The Easiest & Hardest AP Classes – 2,000+ REAL Reviews

AP classes can be your ticket to your dream college place, but can also be notoriously tricky papers – so you need to know what you’re letting yourself in for. We’ve got all 23 of the main AP classes ranked by difficulty, revealing for the first time EXACTLY which are the easiest AP classes, and which are the hardest.

Over 2,000 students who have taken AP exams have provided a review of their course through Reddit’s excellent r/APStudents community. That provides an unparalleled data source to figure out how each AP course stacks up.

We’ve crunched the numbers for you: read on for the definitive list of AP classes ranked by difficulty, from easiest to hardest!

I’ve gone deep into the data to pick out some surprising trends – read on for full details.

Skip to “10 Easiest AP Classes”

Jump to “10 Hardest AP Classes”

Go to “Easiest AP Classes To Self-Study”

Skip to “What AP classes should I take”

Summary: What The Reviews Data Tells Us

Here’s an overview of what the reviews said.

There’s a lot of detail in the chart below, but broadly, the hardest and most time-consuming AP exams are in the top-right, the easiest and least time-consuming are in the bottom-left. The colour indicates how easy the course is to self-study, with green being easiest and orange hardest.

Hardest and easiest AP classes: bubble chart based on data from nearly 2000 course reviews
Hardest and easiest AP classes: based on data from nearly 2000 course reviews from Reddit’s r/APStudents

If you want the exact data on a specific course, here is the full data set in table form:

AP Class Reviews: what are the hardest and most time-consuming AP exams, and how easy are they to self-study?
AP ClassDifficulty
(1-10 scale, 10 hardest)
Time required
(1-10 scale,
10 most time -consuming)
Ease to self-study
(1-10 scale,
10 hardest
to self study)
Biology 6.26.4 6.9 
Calculus AB/BC 5.35.2 6.2 
Chemistry 7.26.7 8.5 
Computer Science A4.4 4.4 4.3 
Computer Science Principles2.63.7 3.2 
English Language
5.35.2 4.6 
English Literature7.86.5 7.4 
Environmental Science4.23.9 3.3 
European History6.36.9 6.8 
Human Geography3.84.7 4.2 
Macroeconomics4.63.8 4.4 
Microeconomics4.74.9 4.2 
Physics 17.15.7 7.8 
Physics 26.85.3 7.6 
Physics C – E / M8.17.1 7.9 
Physics C – Mechanics7.46.2 6.9 
Psychology3.24.5 2.9 
Seminar4.85.5 7.3 
Spanish Language5.04.6 5.4 
Statistics4.64.3 5.2
US Government and Politics4.34.5 4.2 
US History5.87.4 6.1 
World History6.17.0 6.4 

What AP Classes Should I Take?

Here are some ideas, depending on what you’re looking for and what your interests are:

Looking to pick up easy credit?

Take Psychology or Environmental Studies.

Both are rated as relatively easy, requiring the least time-commitment, and recommended by nearly all students that took these courses.

If you’re interested in history:

US History, World History and European History are all similarly ranked.

So go with what interests you most, but be prepared to put in the hours, as these are time-consuming papers.

US Government and Politics offer a more straightforward alternative if you’re looking for an easier AP class.

If you’re an economist:

Macroeconomics and Microeconomics offer a similar difficulty level.

Microeconomics is a little more time consuming (though also more interesting, in my personal opinion!), and is also the only course to have had 100% of reviewers recommending it to other students.

In Math:

Statistics is marginally easier the Calculus.

However, Calculus is likely to be better preparation for more advanced study in Math and other quantitative subjects, like Engineering and Physics.

For scientists:

Biology, Chemistry and Physics 1 are all very popular courses.

Biology is ranked as being the easiest of the science APs, more so than Chemistry and Physics.

Perhaps because Physics and Chemistry are tough, they are not universally recommended – roughly 20% of Chemistry and 30% of Physics students said they wouldn’t recommend that other students take these classes.

Don’t let that put you off though: the majority of students are still very glad they took the course. By all means give these classes a shot, but don’t worry if you find the going tough – you’re not alone!

For English:

Literature is much harder than Language, but also much less widely-taken. So if you can handle the Literature course, you’ll likely stand out from the crowd.

For the ultimate challenge:

Take Physics C – Electricity and Magnetism.


Top 10 Easiest AP Classes

Here are the AP classes ranked by difficulty, the top 10 easiest AP classes you can take according to the 2k+ real student reviewers.

Computer Science Principles was rated as the easiest AP class you can take, with an average score of just 2.6 / 10 (lower score = easier class).

  1. Computer Science Principles (2.6)
  2. Psychology (3.2)
  3. Human Geography (3.9)
  4. Environmental Science (4.1)
  5. US Government and Politics (4.3)
  6. Computer Science A (4.3)
  7. Statistics (4.6)
  8. Macroeconomics (4.6)
  9. Microeconomics (4.7)
  10. Seminar (4.8)

The easiest APs also tend to be the least time-consuming AP classes to study.


Top 10 Hardest AP Classes

Here are the AP classes ranked by difficulty, the top 10 hardest AP classes you can take, according to the 2k+ real student reviewers.

Physics C was rated as the hardest AP Class you can take, with an average review of 8.1 / 10 (higher score = harder).

  1. Physics C – Electricity and Magnetism (8.1)
  2. English Literature (7.7)
  3. Physics C – Mechanics (7.3)
  4. Chemistry (7.2)
  5. Physics 1 (7)
  6. Physics 2 (6.8)
  7. European History (6.3)
  8. Biology (6.2)
  9. World History (6)
  10. US History (5.8)

These also tend to be the most time-consuming AP classes to study, though Physics may be an exception.


Easier APs are less time-consuming: except for Physics

Some reviewers found Physics was relatively less time-consuming than other courses. From my experience, harder physics courses such as the AP exams tend to split classes into two halves: those that “get it” relatively quickly, and those that have to persevere and sweat a bit to figure out what’s going on.

That theory is borne out when you look at the distribution of “time consuming” ratings for Physics 1 (the most popular Physics AP), there are two clear groups – a neat “bimodal distribution” for the AP Stats folk among you:

AP Physics: likely to divide opinion

The average scores for both groups of students were pretty similar, you may be comforted to learn if you find yourself studying long hours on physics.


Easiest AP Classes to Self-Study

Overall difficulty aside, some AP classes ranked as being particularly easy or difficulty if you want to self-study.

Here’s how the classes broke down by self-study difficulty:

  • The easiest AP classes to self-study are: Computer Science Principles, Psychology and Environmental Science. These are also rated as the easiest and least time-consuming AP classes overall, so you should be OK.
  • Also rated relatively easy to self-study are: US Government & Politics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Computer Science A. Human Geography, Statistics, Spanish Language and English Language.
  • You might want to think twice about: Seminar, English Literature, and Physics 1 and 2, all of which are rated relatively difficult AP exams to self-study for.
  • The hardest AP classes to self-study: are Chemistry, and Physics C – Electricity and Magnetism. These are also rated among the hardest and most time-consuming AP exams, so taking these on as self-study is not to be taken lightly – good luck!

Whatever you’re studying, wishing you every success in your AP exams!

And one more thing…

Have you downloaded your copy of my AP Exam Success Cheat Sheet? These ingenious, battle-tested, science-backed study hacks will boost your grades and save you hours this year.

It’s completely free. Check it out now:


234 Comments

  1. Hi! I can’t speak much about AP Chem. I was a special case where I took a college chemistry course for high school credit which also acted like AP Chem. But at least in my school, many students I know have said AP Chem was insanely difficult. These students were also taking AP Calc AB – some are taking BC – for the year and later they decided to drop out of AP Chem because their workload was too much. Not to mention, if you don’t like the trigonometry and unit circle I can’t imagine BC Calc being very enjoyable. Even with the math you learn in AB Calc those fundamentals are incredibly important. Honestly, with the amount of other AP classes you’ll be taking, despite you not worrying about them, the workload will add up 10-fold should you choose to do Chem and BC Calc. At the absolute most I would choose to do Chem and AB. However, not stressing about tests is a big plus for you, so of course that final decision is yours.

    Reply
  2. If you guys are looking to self-study, use Khan Academy! Because of COVID-19, I wasn’t really able to retain a lot from my AP Chemistry and AP Macroeconomics class especially when learning remotely, so I resorted to self studying both curriculums. AP Chemistry’s 9 units took me about a month and a week to study, thanks to Khan Academy and my Barron’s book, and I am currently banging out unit 4 of macro! Even though every AP class may not be on Khan Academy, it was a great help for me especially because of the fact that they have tons of AP-aligned practice questions, and even explanations why my answer was right/wrong! No matter how hard an AP course might be, everyone has the potential to excel!

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  3. [Test reply]

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  4. Me too

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  5. Well I took AP Lit as a junior and it was one of my favorite classes. We learn all about the classic novels and it’s obviously different for every school, but we didn’t do much essay writing. We focused more on the AP exam, so my teacher gave us lots of exam practices. If your AP Lit class is small you’re gonna have a blast. I had like 8 students in my class so it was definitely more comfortable and easier to participate, which helps the teacher to get to know you better (in case you want to use them for recommendation letters). Overall don’t stress at all about the class. I also took AP chem as a sophomore, I hated it but I still did really well. Of course it’s different for everyone, but it was sort of stressful for me. Tons of homework and tests, but I’m sure based off your previous AP classes you’ll do very well.

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  6. Hello, I am currently a junior. Next year I am considering taking AP Chem along with AP Calc AB BC (many of my friends will be doing calculus, too). Other classes I will take are AP Psych, AP Comp Sci, and government, which I am not worried about.
    Apparently the AP Chem teacher at my school is really good, and when I first took Chemistry I enjoyed it. However, I haven’t taken chemistry since last year and idk if I will still remember how to do it. How hard will the class be if I enjoyed and did well in chem Honors?
    The AP Calc teacher at my school is supposedly a good teacher, but she doesn’t show up for class often. I took pre-calc sophomore year, but I had a bad teacher and didn’t like the class. This year I’m taking AP Stat and the math in this class is nothing like calculus. I considered myself to be pretty good at math, but I don’t like math with trigonometry and the unit circle stuff. So, should I take AP Calc AB BC or just do AB?
    Will doing AP Chem and Calc be too much? I am somewhat a procrastinator but I always get my work done and never stress about tests.

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  7. I am currently a junior, and I am taking AP Psych, AP Calc BC, and AP Lang right now. AP Psych is a lot of work for me but once I go through my notecards for the terms I’m pretty much fine, AP Calc BC is quite easy for me (mostly because I have a great teacher), and AP Lang is okay– I think I’ll do fine on the exams, I just really don’t like writing. Last semester and this semester so far I have had high As in all 3 of those classes.

    Next year I plan on taking AP Lit, AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Spanish, and Honors Calc 3 (mulitvariable calc), not including my PE and band class. I am not too worried about Honors Calc 3 because I have done well in AP Calc BC and I consider myself much more of a math person, but I am a bit scared because I have heard that AP Chem and AP Lit are especially hard, and although I have a decent work ethic and can get things done well, I sometimes procrastinate and that can cause issues with my sleep schedule– but, like I said, I am still able to get my homework done & do well on the tests, essays, etc.

    In addition, I am going to be doing marching band this coming season again, so my schedule will be packed, even with COVID interfering with the season.

    For those of you who have taken the AP Lit or AP Chem courses in particular (especially if you took AP Chem and AP Bio at the same time), do you think I will be okay based on how I’ve done in my AP classes this year? What are you guys’ thoughts on taking that combination of classes, and also trying to not burn myself out in my last year of high school? As well, what would be your recommendations for succeeding in AP Lit and AP Chem?

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  8. I definitely agree with the notecards part. I am in AP Psych right now and I make a notecard with definitions, examples, people related to it, etc. for the large majority of the terms, and it has helped an enormous amount.

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  9. I found Alg 2 to be a challenge but it was relatively fun. If Alg 2 is easy, Pre Calc will be a breeze. I would recommend Pre Calc in that case because if Calculus isn’t your thing, you can always take AP Stats senior year. If you’re interested in a career in STEM, pick Calc. If you’re interested in humanities, it’s best to do AP stats at some point during your high school math career.

