Advanced Placement

The Power of Taking One AP Course

It can be hard to know which types of courses to choose in high school. If you’re thinking about AP, ask yourself these questions: 

  • How many AP courses should I take?  

  • Is taking one AP course worth it?  

  • Is it too late to start AP senior year?  


AP is for All Students 

Any student can take AP if they’re ready to put in the effort. Students are ready at different times and it’s never too early, or too late. Starting AP in senior year is common. Check out the most popular courses to take in 12th grade.  


The Value of 1 

Here are four reasons to take your first AP course:  

  1. Stand Out to Colleges: Taking any number of AP courses, no matter your AP Exam score, shows colleges you’re serious about your education and willing to challenge yourself. 

  2. Boost your GPA and chances of graduating on time: Research shows taking even one AP course can improve students’ first-year college GPA and chances of graduating in four years.

  3. Save Money: Earning three credit hours—the equivalent of one AP course and exam—can save you thousands of dollars in college.[1

  4. Make Time to Focus on Your Interests: If you earn advanced placement from your AP exam score, you can skip introductory courses and have more time to take courses that interest you. 


How to Pick the Right One 

When you’re deciding which AP course to take, think about: 

  • Subject areas that interest you 

  • Whether the course will help you meet a college requirement  

  • Which courses you’d be more comfortable tackling in a familiar setting 

AP courses and exams that students often take include: AP Psychology, AP Calculus AB, and AP Spanish Language and Culture.  

And the newest AP course, AP Precalculus, is designed for every student who’s ready to take precalculus in high school. That makes it a great first AP course. AP Precalculus comes with the same opportunity to earn college credit and advanced placement as other AP courses. And you’ll get more time with your teacher in AP—140 hours, compared to just 48 in a college course. 

There are 40 AP courses available, but the number and type of courses schools offer vary. Check with your school counselor about the courses available to you.  


Tools to Help You Choose 

  • Took a PSAT-related test or SAT? Check out your student score report to see if you have AP Potential for a particular course. But remember, AP potential can be calculated only for certain courses and is only one measure of the potential for your success.  

  • Know the major or career path you’re interested in? Use this tool to choose AP courses that help you explore particular majors or career paths and check out this blog post

  • Already have a college list? Review the credit policies of schools you’re interested in to learn if they offer credit, advanced placement, or both for qualifying AP scores.  

[1] Citation: The average college course at an in-state public university costs $1,100 and an average of $2,700 for out-of-state.