A Beginner’s Guide to AP Classes


AP classes can be tough on your brain and your back, but they’re worth the pain.

AP Classes: a dreaded workload without a guaranteed payoff, and a ninety dollar test? No thanks. Or, a stimulating challenge resulting in college credit at the end? Maybe. AP stands for Advanced Placement, and the classes are registered with the College Board, the same company that administers the SAT. The classes prepare you for the (optional) test in May that assesses your knowledge from the whole course. Many people take AP classes because of the course content or the possibility of college credit. To many, the ninety dollar registration fee is a fair exchange for possibly escaping hundreds or even thousands of dollars in college tuition. The tests are scored from one to five, with scores of three and above considered passing.Here is a list of AP classes at Shorecrest and when they are offered according to grade level.

Freshman Year

Sorry frosh, you’re out of the loop on this one. There are no AP classes you can register for Freshman year here at Shorecrest.

Sophomore Year

  • AP World History is where it’s at. This class is tough, but Ms. Waugh is awesome and will make your first AP class a great experience. In 2017, 55.6% of students passed the exam nationally.

Junior/Senior Year

This is where the fun begins and you have a wide range of class choices.

Junior Year only

  • AP U.S. History, affectionately known as APUSH, is a class that will teach you more than you ever thought you wanted to know about United States history. No matter who your teacher is, this class will be tough, but very fulfilling. Senior Izzy Davis says, “APUSH has been my favorite AP class by far, and it is the class that’s the most worth taking if you’re on the fence.” In 2017, 51.4% of students passed this test nationally.
  • AP English Language and Composition is unlike any English class you’ve probably taken. Focused on the fundamentals of writing, this class can be tough if writing isn’t your strong suit. However, you can always work to perfect your abilities. In 2017, 55.3% of students earned a score of three or above.

Junior or Senior Year

AP math courses

  • AP Calculus AB can be taken junior or senior year depending on how advanced you are in math. AP Calc AB is known to get tough second semester, but stays relatively easy first semester. An anonymous junior says, “Right now it’s way easier than Pre Calc was.” In 2017, 57.5% of students passed the exam.
  • AP Calculus BC is a class relatively few people end up taking at Shorecrest because it is the most advanced math class here. However, this means small class sizes and lots of help from the teacher. Interestingly, half of the AP Calc AB test is the same so most of the year is spent reviewing. An incredibly high 80.6% of students passed this test in 2017.
  • AP Statistics tends to be the math class that seniors take instead of Pre Calc, or one of the two AP Calculus classes. If you’re of a more analytical mind and strict mathematical calculations aren’t your favorite, this is your class. Homework for this class tends to be notes, which might be different experience from past math classes. AP Stats is comprised of mostly seniors, but it can be taken junior year too. In 2017, 53.8% of test takers passed this AP test.
  • AP Economics is offered at Shorewood, so if you sign up for this one, be sure you have a ride. This class is hard, it’s a combination of micro and macro economics that offers a lot of homework. Scored twice, once for microeconomics and once for macro, the test boasts high pass rates. If DECA or business is your thing, this is the class for you. 68.3% of students passed the micro test, and 56.7% passed the macro exam.

AP science courses

  • AP Psychology is often considered one of the easier AP classes available at Shorecrest, and is a great intro to AP courses. Senior Alaine Ziegenhagel says, “AP Psych was fun, and one of the easier AP’s I’ve taken.” But just because it’s one of the easier AP’s at Shorecrest doesn’t mean there’s not any homework. Prepare to take a lot of notes and participate in several group projects. A very high 64.1% of students passed this exam in 2017.
  • AP Physics is a tough class. If you’re not sure you want
    to commit to the AP version of this subject, you can take the regular physics class the year before. This is a very math heavy course, so if you’re not fond of equations, you might want to consider some of the other AP science classes we have here at Shorecrest. In 2017, only 41.1% of students passed this test. Yikes.
  • AP Environmental Science is a great class to take if you’re not sure that science is in your future, but want to challenge yourself with an AP science class. Be prepared to complete lots and lots of projects for this one, but if you’re interested in environmental issues and ethics, this class can be very interesting. In 2017, 49.4% of students passed this exam.
  • AP Biology is a tough class at Shorecrest and involves lots of memorization, and understanding of complex systems. If you want to go into the scientific or medical field, this class will help you prepare for difficult college courses. 68.3% of test takers passed in 2017.
  • AP Chemistry is offered at Shorewood, so once again, make sure you can get there. This class is for those who really, really, want to go into the STEM field. AP Chem is hard, and requires you to take regular chemistry prior to committing to the AP. Make sure you love science before signing up for this one. 51% of students passed this test in 2017.
  • AP Computer Science is offered at Shorecrest this year. This class is hard, and requires lots of reading and almost daily tests on the material. You will get to talk to experts in the field from Microsoft, and work on coding on school-provided laptops. A pretty high 67.2% of students passed this test nationally in 2017.


AP Arts Courses

  • AP Studio Art is the class to take if you want to be an artist, or just really, really love making art. The grading for this test is different, and if you don’t like the idea of getting a score from 1-5 on the quality of your art, this might not be the class for you. Expect lots of sketchbook hours and about a project a week to fill in your portfolio. Don’t worry too much though, a whopping 85.6% of students pass this exam.
  • AP Studio Art: 2D Design is simply a more convoluted way to say AP Photography. It is another portfolio based exam, and is very similar to the AP Studio Art class, except it’s photography based. 81.5% of students pass this exam. Start taking a ton of pictures if you’re interested in this course!
  • AP Music Theory is offered at Shorewood, and requires knowledge of music composition. You better be really into your instrument and sheet music if you sign up for this course! 61.1% of students pass this test, but I wouldn’t take it if you’re tone deaf.

AP language courses

Sign up for these language classes if you’re either fluent and want to prove it, or have fallen in love with a particular language and want to continue past level 4. The language classes show very high pass rates all around.

  • AP Spanish, a whopping 88.6% of students passed their AP Spanish Language test.
  • AP French, 75.3% of students passed their AP French test.
  • AP Japanese, 77.2% of students passed this exam.

Senior Only Classes

  • AP Comparative Government is a brand new class at Shorecrest, and is only a semester long. If you’re interested in political science, this low stress class is a great intro to some fascinating topics, and is a good way to learn more about the political world. Be prepared to self study for the AP test in May to make up for having a couple months off. 68.9% of students passed this test in 2017.
  • AP English Literature is a fun class where students look critically at literature, poetry, and prose. Mr. Kidd is a favorite of many students, and not only helps prepare students for the AP test, but also writing in college and beyond. In 2017, 52.8% of students passed this tough exam.


Are AP classes for you? I recommend trying one or two out before making that decision. Some offer refreshing challenges, but also come with a large time commitment and lots of homework. But if you can start college with 5 plus credits, it might be worth the effort after all. Depending on the selectivity of the colleges you’re applying to, AP classes can be an expectation, not a plus on your application. If Yale is your dream, fill your schedule with some tough AP classes if you can handle the challenge.