Can You Take AP Classes Over the Summer?

Your guide to summer AP classes
April 10, 2024
5 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/10/24

Acing AP classes can set you on track to getting into the college of your dreams. But what about summer AP classes? Here’s what you need to know.

You just finished up your final exam before the summer break. Your friends plan to head to the cottage for a much-deserved break. But you’ll be a junior next year, and all you can think about is what you can do to get into your dream college. You begin to consider taking AP classes in the summer but wonder if it’s the best choice for you.

Taking AP classes during the summer can be ideal for many. The more rigorous workload can be handled with greater ease when you aren’t focused on other classes, extracurriculars, and high school social life.

But there are certain steps to keep in mind before signing up for AP classes, especially during the summer. With the right planning, you can get those high-level credits and open countless doors in your academic future. 

So, let’s unpack everything you need to know about taking summer AP classes!

Can You Take AP Classes Over the Summer?

Yes, AP classes can be taken over the summer, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, not all AP classes are offered over the summer, and usually, you’ll be dealing with a smaller selection. Moreover, AP classes are usually instructed at an accelerated pace over the summer and can vary from a few weeks to a few months.

It should be noted that not everyone may be suited for AP classes over the summer. Because they’re higher level courses and shorter in duration, some may find them quite overwhelming. If the course you’re taking is offered online, it’ll require impeccable organization to stay on top of everything.

But with the right mindset and study techniques, taking AP classes over the summer can be a manageable and effective way to kickstart your college journey. AP classes can earn you valuable college credits and ease the academic burdens of post-secondary education.

Taking AP Classes Over the Summer: Steps to Take

Now that we’ve answered the question, “can you take AP classes over the summer?,” we can go over the steps you can take to set yourself up for success. It’s essential to follow the right steps before taking AP classes over the summer to ensure your credits transfer over without a problem and that you make the most of your summer. 

Pay Your Guidance Counselor a Visit

Guidance counselors are a commonly overlooked resource for most high schoolers. They have a body of knowledge of how academic institutions work and can save you a lot of time googling irrelevant information.

First, you’ll want to ask if the AP classes you’re interested in are offered at your home school during the summer. 

Taking AP classes in your home school is the easiest and most straightforward way to gain AP credits over the summer. While many schools are in agreement about credit equivalencies, some may recognize certain courses in different categories, affecting your graduation requirements.

Consider Your Options: Online on In-Person Options

If you’re open to taking online classes, you’ll have more courses to choose from with a greater degree of flexibility. Many states also allow students to take online AP classes for free, which is a plus! 

Online summer AP classes may not be a viable option for everyone. Self-direction, discipline, and time management are essential to excel in a virtual learning environment–which may not be feasible for many. But, for those that can handle it, online classes can be one of the most customizable educational experiences.

Just because a class is online doesn’t mean you’ll have any less resources to support your learning. Online AP classes are instructed by high-quality teachers with several years of experience. When taking online classes, you’re encouraged to reach out for help when needed, as there won’t be as much hand-holding.

Choose the Best Course for You

One of the main advantages of AP classes is that you can earn college credits by taking them. Although you can technically write the exam without taking classes, classes give you much better preparation and are a more realistic option for most students.

This is another reason to visit your guidance counselor. Transferring credits to college isn’t always straightforward, and you’ll want to review everything to ensure the colleges you’re looking at recognize your credits. 

You can also consider the easiest and hardest AP classes to help you decide what to take. Having AP credits gives you an advantage when applying for colleges and shows your academic capabilities, and the summer might be the best time to take them.

When done properly, AP credits can save you thousands on college expenses. With student loans and other financial burdens of college, making smart economic choices can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

FAQs: Summer AP Classes

Still wondering if you can take AP classes over the summer”? Give our detailed FAQs a read and have your remaining questions answered!

1. Should I Take an AP Class Over the Summer?

Taking AP classes over the summer offers unique advantages–with in-person and online options, summer AP classes can free up time from your schedule during the school year. They are also a great way to earn college credits in high school.

With many students balancing obligations and commitments during the year, summertime AP classes let you get your feet wet with a more intensive academic experience without feeling overwhelmed. 

If you want to challenge yourself over the summer and have a lighter courseload during the school year, taking AP classes in the summer might be a great choice. 

2. Can You Self-Study AP Classes Over the Summer?

While summer AP classes can be self-studied, some courses are more suited for self-study than others

With this said, many students may find self-study AP classes challenging. Having the discipline and drive to pace yourself isn’t something everybody is equipped with, and students often fall behind and leave things to the last minute.

With the right study habits, acing your AP class over the summer is manageable. When self-studying, make a study schedule and mark any deadlines and test dates to set yourself up for success.

3. What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking AP Classes During the Summer?

Some advantages of taking AP classes during the summer are the added flexibility the summer gives you. Taking AP classes over the summer break allows you to give the course more attention without the stress of other classes. Additionally, flexible online options will enable you to have an exciting summer break.

Some disadvantages to taking summer AP courses are the compressed schedule, an intense learning structure, a potentially smaller course selection, and a delayed exam schedule

Altogether, online AP classes during the summer can be one of the best ways to optimize your college app. You’ll get the distinction of higher-level credits without the rigorous course load that you would usually have during the year. 

If you can structure your learning and take steps to avoid falling behind, taking online summer AP classes can be one of the smartest options to get a headstart on your college credits.

Final Thoughts

Summer AP classes aren’t for everyone. Many students find they need to fully unplug over the summer break. While for others, AP summer classes can be a great way to alleviate their course load as they get closer to graduation.

Although anyone can take summer AP classes, you’ll definitely want to make sure it’s something you plan out before you rush out and sign up. The simplest and most useful thing you can do is to book an appointment with your guidance counselor. After all, what good would acing those tough AP classes be if the credits can’t be transferred?

Preparing for college is tough, and AP classes are among the best stepping stones in high school to prepare you for a post-secondary environment. 

Unlike IB courses, AP courses take much less time to complete and usually have a larger range of options. Additionally, you’ll be able to save money on college courses and potentially graduate quicker. 

So, can you take AP classes over the summer? Yes, and with the right planning, they can be a huge benefit and a strong point in your college apps. Taking AP classes over the summer may be a great solution to getting into the college of your choice.

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