Culture (Standard Group)
58%
8%
Psychology
58%
17%
Latin
57%
11%
English Language and Composition
56%
10%
Calculus AB
56%
20%
Japanese Language and Culture (Standard Group)
54%
16%
Chemistry
54%
13%
Environmental Science
54%
9%
Human Geography
53%
15%
Macroeconomics
52%
16%
Gov. and Politics - United States
49%
12%
United States History
48%
11%
Physics 1
43%
8%

Source: College Board

 

You might be wondering why tests like BC Calculus and Chinese—which seem really difficult—have some of the highest passing rates. It's not because they're the easiest AP tests. These tests have high pass rates because students who take BC Calc and AP Chinese are much more likely to have prior experience in those subjects and are willing to take on a tough class. In other words, the students who take the hardest AP exams are a self-selecting group of high achievers.

 

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It takes years of math classes to build up to Calculus BC questions like this one. View a whole free-response section here if you're curious about how hard Calculus BC is.

 

On the flip side, some of the most popular tests, such as US History and US Government, have some of the lowest passing rates. This is likely because a wider pool of test takers means that there are more underprepared and unprepared students.

In addition, note that English Language and Environmental Science—also popular tests—have very low 5 rates, under 10%. This could be because, again, a wider test taker pool makes for more unprepared students.

However, since so few students can pull it off, it's still pretty hard to get a 5 on these tests. If you take those courses, be prepared to study hard—especially if you want a 5!

 

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What's Next?

Once you've chosen an AP class to take, you might be curious about what the test is like. Learn about how long AP tests are and get tips on managing test fatigue.

You're probably also wondering about your SAT/ACT score and how to improve it. If you're taking the ACT, get tips on how to avoid the most common ACT mistakes and learn how to get a perfect 36 score.

Aiming for the SAT instead? Learn how to boost your score on each section: Reading, Writing, and Math.

Thinking about college? Read our guides to developing a target ACT or SAT score to get into your target colleges.

 

 

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Halle Edwards
About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.



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