8 months ago

How many APs is too many?

I really need to know about how many APs is considered too many from freshmen to senior year. So far I have taken 3, I plan to take 6 more this year, and another 3-10 in senior year. To give some context, I'm from an international school in Japan. The average number of APs taken in my school is around 12-18 AP exams throughout high school (collegevine's chancing verifies this).

I have taken

AP Statistics (Freshmen, 3)

AP Calculus AB (Sophomore, 4)

AP Computer Science Principles (Sophomore, 5)

I plan to take this year (is kind of fixed)

AP Physics 1

AP Biology

AP Chemistry

AP Calculus BC

AP US History

AP Art History

I am considering these APs to take for senior year:

AP Lit

AP Macroeconomics

AP Microeconomics

AP Gov't/Economics

AP Physics C (idk which one, maybe both?)

AP Modern World History

AP Japanese (I should've taken this earlier lol)

Any additional comments on what APs I should take during senior year will help.

Thank you for your time!

SilverDragon (Class of 2025, 10th-rising 11th, Japan)

10+ APs is too much
15+ APs is too much
20+ APs is too much
(25+, 30+, 35+ etc. , comment below)
Poll closed39 votes
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8 months ago


Here's my take on this. Am personally also from an international school in Singapore, typically one of the best in IB and so I'll best advice you since I know the pressure and stress you are going through.

First of all, take no offense please, but doing 10 APs on senior year is ridiculous. Unless you have the capacity of getting 5's on all of them to show the genius in you, I don't really think this is a smart move.

Secondly, I want you to have a clear concept of why you are taking APs. APs are supposed to show subjects that you are strong at, care for but mostly important, highly interested in, its more about "quality over quantity". A student taking 5-8 APs for over four years with all 4's and 5's and has taken on specific subjects that show his interest to take extended programs that will challenge him/her beyond regular classes is more likely to get into a good uni compared to one taking 10-15+ that don't really show what they are interested in. The first student seems more focused, know what they love and ready to take up challenges and has outshown their best performance while the second seems not knowing what they are really interested, and I'm sorry to say this but for some unis, you might come across as "desperate" and this is not so attractive and will definitely not work so good with you.

The third thing is, I think you are forgetting that apart from APs, you have your regular classes, am assuming you are about to join junior high school this August and maybe you are doing IB or Cambridge A levels. If you are going for IB, don't do this to yourself, perhaps you don't know how rigorous the IB diploma is and that's why you are taking all that, but it will really suck off your time well, and with all those APs, you might not have enough time to strengthen your extracurricular, leadership roles, community services, and SATs etc, plus you need to rest as well before you get into depression, if you are taking 4 HLs and 2SLs to show how you challenged yourself, plus all those APs without a proper order, then its more likely not to work well with you at the end. Same applies if you are doing 4 or 5 Cambridge A levels lessons and all those, IB and A levels are already challenging on their own, atleast for your own goodness and your mental health, don't do this to yourself.

Instead, here's my take. Firstly, congratulations if you had started taking APs in Freshman year, most people on a worldwide scale, snap into this in junior and some in sophomore, so this already shows that you started challenging yourself earlier. However, I'll best advice you that seeing when you took only three APs so far and couldn't maintain a 5 in all( mind you colleges and even we know that computer science principles is quite easy to get a 5 in, so as impressive as it can look, it already screams that more work needs to be done). And now you are doing junior high with more APs, you really have to be assured that you can give it all a balance.

Final thoughts: Kindly take subjects you are truly interested in and that will showcase what you are strong at. If you want to major in Computer science, you know that you have to be strong in Physics, Maths and Computer science itself. So along with your freshman and sophomore APs that already show your Maths and computer science interest. Take atleast 3-5 APs this year, and not more than 3APs for senior year in subjects you are really interested in, get those perfect 5's and you should be well. Maybe you could do Physics C:Mechanics, Calculus BC since it's a stronger version of AB, Computer science A, if you are doing a business or started a non profit and its seen in your activity then that's when taking Macro/micro economics could also fit and maybe if you are doing Chemistry in high school then do AP Chem. For senior year, you could do Physics C: Electricity and magnetism, if you did macroeconomics then you could do microeconomics or even economics and one maybe psychology or a language AP or AP research/seminar to outshow your curiosity and research skills. The important thing is to best select subjects you genuinely enjoy and can perform best preferably set a goal of getting a 5 on all of them, also get a good 40+ on IB as the minimum for Harvard and the like is 38, or get AAAAA on A-levels Cambridge and strengthen other necessary things like sports, music, arts, leadership activities, community services, maybe start a really impactful research or anything significant that will show more on your interests and you should be in a good position. If you still feel like that won't be enough, maybe enrol for Honors courses or dual enrollment on again, subjects that really show your interests like Physics and Chemistry honors or a dual enrollment of similar Math or Physics or whatever you really love and want to pursue, but they should be well related and tailored to show your interests and you should be good. Remember, it's more of "quality over quanitity" and so, kindly take fewer that really show your interest and that you can actually handle, be really strong in IB or A-levels, depending on what you are doing, and do a great research on what you love, engage in extra curriculars fully, get a 1560+ SAT score if you want to be really impressive, and the essays....start brainstorming now so you know what to write next year time like this. If you still feel that after all that, you still want more, please do an Honors or dual enrollment of similar subjects, or maybe get an internship on the field you like, I think that will be more than enough to make you a good candidate. If they don't select you, its really their loss or its just really not meant to be. But take what you can handle and know that your mental health is so much as important and depression is the last thing you'd want right now. Stay focused, do what you really love, fully excel in it, and you will be dear.

