AP Chemistry vs. AP Physics C for a prospective Biophysics major

Hey there!

Sorry for the long post!

I’m currently a senior heavily debating between taking AP Chemistry or AP Physics C (M & EM). I’ve taken AP Calculus AB and am currently taking BC along with AP Statistics. I took AP Biology and AP Physics I previously. Now, I’m left to take AP Environmental Science, AP Chemistry, or AP Physics C (full-year covers both M & EM). I’m not planning on taking AP Environmental Science. I have to choose between AP Chemistry and AP Physics C. I’m planning to go on to medical school later on, and want to pursue something along the lines of biology and physics for my undergrad. Possibly a niche major like Biophysics, Computational Biology (I’ve taken AP Computer Science A), or Neuroscience.

Other AP classes I’ve taken and am taking include AP Language & Composition, AP Literature & Composition, and AP French. Was never a fan of history and never planned to take an AP history class.

Which of these courses would best suit my future interests? Personally, I’m not a massive fan of chemistry, but love biology and physics. I’m strong at math, earned a low A in AP Calculus AB without putting in way too much effort (virtual caused a slight dip in my grades in general). I mostly understood the concept but lacked practice partly due to my indiscipline during virtual schooling. That’s gone now and we’re back to normal school so I’m back on schedule. However, I hear that AP Chemistry is one of the more essential sciences if a student has already taken AP Biology and any one of the three AP Physics classes. My heart lies with AP Physics C, but I feel like AP Chemistry is an important class for me to take.

I believe in taking classes that are important to me instead of loading up on AP classes that I do not like/will not enjoy. That said I’m not too aversed to chemistry as it’s one of the sciences I haven’t actually explored that much!

(I’m always confused about where to post on CC, please let me know if this post is in the wrong place, thanks!)

I would lean towards AP Chemistry since there are several Chemistry courses needed as pre-requisites when applying to Medical school: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. Also for many schools, the General Chemistry courses are considered “weed out” classes for the Pre-med students so a solid knowledge of the subject will definitely help.


You’ll need Physics too. If you can handle the workload, I’d dump Stats and take Chem and Physics. It’s certainly doable.

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I’ve already tried this! Our school has double lab days for AP sciences and doubling up would need me to drop not only AP Statistics but another class for study hall to accommodate the labs.

OOH, then I’d take Chemistry. Good luck!

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I’d suggest Chemistry, but there’s not going to be a big difference between the two.


Look at the colleges you are interested in applying to and the AP scores needed to get credit for the first level courses. If they do not offer credit then which courses do they waive based on the score. A 4 or 5 in AP Chem is usually the equivalent of 101 and 102 (or whatever numbering system). The different AP physics seem to vary a little more at colleges and may only be for one class. Knocking out the Chem gets you into some other required classes earlier or allows for you to take courses in other interests.

Having those extra credit hours can help with things like housing selection and course selection.

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Since the OP is an intended pre-med, the OP needs to be careful with AP credit. Medical schools prefer courses taken in college rather than AP credit to fulfill pre-med course requirements. Repeating AP credit can require marking the course as a repeated course on the medical school application. See FAQ Pre-med courses, AP/IB/etc. credit and college/DE courses, etc. .


The difference between the two though is that the Chem sequence will continue and the Physics series won’t. That’s got me scratching my head a little and kind of equivocating.

If the bulk of your schools will let AP C test you out of any remaining Physics, I’d go that route, that is unless you plan on being a Physics major.

I love APs that end a sequence, especially if you’ll use very little of the knowledge ever again.

At the end of the day, it’s splitting hairs, really depending on the major you choose, the school you end up at and how they treat APs.


Good point! That wasn’t the case, back in the day for me, so I forget about that.

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I’ve decided to drop AP Chemistry and take AP Physics C. I, unfortunately, had an issue with the teacher (nothing crazy), and am simply not a huge fan of AP Chemistry and the way it’s taught at my high school. It’s taught in a dry and uninteresting way, nothing like the experience I had in AP Biology and AP Physics I. My previous AP Physics I teacher teaches AP Physics C as well, so I’m making the switch with no regrets!

Also, considering what ucbalumnus said, if medical schools really look for prerequisite courses to be taken in college, I don’t see a point in struggling with AP Chemistry, especially with the reputation the class has in my high school. If I really feel ambitious, I’ll look into studying AP Chemistry outside of school, not for AP credit, but to prepare myself for the rigor of chemistry in college. Thanks for all the help!


The sound “all other things being equal” advice was to take chem, but good instructor vs bad one trumps the standard advice. It’s unfortunately common for AP Chem classes to be sub-par at many schools. For that matter, great HS physics teachers are a rare and precious resource as well. If you’ve got one, then sticking with them sounds like the right call. :+1: