What do Admission Offices Prefer: Low GPA with many APs vs. high GPA with a few APs

December 01, 2014

You have questions? We got the answers! This week, we asked our interns one of the most frequently asked questions from high school students: “Is it better to take few APs and have a high GPA, or take lots of APs and have a lower GPA?” Below are some of their responses! We hope this advice will help you figure out how to pick and choose your classes!

PJMarino: Although each college may have their own formula for this, I do think there is something to be said for taking many AP classes. It makes sense that taking a lot of very difficult classes will inevitably lower your GPA at least a little bit, because you have such a different workload. Taking APs shows colleges that you are looking for a challenge and that you want a tough academic experience. This shows them that if you go to their university, you will take your academics seriously. To help with your decision, you can often ask college admission offices if they have a minimum GPA for their applicants! If you think you can meet that, then decide from there!

Mizo: I would say high GPA with a few APs. Colleges want to see that you are challenging yourself with your course load, but also that you are able to know your limits and manage your priorities and commitments. If you are overloading on APs to the extent that your grade drops, then you’re not reflecting your true potential to the colleges you are applying to! Especially if you could have gotten an A, but instead got a B just because of extra workload. It also demonstrates that you don’t understand your own limits. 

Sarah: This is probably not the answer you want hear. But honestly, neither is better. It is best to have a high GPA with many APs, especially if you’re aiming for some of these top tier schools. But I guess the better question is, what do you mean by ‘Low GPA.’ If you are capable of accepting a challenge, I would say take as many AP classes as you can. But if you’re making lower than a B-, that’s when I would question if it’s worth it.

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JHU ‘19


Accepted to JHU, Cornell, Northeastern, Fordham, UMD, Wisconsin, Temple

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Accepted to Columbia, Brown, UPenn, Rice, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UVA, UC Davis, UCSD, UCSC, USC

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Barnard '18 | My passions lie in education, psychology, and human rights, all from the lens of an African Studies major. My transcript and application were far from conventional, but neither am I.
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Accepted to Brown, UPenn, Wellesley, Kenyon, Macalester, Holyoke, Harvard, Bowdoin

Just another girl finally through the college apps rat race. I'm happy to share with you what I did to get through it! Currently I'm pre-law and possibly majoring in Public Policy.




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