Best Ap Classes To Take For A Computer Science Major

Preparing for a computer science degree while still in high school can seem overwhelming. With so many AP classes to choose from, how do you know which ones will actually help set you up for success in college computer science courses?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the ideal AP classes to take if you plan to major in computer science.

If you’re short on time, here are the key APs to focus on: Math (Calculus AB/BC, Statistics), Science (Physics, Chemistry), Computer Science Principles, Computer Science A, and English/Writing courses for developing communication skills.

Core Math and Science APs

Calculus AB and BC

When it comes to pursuing a computer science major, a strong foundation in calculus is essential. Taking both Calculus AB and BC Advanced Placement (AP) classes will give you a comprehensive understanding of calculus concepts, including limits, derivatives, and integrals.

These classes will prepare you for the rigorous mathematical reasoning required in computer science courses. According to College Board, students who took the AP Calculus AB exam in 2020 achieved a pass rate of 58.7%, while those who took the BC exam had a pass rate of 81.2%.

These statistics show the importance of mastering calculus before entering a computer science program.


Statistics is another crucial subject for computer science majors. By taking an AP Statistics course, you will learn how to analyze and interpret data, which is fundamental in computer science. Understanding statistical concepts such as probability, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis will enable you to make data-driven decisions and develop algorithms.

According to the College Board, the AP Statistics exam had a pass rate of 59.8% in 2020. This course will equip you with the necessary skills to excel in data analysis and machine learning.


Physics is the science that underlies many principles and technologies in computer science. By taking an AP Physics course, you will learn about mechanics, electricity, and magnetism, which are crucial for understanding the physical aspects of computer hardware and software.

The College Board reported a pass rate of 64.6% for the AP Physics C: Mechanics exam in 2020. This course will provide you with a solid understanding of the fundamental laws that govern the behavior of objects and systems, giving you a unique perspective in computer science.


Although not directly related to computer science, taking an AP Chemistry course can be beneficial for a computer science major. Chemistry provides a foundation for understanding the interactions between different materials, which is valuable in areas such as computational chemistry, material science, and bioinformatics.

The College Board reported a pass rate of 58.5% for the AP Chemistry exam in 2020. This course will expand your knowledge of the physical world and enhance your problem-solving skills, which are essential in computer science.

The core math and science APs mentioned above, including Calculus AB and BC, Statistics, Physics, and Chemistry, are highly recommended for computer science majors. These courses will provide you with a strong foundation in mathematics, data analysis, and scientific principles, which are essential for success in the field of computer science.

By excelling in these AP classes, you will be well-prepared for the challenging coursework and research opportunities that lie ahead.

Computer Science APs

Computer Science Principles

Taking the Computer Science Principles AP class is a great choice for students pursuing a computer science major. This course provides a broad introduction to the field of computer science, covering topics such as algorithms, programming languages, and data analysis.

Students will gain a solid foundation in computational thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for success in the field. According to College Board, the official website for AP exams, this course is designed to be accessible to students with no prior programming experience.

One of the benefits of taking the Computer Science Principles AP class is that it can help students determine if computer science is the right path for them. By exploring a wide range of topics within the field, students can get a taste of different areas and specialties.

This can be especially helpful for students who are undecided about their major or who want to explore different career options within computer science.

Computer Science A

The Computer Science A AP class is another excellent choice for students interested in pursuing a computer science major. This course is more in-depth and rigorous compared to the Computer Science Principles class.

It focuses on programming concepts and provides students with a strong foundation in Java programming.

By taking the Computer Science A AP class, students will develop advanced programming skills and gain a deeper understanding of algorithms, data structures, and problem-solving techniques. This course prepares students for more advanced college-level computer science courses and can give them a competitive edge when applying to computer science programs.

According to the College Board, the Computer Science A AP exam has a high pass rate, indicating that students who take this course are generally well-prepared. This can be attributed to the comprehensive curriculum and the emphasis on hands-on programming projects.

Students who excel in this course may also have the opportunity to earn college credit, depending on the policies of the institution they attend.

English/Writing APs

While it may seem counterintuitive for a computer science major to take English or writing Advanced Placement (AP) classes, they can actually be highly beneficial. These classes not only help students improve their communication skills, but they also provide a strong foundation in critical thinking and analysis – skills that are essential in the field of computer science.

English Language and Composition

The AP English Language and Composition course focuses on developing students’ abilities to analyze and interpret various types of texts. Through close reading and careful analysis, students learn how to effectively communicate their ideas and arguments in writing.

