My high school is quite small, less than 200 students, and as a result, our options for AP courses are quite limited due to a very small pool of interest.
And so, I’ve decided to take an AP course on my own! I’m doing AP Psychology and I’ll register to take the AP final through my school, which is a registered testing center, in May with the rest of my AP exams.
Now, there aren’t many courses you can take on your own. Scientific courses, like physics or chemistry, require teachers. They’re quite heavy and demanding, and can be quite stressful for a student learning on their own.
Social science courses and languages are a bit easier to learn independently. History, psychology, geography, and the like.
The most important things when learning a course alone: dedication and practice tests!
Without a teacher to assign deadlines and push forward on tasks, it can be easy to push the workload away in favor of other, more demanding tasks. If you choose to do this on your own, you need to stay focused. Dedication is key.
Another thing you won’t get from a teacher is practice and answers to your questions. You will need to find up to date practice tests from credible sources that give you answers as well so you can check your progress.
The College Board has great resources on their website ( but it can’t hurt to use additional, credible resources.
In terms of learning the actual lessons, edX and Coursera are great online resources. If you’re looking for a textbook, I recommend McGraw Hill’s 5 Steps to a 5 series. They have books for a range of AP courses and some of them come with practice tests, as well as study tips and what to expect from an AP exam.
Deciding to self-study for an AP course is a huge commitment. Do your research, find your materials, and make sure you’re capable. Time management is essential.


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