As you know, Advanced Placement (AP) courses are designed to act as a platform to get into a STEM major course. The first thing that you should keep in mind is your own interest and aptitude in any specialization. Another important factor in the selection of an AP course is, its availability in your school. Not all schools offer every AP course for a STEM major.
However, there are a few courses which hold universal value for any STEM major specialization. For example, every field of science, engineering and technology uses some aspect of mathematics, physics, as well as computer science.
Some of the more important AP courses are suggested below:
- AP Calculus AB – If you are good in algebra and trigonometry, you should go for this course. AP Calculus AB teaches you problem solving techniques. The course contains Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus and derivatives. This course is designed to prepare you for a major in Mechanical Engineering.
- AP Calculus BC- This course is further advancement of AP Calculus AB. So, it is tougher than AB. It not only covers the topics learnt earlier in greater detail, but also adds new complex topics. It broadly covers Polar and Vector functions in the curriculum. This is not a simple course and you should be a strong mathematics student if you want to choose this course. If you go for this course, it will help you prepare for fields like Aerospace Engineering which can lead you to become an avionics or aircraft technician.
- AP Physics – This is one subject which is essential for any field of engineering. So, if you want to go for a STEM major in Engineering, choose this one. Once again, you need to have studied algebra and trigonometry for this course. And if you have learnt basic physics, all the better. AP Physics is further bifurcated into AP Physics1 and AP Physics2. While the first one is majorly algebra based, the second one goes deeper into the concepts learnt in the first. As is very apparent, this course is helpful if you are thinking of going into any science related field.
- AP Computer Science A – Today, any field of career is incomplete without a basic knowledge of computers. This course covers the basics of computer science using Java application. You will learn Java coding and debugging on this course. Any knowledge of computers is not essential for enrolling in this course, as this itself is a basic course. This will build your foundation for a career in Information Technology as well as Computer Management.
- AP Computer Science Principles – This again, is a course designed to teach you basic computer principles. It will not teach you any languages or programming, but it will give you an idea of the technological processes used to develop them. This is a good course if you want to get into robotics or software development.
- AP Biology – This is a course for which you must have studied a basic biology class. If you are interested in STEM in general, you can opt for this course. AP Biology will provide you with basic scientific knowledge and sharpen your concepts of scientific principles. This is a good course for those seeking to major in Biology, Environmental Science, Botany, Ecology etc.
- AP Chemistry – Is a very interesting course. There is a lot of lab experience and you will learn the concepts of matter, molecules and atoms. AP Chemistry will enhance your logical reasoning power. But again, it is suggested that you must have done basic Chemistry classes before choosing this course. This course will help you major in Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Food Sciences, Astronomy etc.
- AP Environmental Sciences – This is not a very difficult class and you don’t necessarily need any basic knowledge before joining this course. You will learn the working of nature in AP Environmental Sciences. And the best part is the field trips, that you may be required to undertake during this course. If you want to major in Environmental Engineering, Fisheries, Geology, Aerospace Engineering etc., take up AP Environmental Sciences.
The courses mentioned above are general in nature and can be useful for most of the fields in which you can major in STEM.