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  10. Hello there, I am not an expert in the field , but I would definitely recommend AP human Geo, It is relatively easy and is good for Law. I would definitely also recommend you manage your time to be able to take activities that may be of interest to you that help in Law like MUNs, debate team or club, conferences on a specific matter , and stuff like that. I have an interest in engineering so I don’t know too much about what you might be interested in . my best tip would be : DONT FORGET TO HAVE FUN. if you are fine with taking 3-4-5 Aps per year in grades 11 and 12 , that’s fine but don’t sell your soul just to take a bunch of courses. Balance your courses with some more rigorous courses here and some there. I say take Lang before Lit, and put psych when you want to lower the Load. Discuss with a school counselor if possible or if your school has some . If not, talk with a family member or friend who took similar courses.

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  11. Hey I’m a freshman going into sophomore year for 2021-22 and I was planning on taking 3 AP Classes and 3 Honors. I want to pursue Law so I am planning on taking AP World History, AP Psych, and another AP sophomore year but I haven’t decided on what that should be yet. Focusing on Critical thinking classes is my goal because it has been recommended to me if I want to go to Law School. The AP classes I want to take throughout the next three years are AP English Lit, AP English Comp, AP French, AP U.S. Gov, AP Psych, AP U.S. History, AP Calc BC, AP Economics, AP World History. I am open to taking others but I those are just the ones that I definitely want to take. If anyone has any recommendations for the third AP I should take sophomore year, or how I should map out my classes for sophomore to senior year please let me know.

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  12. Hello, I will be a Junior next year and was wondering if i should take either Pre-Cal Honors or AP Statistics. I found Algebra II Honors, in my sophomore, fairly easy at times, but others not so much. If it helps any, I plan on taking AP Research and AP Psychology for my APs, US History Honors as my only other advanced class, and prepping for, and taking, the SAT and/or ACT; this being listed for the consideration of workload. Also if you’re willing to, can you drop info about all said courses. Thanks in advance!!

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    • Hi! For your math choice, it really depends what you want to take next year. If you want to take calculus, I would recommend taking pre-calc, as it explains some of the topics you need to know for calculus. Also, you need to take AP Seminar before you take AP Research, this is part of the AP Capstone diploma program. Info on that here: https://blog.prepscholar.com/what-is-ap-capstone-should-you-do-it#:~:text=AP%20Research%20Overview,a%20topic%20that%20interests%20you.

      Hope this helped!

      Reply
    • I’m a Junior currently deciding what AP courses I should take for my senior year. I’m set on AP Literature, AP Government and Politics and AP Environmental Science. I’m taking Algebra 2 Hon this year and have done really good in it. The math I’m set to take next year is pre-calc, but my friend asked me if I wanted to do pre-calc with her over the summer and go into either AP Calc AB or AP Stat with her next year. I considered this option earlier in the year and now this has me thinking about it again. I definitely think I can handle an AP math course and I know a good tutor who could help me, but do you guys think it’ll be too hard on top of those other AP classes? And should I take either AP Calc AB or AP Stat? Or should I just stick with pre-calc next year?

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      • Hey! I definitely think that you can do Precalc over the summer. In fact, that was the only class I did in the summer because I didn’t have space for it. I’m currently taking both AP Stat and AP Calc AB. The only thing I would recommend you do while and after you take PreCalc is to memorize the Unit Circle entirely because the Unit Circle will definitely appear a lot of times in Calc. Both, AP Calc AB and AP Stat, are really easy and I recommend that you take them.

        Reply
  13. This is directed to orrtam. For some reason, when I try to reply, it submits as a comment instead. :/

    Reply
  14. It’s funny you mentioned AP Capstone, I read about it the other day and added it to my plan, along with a few other changes. I’m planning to take AP Seminar in sophomore year and AP Research in junior year. I also have the four other APs needed for the Capstone diploma, so I’m pretty much set. If you want, we can start an email chain in which I tell you my ideas for classes and you give me advice? Lmk if you want to do this and I can give you my email.

