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The Easiest and Hardest AP Classes Related to Engineering

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexander Oddo in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


What’s Covered:



In this article, we cover the easiest and hardest advanced placement (AP) classes related to engineering. 


Looking at AP Pass Rates


One indicator of a class’s difficulty is its pass rates. These show the percentage of people who passed the end-of-year AP exam, though it’s a bit biased. National pass rates often reveal more about the students who take the exam instead of the exam itself. For example, AP Chinese Language and Culture has a high pass rate because students who take this class are often native speakers. While the material taught in this class is extremely challenging, the students who sign up for the course are already prepared for success. 


Another example is the AP Environmental Science class, which has a high pass rate because the class is typically easy at most schools. That said, while the pass rate is high, it could be much higher. Many students don’t study for the exam because they assume that it will be easy. The type of student who signs up for this class affects the pass rate. 


Advanced AP Courses


The more advanced classes are less common at most high schools, especially public schools. The number of students who take them is low because of this. If fewer students are taking a class, that often means they’re receiving better teaching, more resources, and private help to bolster their success. Such factors mean these students are probably going to be more prepared for the exam at the end of the year. 


Let’s look at the numbers for common AP classes for engineering. AP Calculus BC has a pass rate of 75.2%, AP Physics C has a pass rate of 73.5%, and AP Physics C electricity and magnetism has a 69.5% pass rate. These are the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) classes that have the highest pass rates. Keep in mind that the pass rate is determined by both the class’s content and the type of student taking the class. For these intense STEM courses, the pass rates indicate that students taking these classes are already committed to STEM. They’re most likely studying at schools that have more resources. 


AP Classes That Get the Most 5s 


The STEM classes that get the most 5s on their respective AP exams include AP Calculus BC, AP Physics C electricity and magnetism, and AP Physics C Mechanics. A 5 on an AP exam is a near-perfect score, and these classes all have a percentage of 25% to 35% of students getting a 5. This percentage is quite different from the percentage of people who pass the exam, so you shouldn’t be intimidated by this number. 


A 4 is a solid AP exam score. For AP Biology, only 7.4% of students get a 5 on this exam, so 92.6% of people get anywhere from a 1 to a 4. This is an important metric to think about when choosing your courses. If you are looking to get a perfect score, you might want to choose an AP course that has more students achieving 5s.

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