What are the Differences Between Normal, AP and Honors Classes?

At a very basic level, the differences between Regular, AP and Honors classes are:

 Regular ClassesAP ClassesHonors Classes
Can it Count for College Credit?NoYesNo
More or Less Rigorous?LessMoreMore
Counts Toward Final High School Transcript?YesYesYes
Impressive to College Admissions?A 4.0 is always impressive to all types of colleges!More impressive to out-of-state or private schools.More impressive to in-state colleges.

In addition to the guide below, our Everything Guide to AP Courses Online can help you decide if an honors vs AP class is right for you, and fill you in on everything you’re missing.

A Helpful Guide to Standard High School Classes

Standard classes may not be advanced placement, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. There’s a common misconception that students enrolled in regular high school courses aren’t as smart as those in advanced placement, but this isn’t true.

The decision to take regular or advanced placement classes is a personal choice and has nothing to do with intelligence. Students who stick to the normal high school curriculum tend to be:

  • Interested in joining the workforce straight out of school.
  • Planning on entering an apprenticeship after graduation. 
  • Applying to less strict universities & colleges. 
  • Waiting to take college level courses until they feel ready. 

What you do with your classes and how you build your schedule determines your success – not if you’ve chosen to take on advanced placement classes or not.

What is the Difference Between AP and Honors Classes?

QuestionsAP CoursesHonors Classes
What are the Course Requirements?Anyone can Sign up!Usually Requires a Teacher’s Recommendation.
What are its Advantages?Can Earn Students Real College Credit!Looks Impressive on a College Resume.
Which is Better for Future College Students?Better for Students Applying to Elite & Out of State Colleges.Better for Students Applying to In-State Schools like the University of Wisconsin system.
Who Develops the Curriculum?The College Board.Varies between The State of Wisconsin, Teachers, & Department Heads.
Which is Harder?Both are more challenging than regular classes, but AP tends to require more work.

Is it better to take honors courses before advanced placement?

If you’re wondering whether you should be enrolling in a honors vs AP course, it’s hard to make the decision without knowing the difference between AP and honors. For some, the Advanced Placement program seems like the king of classes, but depending on your skill set and who is teaching courses, being in an honors class can sometimes equate to a more challenging experience than being an AP student. 

Like many of the decisions you make in high school, choosing to enroll in an honors vs AP class mainly has to do with your future. Where do you see yourself in four years? Are you chasing after an education from a highly reputable university? Perhaps you’re interested in saving money by attending a community college?

Whatever your outlook is, both honors and AP courses can only help your GPA and high school transcript. If you are looking for AP courses online such as an AP Computer Science online course or an AP Psychology online course, eAchieve makes it easy. View our course list offered for each grade. 

Deciding on which to sign up for really comes down to whether or not you’re interested in earning free college credit. If you need more information, contact eAchieve Academy to speak with one of our admissions counselors.

Which is better?

Doing poorly in an AP class or succeeding in a regular high school course?

We get this question all the time. Many students are scared of switching to the Advanced Placement program out of fear they won’t do as well. Many students just stick to regular high school classes because they think an “A” in standard English will reflect better on them than a B in AP English, but what’s the truth? When you sign up for AP courses, is there any flexibility or are students somehow required to perform perfectly?


Are you an “A-student”? If so, you may want to make the switch to an AP course. An “A” in regular science shows you may have worked hard, but earning a “B” in AP Chemistry may be more impressive.

While its not a perfect “A,” Advanced Placement courses require you to work for the grade. You can’t slide by and get a “C” without applying yourself to the AP subject.

So, which is better? It depends on how you are already performing in regular high school classes. If you are a “C” or lower student, it may be better to wait to take college level courses.

Building your online high school schedule

Which classes should I take before graduating?

Wisconsin school districts require students achieve 22 credits to graduate from high school, but in-between the mandatory courses there is still room for fun! The average high school student is expected to complete 4 credits in English, 3 credits in Math, 3 credits in Science, 3.5 credits in Social Studies, .5 credits in Health, .5 credits in PE, 1 credit in Service Learning, and 6.5 credits in Electives. There are a number of online high school classes available at eAchieve Academy that count as electives, including: 

Building your high school class schedule is easy when you attend eAchieve Academy. We help you every step of the way to ensure you graduate on time from our virtual academy. Want to fit in something extra? Looking for an alternative path? Any questions you have, we can find the answer. Online high school is all about flexibility, and with eAchieve Academy it’s easy to work out a curriculum and schedule that works for you.

Normal High School classes colleges look for

How to impress college admissions officers

The best way to choose high school classes is to target courses colleges regularly look for. After all, not just Advanced Placement students apply to UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison. When you’re constructing your schedule for next semester, there are a number of classes you should be keeping an eye on because universities are, too: 

Standing out without switching to AP classes doesn’t mean you have to be the best of the best. As long as you show colleges you’ve challenged yourself and have done well in the courses and programs you’ve enrolled in, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be accepted to state college or universities. Switching to online high school is a reassuring decision with eAchieve Academy. Our pace charts help keep you on track, making it easy to build the high school transcript you want to apply to colleges with.

If I sign up for AP courses online, which ones should I take?

Advanced Placement classes are more difficult than standard high school classes. Choosing the right ones for you not only depends on your interests, but what field of study you plan on going into once you’ve graduated. Some college majors our advanced placement students consider are: 

At eAchieve Academy, we work to make sure you’re matched with the classes that suit you best. If math isn’t your strong suit, its probably best to avoid the Advanced Placement math program – even if you’re focused on boosting your GPA. Not everyone can handle the pressure of AP courses in high school, but if you think you’re ready, choose your classes wisely.

Are Advanced Placement classes really college level?

Wisconsin Myths: “AP examples are a scam by the college board”

Around the same time AP classes were implemented in high schools around Wisconsin, students and parents were given a lot of real and fake information. Some misinformation still swirling around today is that “AP courses are a scam by the college board.” Much like any conspiracy theory, it was based on a few whispered fears around the state. Rest assured, eAchieve Academy AP classes are really college level. 

Where’s the Proof? 

During the duration of your time in any AP course, you’re working towards one thing: finals. At the end of every Advanced Placement class, you have the opportunity to take a final exam. If you score 4 or 5, your results could earn you FREE COLLEGE CREDITS – an achievement you couldn’t reach unless AP classes really were college level. In Wisconsin, AP classes are offered to give high school students the opportunity to save money on college credits, but you don’t just get them – you have to earn them! 

Figure out how AP weighing really works!

How high of a GPA can students get if they take all AP classes?

As long as you do well in Advanced Placement courses, they definitely do boost your GPA. AP classes are usually weighted by an increase in one point. In other words, the normal GPA scale ranges from 0 to 4, while the AP scale ranges from 0 to 5. A high letter grade in an AP course will no doubt give your GPA a higher rating than it would if you were in a regular class. For instance, a B in an AP class is equivalent to an A in a regular class. Not only does this give you an idea of how advanced classes are weighted, but it gives students an idea of what college will be like, too. 

AP classes are weighted differently because they’re more difficult. 

The best time to start taking college level courses is BEFORE you’re paying for them. College can be a trying time simply because of the curriculum. Students who do well in college are prepared for the increase in difficulty – a change many experienced before setting foot on university grounds, thanks to AP classes. You will have a much better idea of what college is like so you can start preparing a better way of studying before it starts costing you.

eAchieve Academy can help guide you towards your desired college major. Explore what AP courses we recommend for Pre Med students, Business majors, Engineering and more in our blog: Choose the Best AP Courses Based on your College and Career Goals.