High school students heading to college often bolster their records — and GPAs — with AP classes but the rate of participation in the Bay Area varies dramatically by county.

Advanced Placement, or AP, classes offer many benefits to students; an A counts for five points when calculating GPA rather than four, and many colleges accept a high enough score on the course-ending AP test as credit for a corresponding course.

However, not all students take AP courses. They’re much more difficult so students often opt for standard courses, and many schools don’t have the staffing to even offer AP classes. Accordingly, participation in AP tests among 10th through 12th graders varies by 20 percent across the Bay Area.

1
#1. Santa Clara – 38.07% of students take AP courses
2
#2. Marin – 36.44% of students take AP courses
3
#3. San Francisco – 34.07% of students take AP courses
4
#4. Alameda – 30.38% of students take AP courses
5
#5. San Mateo – 29.21% of students take AP courses
6
#6. Contra Costa – 28.22% of students take AP courses
7
#7. Napa – 23.30% of students take AP courses
8
#8. Solano – 18.98% of students take AP courses
9
#9. Sonoma – 18.75% of students take AP courses

#1. Santa Clara

38.07%

#2. Marin

36.44%

#3. San Francisco

34.07%

#4. Alameda

30.38%

#5. San Mateo

29.21%

#6. Contra Costa

28.22%

#7. Napa

23.30%

#8. Solano

18.98%

#9. Sonoma

18.75%

Urban counties like Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Alameda, and wealthy Marin, lead the way with participation rates over 30 percent. Suburban counties San Mateo and Contra Costa both have rates above the statewide rate of 25.62 percent.

Source: California Department of Education