8 days ago
Admissions Advice

Is taking 5 AP classes junior year too much with extracurriculars and the SAT & ACT tests?

I'm currently a sophomore in high school and trying to put together my schedule for my junior year. I want to take 5 AP classes next year (we're allowed six every year): AP Language & Composition, AP US History, AP Computer Science Principles, AP French IV, and AP Calc AB.

My mom is encouraging me to take AP Lang because it will help my writing and comprehension skills (they aren't very strong) but I would have to write an essay a week. She also wants me to take APUSH because she's friends with the teacher, but I'm only okay with memorization (however, I took AP World last semester and earned an A). I'm looking to go into Computer Science for college, so I figured I would either take AP Computer Science Principles or AP Computer Science A (though I don't have much experience coding so far). AP French is a given, I'm taking French III this year. I was looking to take AP Calc AB next year after Algebra 2/Trigonometry (I would self-study Pre-Calculus over the summer).

For extracurriculars, I do about 10 hours (including weekends) of ballet a week and about another 10 hours a week of other activities and projects.

Would this be too much? I'm only taking one AP class this year: AP World, and it isn't too bad. I've never received a B in previous years, I'd say I'm a strong student.

Can anyone give advice on what these classes are like (workload-wise)? Thank you in advance!

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
8 days ago[edited]

My 2 cents is you should ask yourself what you intentions are for college. If you know already you want to study a STEM major, then I understand the idea of accelerating your math track and taking AP CS. If you are hoping to continue dancing in college and leaning toward more liberal arts education in humanities, then some of your choices are out of sequence.

I agree that APUSH and AP French makes sense, I took those jr. year. I think it's better to take AP English Lit and Composition jr. year and then AP English Lang Sr. year. There is solid reason why they are sequenced that way and if you are not the strongest in English, I would do them in sequence. And for your 3rd given, the AP CS makes sense. I would seriously caution you against self-studying Pre-Calc and diving in to AP Calc A/B. That's looks like a slippery slope. Why? Because if you don't get Calculus in class right away, each day and each week you are stuck, it's harder to catch up. If you end up with a B, it's on your record and then it's going to be super hard to get a 4 or 5 on the AP exam.

So my recommendation to you is to take 4 APs, AP US History, AP French, AP Lit, and AP CS. And then take Pre-Calculus and master it well. Why? Because if you take the ACT versus the SAT, you will have to know Pre-calc really well to get a high math score.

During the Summer after Jr. Year, you can always take Calculus at a community college online, or do what I did which was take Calculus on Outlier.org. I got an A and 3 college credits. If you do that way, you can still take AP Stats or Multivariable Algebra or Multivariate Calculus senior year if you want. Also senior year I would take AP Lang.

It more important to get As in your APs and shoot for getting 5s in the AP exams, versus loading up on 5 or 6 APs, and also having to study for the ACT/SAT and keep up with all your ECs and leadership positions. I would recommend taking 4 APs and having some buffer time to focus on some "spike" activities or evidence of intellectual vitality. If your final destination is a Top 25 college, you need to have some "wow" factor and something else beside grades, course rigor and test scores. Don't forget that.

If you take 4 jr year and 4 senior year you'll end up with 9 APs which is more than most people have.

Good luck.

8 days ago

I don't know how tough APUSH is as a one-year course, my school only offers it as a two-year one. It definitely is one of the harder exams, up there with the lower pass rates. You have to study 9 periods of history from indigenous roots until present times, the exam covers periods 2-8 if I'm not mistaken. Additionally, your teacher will likely assign projects such as presentations or debates, at least that has been my experience.

AP Language and Composition is easy-ish for me but that's because I have a super laid-back teacher who pushes back all essay deadlines and hardly ever checks lecture notes. An essay a week sounds super tough, I'm writing my fourth or fifth of the year. The exam doesn't seem so bad, to me it's like the SAT English section plus the essays. In a way, it may help you prepare for the SAT. If your essay-writing skills aren't great, though, maybe not the best idea to have to write a weekly essay, depending on its scope.

I trust you have enough knowledge of French to be prepared for that exam next year, I am a junior and I'll take it as a senior so again different for everyone. I know nothing about Computer Science, but AP Calc is where I'm worried. Teaching yourself a year of math in a summer seems incredibly rigorous and would require a lot of dedication. Unless you are confident that you can balance all of this and still be strong in that subject, I would wait until you're a senior to take it, that's another course I'm taking next year.

It may well be too much for you and you might have to drop down in a class or two to maintain a high GPA, depending on what your standards are. Best to look up all these courses, their material, and what the exams are like on collegeboard.com.


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