When you are in high school, you want to make yourself as competitive as possible to get into a good college. It’s always been your dream to attend an Ivy League university such as Harvard, Yale, Brown or Columbia, so you know you need excellent grades in challenging classes.

One of the ways you can stand apart from the rest of the applicants is to take AP classes. You may be looking into which are the easiest AP classes, but you’ll want to go for harder courses in order to show that you are a hard worker. Taking those tough AP classes, getting the best grades and acing your AP exam for each subject will set you up for success when applying to Ivy League schools.

Tip

If you’re applying to Ivy League schools, aim for an AP test score of five.

What Are AP Classes?

Before taking the AP exam, you need to know what AP classes are and which ones you should take. AP, or Advanced Placement, classes are college-level classes you can take while still in high school to receive credit toward your college curriculum. For example, instead of taking a basic English class during your freshman year of college, you could take AP English and place out of it freshman year. You could skip to the next level.

Types of AP Classes

There are many AP classes you can take while still in high school. Some of them include AP English, AP Seminar, AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Environmental Science, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP Statistics, AP Art, AP World History and AP Psychology.

You’ll just have to make sure that your high school offers the AP courses you want to take. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider switching to a more competitive college-prep high school that provides a wider range of AP courses.

All About the AP Exams

The most popular AP exam is English Language and Composition. Other popular AP exams include United States History, Government and Politics, Calculus AB, Biology, Statistics, Psychology and Human Geography. The least popular AP exams are Latin, Studio Art 3-D Design, German Language, Italian Language and Japanese Language.

In 2019, the AP exams were administered over two weeks in May. There is no early testing allowed when it comes to the AP exams. Every year, AP test scores are released in early July. You will receive your scores over the course of a few days.

AP test scores range from one through five. If you receive a one, it means you are not given a recommendation. A two gets you a “possibly qualified” recommendation, a three means you are qualified, a four shows you are very well qualified and a five says that you are extremely well qualified. In terms of grades, a five is a A+ or A, a four is an A-, B+ or B and a three is a B-, C+ or C. There are no other grade equivalents given for an AP test score of two or one.

AP Test Scores for Ivy League Universities

If you’re applying to Ivy League schools, you’re going up against the best and brightest from around the world, so aim for an AP test score of five. If you get a four, you may still want to report it. Just make sure that you received excellent grades in your AP class as well as a high AP test score.

You’ll also have to see how much AP credit your Ivy League school accepts. Double check that the school will allow you to place out of classes before you apply. Also keep in mind that if you do well in your AP class and poorly on your AP exam, it may signal to the Ivy League that your school has grade inflation. This could make you less competitive.

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About the Author

Kylie Ora Lobell is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. She has written about education for topics for LegalZoom, Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, Cornerstone and WeWork.