AP v. Honors

The differences between weighted classes


Lucas Ludwig

A student schedule with AP and honors classes.

With rising competition to get into colleges, students need ways to have themselves be noticed. Students could participate in extracurricular programs, volunteer or work on their talents, but the most common way students have themselves seen is through higher-level classes.

In order to pass and earn college credit in these high-level classes, or Advanced Placement (AP) classes, students may need to spend extra hours studying and must obtain certain scores on exams given by the College Board, an organization that represents over six thousand of the world’s leading colleges and educational programs.

Students also have the opportunity to take college-level courses by taking other weighted classes, including Pre-AP and those with honors labels. While the differences between the two may seem small, they are still present.

Several schools offer AP classes as the highest level of education for students. AP classes are available for nearly every subject. They allow students to earn college credit before ever setting foot on a college campus, according to collegeboard.com. To get into AP classes, students are recommended to take weighted or Pre-AP classes first to get a taste of the workload. Being just under AP classes on the scale of education, honors classes offer a more generalized experience for students as well as teachers when compared to AP.

“Teaching an AP class is different from a Pre-AP class because the skill level is higher,” AP World History teacher Kayla Rodgers said. “AP classes require a higher skill level for writing and thinking. Those ideas are new in AP. I am teaching the content, which is higher level than Pre-AP, and the skills to go along with passing the class.”

Although both classes are designed for individuals with higher-level thinking, challenges still occur when teaching both AP and honors content to students.

“Stretching the students and getting them to grow academically is the biggest challenge,” Pre-AP English II teacher Brenda Bohr said. “Students come in already advanced, but I need to grow them to be prepared for AP classes.”

Using what was taught in weighted classes, AP teachers may struggle when it comes to new knowledge.
“No matter what the AP subject is, some students may struggle with either the content knowledge or the skills,” Rodgers said. “They might get frustrated because the content does not come as easily to them as it had in the past. Helping students overcome those difficulties and frustrations is challenging but rewarding.”

For students, honors classes can offer benefits and challenges. Those who have just entered high school and are in honors classes experience different situations than those who are older and are in AP classes.

“In my Pre-AP class, the biggest change is studying,” freshman Aidan Duepner said. “You have to study more than in other classes because you are teaching yourself more material.”

While things may seem one way for new students, upperclassmen see them from another angle.

“In an AP class, the workload is higher and more challenging,” junior Jane Singsaas said. “However, AP classes can seem more laid back because Pre-AP classes had you preparing for AP.”

In regards to passing classes, AP and honors classes require contrasting habits.

“I play hockey, but I can study before, during or after class,” Duepner said. “I like to study in school the day I learned it, so it is fresh in my mind.”

In AP classes, students are required to think outside the box when it comes to making time for studying.

“Whenever I take a Pre-AP class and then switch to an AP class, the AP class is different because you learn more and in more detail,” Singsaas said. “You have to devote more time to an AP class because of that. If you want to get a good grade in the class, you need to study.”