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7 of the difficult AP Subjects

7 of the difficult AP Subjects

AP Classes are difficult, at least some of the subjects are. 

If you’re reading this, you are probably wondering what your choices are and what subjects you can handle and balance amongst the others in terms of difficulty. We’ve all been here so there’s no need to worry.

However, here’s a tip: don’t base your subject choices solely on difficulty because you may need to take some of them for the major you choose in college. For instance, as difficult as Physics 1 may sound, you may be required to take it as per the college requirements if you want to study the major you wish to pursue. 

Disclaimer: Based on some data and statistics that we have gathered; we’ve put together a list of 7 of the most difficult AP subjects. Since the level of difficulty will vary greatly depending on the student, we are not ranking these. Calculus BC, for instance, will probably be simpler than AP English Literature if you are an expert in mathematics. Another student, however, might experience the opposite. Hard and easy are subjective terms. In the end, it depends on students’ knowledge and interest. 

To give you a brief idea, here are 7 of the most difficult AP subjects out there:

AP Physics 1

Physics 1, which is regarded as one of the most difficult AP subjects, covers the fundamentals of physics – it is an algebra-based physics course. Newtonian mechanics, electrical charge and force, etc are a few of the topics that are covered in AP Physics 1. Students also complete college-level lab experiments and write reports for around 25% of the class period. 

Your arithmetic aptitude will be tested in class, therefore the better you are at it, the higher your chances of passing the AP Physics 1 exam will be. Physics 1 has a reputation for being one of the most challenging AP courses, but it’s also one of the most popular—137,229 students took it in 2021. It also has the lowest pass rate of any of the AP exams (51.6%) and the lowest percentages of students getting a 5 (only 6.9% of the students score 5).

AP Environmental Science

Teachers go through a lot of material since environmental science is so vast and includes biology, geology, chemistry, and arithmetic. Part of AP Environmental Science’s investigation of the planet and its resources uses quantitative approaches to analyze environmental issues and look for potential solutions. Students also engage in fieldwork and lab work. 

With a passing percentage of only 53.4%, environmental science is the second-most difficult among the AP subjects. The AP classes itself may seem simple, but because the students don’t take the course seriously, they struggle to pass. This exam measures a student’s aptitude for data interpretation, research analysis, and problem-solving utilizing mathematical equations.

AP US History

One of the most challenging AP courses in the humanities and overall is AP U.S. history. The nine historical eras from 1491 to the present are covered in the AP U.S. History course. There is a lot to discover about this extensive time frame. In this course, students make the connection between historical results and how individuals and institutions created America’s founding. Students will need to be able to examine historical events, decipher cause and effect relationships, and compose analyses and arguments to score in AP U.S. History.

Despite its reputation for being challenging, U.S. History is the second-most popular AP course taken by the students (454,204 students took it in 2021). Among all AP courses, it has the third-lowest passing percentage at 47%, and just roughly one in ten students (10%) receive a 5 on the exam. The key to passing the exam is the MCQ’s; it is said to have the most difficult multiple choice questions.

AP Human Geography

The first AP examination that students often take is the Human Geography exam. Students learn about the patterns and processes that influenced human thinking via the study of human geography. Students must utilize landscape analysis and spatial ideas for this subject. It involves observing how humans interact with one another and how it affects the environment. 

Using geographical phrases is the deciding factor for whether your exam will be simple or challenging. You must be familiar with the vocabulary used in geography in order to pass this test and do well. Only roughly 14% of students in AP Human Geography have received a score of 5, indicating how challenging the course is. Otherwise, this class has a passing rate of 59%.

AP Chemistry

A strong background in chemistry and algebra is necessary for AP Chemistry. Students gain knowledge of intricate chemical processes as well as the abilities needed to plan experiments that will test hypotheses and provide proof for scientific claims. Heavy homework assignments and memorization are hallmarks of this course. You will spend a lot of time in the lab while studying AP Chemistry because it involves a lot of hands-on learning. 

Given its low pass rate, AP Chemistry has a well-deserved reputation for being challenging. Only 11% of students receive a 5, and only around half of students (51%) pass the course. Here’s a tip: it would be challenging to take AP Chemistry if you haven’t already taken an introductory chemistry course. One year would not be enough time to master everything you would need to know about chemistry for the AP exam.

AP English Literature

This is one of the most challenging AP courses in the humanities, along with AP US History. While AP English Language can be difficult as well, literature calls for reading books that are typically more complex. This course requires you to read challenging materials, interpret them, and then defend your interpretation. Students must comprehend a book or play well enough to write an essay, complete with quotations, about it without consulting the text. 

English literature has a 44% passing rate, and just 5% of students who take the course receive a 5 on the scale. You must read a challenging text and then write an essay outlining what you learned. Here, you must comprehend and evaluate works of drama, poetry, & fiction.

Government and Politics – United States

The American political system, national government institutions, public policymaking, and civil rights are just a few of the topics covered in this AP course. Students use historical records and decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court to compare things, interpret data, and construct arguments that are supported by facts. 

In the exam, you are required to explain, describe, and compare US political themes in the exam. You also provide a real-world example in which you must use the supreme court’s ruling. If you think about how the questions are structured, the exam is difficult. However, if a student is prepared and does not undervalue it, they can pass. Only 12% of students in this class receive a 5, and only around half of students (51%) pass the course.

The course’s pass rate does not accurately indicate how tough it is because a low pass rate may be caused by a larger number of students who are under-prepared, while a high pass rate may reflect a smaller, more specialized group of students who are extremely motivated and committed. 

Your academic strengths, the amount of course material covered, and the teacher may be three better indicators of difficulty. For instance, if Calculus is your academic strong suit and you are interested in it, there is a significant chance that you will be able to dedicate yourself to the workload in AP Calculus and do well on the exam. Your chances of passing the AP Biology exam are very good if your teacher has a strong track record of assisting students in studying for and completing the exam.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What are some of the most difficult AP subjects?

A: Some commonly cited difficult AP subjects include Physics C, Calculus BC, Chemistry, and Biology.

Q2: How can I prepare for a difficult AP subject?

A: Start studying early and consistently, review class notes regularly, and seek help from teachers or tutors when needed. Also, practice with past exams to get a sense of the format and types of questions.

Q3: What are some tips for studying for a difficult AP subject?

A: Create a study schedule and stick to it, break down larger topics into smaller parts, and actively engage with the material through practice problems and review sessions.

Q4: What if I struggle with a difficult AP subject even after studying?

A: It’s important to communicate with your teacher and seek additional resources or help from tutors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get extra help to ensure success in the subject.

Q5: How important is it to take difficult AP subjects?

A: It’s not necessary to take difficult AP subjects, but it can demonstrate a strong academic background and help with college applications. However, it’s important to not overload yourself and prioritize self-care.

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