    Reply
  15. Thanks William! This website has been a very helpful guide for me trying to decide my high school APs. Even though I’m a seventh grader, this really helped me get an idea of which APs I should/shouldn’t take or self-study. =D

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    • I’m so glad! Good luck with your choices 🙂

      Reply
  16. Hey all, it’s William (author of the site) – I just wanted to take a moment to honour each and every one of you reading this.

    To those choosing your APs, I wish you every success in your chosen classes. There’s some hard work to come, but you’ve got this, and we’ll be rooting for you!

    And to those so generously offering their experience and advice to others in the comments, thank you so much for taking the time to help out – you’re really kind people.

    While I’m here, just a very gentle reminder to keep the thread clean, and supportive – 99.999% of the time it is, I know. So thank you so much to you all for making this comments section such a welcoming little corner of the Internet.

    If there’s ever anything else I can do to support you or improve things round here for you all, just let me know by reply to this comment, or by getting in touch directly at https://examstudyexpert.com/about/contact/.

    Study smart and have fun 🙂

    Reply
  17. If I am planning to pursue a Medical career do I need to take AP Bio, AP Chem, and AP Physics 1. in addition, would it be advisable to take AP Physics 1 along with advanced Chem and Bio in my junior year, and then take AP chem and AP Bio in my senior year, and btw I am taking other APs like: Calc, Stats, Lang, Psych, French. Therefore, do you think this will be a burden and what would be your advice for me?

    Reply
    • Moderator / article author here! It’s not often I step in, but Ahmed, I just removed a slightly un-supportive reply to your question. The strong language and tone of that reply weren’t quite in the spirit of what’s normally a very supportive and constructive comments thread. I hope you get some other helpful replies from your peers, and wishing you EVERY success with your APs and med school application 🙂

      Reply
    • Hey Ahmed! I wouldn’t recommend taking all 3 sciences in one year, especially with one of them being AP Physics and the rest being accelerated. Also, looking at all the other APs you’re taking, it seems like a lot of work, but if you are determined and have good study habits, you might be able to pull it off. Good luck!

      Reply
    • I would definitely recommend taking bio and chem. Physics is not as important as the other classes, so unless you really want to take it, I wouldn’t take the ap course, a normal accelerated class will be enough. Also if possible, I would recommend not taking ap chem and ap bio in the same year. The work load will be extremely tough, and it will be hard to remember which is which. No matter what you choose, remember to not stress your self out, especially in these difficult times.
      Good luck!!

      Reply
  18. is APCSP hard to self study? I am planning to take intro to java next year and I’d like to self study for the CSP test. I’m an incoming junior.

    Reply
    • I’m self-studying for the AP exam for that course this year as well, and honestly as long as you get the right textbook and just study a few hours a week(say 30 min or 1 hour a day), you’ll be fine. It’s not that hard to grasp the concepts, so you’ll be okay. I recommend getting 5 steps to a 5: APCSP, second edition for exam prep and the Computer Science Principles textbook by Kevin Hare for the content. Good luck!

      Reply
  19. Hi there! I’m a freshman debating whether or not I should be self-studying AP Psych next year. I’m also currently taking AP HuG and self-studying APES. Anyone have any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hi! I’m currently selfstudying AP psych

      Reply
    • Hello! I’m a sophomore currently self studying AP psych. If you are already self studying APs this year, I definitely think you can do it next year as well depending on the rest of your course load. Psych is interesting, you just need to make sure you have time. Hope this helps!

      Reply
    • Hello! I’m currently a sophomore but next year I am planning to take intro to java, as I currently don’t have any CS experience. If I selfstudy java in the summer to prepare better for AP computer science principles, would it be hard? Does anyone have any experience w/ APCSP?

      Reply
      • APCSP doesn’t have a set language so it changes from school to school. At my school, we used python but the AP test is given in a certain style that would be similar to pseudo code or a language that doesn’t actually exist. That is the best help I can give because the test got scrapped due to COVID when I took it last year so I don’t fully know they layout. I do know the language changes from school to school. Java is used I believe for APCSA for which you don’t necessarily need to have taken APCSP.

        Reply

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