When the question pops up, "Which AP classes are the easiest and which are the hardest?" I won’t lie to you – the answer might be a bit boring; it depends. What may be a challenge for you can be a breeze for your friends and classmates. But I know that’s not what you came here to hear; here’s my list of the hardest and easiest AP classes based on these criteria: 

  • Exam passing rate and perfect scores - what is the ratio of students who passed the exam to those who got a perfect score?

  • Course material - is there a lot of material and rigorous assignments?

  • Pace - how quickly does the course go?

Now that you know how we made our list, let’s go ahead and get started!

What are the Easiest AP Classes?

  1. AP Seminar

Right off the bat, AP Seminar had 2023’s highest AP exam passing rate at 88%! This metric is a great indicator of the class’ ease. This class helps deepen your research and critical thinking skills and is an excellent course for underclassmen to take as it will help you junior and senior year. This class has less topic structure than the other APs; you can research whatever you like! Additionally, there are a lot of group projects and collaborative efforts in this class, which will allow you to reduce your workload. 

  1. AP Human Geography

Widely considered one of the easiest APs to take, AP Human Geography is a great first AP to take. There are no prerequisites for this course; no need to worry about reviewing prior material. For you visual learners: good news! There are a ton of maps, diagrams, and visual aid that are a huge part of the course, with less math involved as well. This class focuses on many societal and cultural values, which makes the content interesting and relatable. Plus, having limited things to memorize for the class and the exam adds the cherry on top for AP Human Geo. 

  1. AP Psychology 

Unlike many other APs, Psychology is considered easier because it deals with things familiar to us (thoughts, behavior, emotions) which allows you to make a connection with the material and understand it better. AP Pysch does not require any prerequisite; you can jump into the class without any prior knowledge. Also, there is way less memorization required for the class and the exam; a great break for your brain! The exam itself is also quite easy, focusing on mostly multiple choice and free response choices; which takes much less preparation and stress the day of. 

  1. AP Computer Science Principles 

Similar to AP Pysch, AP Computer Science Principles does not require you to have previous knowledge. The course is more broad and doesn’t go into a ton of detail; which will make the material easier to grasp. There isn’t as much math required (just basic algebra and algorithms), and introduces coding with visual coding blocks, making it a lot easier to understand! The exam has one of the highest passing rates (68%) and is known to be one of the easiest exams. If your school offers it, I would definitely recommend taking this course, especially with how technology-oriented we are today! 

  1. AP Microeconomics 

Last in our list of the easiest AP class is AP Microeconomics. First off, this course deals with plenty of familiar concepts. There is little to no math involved (just percentages, graphs, relationships between variables, that kind of thing). The examples in class are concrete and more practical, and there is less memorization involved. Plus, this class will actually be useful in the future; it can help with personal finance decisions and understanding how the world works. 

What are the Hardest AP Classes?

  1. AP Chemistry

This class is a BEAST. The class covers many theoretical concepts, such as periodic trends, moles and molar mess, composition of mixtures, and many more. Additionally, students must understand those theories well enough to apply them in labs. In AP Chemistry, students usually dive into nine different units where they get to play around with stuff like analyzing models, dealing with representations, and figuring out data and natural events. However, so many units in so little time gave AP Chemistry a reputation for giving students a rough workload. And with the exam only having 15% getting a perfect score, it’s safe to say that AP Chemistry is quite challenging.  

  1. AP English Literature

This course is not for the meek of heart. Although 77% of students passed, don’t be fooled. The class itself takes a LOT of work and will subtract time from your sleep. This class is extremely fast-paced, with large amounts of readings to complete each night while also understanding all of the motifs, hidden meanings, and themes at work. A great deal of writing is also required to demonstrate your understanding of the readings. More often than not, the essays are in class and timed, requiring you to be able to think on your feet no matter what the topic is. 

  1. AP Physics 1 - Algebra Based

With a passing rate of 45% on the exam, many students question their life choices when choosing to take AP Physics 1 (or any AP Physics, really). Physics problems are often designed to challenge students' thinking and problem-solving ability. They must analyze situations from different angles and find creative ways to approach solutions, which often can take a lot of time and practice! Additionally, a lot of the concepts taught in AP Physics 1 are abstract, which can make them difficult to grasp and understand. 

  1. AP US History

This course is both a history and English class; due to all of the writing and analysis, APUSH requires. Students must be able to examine historical evidence and sources, establish historical correlations, and construct a strong historical argument, as well as memorize many important dates and people (of which there are a LOT). The exam itself had the second-lowest pass rate this year at a whopping 48%. If you can, take AP US History later in your high school career. You’ll thank me later. 

  1. AP Calculus BC

Last, but certainly not least, is AP Calculus BC. This class will probably be the most difficult math class you can take in your high school career, and since it is the most advanced, it also requires you to have deep mathematical knowledge of everything you have learned in the past. There is no time for review; you just jump right in. That aspect makes it difficult; if you are quite good at math and understand what you learned in the past, this class shouldn’t be a problem for you. That is why 78% of students who took the AP Calc BC exam passed; they are most likely math enthusiasts who have been passionate about math for years. But if you are looking for an AP to take to boost your resume and math isn’t your strong suit, it might be best to leave this one out. 

What are the Easiest & Hardest AP Exams?

