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Complete List of AP Courses and Tests

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Posted by Halle Edwards | Jul 17, 2021 2:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

 

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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!

 

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2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June. Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.

 

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.

 

Looking for help studying for your AP exam?

Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!

Get a 5 On Your AP Exam

 

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 (2021)
English Language and Composition 476,735
United States History 399,676
English Literature and Composition 297,009
World History 264,254
Psychology 262,700
Gov. and Politics - United States 260,941
Calculus AB 249,762
Biology 212,198
Human Geography 193,660
Statistics 183,181
Environmental Science 149,106
Spanish Language and Culture 148,040
Physics 1 136,238
Chemistry 134,316
Calculus BC 124,335
Macroeconomics 112,644
Computer Science Principles 102,610
European History 74,202
Microeconomics 73,461
Computer Science A 63,980
Physics C: Mechanics 48,171
Seminar 46,840
Art and Design: 2-D Design 34,481
Research 24,049
Spanish Literature 21,787
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism 19,944
Art and Design: Drawing 18,907
Art History 18,552
Physics 2 18,449
French Language and Culture 18,312
Gov. and Politics - Comparative 17,750
Music Theory 16,169
Chinese Language and Culture  13,328
Latin 4,892
Art and Design: 3-D Design 4,568
German Language and Culture 4,275
Japanese Language and Culture; 2,208
Italian Language and Culture 2,098

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 2021

Exam Name Passing Rate (3+) 5 Rate
Chinese Language and Culture 88% 57%
Art and Design: Drawing 87% 14%
Art and Design: 2-D Design 87% 10%
Seminar 85% 11%
Research 82% 14%
Spanish Language and Culture  80% 17%
Calculus BC 75% 38%
Japanese Language and Culture  74% 47%
Physics C: Mechanics 73% 23%
Italian Language and Culture  73% 21%
Gov. and Politics - Comparative 72% 17%
Art and Design: 3-D Design 72% 7%
French Language and Culture  71% 13%
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism 70% 33%
Computer Science A 67% 25%
Computer Science Principles 67% 13%
German Language and Culture  65% 18%
Physics 2 65% 15%
Spanish Literature 65% 8%
Music Theory 61% 20%
Biology 61% 7%
Microeconomics 60% 20%
European History 59% 14%
Statistics 58% 16%
Latin 57% 10%
English Language and Composition 57% 8%
Psychology 55% 15%
Human Geography 54% 15%
Art History 54% 11%
Macroeconomics 52% 18%
World History 52% 10%
Calculus AB 51% 18%
Chemistry 51% 11%
Gov. and Politics - United States 49% 11%
United States History 48% 11%
Environmental Science 48% 6%
English Literature and Composition 44% 5%
Physics 1 42% 7%

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 Literature 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!

 

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.

 

One of the single most important parts of your college application is what classes you choose to take in high school (in conjunction with how well you do in those classes). Our team of PrepScholar admissions experts have compiled their knowledge into this single guide to planning out your high school course schedule. We'll advise you on how to balance your schedule between regular and honors/AP/IB courses, how to choose your extracurriculars, and what classes you can't afford not to take.

Plan Your Course Schedule

 

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!


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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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