Advanced Placement

How to Pick AP Courses

Taking AP courses helps you on your path to college by giving you a chance to:

  • Earn college credit, advanced placement, or both. More colleges than ever before accept AP Exam scores for credit, saving you time and money.
  • Stand out to colleges and scholarship organizations. Taking AP courses and exams shows that you’re serious about your education and willing to challenge yourself.
  • Get a GPA boost. Most high schools offer a boost to students that take AP. Check with your school counselor for more information.

Now that you know some of the benefits of taking AP, learn how to pick a course that’s right for you.


1. Learn what’s available at your school.

The AP Program consists of 39 AP courses, but each high school chooses which courses to offer. Talk with your school counselor to learn which courses are available. Connect with fellow classmates, including those in grades above you, about which courses they took and what they valued most about them. Review the course pages for more details, including a list of the skills you’ll learn, topics you’ll cover, and details about the assessment.


2. Think about your strengths and interests.

When selecting an AP course, you may want to choose one that aligns with subjects you enjoy or want to learn more about. You can also use AP as a way to explore an interest and to help you decide if you’d like to pursue it further in college.

If you’ve taken the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, or PSAT 8/9, you can visit the AP Potential tab in your online score report to see information about which AP courses you are likely to succeed in. AP Potential can help you discover new strengths. You may not realize that you’re ready to take a particular AP course and that you have the potential to succeed in it.


3. Consider your future goals.

Are you interested in a particular college major or career path? Taking an AP course that aligns with your goals can give you a head start on your future.

  • Know the major or career path you’re interested in? Use this tool to choose AP courses that help you explore particular career paths and check out this blog post.
  • Already have a college list? Review those schools college credit policies to learn if they offer credit, advanced placement, or both for qualifying AP scores. Earning college credit may enable you to skip introductory college courses.


4. Map out your full journey with AP.

There are many options to consider when planning your journey with AP. Explore the themes below to help plan out which AP courses to take, starting as early as ninth grade, through senior year.


5. Talk to your counselor about enrolling.

Know what courses you want to take or need advice to help decide? Talk to your school counselor about how to enroll. Most high schools start their enrollment process in the winter or spring for the upcoming school year. Use this conversation starter to guide your discussion.