Studying for Competition or Subject Test/AP

For some context: My school does not offer any AP’s. The history courses are still regarded as rigorous, they are just based on research/writing, not memorizing information. I want to major in History, and am looking for all ways possible to show strength in this subject

I have some free time this year, and have already finished subject tests in U.S. History and Math 2. Should I spend this time self-studying for AP World History + World History Subject Test, or spend it studying for a History competition I am considering doing.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Are you taking the AP class?

If so, I’d prioritize the AP test and the competition.

A third Subject Test will not be useful (assuming decent scores), even for the few schools that will consider them. And for most schools, the ST scores won’t matter at all.

If you’re not taking the class, an AP score likely won’t mean much, if anything, for admissions. If you plan to use it for advanced placement/credit, then the advice above is the same. If not, the competition, assuming it’s meaningful, would be my recommendation.

I would be taking it w/o the class. I’m just looking for more ways to take rigorous coursework in history (specifically coursework). Do you have any suggestions to how I could go about doing that?


If you are applying to UK / international unis for History, then yes, self-study for US/Euro/World/Comp Gov type APs.

If you are in a competitive BS, and are applying to highly competitive colleges, they already know what they need to know about rigor.

If you are trying to demonstrate serious interest beyond the classroom (for UK or US unis), then ECs will do that better.

Self-studying for an AP exam won’t be considered taking rigorous coursework as there is no coursework.

The mechanics of attending class, reading, taking quizzes and tests, doing homework, completing projects, and getting graded on all of it is considered much, much more meaningful to colleges that studying for one three-hour test.

@collegemom3717 my school offers some interesting electives in history which I’m taking, and I am very happy and involved with the EC’s that I do. I just want to pursue excellence in history in any way possible, and feel that perhaps I could use more strength in my academics?? Perhaps I am greatly overthinking this, but thanks for the advice!

Then swotting up for APs is not the way to go about it. The tutors at Oxford and Cambridge recommend reading widely in areas that are interesting to you, listening to History podcasts / reading journals, etc. Take a look at this: