Our team of experts offers you advice on how to select your classes.
Taking the AP curriculum is a good way to demonstrate college readiness, which can impress admissions officers during the application process.
High scores on AP exams will reward students with college credits, which will allow students to graduate sooner, pay less tuition, and increase general flexibility for future scheduling and course selection.
Accomplishment in AP coursework may also increase students’ chances for college-specific merit financial aid*.
* Primarily applicable for domestic US students only
How do we go about choosing AP Classes?
As an Ivy League aspirant, a student should be expected to take 4~6 courses over the course of their high school career. To become a competitive candidate for Top 30 schools, 2~4 APs with a strong student profile is expected.
For selecting specific course topics, a student should choose their strong subjects and ones that relate to their interests. For AP exam options and statistics, check out the following charts:
|Exam Name||# of Students Taking 2019|
|English Language and Composition||573,171|
|United States History||496,573|
|English Literature and Composition||380,136|
|Gov. And Politics – US||314,825|
|Spanish Language and Culture||187,133|
|Computer Science Principles||96,105|
|Computer Science A||69,685|
|Physics C: Mechanics||57,131|
|Studio Art: 2-D Design||37,749|
|Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism||25,342|
|Gov, and Politics – Comparative||23,533|
|French Language and Culture||23,249|
|Studio Art: Drawing||21,769|
|Chinese Language and Culture||13,853|
|Studio Art: 3-D Design||6,040|
|German Language and Culture||5,160|
|Italian Language and Culture||2,658|
|Japanese Language and Culture||2,479|
|Total Number of AP Exams Taken||5,098,815|
|Total Number of Students Taking AP Exams||2,825,710|
|Exam Name||Passing Rate (3+)||Passing Rate (5)|
|Studio Art: Drawing||91.1%||20.8%|
|Chinese Language (Total)||89.9%||60.1%|
|Spanish Language (Total)||88.7%||25.2%|
|Studio Art: 2-D Design||86.4%||21.0%|
|Calculus BC (AB Subscore)||86.2%||49.5%|
|Spanish Language (Standard)||82.4%||15.2%|
|Physics C: Mechanics||81.8%||37.7%|
|Japanese Language (Total)||79.3%||45.3%|
|French Language (Total)||77.1%||16.1%|
|French Language (Standard)||73.9%||10.1%|
|Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism||73.0%||37.6%|
|German Language (Total)||72.3%||21.0%|
|Computer Science Principles||71.9%||13.8%|
|Studio Art: 3-D Design||70.0%||10.0%|
|Computer Science A||69.6%||26.7%|
|Chinese Language (Standard)||66.8%||16.3%|
|Italian Language (Total)||66.1%||13.6%|
|Gov. And Politics – Comparative||66.0%||22.4%|
|German Language (Standard)||65.1%||8.7%|
|Music Theory (Nonaural)||64.1%||20.3%|
|Music Theory (Aural)||63.4%||21.5%|
|Japanese Language (Standard)||62.4%||15.5%|
|Italian Language (Standard)||62.0%||5.8%|
|Gov. And Politics United States||55.1%||12.9%|
|English Language and Composition||54.3%||9.9%|
|United States History||53.7%||11.8%|
|English Literature and Composition||49.7%||6.2%|
By Hui Qin
Oh IB (the diploma program), you either hate it or love it while going through it…and you’ll be thankful for it in your fresh year of college (IB alumni, you know what I mean. IB students, you will find out soon).
I’m not going to spend too much word count writing about what the IB system is here, as IB does that pretty well on their website!
The basics of the curriculum are as follows:
How IB scores are evaluated are dependent on the college and the major applied to. Please speak to your counselor as to which IB subjects are best suited for you.
As a general rule of thumb:
The latest IB world average score, from November 2019 exams, is 28 (out of 45).
33 is decent but not likely to get you into highly selective colleges. This is like a B student.
36–39 is quite solid and you should have a lot of options. This is like an A- student.
40 is the lower end of the elite scale (for example, 40 is on the lower end of students who are getting offers at Cambridge University) and makes one a stronger candidate for highly selective colleges. This is like an A to A+ student.
IB is more project-based in comparison to APs and A-levels. The number of subjects studied and extra 3 components (EE, TOK, CAS) to be completed would require a student to be able to balance their time extremely well between academic studies and extracurricular activities (a necessary condition of high school graduation, mandated by CAS). It may also be more suitable for students who do not want to “grind” for tests, but instead prefer to have the time to analyze and write for project-based assignments instead. Please speak to your counselor as to which curriculum is most suitable for you.
By Suzanna Brown
Pupils in both pre-A Level and pre-IB schools typically take GCSE examinations (General Certificates of Secondary Education). These are the final exams for compulsory education in a school. They are taken at 16 years old, the end of Year 11 (or Grade 10). Students usually take GCSEs in about eight to ten subjects, which must include English and Mathematics, and should include the following:
After GCSEs students can progress to Advanced Level courses (AS level and A Level) and exams. GCSE and Advanced Level qualifications are set by examination boards. AQA/OCR/Edexcel/WJEC/CCEA are the exam boards for GCSE and A Level. They set their own courses and exams which tend to differ slightly from each other. Schools can choose which board’s courses they offer.
GCSEs matter as much as other types of 9th and 10th grade scores for students. The grades and exams are important, as they are included in the GPA and on Transcripts.
The General Certificate of Education Advanced Level, or A Level, is the ‘gold standard’ of Cambridge qualifications. It is accepted as an entry qualification by universities of the UK, the European Union, and elsewhere around the world.
A Level examinations are usually taken after 13 years of education and are based on approximately 360 hours of guided learning per subject, normally over a two year period. A Levels are highly specialized and a student will normally take three subjects, although occasionally exceptional students take four or five.
Most students planning to go on to Higher Education study for ‘AS Levels’ (Advanced Subsidiary) and ‘A Levels’, (Advanced Level) at the age of 16 to 18 or 19. They can choose from a very wide range of subjects to suit their interests and strengths. ‘AS’ level exams are taken after 1 year of study. ‘A Levels’ require students to take an exam after a two-year course and are harder than AS Levels. Students wishing to apply for university typically take 3 or 4 A Level subjects.
A Levels are considered equivalent to AP and IB HL courses, even though actual class rigor varies.
There are six passing grades (A* – E). Typical UK university entrance requirements are above three passes at grade C for academic courses in established universities. Very popular courses will often require higher grades. Good A Level grades can also be a key to admission for all the world’s major universities. Similar to the IB curriculum, the examining body sends final examination results to colleges after students have accepted admission to US and UK schools. Universities are typically looking at AS Level grades when deciding on an offer of admission.
Academic Qualification requirements
The subject content of each of the A Level syllabuses has been subdivided into two parts: the AS syllabus content which is expected to be covered in the first half of the course, and part two of the syllabus commonly referred to as ‘A2’.
This flexible approach enables students to choose from three options:
Note: The A2 examination cannot be taken as a standalone qualification.
AS Level may be taken as a freestanding qualification and are accepted in all UK universities. They carry half the weight of an A Level so, for example, students may be admitted with suitable grades in two A Levels and two AS Levels.
Art and Design
Drama (and Theatre Studies)
Design & Technology
Government and Politics
Health and Social Care
History of Art (and Design) Latin
Physical Education Physics
Recommended Article: UCAS Undergraduate: what to study
It is recommended to research universities and their course requirements by going directly to the university website and reading through the course information. This will provide students with detailed information not only of qualification requirements, such as academics and English but also offers more detail about the course offering itself which can give students a better idea of what the program is.