How many APs does an Ivy like Cornell or Dartmouth require?

I will be a Sophomore in the Fall. I am in a top rigorous HS in the Northeast area where 15-20 kids go to Ivies every year. My ECs are decent (Varsity sport, Many community service hours, lots of Tutoring) but nothing like national debate or science winner. GPA so far is 3.74 unweighted with 1 honors course.
I am taking 2 honors and 1 AP course in Sophomore year. I am now worried that since many competitive students take around 3 APs in Sophomore year I may be at a disadvantage. Hence the question. I am well aware that getting into an Ivy is not the only path to success, so do not want the topic to divert in that direction.

How many APs does an Ivy like Cornell or Dartmouth require?


Your course selection is evaluated based upon what your school offers and restrictions they have. It is common for high schools to allow APs for Juniors and seniors only. And not all schools offer 20+ APs.


Thank you. I should rephrase my question.
How many APs (minimum) should a student take to increase his/her chances of getting in to an Ivy like Cornell or Dartmouth, given my background and High School profile?

As many as you can handle without sacrificing GPA or ECs.

Bottom line, there is no magic number unless your school requires a certain number to have your schedule rated as "most demanding.’

In general , more than 6-8 total will not significantly improve an application


If 15-20 kids from your school go to Ivies every year I’ll bet that I can guess the school - and the great thing about your school is that they have very very good college counselors who will have the best advice for you.

Context is everything: how you do relative to your opportunities and vis a vis your peers will matter much more than any single element such as the # of APs.

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Thanks. I do not go to a private HS so counseling is not a strong factor in my HS.
Ranking is also not done, so it is hard to guess how one is doing vs their peers. Hence my question of min of APs to take so as to stay competitive for an Ivy.

Even if your school doesn’t rank, you must know where your GPA falls within your class, no? If not, ask your GC, look at your HS ‘School Profile’, and/or look at Naviance/Scoir if your school uses one of those. Most school profiles have a median GPA or a mid 50% range for GPAs, and Naviance/Scoir will show you admission data by GPA for each school where students from your HS have applied.

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Agree w/ @Mwfan1921 - you can see who the students are that go to top schools- and know something about what their overall package is like, b/c as @skieurope pointed out, there is no magic # and it’s not even the most important metric. Your GC can tell you what it takes for the ‘most rigorous’ box to be ticked.

In the meantime, read this: Applying Sideways | MIT Admissions


@Gleaf Just in terms of the number of APs to take at a “top rigorous HS in the Northeast area where 15-20 kids go to Ivies” you need enough APs for a) your GC to check the “most” rigorous box to describe your transcript and b) to show that you’re clearly one of those top 15-20 kids in your year when it comes time to apply to colleges.

You’ll also need to excel in the other aspects of your application. GPA, standardized tests - of course including the AP exams for those AP classes you’re concerned about, ECs, etc.

Even then, there are certainly no guarantees when applying to single-digit-acceptance rate schools.

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[quote=“Gleaf, post:3, topic:3535287”]
How many APs (minimum) should a student take to increase his/her chances of getting in to an Ivy [/quote]

“What is the minimum I can do and get away with and still get in” is a dangerous strategy. It’s also not popular with the Ivies.

I don’t think that’s what the OP meant. I think they were trying to avoid asking, “I just finished freshman year and I took no AO classes. Am I screwed?”


Yes, exactly. Thanks. The idea is not to do the bare minimum.

no one here wants to answer your question since we are all so enamored by the holistic admissions nonsense. UCLA comes out and says it in their admitted student profile that to be in the bottom 25 percentile you need about 8-10 AP/honors classes.

My guess is that ivies like Cornell may be similar…this is for all 4 years. But you cannot take AP/Hons and then get a C in it. Minimum would be A and if AP - the score should be 4 or 5.

So in my opinion 2, 3 and 4 would be a ideal combo - 2 in sophomore, 3 in junior and 4 in senior year. just my opinion…

of course all this assumes that you not a world class athlete, musician or a sought after thespian - which almost no one on this forum is

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@Gleaf note also, Dartmouth no longer gives course credit for AP classes/test scores.

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@suhel_d, this is very helpful. When top schools give very specific information like that it does give a baseline of what is required, and gives a better idea whether or not to apply at all.
When you said 2 in Sophomore, did you mean 2 APs or 2 with a combo of AP and Honors?

While it no longer gives credit against the number of courses needed to graduate, it still gives subject credit and advanced placement for some AP scores:

Apples and oranges. The UCLA data includes honors courses, which is not the OP’s question. And UCLA, like all UCs, recalculated GPA, so every CA student aspiring to UCLA and UCB will rack up as many honors courses as they can.


Neither does Harvard, but one still wants to take rigorous courses in HS if targeting these colleges, some of which may be AP. And as noted, even without credit, it can still be used for placement and for foreign language exemption.

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The 25th-75th percentile number of semesters of honors courses for UCLA admits is 19-30 (or 9.5-15 full year course equivalents).

However, while “honors” in this context includes AP courses, not all courses counted as “honors” are AP courses, so it would be a mistake to say that UCLA frosh admits tend to have had 9.5-15 AP courses. Common examples of non-AP honors courses include honors versions of precalculus or foreign language level 3 or higher that some high schools offer.

Also, transferable college courses taken while in high school also count as “honors” for frosh admission purposes.

University of California A-G Course List lists what courses at California high schools are considered “honors” by UCs.

there is no clear answer to his question - we are all trying to come up some approx yardstick. Which is much better than saying apply to the college you love … sick