10 Potential APs to Take for Engineering

Thinking about pursuing a career in engineering? Well, you don't have to wait until college before you start preparing!

Today's blog post will provide you with the AP (Advanced Placement) classes that you should be taking while in high school in order to set yourself up for a successful acceptance at a competitive college with a well-known engineering program.

10 AP Classes to Take for Engineering

In general, you should be aiming to enroll in the math and science APs that are offered at your high school. Depending on the type of engineering that you want to pursue, it will vary on what particular math or sciences you should sign up for.

AP Calculus

There are 2 types of AP Calculus courses that you can enroll in, AB or BC. Both are designed to be college-level calculus classes. In order to take either, the standard pre-requisite for both AB and BC is Pre-Calculus.

You have three potential options when it comes to AP Calculus:

  1. Take AB and BC Calculus as a sequence

  2. Take AB Calculus

  3. Skip AB and go directly to BC Calculus

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AP Calculus AB vs BC

While both courses introduce students to the fundamental concepts of calculus, there are notable differences between them in terms of content coverage and depth. Below are the main distinctions:

Scope of Content

AP Calculus AB provides a comprehensive introduction to calculus, covering topics such as limits, derivatives, and integrals. It focuses on single-variable calculus, emphasizing concepts like rates of change, differentiation, and basic integration techniques. AP Calculus BC, on the other hand, encompasses all the topics covered in AB but also introduces additional topics, such as parametric equations, polar coordinates, infinite series, and more advanced integration techniques.

Rigor and Pace

AP Calculus BC is generally considered more challenging and fast-paced than AB. BC covers a significant amount of additional content, which means that the pace of instruction may be quicker, and the depth of understanding required is greater. AB, while still demanding, provides a more manageable pace for students who prefer a slightly slower approach to learning calculus.

College Credit

Both AP Calculus AB and BC can earn you college credit if you perform well on the corresponding AP exam. However, different colleges and universities have different policies regarding how they grant credit for these courses. Some institutions may offer credit for both AB and BC, while others may only grant credit for BC or give more credit for BC due to its broader coverage and increased depth.

Future Course Placement

Taking AP Calculus BC can potentially qualify you for higher-level college math courses, allowing you to start at a more advanced level. It may also help you fulfill prerequisite requirements for certain majors, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. AP Calculus AB provides a solid foundation in calculus and can still fulfill introductory calculus requirements at many colleges and universities.

Topics Covered in AP Calculus AB and BC Exams

  • Limits and Continuity

  • Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties

  • Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions

  • Contextual Applications of Differentiation

  • Analytical Applications of Differentiation

  • Integration and Accumulation of Change *

  • Differential Equations *

  • Applications of Integration *

  • Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Valued Functions (BC ONLY)

  • Infinite Sequences and Series (BC ONLY)

AP Physics

AP Physics 1: Algebra-based

This AP is an algebra-based, introductory, college-level physics course. It is designed so that any student can take the class without any prior physics knowledge or experience.

However, it is generally recommended that students have a strong foundation in algebra and basic trigonometry before taking the course. The course assumes a solid understanding of fundamental mathematical concepts such as solving equations, graphing functions, and working with vectors.

Topics covered in AP Physics 1

  • Kinematics

  • Dynamics

  • Circular motion and gravitation

  • Energy

  • Momentum

  • Simple harmonic motion

  • Torque and rotational motion

AP Physics 2: Algebra-based

Physics 2 is intended to be a second-year physics course, meaning it should ideally be taken after Physics 1 or any other first-year physics course. You should have taken or been concurrently taking Pre-Calculus or an equivalent class.

Topics covered in AP Physics 2

  • Fluids

  • Thermodynamics

  • Electrical force, field, and potential

  • Electric circuits

  • Magnetism and electromagnetic induction

  • Geometric and physical optics

  • Quantum, atomic, and nuclear physics

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is a calculus-based, college introductory-level physics course especially suitable for students intending on specializing in physical science or engineering.

It is highly recommended that you take this AP as a second-year physics class. You will need to have a solid understanding of important physical principles prior to taking the more analytical approach in this AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism course. You should have taken or are simultaneously taking Calculus.

Topics Covered in AP Physics C: Mechanics

  • Electrostatics

  • Conductors, capacitors, and dielectrics

  • Electric circuits

  • Magnetic field

  • Electromagnetism

AP Physics C: Mechanics

Similar to Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, AP Physics C: Mechanics is also strongly advised to be taken as a second-year physics course. The prerequisite is also Calculus and it is recommended that you have a complete grasp of a first-year physics course before taking the analytic approach necessary for Physics C: Mechanics.

Topics Covered in AP Physics C: Mechanics

  • Kinematics

  • Newton's laws of motion

  • Work, energy, and power

  • Systems of particles and linear momentum

  • Circular motion and rotation

  • Oscillations

  • Gravitation

AP Computer Science

If you plan to pursue a computer science degree for engineering, these are some highly recommended classes that focus primarily on this career path.

Students are free to take either course in any order.

AP Computer Science A

This class will introduce student learners that are interested in computer science through programming.

It is designed to be a first-year college course in computer science. It is highly recommended that you have successfully completed a first-year high school algebra class prior to attempting this AP program. Students should solidify their mathematical reasoning foundations if they wish to succeed in this course.

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Topics Covered in AP Computer Science A

  • Design of solutions to problems

  • Use of data structures to organize large sets of data

  • Development and implementation of algorithms to process data and discover new info

  • Analysis of potential solutions

  • Ethical and social implications of computing systems

You will concentrate a large portion of your learning on object-oriented programming and design using the Java programming language.

AP Computer Science Principles

The AP Computer Science Principles course will concentrate primarily on the computing skills related to programming in Java. It supplements Computer Science A by teaching the fundamental concepts of computer science in hopes of broadening participation in computer science studies.

The class is aimed to be equivalent to a first-year college computing course. You are suggested to have completed the same pre-requisites mentioned for AP Computer Science A.

Topics Covered in AP Computer Science Principles

  • Working with data

  • Collaborating to solve problems

  • Developing computer programs as you explore concepts like creativity, abstraction, data and information, algorithms, programming, the internet, and the global impact of computing

AP Sciences

AP Chemistry

The majority of engineering students will be required to take a basic chemistry course during college, even if they decide to pursue a degree outside of chemical engineering.

By taking AP Chemistry during high school, you will develop a solid understanding of the concepts and challenge you academically.

AP Chemistry will provide you with a college-level foundation to support the future advanced coursework you will be taking in college. It is equivalent to the general chemistry course typically taken during the first year of college.

You should have successfully completed a general high school chemistry course and Algebra II prior to enrolling in this AP class.

Topics Covered in AP Chemistry

  • Atomic structure

  • Intermolecular forces and bonding

  • Chemical reactions

  • Kinetics

  • Thermodynamics

  • Equilibrium

AP Biology

If you are interested in environmental engineering, this could be a potential course for you to think about.

As most universities will require one or two science courses as general education, you could be completing a general-education requirement along with your environmental engineering conditions.

AP Biology is an introductory college-level biology class where students will learning to develop their understanding of biology.

The AP Biology course is equivalent to a second-year college-level biology course. As such, students should have pre-requisites completed for high school biology and chemistry.

Topics Covered in AP Biology

  • Evolution

  • Cellular processes

  • Energy and communication

  • Genetics

  • Information transfer

  • Ecology

  • Interactions

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10 Potential APs to Take for Engineering
7EDU Impact Academy 25 May, 2023
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