One way to potentially see if an AP exam is considered hard or easy is to look at the most recent AP passing rate data (2023). While this data alone does not show the whole story of the easiest versus the hardest AP class, it gives us a general idea of which of the 38 AP exam subjects seem to be the most soul-killing versus joy-inducing. Here they are: 

2023 AP Test List Results

Exam Name

Passing Rate (3+)

Perfect Score (5)

Seminar

88%

11%

Chinese Language and Culture

85%

50%

Drawing

85%

16%

2-D Art and Design

84%

12%

Research

84%

13%

Spanish Language

84%

24%

Calculus BC

78%

42%

English Literature 

77%

15%

Chemistry

75%

15%

Japanese Language and Culture

75%

47%

French Language

74%

12%

Physics C. Mech.

73%

23%

3-D Art and Design

72%

7%

Government and Politics Compositiion

71%

16%

Italian Language and Culture

71%

20%

Computer Science Principles

68%

12%

Physics 2 - Algebra Based

68%

15%

Physics C E&M

68%

31%

Computer Science A

67%

27%

Spanish Literature

67%

8%

German Language

66%

19%

Microeconomics

66%

18%

World History

65%

15%

Art History

64%

13%

Biology

64%

14%

Macroeconomics 

64%

16%

Music Theory

61%

20%

Pyschology

60%

17%

Statistics

60%

15%

European History

59%

13%

Calculus AB

58%

22%

Latin

57%

12%

English Language

56%

10%

Human Geography

54%

16%

Environmental Science

53%

8%

Government and Politics, US

49%

13%

United States History

48%

11%

Physics 1 - Algebra Based

45%

8%

Source

What AP Classes Should I Take?

After giving this table a look, you might be thinking that the tests with the lowest passing rates are the hardest AP classes, while the ones with the highest passing rates are among the easiest AP classes. I mean, if only a few students manage to crack an AP test, it's gotta be the ultimate challenge, right?

But things aren’t as clear-cut when you really dive into the data. The exams that have seriously high passing rates (we're talking about Spanish, Chinese, and Physics C: Mechanics) often get tagged as the brain-busters. Oh, and let's not count AP Seminar and AP Studio Art in this equation – those scores are all about portfolios, not just the usual exams.

Now, some of the tests with the lowest passing rates (Human Geography, US Government and Politics, Environmental Science) tend to be seen as the more laid-back options of their cousins on the AP test list. So, what's the scoop here?

Here it is: those national passing rates aren't only about the exams themselves but also about who's taking them. The exams with not-so-impressive passing rates might be the scores of freshmen or sophomores, which might not have as much experience in those subjects like juniors or seniors. Meanwhile, the exams with those jaw-dropping passing rates often have high schoolers jumping through hoops before they even get to the test. So, it turns out the trickier exams usually have older, more seasoned students stepping up, and that gives their pass rates a good boost.

Long story short, national passing rates aren't the whole story when it comes to figuring out which tests are the real tough cookies. It also depends on you. 

How To Decide Which AP Classes Will Be “Easy” or “Difficult” For You

Previous knowledge of the topic 

From AP Art History to AP Statistics, if you're treading into unfamiliar territory, you're likely in for a challenge. Now, don't let that discourage you—conquering the class is still within reach, but it might demand some extra dedication. However, if you've got a head start with prior exposure to the subject, you've already got a leg up.

Your interest in the topic

when a class doesn’t quite captivate you, understanding and grasping the content can be a real uphill battle compared to when you’re genuinely fascinated by the topic. However, a challenging yet captivating course can help motivate you to learn more, making it feel like a smooth ride all throughout the year.

Available resources 

Not all APs are created equally. The most popular AP exams such as AP Human Geography, and AP Environmental Science have a lot more students than, say, AP Latin, meaning that when AP exam season rolls around the corner, it will be harder to be prepared. Luckily, Knowt’s AP Hub has all the study guides and information you need to get a 5 come exam day.

Frequently Asked Questions About AP Classes

How Many APs Are There?

There are 38 different AP classes you can take, ranging from a wide selection of topics from advanced math, niche languages, European history, and many more! Additionally, you might ask how many AP tests there are. Each AP class has its own AP exam that you must pass to receive college credit. 

Is it worth it to take an AP class?

Again, this answer is entirely up to you! Do you like to be challenged and take classes with a more rigorous pace and expectations? Are you planning to apply to top schools? Do you want to get a class out of the way so you can focus on what you enjoy in college? If your answer to any of these is yes, it is worth it to take the AP, as it not only prepares you for college and makes you more appealing to colleges, it will also allow you to explore areas of study you might not have considered before. 

How many APs should I take?

It depends on your course load and the availability of APs at your school. AP classes are college-level courses, so they can often be quite demanding. Oftentimes, taking 5 or 6 APs in a single year will not benefit you as much if you spaced them out year to year, since you will likely not do so well on all of the exams with all of these classes to study for. But, if you are up for it, maybe it is worth a shot!

How do I add my AP exam scores to the Common App? How do I send my AP Scores to Colleges?

Every time you take an AP exam, you’ll have a chance to shoot out a free AP score report. keep in mind that that is a once-a-year free opportunity. It’s as simple as punching in a four-digit code for the college, uni, or scholarship program you’re eyeing right onto your AP answer sheet.

Finding the code of your desired college is made easy by the AP Booklet. Your AP Booklet has a handy list of codes for most colleges and unis. This service doesn’t just sending over your scores from this year, but every AP score you’ve ever gotten during testing.

Final Remarks 

So, there you have it – the rundown on the AP rollercoaster, from the steepest climbs to the breeziest descents. Remember to pick classes that will work for you, pique your interest, and help you grow! Keep on rocking those brain cells, and don't forget to embrace the ride! 📚🎢






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