Friday, 04 December, 2020

The Difficulty of AP Tests Ranked by Pass Rate


AP classes are a great way to build up credits for college. To obtain credit, you take an AP class (which is the equivalent of a college-level course) for an entire year then take an exam in May. If you obtain a 3 or above, then you pass and get credit. However, if you get a 1 or 2, it is considered a “fail” and you do not get credit, regardless of your grade in the actual class. Although it may seem risky, here’s a list of “easiest to hardest” AP classes based on the 2019 national scores (not 2020 due to the eccentricness of the test format last year). Of course, this is not a definite list, as the quality of the teacher plays a heavy role in your ability to score on the test, your interest and amount of work put into the class, etc., especially since this is for national scores. However, as a baseline, this provides some insight into how hard the test may be.

1) AP Studio Art: Drawing (91.1)
The AP Studio Art “exams” are different in that you work year-long on a portfolio and then submit the day of the “exam”. The portfolio is usually centered on a concentration that you choose and make works of art based around it, accompanied by descriptions. AP Studio Art: Drawing is based on primarily, as you guessed, drawing. The pass rate was an astounding 91.1% nationwide, with over half being 4’s and 5’s.

2) AP Mandarin (89.9)
Not what you would consider a typical “easy” class, the cumulative pass rate was a whopping 89.9%. Mandarin is considered one of the hardest languages to master due to the different tonal values as well as its pictograph writing system. If you were to take this, it would be better if you were very proficient in Mandarin.

3) AP Spanish Language (88.8)
With the foreign language tests, you are required to take multiple parts, including a speaking portion as well as a listening comprehension portion. 88.8% of students were able to pass this test. Spanish has roots in Latin, sharing its origin with other romance languages. It is considered a fairly “easy” language to master in comparison to that of Mandarin.

4) AP Studio Art: 2D (86.5)
Another studio art, AP Studio Art: 2D is not necessarily drawing but also the usage of things such as collages, photographs, etc. Where drawing is focused on primarily drawing, that is, making marks on paper, 2D is more expansive. 86.5% were able to pass.

5) AP Calculus BC (81)
Although many wouldn’t call Calculus an easy course, typically students are required to take AP Calculus AB first as a prerequisite. This foundation, alongside the majority of students taking BC as more willing to, would cause the pass rate to be an incredibly 81%.

6) AP Spanish Literature (72.2)
This test is more similar to that of regular AP tests where you are to use your comprehension to analyze texts and such. Usually, AP Spanish Language is a prerequisite. 72.2% of students were able to pass.

7) AP Studio Art: 3D Design (69.9)
The last of the studio arts, 3D Design focuses on elements within the 3D world, including (but not limited to) sculptures, carvings, and pottery. 69.9% of students were able to pass.

8) AP Biology (64.7)
If you have a pretty clear understanding of biology, this course is just a slightly higher level with greater detail. Lots of memorization is needed but it is not an extensively difficult class.  64.7% of students were able to pass nationwide.

9) AP Psychology (64.5)
If you’re interested in psychology, therapy, etc. AP Psychology is an interesting course to take. Although memorization is important, it is an interesting subject to learn and apply to everyday life. 64.5% of students passed.

10) AP Statistics (59.7)
AP Statistics is the interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data, although it is mostly seen as a primarily math-based course. 59.7% of students passed this test.

11) AP Macroeconomics (59%)
AP Macroeconomics is a semester-long course aimed to teach students about the economy. Taken during the senior year, it was passed by 59% of students.

12) AP Calculus AB (58.4)
AP Calculus AB, coming after precalc, teaches and elaborates on some of the fundamentals of calculus. It is a math-based course so if this isn’t your strongest subject, you may want to reconsider taking this course. With studying though, passing the test, as 58.4% of students were able to, will be easier.

13) AP Chemistry (55.6)
AP Chemistry is often cited as a pretty difficult science class. Combined with math as well as scientific principles and theories, interpreting data, and writing up labs, some students may find the workload a bit intimidating. However, it is an interesting class nonetheless, with 55.6% of all the students who took the test across the US passing.

14) AP World History (55.4)
AP World History examines the actions and consequences of such actions between 1200 to the present-day on a global scale, starting from early civilizations and empires to the globalization and post-industrial society of today’s time. 55.4% of students were able to pass.

15) AP US Government (55.1)

An in-depth exploration to how the government and politics function in the United States, this class is typically semester-long. Perfect for today's political climate as you enter the world as adults with the ability to vote, students were able to obtain a 55.1% pass rate.

16) AP English Language (54.3)
Also known as AP Rhetoric, this class explores the ability of language and its rhetoric in the usage of nonfiction narratives and communication, supplemented by various texts. 54% of students passed the test in 2019.

17) AP US History (53.6)
AP US History explores how the US came to be and evolved as well as how the political landscape changed over time following world events, including wars, industrialization, etc. 53% of students who took this test passed last year.

18) AP Environmental Science (49.4)
AP Environmental Science examines the interactions of organisms with the environment, differing from AP Biology in many ways. An interesting class with plenty of field trips (pre-pandemic), 49.4% of students were able to pass the exam last year.

19) AP Human Geography (49.1)
Offered as a class freshman year, it is an interesting and fun course examining the interactions and results of humans across the world, delving into topics such as city models, globalization, communication, demographics, etc. 49.1% of students passed the exam.

20) AP Physics 1 (45.4)
AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based course incorporating physics concepts. In a simple way, it is the application of math to the real world. 45.4% of students were able to pass this course last year.

21) AP English Literature (37.6)
AP English Literature is an in-depth course analyzing different works of fictional literature and how language was used to enrich the stories. 37.6% of students nationwide passed the exam last year.

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