Advanced Placement (AP) classes are created by College Board and are college-level courses for high schoolers. You can take a variety of AP classes that are offered at your high school and if you receive a certain score for the AP test, you can get college credit for that class! Since these are college-level courses, they are harder than the regular high school course load but still doable.
Thousands of students take AP classes and tests each year all around the U.S. Some classes are harder than others and have a lower pass rate. AP scores range from 1 to 5. Tests that score 3 or above are considered passing so students can receive college credit. With a score of 1 or 2, students will not be able to use the class in place of a college course on their transcripts. Based on recent statistics, we’ve gathered the top 5 hardest AP classes available for high school students according to the exam pass rate and score distributions from 2022.
Top 5 Hardest AP Classes
1. AP Physics 1
Physics is already a difficult subject and it’s no different for this AP class. In May 2022, the average score for AP Physics 1 was 2.47. Only 43.3% of high school students scored a 3 or higher on their exams.
2. AP U.S. History
The average score for AP U.S. History students in 2022 was 2.57 and 48.3% of students scored a 3 or higher. It’s important to keep in mind that this AP course had the most students. Over 450,000 high school students took this AP test and 220,000 of them received a passing score.
3. AP U.S. Government and Politics
AP U.S. Government and Politics had an average score of 2.58 with 48.6% of high school students scoring a 3 or higher. This test trails closely behind AP U.S. History’s statistics.
4. AP Macro Economics
Getting into the 50% mark, AP Macro Economics had a pass rate of 51.8%. The average score for students for this AP test is 2.71.
5. AP Human Geography
During the AP Human Geography exam, 53.2% of students scored a 3 or higher on their exam. The average score for this AP test was 2.70.
Studying for an AP Test
Studying for an AP test can feel stressful and is one of the biggest challenges, especially for first AP test students. Preparing yourself in advance will help you overcome those test-day jitters and allow you to use your knowledge over the last year. We suggest AP students take multiple AP practice tests before their big test day.
Practice tests are usually AP exams from a few years ago and will provide the right answers whenever you’re finished. Students can familiarize themselves with the type of questions, formatting, and time frame allotted for their test. When the big day comes, students will feel comfortable and confident while testing, allowing them to get a higher score.
Before deciding if an AP class is right for you, you can look at College Board’s description for the courses and see the difficulty level, course content, and recommended prerequisites. Students will see what the test entails such as five free-response questions for different AP exams.
Don’t let these test statistics scare you from taking an AP course! These courses are a great way to boost your GPA, show advanced skills on your college application, and even receive college credit for a course. Every student is different so some tests and subjects may be difficult for one but easier for another. Just remember to study hard and have proper preparation for your test day!
AP classes can help your admissions odds! Use College Raptor’s FREE college match tool to find out your acceptance odds for the schools on your list.