Thinking of signing up for AP classes? Want the greatest possible challenge? Or are you trying to stop biting off more than you have the right to chew?

In this short article, we"ll define what makes an AP course hard, list the hardest AP classes, and aid you prepare for them.

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2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will certainly currently be hosted over 3 different sessions in between May and June. Your test dates, and also whether or not your tests will be digital or on paper, will certainly depend on your college. To learn more about how every one of this is going to occupational and also obtain the latest indevelopment on test dates, AP online evaluation, and what these transforms intend for you, be certain to inspect out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ short article.

What AP Passing Rates Tell Us

You could think that the best means to tell which AP classes are the hardest is to look at the national information around exactly how many students pass each test yearly. We"ll begin our discussion below, however beware that the passing rates do not automatically tell you which classes are hardest.

How far amethod are you from a 4.0? Use our straightforward GPA tool to pinsuggest just how well you have to do in future classes to gain your GPA as much as that magical number.


This is a complete list of passing prices on each AP exam with the many current (2021) data.

Exam NamePassing Rate (3+)
Chinese Language and also Culture (Total Group)88%
Art and Design: Drawing87%
Art and also Design: 2-D Design87%
Spanish Language and Culture (Standard Group)84.2%*
French Language and Culture (Standard Group)80.9%*
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group)80%
Calculus BC75%
Japanese Language and Culture (Total Group)74%
Physics C: Mechanics73%
Italian Language and Culture (Total Group)73%
Italian Language and also Culture (Standard Group)72.2%*
Gov. and also Politics - Comparative72%
Art and also Design: 3-D Design72%
Japanese Language and Culture (Standard Group)71.4%*
French Language and Culture (Total Group)71%
Chinese Language and also Culture (Standard Group)70.9%*
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism70%
Germale Language and Culture (Standard Group)67.9%*
Computer Science A67%
Computer Science Principles67%
German Language and Culture (Total Group)65%
Physics 265%
Spanish Literature65%
Music Theory61%
European History59%
English Language and Composition57%
Human Geography54%
Art History54%
World History52%
Calculus AB51%
Gov. and Politics - United States49%
United States History48%
Environpsychological Science48%
English Literature and also Composition44%
Physics 142%

Source: College Board. For language prices, "Total Group" has all students, while "Standard Group" has only those students that didn"t indicate they soptimal this language at home or invested even more than 4 weeks examining it abroad.

*These scores are based on score circulation information from 2020 AP tests. Preliminary information on these AP test score distributions is not yet available for 2021.

You might be tempted to look at this table and also say the tests through the lowest passing rates are hardest, and also the ones via the greatest passing rates are most basic. After all, if not many kind of students can pass an AP test, doesn"t that expect it"s among the hardest tests?

But when you look at the information, the exams with some of the highest possible passing prices (Spanish, Chinese, Physics C: Mechanics) are often thought about among the hardest. We"re not consisting of AP Seminar and also the AP Studio Art scores in this assessment, considering that those grades are all portfolio-based, rather than exam-based.

Meanwhile, some of the tests with the lowest passing prices (Human being Geography, US Government and also Politics, Environmental Science) are often seen as the easiest. So what"s going on here?

The truth is, the nationwide passing rates frequently say even more about the students taking the exams fairly than the exams themselves.

A few of the exams through low passing rates have those low rates because they are frequently taken in freshman/sophoeven more year, while some of the exams with high rates have actually even more stringent prerequisites at many high institutions. This suggests that the harder exams tfinish to have actually older, better-all set students taking them, which raises their pass rates.

In short, we need to look beyond nationwide passing rates as soon as figuring out which tests are the hardest.

A Possibly More Reliable Indicator: 5 Rate

Since pass rates don"t actually tell us a lot, what around the 5 rate? Remember, a 5 is the highest possible AP score (review more about AP scores here). Shouldn"t we be able to uncover the hardest AP tests by looking at the exams via the lowest 5 rates?

Below is a table with all the AP exams, this time ranked by the portion of test-takers who got a 5 in 2021.

Exam Name5 Rate
Chinese Language and also Culture (Total Group)57%
Japanese Language and also Culture (Total Group)47%
Calculus BC38%
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism33%
Computer Science A25%
Chinese Language and Culture (Standard Group)23.8%*
Japanese Language and Culture (Standard Group)23.6%*
Physics C: Mechanics23%
Italian Language and Culture (Total Group)21%
Music Theory20%
Gerguy Language and Culture (Total Group)18%
Calculus AB18%
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group)17%
Gov. and also Politics - Comparative17%
Spanish Language and also Culture (Standard Group)17%*
French Language and also Culture (Standard Group)15.7%*
Physics 215%
Human Geography15%
Art and Design: Drawing14%
European History14%
French Language and also Culture (Total Group)13%
Computer Science Principles13%
Germale Language and Culture (Standard Group)11.8%*
Italian Language and Culture (Standard Group)11.1%*
Art History11%
Gov. and also Politics - United States11%
United States History11%
Art and also Design: 2-D Design10%
World History10%
Spanish Literature8%
English Language and also Composition8%
Physics 17%
Art and also Design: 3-D Design7%
Environpsychological Science6%
English Literature and Composition5%

Source: College Board. For language prices, "Total Group" consists of all students, while "Standard Group" contains only those students who didn"t show they sheight this language at home or invested more than 4 weeks studying it abroad.

*These scores are based on score distribution information from 2020 AP tests. Preliminary information on these AP test score distributions is not yet easily accessible for 2021.

The 5 price is, in fact, a decent means to spot some tough exams, consisting of AP English Literature and also Biology. They both have actually exceptionally low 5 prices (5% for English Lit, 7% for Bio).

But on the flip side, a fairly basic exam, AP Environpsychological Science, has actually a low 5 price of 6%. Additionally, some decidedly difficult exams, choose Chinese, Calculus BC, and also Physics C, have incredibly high 5 rates—as much as 23%+ for Chinese!

In various other words, just looking at 5 rates doesn"t tell the entirety story, though some other articles have assumed that.

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This is why the best means to discover the hardest AP exams is to emphasis on the ones through the many product to cover—and the many conceptually difficult topics, which we will perform below.