There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to answering, “How many AP classes should I take?” Think about your interest in each subject, what your high school offers, what you have time for, and what your intended colleges are looking to see (and willing to accept).

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Focus less on “how many AP classes should I take” and more on the subjects.

The quality of your courses (and your scores) matter, so ask yourself which subjects you enjoy, and which subjects you could challenge yourself in. For example:

  • Are you a math whiz? Consider maxing out your school’s math curriculum including AP classes, possibly even doubling up one year if you have the room in your schedule.
  • Are you a lover of languages and interested in foreign affairs? Focus on a foreign language track that culminates in an AP course combined with AP Comparative Government and Politics.
  • Do you already have a major in mind? Consider taking AP classes that demonstrate your focus in that area. Colleges love to see demonstrated interest, such as a potential computer science major who has already learned the necessary skills for it from AP Computer Science A and AP Calculus AB or BC.

If you’re undecided, that’s okay! Focus on AP classes in subjects that excite you.

Colleges evaluate you within the context of your high school.

In addition to your college application, admissions officers also receive school profiles directly from high school counselors, and this gives them the following information:

  • How many of the 39 possible AP courses were offered at your school?
  • Are there pre-requisites or caps on the number of AP courses that can be taken?

For example, if your school doesn’t offer AP Calculus BC but they do offer AP Calculus AB, and you’ve taken that, the college sees that you’ve maximized the advanced math courses available to you.

Consider your schedule.

Your high school transcript is consistently ranked as the most important item in the admissions process, so don’t get carried away trying to pack so many AP courses into your schedule that you overlook your other classes. Look for ways to strike the right balance:

  • Demonstrate academic rigor, but don’t stretch yourself so thin that you sacrifice your grades, leadership or involvement in clubs, or your sleep. Instead, consider how well you’re currently performing in a subject; if you’re not being challenged, consider leveling up to honors or AP.
  • If you’re unsure if you can handle an advanced curriculum, talk with your current teacher in that subject or peers who are taking that course.

Review which AP credits your colleges of interest will accept.

If you have a short list of schools you’re interested in, check out which AP scores they’ll accept for credit. Not all colleges accept all AP scores for credit, and those that do are not universal in what score equates to receiving credit or which college class you could receive credit for. Check out College Board’s AP Credit Policy Search for a quick reference on AP credits by school.


Ultimately, the answer to the question “How many AP classes should I take?” is variable: there isn’t one set number to hit. Colleges are looking at how well you did in school combined with how you challenged yourself . Give yourself an edge by signing up for AP subjects you enjoy or are interested in learning more about. Admissions officers love intellectually curious applicants.