National Council for Geographic Education

Ninth graders and AP® Human Geography Top Ten List

Recruiting AP Students
By Sharon Shelerud

 This column looks at the characteristics of successful AP students.  If you have any suggestions for future columns, please contact Sharon Shelerud at

It’s that time of year when students are registering for classes for next year.  If your school/district offers AP Human Geography to ninth graders, the biggest questions being asked are, “What students should sign up for AP Human Geography?”  “How can we best predict who will succeed in a college level class at this age?”  Three years ago my administration was asking me those questions.  They wanted to include as many students as possible to the course, but also wanted to make sure students had the “right stuff” to succeed. 

I searched the internet for the answer, and luckily came across a list of the top ten characteristics of successful AP students.  Since then, I have used this list to advise guidance counselors, parents and students themselves.  I want to thank Braden River High School for creating this list and for a giving me permission to share it with all of you.

I have listed these characteristics in the order I have found them most helpful in predicting success in my AP course.  You may find the order changes for you, but I think you will find this helpful when trying to determine who should take your AP course.

AP Human Geography Top Ten List

1. Maintains excellent work ethic

2. Practices superior time management skills

3. Communicates clearly and properly in writing

4. Reads well above grade level (if not 12+)

5. Has academic curiosity for the subject matter

6. Is mature and responsible

7. Has drive and determination

8. Sees challenge as an opportunity for growth

9. Is involved in extracurricular activities

10. Speaks with confidence