The Role of AP and IB Courses in College Admissions: How to Choose the Right Classes

AP & IB Courses

As a high school student considering AP or IB courses, you may be wondering how these classes can impact your college applications. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of AP and IB courses, as well as provide tips on how to choose the right classes to maximize your college admissions chances. Let’s get started!

Understanding AP and IB Courses

Before we discuss their role in college admissions, let’s quickly define what AP and IB courses are.

Advanced Placement (AP): AP courses are college-level classes offered by high schools. They’re designed by the College Board and allow you to potentially earn college credit by taking an AP exam at the end of the course. With more than 38 AP courses available, you can choose from a wide range of subjects, including art history, biology, chemistry, economics, and computer science.

International Baccalaureate (IB): The IB program offers a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum for high school students. It’s divided into the IB Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16-19 and the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11-16. The DP requires students to take six subjects, complete an extended essay, participate in the Theory of Knowledge course, and engage in creativity, activity, and service projects.

The Role of AP and IB Courses in College Admissions

Both AP and IB courses can positively impact your college admissions prospects. Here’s how:

  • Demonstrating academic rigor: Taking AP or IB courses shows that you’re willing to challenge yourself academically, which can impress college admissions officers.
  • College credit: Scoring well on AP exams or earning an IB diploma can potentially earn you college credits, allowing you to save time and money in college.
  • Standing out: Excelling in these courses can help you stand out from other applicants. According to their common data sets, most competitive universities highly value academic rigor in their admissions process.

How to Choose the Right Classes

Now that you understand the importance of AP and IB courses, how do you choose the right ones? Here are some tips to help you make the best decisions:

Assess your interests and strengths:

Focus on subjects that genuinely interest you and align with your strengths. Not only will you be more likely to succeed if you enjoy the material, but you can also build a more cohesive application profile. It is especially favorable for admissions officers when there are clear connections between your classes and your intended major because it shows that you have taken steps to prepare for your college education.

Consider college majors and requirements:

If you have an idea of what you want to study in college or a specific college in mind, research the course requirements for that major or institution. Taking relevant AP or IB classes can demonstrate your commitment to that field of study and knock out class requirements before you enter college. However, it’s important to note that some colleges only accept AP credit if you attain a certain score on the AP test. Make sure you research the advanced placement credit chart of the colleges on your list.

Balance your schedule:

While it’s great to challenge yourself, don’t overload your schedule to the point of burnout. If you are taking multiple AP classes, consider balancing more challenging APs with lighter APs. This can help you to enjoy your high school experience and still have time for fun activities.

Seek guidance:

Talk to your school counselor, teachers, or other trusted mentors about your course options. They can help you to identify the best path for your academic future. You may also want to take a look at the College Board’s website, which offers advice on how to balance AP courses and extracurricular activities.

Additional Tips for Success

To make the most of your AP or IB classes, keep these tips in mind…

Develop strong study habits:

These rigorous courses require discipline and time management skills. Establish smart study habits early to stay on top of the material and prepare for exams.

Take advantage of resources:

Utilize resources like study guides, online forums, and tutoring services to support your learning and success in these courses.

Build a support network:

Connect with classmates, teachers, and mentors to create a support network that can help you navigate the challenges of AP and IB courses.

AP and IB courses can play a crucial role in your college admissions journey by demonstrating your academic rigor, potentially earning you college credit, and helping you build the skills and knowledge that will prepare you for college-level coursework. If you’re thinking about taking an AP or IB course, make sure to weigh the benefits with your personal goals and interests before making a final decision.

Ready to start?


This 60-minute masterclass is the college admissions playbook you’ve been looking for.
Learn my 4-Part Framework for building a standout application and earning $20,000+ in scholarships!

Related Next Gen Admit Posts