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Weighing the difference between Honors and AP

Many students have been preparing for next year by filling out their schedule. However, some students  wonder which level of classes they should be taking.

Kelsey Richter

Many students have been preparing for next year by filling out their schedule. However, some students wonder which level of classes they should be taking.

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As the end of the school year approaches, the need for students at PMHS to pick their classes for next year increases. The debate over what to take, whether it being regular, honors, or AP, and which is right for students has been mulled over for years. Advanced Placement (AP) classes, are college level courses that were established by the college board. Towards the end of the year, students have the ability to gain college credits from getting a high score on the AP exam as well as the benefit of taking a class that is weighted. Honors classes are a less rigorous class that, for some schools are also weighted. The type of classes and the classes themselves depend on what the student’s pathway is and what they may want to do to after high school 

AP classes have different benefits for different students. For example, if a student was going into a science field, they might want to take AP science classes so that they have the opportunity to not have to take those classes in college. In order for students to get transferable college credits for most colleges, they need to score high on their AP exam. Scores range from 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. While most colleges only take 5s which means they’ve reached the maximum qualification or 4s which is slightly less. Some colleges may even transfer credit for scores of a 3, meaning that the student has the basic qualification. The downside to AP classes is that the AP exam costs around 100 dollars to take and if a student doesn’t do well then, the credit most likely won’t transfer to their college of choice. An AP class is considered to be a college level class; therefore, the curriculum is a lot less “structured,” and students are required to be responsible enough to keep up with the day to day assignments.  

On the other hand, honors classes are less rigorous classes that students can take that are also weighted as of this year at PMHS. These classes can be the stepping stone between regular and AP classes. If a student isn’t comfortable with taking an AP class, but is more advanced than a regular class, then the honors program can be a perfect fit. The downside to these classes is that students that take honors classes cannot get transferable college credits. However, the appeal of a weighted class can be the reason for why some students take these classes. This means that students can get lower quarter grades that won’t cause their GPA suffer. 

According to Kelly Richardson, the AP World History teacher at Patterson Mill, honors classes are going to “push you but not to the level that an AP class would”. If she was a student nowadays, Richardson stated that she would “probably take AP because if I had the opportunity to earn college credit, and then lessen the load on my parents to pay for college.” Richardson not only teaches AP World, she teaches AP U.S History and is also department chair for Social Studies. Some may support the fact that both honors and AP are weighted the same, Mrs. Richardson is not one of those people, she believes that “kids who step up to take AP classes should get more for it.”. She also thinks that placement tests should be used but shouldn’t be the only thing that’s considered when students get ready to choose their classes. Despite the constant change in the curriculum, Richardson enjoys teaching her AP classes, as well as her regular classes. 

Heather Hartman, one of PMHS’s school counselors, believes that “there is no better class or bad class,” there are just classes that “we want kids to take that are right for them.” For the future of the students, she believes that the student should choose classes that will challenge them to get them to where they want to be. Hartman also believes that when choosing classes, it’s a mix of the student’s interests and what will challenge them. When talking about the stress of the students she sees regarding their classes she responded that, “school in general, if you’re pushing yourself too hard, no matter your level, can cause stress and anxiety.” 

As previously mentioned, honors and AP classes are “weighted”. This means that when students receive their report cards, a student that takes more of these classes may have a GPA above the normal 4.0 than if a student takes only regular classes. This also means that if an honors or AP students receives a B in one of their classes, this can count as the same as an A in a regular class, the same rules apply for Cs, Ds, and Es. Currently both honors and AP classes are weighted and at a 5 while regular classes are at 4. However, there is talk of raising AP classes up 6, to recreate the distinction between the classes. 

Kelsey Richter
Students have been preparing for their upcoming AP exams, as well as choosing their classes for next year. Many have been debating whether or not high rigor classes are worth the stress.

To conclude, honors and AP classes have their own benefits and which to take entirely depends on the student. When choosing classes, students must ask themselves, are you willing to put in the work of honors classes? Or are you willing to be responsible enough to handle the rigor of AP classes? The end of the school year is just around the corner and students need to make sure that they pick classes that are right for them, will help them in the long run, and peak their interests. Students should also talk to their teachers and guidance counselors to get recommendations and advice. However, these classes need to be picked in moderation as to not stress out the student to the point where they are miserable. Students will always have access to a guidance counselor and many other resources to help with their decisions. 

Now that you've finished reading, which class would you take?

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Weighing the difference between Honors and AP