All the very best!

🎤8 months ago[edited]

In our school getting APs is the equivalent of Cambridge A levels and IB. As long as the AP score is passing.

AP 5 = 7 in IB (SL if it's considered an easy AP, HL if it's considered a hard AP) = A+ (replace the + with an asterisk) in Cambridge A

AP 4 = 6 in IB = A in Cambridge A

AP 3 = 5 in IB = B in Cambridge A

(This conversion is made because AP tests are harder than IB or Cambridge A level tests).

This is the reason my school does not offer Cambridge A levels nor IB. I also need to be able to get at least four 5s this year (out of the six I'm taking) in order to be considered max score for Cambridge A-levels or 43 in IB standards for my school.

My goal is to get above average in my school (right now, my GPA is 3.494 and am hoping to boost it to 3.75 by the end of junior year to be in the above average range). At this point I'm not aiming for Ivy (although I will do my best to get as close as possible).

The average student who got into Ivy and top UK schools took about 18-22 APs (at least in my school to compensate for IB and Cambridge A levels). Based on past statistical data from my school the top student taking about this many APs had a probability of:

AP Score of 2 = 4%

AP Score of 3 = 10%

AP Score of 4 = 36%

AP Score of 5 = 50%

I regret how I spent the last two years of high school (I was too laidback, didn't do any homework etc.). But I know I can manage the work load. Thanks for your concern though. I'm very unemotionally moved and remain very calm even in dire situations.

The goal I have is to get a 3.90+ GPA and AP International Diploma by the end of senior year. (I'm looking towards T50 schools in the US, but not ivy). I'm also aiming for top 5 in my school. Right now I'm 28th out of 41 if I remember correctly.

I will provide why I chose the subject I took this year

AP Physics 1 (Physics requirement. I wanted to take regular Physics, but school decided to bump me up two levels to AP Physics 1)

AP Biology (My Interest in Genetics/Biochem)

AP Chemistry (My Interest in Genetics/Biochem)

AP Calculus BC (Math Requirement)

AP US History (1 additional subject requirement for AP International Diploma, and is also a school requirement)

AP Art History (1 subject for AP International Diploma for "Global Perspective")

I guess considering your advice I might reduce my senior AP list a bit:

AP Lit (AP English requirement for AP International Diploma)

AP Computer Science A (Bioengineering interest)

AP Gov't/Economics (School requirement)

AP Physics C (both, to show that I know how to apply math in science)

AP Japanese (AP International Diploma requirement)

Plus a few more if I can get a 5 in at least five of the six APs I chose this year.

As for SAT and ECs, I am planning to step up my gear for my ECs (take leadership roles when possible, though I have already founded a few clubs), and am currently studying for the SAT this summer. My last SAT was approx 1400 (800M, 600R) and have consistently scored 790-800 in math since 6th grade. The main thing I'm focusing right now is reading as I'm not very good at getting to advanced levels in languages.

Thanks for your advice,



8 months ago

So far, I've taken 6 APs, with four 5s. Look, it's just not possible to take 10 exams in one year. If you really think you can do it, go ahead. But I wouldn't take more than like 6 in one year. Go for quality over quantity, it's much nicer to show off a few 5s than a lot of 3s.


8 months ago

Hey there @SilverDragon!

I think the list you have for this year seems pretty solid, but taking seven AP courses in one year seems like a lot to me. Unless you self-studied some, would you even have time in your school schedule to complete that much coursework? (I'm genuinely asking, I'm not sure what your school is like, but at mine, we only have seven possible classes, and one is required to be an elective or a study hall.) Taking more than 15 APs is a little much, and juggling so many AP classes may lead to lower scores. Six AP classes in one year seems like the absolute maximum to me, so maybe you could self-study one in your senior year instead of taking it in school? Just a thought, though.

🎤8 months ago

So in my school, the average student takes as much self-study AP classes as much as self-studying. Like in my case I will take 3 AP Classes, but take 6 AP exams in the coming year. And yes, my school also have 7 slots. So this year I am take 3 AP classes, 4 regular, and 3 self-study APs.

8 months ago

Oh, okay, that seems a lot more manageable than taking seven AP classes in school! I would still suggest possibly scaling it back a little because its still a lot, especially with extracurriculars, standardized tests, and college applications in your senior year, but if you're confident that you can get at least a 4 on all of the exams, I think you should be fine.

🎤8 months ago

I'm confident I can get at least a four on all of the exams. The only thing I'm worried about is if I can get all to a five.

8 months ago

Honestly, if you can get a five on most of them and a four on some of them, I think you'll be fine. However, if trying to master so many subjects will stress you out, don't take so many AP classes.


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