The 11 Hardest AP Classes You Can Take!

Hardest AP Classes You Can Take
Students Taking An Exam

Many high school students take Advanced Placement (AP) classes to give themselves an edge when applying to college. These classes are designed to be more rigorous than regular high school classes and can even earn students college credit if they score a 3 or higher on the end-of-year exam.

But some AP courses are more challenging than others. So what are the hardest AP classes you can take? Taking on an Advanced Placement course can be intimidating but also rewarding if done right! If you’re looking for a challenge, try out any of these courses: AP Chemistry, U.S. History, AP Calculus AB/BC, AP Physics C, or AP Computer Science A.

This blog post will go through the top five hardest AP classes available and provide insight into why they are so difficult.

If you wonder whether taking AP classes is worth it or not, I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.

How to Choose The Right AP Classes for You?

Choosing the right AP Classes offers tremendous benefits, and colleges may offer credit for passing scores on each one in some cases.

Here is what to look for when picking the right AP class:

1- What Are Your Strengths And Weaknesses?

Your strengths and weaknesses are the most important factors when picking AP classes because you will likely achieve better on a test in a field that interests and excites you.

If you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses yet, I suggest you take AP classes related to topics you are most passionate about and eager to put in the work.

2- Teachers’ Experience In Teaching AP Classes

While strengths are a crucial consideration when choosing AP classes, you should also consider the experience level of the instructor.

Generally, the longer a teacher has been teaching a particular AP subject, the better their students perform on the test.

Here Are The Hardest AP Classes You Can Take

AP classes are renowned for their rigor and challenging material. They are often seen as a way to prove one’s academic prowess, but there are some courses that stand out as the hardest of the bunch.

Here are the hardest AP classes you can take:

1- AP Physics C: Mechanics & Electricity & Magnetism

Physics is another notoriously tough subject that has been known to give even experienced students fits from time to time.

With this particular course, students receive an extensive overview of mechanics, electricity & magnetism. This dual focus helps ensure that those who take the class come away with a better understanding of Newtonian motion as well as electrical principles like Ohm’s law and Faraday’s law of induction.

Physics C consists of two separate exams: One for mechanics and one for electricity/magnetism—and both tests cover some difficult material. You’ll need an intimate understanding of Newtonian mechanics in order to answer questions about acceleration, momentum, energy, thermodynamics, waves, and optics.

And you’ll also need knowledge of electric fields and circuits in order to understand questions about electrostatics and electrical current.

As with calculus, studying is key here; don’t expect to ace this exam without putting in plenty of hard work!

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism69.5%
Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher On AP Physics C: Mechanics & Electricity & Magnetism (Source: College Board)

2- AP Calculus BC

Calculus is widely considered one of the most difficult subjects in math, so it stands to reason that an Advanced Placement course on the subject would be no walk in the park.

The material covered in AP Calculus BC is more advanced than its AB counterpart, which means students taking this course must have a strong foundation in math fundamentals.

The curriculum also covers topics such as integration by substitution, integration by parts, polar coordinates, vectors, and parametric equations.

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
Calculus BC75.2%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher On AP Calculus BC

3- AP Calculus AB

Calculus is notoriously tricky, and the AP version is no exception. You’ll need a strong foundation in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus before you’re even ready to start tackling calculus problems.

And once you do get into it, you’ll find yourself dealing with derivatives, integrals, and other complex equations that require careful thought and planning to solve correctly.

Expect to spend hours studying to pass this course—but it will be worth it in the long run!

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
Calculus AB51%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher On AP Calculus AB.

4- AP Computer Science A

This course is all about problem-solving using programming languages like Java or Python. You’ll learn how computers store data (like strings or arrays), how they process information (through algorithms), and how they display results (in graphical user interfaces).

It may sound daunting, but it is actually quite fun once you get the hang of it! With some practice under your belt, though, you should be able to tackle any coding challenge thrown your way by this course.

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
AP Computer Science A65.1%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher On AP Calculus AB.

