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.
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.
If you want the exact data on a specific course, here is the full data set in table form:
|AP Class||Difficulty |
(1-10 scale, 10 hardest)
10 most time -consuming)
|Ease to self-study |
to self study)
|Computer Science A||4.4||4.4||4.3|
|Computer Science Principles||2.6||3.7||3.2|
|Physics C – E / M||8.1||7.1||7.9|
|Physics C – Mechanics||7.4||6.2||6.9|
|US Government and Politics||4.3||4.5||4.2|
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.
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.
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!
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).
- Computer Science Principles (2.6)
- Psychology (3.2)
- Human Geography (3.9)
- Environmental Science (4.1)
- US Government and Politics (4.3)
- Computer Science A (4.3)
- Statistics (4.6)
- Macroeconomics (4.6)
- Microeconomics (4.7)
- 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).
- Physics C – Electricity and Magnetism (8.1)
- English Literature (7.7)
- Physics C – Mechanics (7.3)
- Chemistry (7.2)
- Physics 1 (7)
- Physics 2 (6.8)
- European History (6.3)
- Biology (6.2)
- World History (6)
- 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:
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: