The Easiest AP Classes: The Ultimate Guide

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What are the easiest AP classes?

Advanced Placement (AP) is a College Board program that offers college-level courses and exams to high school students.

Benefits of AP classes include:

  • Helping you prepare for college
  • Earning college credit
  • Boosting the competitiveness of your college applications
  • Increasing your Grade Point Average (AP courses count for five points instead of the traditional four in weighted GPA calculations.)

Of course, earning all these benefits requires some hard work.

Since AP classes are intended to prepare you for the rigor of college-level coursework, they are likely the most challenging classes at your high school.

In this guide, we’ll provide some insight on which AP classes and tests are the easiest, what to expect from these courses and exams, and whether taking “easy” AP classes will hurt your college chances.

For more information on the most challenging AP classes, read our ultimate guide on the hardest AP courses.

How Many AP Classes Are There?

We’ll start by viewing the complete list of AP courses. The College Board currently offers 38 AP classes:

  • AP Research
  • AP Seminar
  • AP Art History
  • AP Music Theory
  • AP Studio Art: 2-D Design
  • AP Studio Art: 3-D Design
  • AP Studio Art: Drawing
  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP English Literature and Composition
  • AP Comparative Government and Politics
  • AP European History
  • AP Human Geography
  • AP Macroeconomics
  • AP Microeconomics
  • AP Psychology
  • AP United States Government and Politics
  • AP United States History
  • AP World History
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Computer Science A
  • AP Computer Science Principles
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based
  • AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based
  • AP Chinese Language and Culture
  • AP French Language and Culture
  • AP German Language and Culture
  • AP Italian Language and Culture
  • AP Japanese Language and Culture
  • AP Latin
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture
  • AP Spanish Literature and Culture

To find out which of these classes are available at your high school, visit your school website or consult your guidance counselor.

Which AP Classes Are the Easiest?

Naturally, “easiest” is a subjective term. An AP course that is easy for you may not be easy for your friends, and vice versa.

The easiest courses for you will likely be in subject areas that you enjoy and excel in.

You may also want to consider your future college major and choose relevant AP classes.

  • In addition, ask other students at your school what AP classes they’ve taken, which are the easiest, and what you can expect from various courses.

To objectively rank the easiest AP classes, we considered AP exam pass rates.

Based on pass rates, here are the ten easiest AP courses (from highest pass rate to lowest):

  • Chinese Language and Culture (91.3%)
  • Studio Art: Drawing (89.5%)
  • Spanish Language and Culture (88.3%)
  • Studio Art: 2-D Design (84.6%)
  • Seminar (82.8%)
  • Calculus BC (79.8%)
  • Japanese Language and Culture (77.8%)
  • French Language and Culture (77.2%)
  • Physics C: Mechanics (77.2%)
  • Research (75.2%)

Based on this data, the easiest AP classes include language and culture, art, seminar, and research courses. Surprisingly, Physics C: Mechanics and Calculus BC also made the list.

This may indicate that students in these courses are diligent and prepare thoroughly for their exams.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the first five AP classes on our list.

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AP Chinese Language and Culture

Students develop their Mandarin Chinese language proficiency through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

They examine Chinese newspapers, magazines, music, films, literature, and websites.

At the same time, students learn about contemporary Chinese culture and society.

The course also explores Chinese history and its significant people, events, and themes.

Related career areas:

Anthropologists and archaeologists, archivists, curators, economists, educators, foreign service officers, historians, mathematicians, news analysts and reporters, sociologists, translators, writers

Related majors:

Anthropology, History, Linguistics, Mass Communications, Philosophy, Theater Arts

What to expect:

The course focuses on developing three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretative, and presentational.

Be prepared to talk with others, collaborate on projects, and present in front of the class—all in Mandarin Chinese.

In addition, the course is taught almost exclusively in Chinese. Students who take this class are typically in their fourth year of high school study or are native speakers.

The exam:

This exam is two hours and 15 minutes and is administered via computer.

Students read on screen, type using the keyboard, listen through headphones, and speak into a microphone.

  • Section I is multiple choice and consists of a listening section (10-15 questions) and reading selections (15-20 questions).
  • Students have an hour and 20 minutes to complete Section I.

In Section II, students have about 41 minutes to respond to four free response tasks:

  • Presentational Writing: Story Narration
  • Interpersonal Writing: Email Response
  • Interpersonal Speaking: Simulated Conversation
  • Presentational Speaking: Cultural Presentation

AP Studio Art: Drawing

Students explore drawing issues like light and shade, rendering of form, line quality, composition, surface manipulation, and more.

They learn to use diverse materials and processes to communicate ideas.

In addition to developing technical skills, students work on critical analysis, evidence-based decision making, and innovative thinking in their art.

Throughout the course, students work on a portfolio consisting of three sections:

  • Range of Approaches (Breadth) section: Illustrates various ideas and approaches to art
  • Sustained Investigation (Concentration) section: Shows deep, sustained investigation of a student-selected theme or topic
  • Selected Works (Quality) section: Represents the student’s most successful works with respect to content and form

Related career areas:

Advertising, marketing, and public relations, art directors, arts administrators, conservators, craft artists, curators, educators, exhibit designers and museum technicians, fashion designers, fine artists, graphic designers, illustrators, industrial designers, landscape architects, multimedia artists and animators, set designers, web designers

Related majors:

Architecture, Art History, Design and Visual Communications, Film Studies, Mass Communications, Studio Arts, Theater Arts

What to expect:

No prerequisite is required for this course, but some prior experience with an art class is helpful.

  • AP Studio Art is about more than just drawing.

You’ll address conceptual, technical, and critical thinking skills. You will need to show how your artistic ideas and practices develop over time.

You should also expect to spend time critiquing your work and having it critiqued by your peers.

The exam:

In AP Studio Art courses, your exam is actually your portfolio.

  • The three-section portfolio that you work on throughout the year is assessed by at least seven highly experienced studio art educators.

You’ll also submit an artist statement that describes the ideas you investigated and how these ideas evolved over time.

Each section of the portfolio will consist of the following:

  • Selected Works: Five actual works that demonstrate mastery of design in concept, composition, and execution
  • Sustained Investigation: 12 digital images that reveal an in-depth study of a design concern
  • Range of Approaches: 12 digital images that demonstrate understanding of design issues

Each section of the portfolio accounts for 33% of your overall score.

AP Spanish Language and Culture

This course is structured around six themes:

  • Beauty and Aesthetics
  • Contemporary Life
  • Families and Communities
  • Global Challenges
  • Personal and Public Identities
  • Science and Technology

Students develop their Spanish proficiency while developing an awareness and appreciation of Spanish culture, practices, and perspectives.

The six themes integrate language, content, and culture to promote the use of Spanish in a wide range of real-world contexts.

Related career areas:

Anthropologists and archaeologists, archivists, curators, community organizers and activists, economists, educators, foreign service officers, government executives and legislators, historians, mathematicians, news analysts and reporters, sociologists, translators, writers

Related majors:

Anthropology, Comparative Literature, History, Linguistics, Mass Communications, Political Science and Government, Social Work, Spanish

What to expect:

Like the Chinese Language and Culture course, students develop their Spanish skills through interpersonal, interpretative, and presentational activities.

You’ll work in groups, present in front of the class, and hold conversations in Spanish. Your class will also be conducted in Spanish.

For best results, you should take this class if you are in your fourth year of high school Spanish study or if you are a native or heritage speaker.

The exam:

The three-hour exam requires students to read, listen, and respond to authentic texts from the Spanish-speaking world.

Section I consists of 65 multiple choice questions, and students have one hour and 35 minutes to complete it.

  • In this section, students respond to questions based on a variety of print and audio texts.

All audio texts are played twice.

In Section II, students have one hour and 28 minutes to complete four free response tasks:

  • Interpersonal Writing: Email Reply
  • Presentational Writing: Persuasive Essay
  • Interpersonal Speaking: Simulated Conversation
  • Presentational Speaking: Cultural Comparison

AP Studio Art: 2-D Design

Students learn to use a range of 2-D design principles to communicate content.

Mediums and processes include graphic design, digital imaging, photography, weaving, collage, fabric design, fashion design or illustration, printmaking, and painting.

Like in the Drawing course, students develop analytical and decision-making skills and create a portfolio with three sections:

  • Range of Approaches (Breadth)
  • Sustained Investigation (Concentration)
  • Selected Works (Quality)

Related career areas:

Advertising, marketing, and public relations, architects, archivists, art directors, arts administrators, craft artists, curators, educators, exhibit designers and museum technicians, fashion designers, fine artists, graphic designers, illustrators, multimedia artists and animators, set designers, web designers

Related majors:

Architecture, Art History, Design and Visual Communications, Film Studies, Mass Communications, Studio Arts, Theater Arts

What to expect:

Be prepared to critique your own work and have it critiqued by others.

  • You’ll also need the ability to write about your art and articulate your process.

You should be able to show how your ideas and techniques have developed over time.

Some experience with taking art courses is helpful, but it’s not required.

The exam:

The portfolio that you work on throughout the year is your exam for this course.

  • It will be evaluated by at least seven highly experienced studio art educators.

You will also include an artist statement describing your ideas and analyzing their evolution.

Each section of the portfolio accounts for 33% of your score and will consist of the following:

  • Selected Works: Five actual works that demonstrate mastery of design in concept, composition, and execution
  • Sustained Investigation: 12 digital images that reveal an in-depth study of a design concern
  • Range of Approaches: 12 digital images that demonstrate understanding of design issues

AP Seminar

AP Seminar is the first of two courses in the AP Capstone program, the second being Research.

