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What Are the Easiest AP Exams for Self-Study?

AP Courses are a great way to set yourself up for success in the college admissions process. But students are not required to take an AP Course to take an AP Test. You can opt to self-study for AP Exams in order to get college credit and impress admissions officers, even if your school doesn’t offer a specific AP Course. Let’s get into the easiest AP Exams to self-study.

We’ll start off by going over the benefits of self-studying for an AP Exam, then get into what goes into an easy topic for self-study, and end by showing you a list of the AP Exams that are generally easiest for self-study.

Related: Honors vs. AP Courses: What’s the difference?

Benefits of self-studying an AP

Self-studying an AP Exam can have a host of benefits. If you perform well, you will have something to brag about on your college applications. AP Tests compliment SAT and ACT scores well in that they show your ability in one specialized field.

If you perform well on an AP Exam, you may also earn college credit or placement. You can use these to jump straight to the classes that interest you in college, and maybe even graduate early. Colleges have different rules for how they accept AP scores, but large universities tend to be more accepting than smaller schools in general.

Also see: How does AP credit work?

Go with what you know

The best way to find the easiest AP Exams to self-study is to go with what you know. If you feel knowledgeable about a subject already, chances are you’ll do better on its corresponding AP Exam. For example, if you took an honors US History course and liked it so much that you found yourself doing extra reading and looking more into the information, you may already be ready for an AP US History Exam.

Even if your knowledge is not from a classroom setting, you may exceed on an AP Exam. For example, if you are a generally good writer, you might do well on the English Language and Composition exam. These tests are less aligned with the strict class material and more with a general ability in reading and writing.

Learn more: Easiest AP Courses

Fluent in a second language? Take that language’s AP Test!

If you’re looking for a real freebie, take an AP Exam in your second language! This may seem silly, but it’s a great way to prove to colleges that you are indeed fluent in another language. You probably won’t have to spend much time studying, and it’ll be helpful to boost your application. Colleges are always looking for bilingual students.

Also see: How to get an AP Fee Reduction

Conceptual material vs. routine memorization

As a general rule, the easiest AP Exams for self-study are ones that test conceptual knowledge rather than memorized facts. Skills such as language, humanities, and theories are easier to perform using intuition, whereas memorizing dates and facts takes much more of a strictly regimented learning procedure. 

If you plan on self-studying for an exam that tests specific facts and memorization, you’ll probably need to devote more time to your studies. You’ll want to make flash cards and have friends, maybe even friends who are in the class, to get together with and go over material.

Also see: Hardest AP Courses

Choosing which year to self-study

Self-studying can be an intensive process; even though you don’t have homework, it is almost like adding a whole additional class to your schedule. As a result, it’s wise to choose an easy semester to devote to AP self-study. 

Unfortunately, because the AP Exams are only offered during May, you cannot study over the summer and then take them immediately after. If you get started over the summer, you’ll have to maintain your studying throughout the school year so the information is still fresh in your mind come May.

If you want to use your AP scores to boost your college applications, you should take them by your junior year. You won’t get your scores back in time to use them in college applications if you take them your senior year. However, you can still use scores that you earned during your senior year for college credit and placement.

Easiest APs to self-study

Here are some of the AP Exams that are commonly referred to as the easiest for self-study. This can be due to a combination of factors; the format of the test, the difficulty of the material, or the type of knowledge tested. We’ll explain why each one made the list and how best you can prepare for it.

AP Human Geography

The AP Human Geography exam is known as one of the easier options in the AP catalog. Its scope is similar to anthropology and sociology, with a focus on the origins of civilization. You’ll need to do some routine memorization, but a lot of the test is based around being able to digest and form social theories.

Passing rate: 54%

AP Environmental Science

The AP Environmental Science exam is another easy option. It is an interdisciplinary exam that focuses on the students’ ability to read scientific data and analyze it. It combines charts and statistics with short passages and tests your ability to contextualize numbers and data.

Passing rate: 53%

AP Psychology

To succeed on the AP Psychology test, you’ll have to memorize some theories and some notable psychologists throughout history. However, it is a short test with a reputation for material that is straightforward and easy to succeed in.

Passing rate: 60%

AP English Language and Composition

Colloquially known as AP Lang, this exam tests your ability to read and craft arguments and informational passages. It doesn’t require much memorization at all, aside from some rules of how to form an argument and some grammatical terms. If you are someone who likes to argue and likes to read persuasive writing, this should be a hole-in-one.

Passing rate: 56%

AP Microeconomics

AP Microeconomics takes a bit more memorization than the other options, but overall it is a test that is very logical and relies largely on intuitive reasoning. You’ll definitely need to devote a good amount of time to studying and practicing using economic models. However, the test is fairly straightforward and should be simple for any economic-minded students.

Passing rate: 66% 

Also see: Ultimate guide to self-studying for AP Exams

Final thoughts

Remember the “easiest” AP exams for self-study depends on you! Think about your individual interests and strengths and select AP exams that align with them! Ultimately, stay motivated and create a study plan to help you achieve your AP exam goals! 

Next steps

Your next step as you look into these options is to check out practice exams for the courses. This is the best way to get an idea of whether it is an easy self-study AP for you and your academic skill set. Look not only at the content of the tests, but the format of the questions. If you think you have a foundation in the skill being tested, it will probably be an easier AP to self-study for you.

And remember that there are other ways to earn college credit while in high school! You can look into dual enrollment as a way to get a jump start on college academics. Finally, as you begin making plans for college, make sure to check out our free scholarship search engine for custom-matched, vetted opportunities that suit your demographic, location, interest, and GPA situation. Good luck!

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Frequently asked questions about easiest AP exams to self-study

How much time should I allocate for self-study?

The amount of time needed for self-study varies depending on the exam and your familiarity with the subject. However, on average, it may take several months to become adequately prepared for an AP exam.

How can I stay motivated during self-study?

In order to stay motivated, set large and small goals with rewards that coincide with them. For example, if you study for 30 minutes every day, treat yourself to an ice cream cone at the end of the week! Whatever helps keep you motivated works! Additionally, stay organized and maintain a study routine.

Does it cost money to self-study for an AP exam?

Yes, there are some costs associated with self-studying for an AP exam. This can be the cost for the exam registration fee and any study materials you may purchase. There are fee reductions that may be available for students with financial constraints. Also, there are free AP study guides that you can use as well.