5- AP Chemistry

Chemistry is arguably the most difficult science subject for many high schoolers because it requires a deep understanding of both physical and analytical concepts.

Those taking AP Chemistry can expect to learn about topics such as atoms and molecules, chemical equations, atomic structure, chemical bonding, thermodynamics, and kinetics—to name a few!

It will also require them to have a firm grasp of mathematical concepts like linear algebra or calculus before fully diving into this complex field of study.

To successfully pass AP Chemistry, you must memorize a lot of vocabulary and have an exceptional understanding of chemical processes. What makes AP Chemistry complex is it is known to be notoriously time-intensive.

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
AP Chemistry51.3%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher In AP Chemistry.

 6-  U.S. History

The AP U.S. History course examines 9 historical eras from 1491. There is a tremendous amount of information to learn about this long period.

AP U.S. History is particularly challenging because it requires students to understand U.S. history thoroughly. For example, students must know the exact date an event took place.

This class teaches students how to connect historical developments with how people and policies shaped the foundation of America.

To pass AP U.S. History, you must memorize essential information, examine historical events, analyze cause and effect, and write analyses and arguments.

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
U.S. History58.7%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher In U.S. History.

7- AP Human Geography

This class focuses on how humans interact with their environment over space and time—which can be overwhelming for some students due to the breadth of knowledge required for success!

Students taking this course must have a good understanding of population dynamics, migration patterns, and cultural diffusion while also being able to analyze complex demographic data sets from around the globe.

Additionally, having an interest in regional politics will also help any student looking to excel in this rigorous class!

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
AP Human Geography52.5%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher In AP Human Geography.

8- AP Biology

Like AP Chemistry, AP Biology requires a ton of memorization. You will need to know everything from super complex chemical processes to cell biology to evolution.

The massive volume of info, associated with the fact that Biology can be conceptually tricky, makes it a challenging AP course.

AP Biology will be more manageable for students with a strong prerequisite Intro to Biology course. Check out a full course description for more details

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
AP Biology59.2%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher In AP Biology.

9- AP English Literature

Along with AP US History, AP English Literature is one of the most demanding AP courses in the humanities.

AP English Language is among the hardest AP classes you can take because it generally requires reading more complex texts.

Students taking AP English Literature should expect more challenging multiple-choice questions and a longer and more complex reading list. Check out the AP English Literature full description on the College Board website. 

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
AP English Literature43.9%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher In AP English Literature.

10- Statistics

AP Statistics collects, organizes, analyzes, and interprets qualitative and quantitative data.

Many students need clarification on the qualitative aspect of statistics for students who excel in mathematical equations.

What makes AP Statistics is that it requires a lot of reading and understanding of abstract concepts such as probability.

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
AP Statistics57.9%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher In AP Statistics.

11- European History

European History studies Europe’s history from the mid-15th century to the present while focusing on cultural, economic, and political developments.

European History also requires students to memorize a lot of information, apply critical thinking skills, and construct arguments based on historical patterns and evidence.

Like AP U.S. History, the AP European History exam requires students to understand historical concepts and identify connections.

Many students find writing the document-based question (DBQ) one of the biggest challenges in a given amount of time.

AP ExamPercentage of Students Who Scored At Least 3
AP European History54.6%
The table Contains The Percentage of Students Who Scored 3 or Higher In AP Statistics.

What to read next:

Wrapping Up

Taking an AP class can be intimidating enough without throwing in some of the toughest courses out there! However, with determination and dedication, any student can tackle these courses head-on if they are willing to put in enough effort!

Armed with knowledge about what makes these classes so hard and proper studying habits, you should find yourself achieving greater success than ever!

So don’t let fear hold you back from reaching your full potential – rise up today and start tackling those tough AP classes head-on!

Altiné

I am Altiné. I am the guy behind mathodics.com. When I am not teaching math, you can find me reading, running, biking, or doing anything that allows me to enjoy nature's beauty. I hope you find what you are looking for while visiting mathodics.com.

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