If you pass both exams and four additional AP exams of your choosing, you earn the AP Capstone Diploma, which represents outstanding academic achievement and college-level academic and research skills.

In the Seminar course, you’ll learn to collect and analyze information, develop arguments, and effectively communicate these arguments using various media.

Related career areas:

Announcers, directors, economists, education administrators and educators, federal agents, financial analysts, financial managers, government executives and legislators, government lawyers, historians, human resources managers, management consultants, news analysts and reporters, private-practice lawyers, program directors, public relations specialists, sociologists, top executives

Related majors:

Advertising, Business Administration and Management, Communication and Rhetoric, Education, History, Mass Communications, Philosophy, Political Science and Government, Prelaw Studies, Psychology, Public Administration, Public Relations, Sociology, Theater Arts

What to expect:

You will complete many individual and group projects and presentations in AP Seminar. Speaking in front of the class is a major component of the course.

Students explore complex academic and real-world issues from multiple perspectives using the following framework:

  • Question and Explore
  • Understand and Analyze Arguments
  • Evaluate Multiple Perspectives
  • Synthesize Ideas
  • Team, Transform, and Transmit

Success in the class requires you to synthesize information from multiple sources, then develop your perspectives in research-based written essays and oral and visual presentations.

The exam:

Students are assessed with an end-of-course exam and two performance tasks completed in class.

An in-class team project and presentation is worth 20% of the AP score.

Three to five teammates work together to identify a problem or issue, create a research question, identify various perspectives for examining the question, and divide responsibilities among themselves.

The team develops an 8-10-minute presentation that presents an effective argument for proposed solutions or recommendations.

An individual research-based essay and presentation is worth 35% of your AP score.

  • This task consists of a 2000-word research paper and a 6-8-minute individual presentation.
  • You will also defend your research process, evidence, and conclusion through oral responses to two questions asked by the teacher.

Finally, you’ll take a two-hour end-of-course exam that accounts for the remaining 45% of your score. On the test, you will:

  • Understand and analyze an argument (Three short answer questions)
  • Synthesize information to develop an evidence-based argument (evidence-based argument essay)

You can divide the time however you prefer between the two tasks.

However, it’s recommended that you spend about 30 minutes on the first part and about 90 minutes on the argument essay.

Overview of the Easiest AP Classes

Japanese Language and Culture and French Language and Culture are structured like the Mandarin Chinese and Spanish courses.

  • These Language and Culture courses may be considered “easy” because students already have solid foundational experiences in the languages they’re studying.
  • Additionally, all AP foreign language courses avoid overemphasizing grammar and are focused more on understanding and communication.

In the Research course, students design, plan, and conduct a year-long research-based investigation to address a research question of interest.

  • The course culminates in a 4,000-5,000-word academic paper and a presentation with an oral defense.

Research, Seminar, and Studio Art courses may be easier than others because students have most of the academic year to work on a few major tasks.

  • These tasks then form all or part of the student’s AP exam grade, instead of the AP exam grade coming down to one high-pressure test.

Of course, what is easy for you will depend on your strengths. If you excel at reading and writing, AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition may be a breeze for you.

If you love science and have a passion for the environment, you may find AP Environmental Science interesting and relatively easy.

And if you’re a history buff, perhaps AP United States History or AP European History will be a piece of cake.

Before deciding on the best course of action:

  • Talk to other students who have taken AP courses at your school
  • Read up on the various AP courses
  • Consider your interests and abilities
  • Choose classes that appeal to you and will allow you to utilize your strengths

Will taking “easy” AP courses hurt my college chances?

College admissions teams understand that all AP classes are challenging.

Passing AP courses and AP exams demonstrates that you’re ready to handle the rigor of college-level coursework.

  • However, if you’re planning to major in Computer Engineering and take only studio art and foreign language AP courses, that may raise a few questions.

It’s best to take AP classes that relate to your intended major and career.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with balancing these courses with a few of the easier AP options available.

Doing so will not hurt your college chances.

Final Thoughts: The Easiest AP Classes

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a truly easy AP class. All AP courses require extensive reading, writing, and studying.

They are designed to give you a preview of what to expect in college.

Of course, some AP classes may be easier than others.

  • If you’ve taken a foreign language throughout high school or if you’re a native or heritage speaker of a language other than English, enrolling in an AP Language and Culture class is a great option.

AP Seminar, AP Research, and AP Studio Art courses don’t rely exclusively on an end-of-course exam for your AP score.

If you’d prefer a more low-pressure approach to AP exams, these courses may suit you.

Finally, you should assess your strengths:

  • What subjects do you enjoy in school?
  • What are you good at?
  • What are your plans for your college major and future career?

Any AP course that aligns with your interests and strengths should be easier for you than a course that does not.

Just remember: No matter what AP courses you choose, taking good notes, keeping up with your assignments, and developing good study habits are a must.

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