2 years ago
Admissions Advice

How important is taking a large volume of AP classes?

For me I've heard varied reports about AP course value. I am personally on track to finish 6 by the end of high school, it that enough, too much, not enough?

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@elisese2 years ago

It all depends! Someone can take no AP classes and have a killer application essay and get into everywhere they apply to. Personally I think AP classes are only really beneficial to you if you do well in the class and get a good score on the AP exam. Don't pressure yourself to take a large amount of APs just because you want to get into a great school, because APs aren't the only thing they look at.

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Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

Although your personal admissions narrative will be treated holistically, meaning 100 data points or more will be figured in to determine if you are a good match for the school you are applying to, college admissions officers will be judging you against other peers at your school who are applying to the same college. The may also be looking at the same time at neighboring high schools in either your zip code or adjacent zip codes in order to curate the best possible candidates for them.

What this means in your particular case is that say you are applying to UVA or UMich or UCBerkeley, you will be judged against other high seniors from your area who are also applying to those schools. If your HS and adjacent HS's offer say 25 AP classes, then how many you take should be determined by the "going rate" of APs with high achieving students at your school or neighboring schools. To determine that number you are going to have dig around and ask some of the upper class students and find out AP range is. So it might be 5-6 or it might be 8-10. I would then ask your HS counselor to help you determine what the AP number needs to be for you to get in to those colleges from your school because he/she knows the matriculation stats for everyone that graduated from your HS over the past 5-6 years or even further back if they keep records.

If your HS counselor is not that helpful, then you can do 2 things.

1. Log into Naviance and do a search on the colleges you want to apply to. Then look up the scatter plot and other charts and see how many students applied from your HS to that college. It will tell you that during say 2016-2021, 45 students applied and 9 got in and 6 matriculated. Also if you look at the scatter plot you will see how you stand against your peers that already applied and got accepted, waitlisted or rejected at these schools. A green check mark will signify an acceptance, a red X a rejection, and grey circle a waitlist. Sometime if you scroll over the waitlists, it will show if they were admitted, rejected or nothing.

2. The second thing is to look up old HS newspapers which show everyone who graduated and where they are going to college. This is going to be in one of the last 2 issues of the school year. So you can see where everyone in the senior year is going to college. Before they graduate, figure out who is going to the colleges you want to apply to and get in. Then track them down at school and ask them how many APs they took or what their top ECs were or any other questions you have for them.

This is the best way to figure out how to maximize your chances of getting into a particular set of schools from your HS. In this process, you will learn that there are some colleges that just dislike your school and will never let anyone in. For example at my old HS, no one ever got into Brown, Princeton ever. So regardless of how many people applied to those 2 Ivys each year the admit rate was ZERO. ZERO for the past 6 years. So I didn't apply to those schools, no point really.

Some people say that admissions to top schools are random. I do not believe that. I believe you have to take measured calculated bets and stack your odds as much as possible to ensure a positive outcome.

APs IMO are helpful support your academic narrative. So if you have a 4.0 UWGPA and get a 1550 SAT or 35 ACT, and take 10 APs get As in them and get mostly 4s and 5s on your AP exams, it takes the doubt out of the admissions officer that you know your stuff and have mastered the material. The better the armor plating you have on your common app the easier it is for the application officer to focus on the things that differentiate you from other high achieving students such as your essays, ECs, honors and awards (including your spikes, talents and passions) and personal character.

The other answers are not incorrect but they do not explain why the number of APs matter to you in the context of where you go to school, the schools offerings, and where your peers have applied in the past and where they got into.

Good luck.

2 years ago

it depends on how many AP classes your school has, and your other areas. 6 seems pretty good, work on EC's, experience, grades, etc and you should have a chance at getting into a "good" school (no school is really better than another).

2 years ago

Someone in my school got into Princeton and only took 4 APs. He took other college courses though and had stellar ECs. Only take the amount of APs you can handle and that it's in a subject that you are genuinely interested in. If you hate history, don't take APUSH. If you want to go into healthcare in the future, take AP Bio or AP Chem. 6 is a good amount of APs and don't be pressured to take 12 or 15 AP classes if you feel like you aren't going to do well on them and will harm your gpa in the process!

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