Tips From an Irvine Online Tutor: Which AP Test is the Easiest? Part II

Now, let’s look at how students do on these tests. We will be avoiding the foreign language tests as these results are more challenging to interpret due to an unknown percentage of test-takers being previously fluent in the language. Good general advice for these is to definitely take a diagnostic practice test, whether it’s your first or second language, you’ve taken an AP class in the language, or you’ve taken a few years of regular classes in the language. The AP expectations can be very different from your experiences, so a practice test is especially vital - our experienced Irvine online AP tutors are only a click away.

Outside of foreign languages, the tests with the highest “pass” rates (3 or higher) in 2018 were Calculus BC (80%), Computer Science A (68%), Computer Science Principles (71%), Microeconomics (68%), Music Theory (66%), Physics C E&M (73%), Physics C Mechanics (77%), Psychology (66%), Research (75%), Seminar (83%), and the three Studio Arts (90% for Drawing, 85% for 2D Design, and 69% for 3D Design). On the other side, there were three tests with fewer than half of students “passing”: English Literature (47%), Environmental Science (48%), and Physics 1 (41%).

We can also look at the tests based on the percentage of ‘5’s’ scored. Physics C Mechanics and E&M both have over 30% or students scoring a 5 (30% and 37% respectively), and Calculus BC saw 40% of students earn a 5. Other high percentages of 5’s include 23% for Music Theory, 22% for Studio Art Drawing, 21% for both Microeconomics and Psychology, and 25% for Computer Science A.

Score Distributions

Many factors determine these score distributions. We cannot say that any test is objectively easier or harder based only on percentages of previous scores. But we can use this information as a motivation to consider taking specific exams.

If you are taking a class in Calculus BC or a Physics C class, the very high pass rates and percentages of 5’s should help encourage you to take the test, even if you feel that the class is a challenge. Seek out practice tests or private tutoring to evaluate if you are more prepared than you thought for these low-fail-rate exams.

If you have an interest in some of the other subjects, the high pass rates for computer science tests, studio art tests, and the music theory test should motivate you to look into these as possibilities. In social science we see similarly high rates for psychology and microeconomics that may be more in your skillset than the more common history and government social science track. Even the tests that are failed the most (Literature, Environmental Science, and Physics 1) are still passed by nearly half of students, but this data might indicate that those exams shouldn’t be treated as a walk in the park and still need to be studied for.
Don’t discount AP Tests as a possibility for you or your student.

You Have Options

Look into your options, see how well other students are doing on these tests, and seek out ways to prepare the exams. Consider hiring an experienced private AP tutor to help you evaluate your options and best prepare as early in the process as possible.

Click here to read part one.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerd in Irvine and Anaheim.