This course also emphasizes the importance of rhetoric and persuasive techniques, which can be valuable tools for computer science majors who need to effectively convey their ideas to others.

In addition, the ability to write clearly and concisely is crucial in computer science, as professionals often need to document their code or write technical reports. The English Language and Composition AP class can help students develop these skills, making them more effective communicators in their future careers.

English Literature and Composition

The AP English Literature and Composition course provides students with the opportunity to read and analyze a wide range of literary works. Through this exploration of literature, students develop a deeper understanding of different cultures, perspectives, and human experiences.

This broader worldview can be valuable in computer science, as it encourages students to think critically and creatively, leading to innovative problem-solving approaches.

Studying literature also helps computer science majors develop their empathy and emotional intelligence, which are important skills when working in teams or collaborating with clients. Additionally, the ability to analyze and interpret complex texts can enhance a computer scientist’s ability to understand and dissect complex algorithms or programming languages.

Both the English Language and Composition and English Literature and Composition AP classes provide computer science majors with valuable skills that complement their technical knowledge. By honing their communication, critical thinking, and analysis abilities, students can become well-rounded professionals who excel in their chosen field.

Other Relevant APs to Consider

While computer science courses are essential for a computer science major, there are other AP classes that can complement and enhance your understanding of the field. These classes can provide you with a well-rounded education and help you develop important skills that will be beneficial in your future career.

Here are a few other AP classes to consider:


Microeconomics is the study of individual economic behavior, such as how individuals make decisions regarding the allocation of resources. This subject can be highly relevant to computer science majors, as it explores topics such as supply and demand, market structures, and pricing strategies.

Understanding microeconomics can help computer science majors better understand the economic impact of their work and make informed decisions in the business world.


Macroeconomics focuses on the study of the economy as a whole, including topics such as inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. This AP class can provide computer science majors with a broader understanding of the economic forces that shape the industry.

It can also help them understand how their work fits into the larger economic context and how it can contribute to overall economic development.

Government and Politics

Studying government and politics can be particularly beneficial for computer science majors who are interested in the intersection of technology and public policy. This AP class covers topics such as the structure and functions of government, political ideologies, and the policy-making process.

By taking this class, computer science majors can gain a deeper understanding of the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern the technology industry, as well as the social and ethical implications of their work.

By diversifying your AP course selection beyond computer science, you can gain a broader perspective and develop skills that will make you a well-rounded computer science major. These classes can provide you with valuable insights and help you become a more informed and versatile professional in the field.

Tips for Deciding Which APs to Take

Talk to Your School Counselor

When it comes to deciding which AP classes to take for a computer science major, one of the first steps you should take is to talk to your school counselor. They can provide valuable insight into the AP classes offered at your school and help you understand which ones align best with your interests and goals.

Your counselor can also provide information on the difficulty level of different AP classes and how they may benefit you in the college admissions process.

Research College Requirements

Another important factor to consider when choosing AP classes for a computer science major is to research the requirements of the colleges you are interested in. Different colleges may have different expectations for incoming students, and some may even grant college credit or advanced placement based on your AP exam scores.

By understanding the specific requirements of the colleges you are interested in, you can make informed decisions about which AP classes to take in order to meet those requirements and potentially earn college credit.

Don’t Overload Yourself

While taking AP classes can be beneficial, it’s important not to overload yourself with too many at once. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance between your AP classes, extracurricular activities, and personal life.

Taking on too much can lead to burnout and negatively impact your performance in all areas. Consider your own capabilities and workload before deciding on the number of AP classes to take.

Challenge Yourself in Key Areas

When selecting AP classes for a computer science major, it’s important to challenge yourself in key areas that are relevant to your field of interest. Look for AP classes that focus on math, science, and computer science subjects, as these will provide a strong foundation for your future studies.

Additionally, consider taking AP classes that emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, as these are highly valued in the field of computer science.

By following these tips and considering your own interests and goals, you can make informed decisions about which AP classes to take for a computer science major. Remember to seek guidance from your school counselor, research college requirements, maintain a healthy workload, and challenge yourself in key areas.

Good luck on your academic journey!


Prepping for college computer science success starts with making strategic AP class choices. Focus first on essential math, science, and computer science APs to build critical knowledge and skills. Round out your schedule with writing, economics, and other courses aligned with your strengths and interests.

With the right AP combination tailored to your goals, you’ll demonstrate academic rigor and have a smoother transition to demanding college CS coursework.

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