What is the difference between AP and Honors?

    An honors course is a more challenging course in a given subject area which earns the student an extra point toward her/his GPA is s/he earns a C or higher grade.  The course content is determined by the instructor and it may offer more depth or more breadth, or another alternative assignment, that is more rigorous in nature than the standard curriculum.

    Honors courses do not earn you college credit, however they still have benefits. They are more difficult and your willingness to challenge yourself by taking them and earning high grades this will be viewed in a positive light by colleges.  You should consider taking honors courses in a subject area that you have a specific interest or aptitude for – not just to get the GPA boost.


    An AP course is a college level course taught on the high school campus.  The College Board (which administers the PSAT and SAT exams), also administers the AP program. AP courses use a standard curriculum tied to a comprehensive final examination. More than 1,400 U.S. colleges grant up to a full year's credit to students who earn high scores on AP exams.

    Aside from earning college credit, Drake offers weighted grades for AP classes. AP courses provide an opportunity for students to earn college credits early (some colleges give credit for AP courses) and demonstrate a willingness to take on a challenge.  They also demonstrate to colleges how a student will perform in a demanding academic atmosphere.

    The Test

    AP exams are offered once a year in May. The tests are two to three hours long and consist of multiple-choice and essay questions. Grading is done on a 1-5 scale, with a 3 being the lowest competent score. A 3 does not guarantee college credit; that depends on whether the college you attend offers AP credit in that subject area and what their minimum required score is.  Many of the top schools require scores of 4 or 5 to place out of difficult courses.


    A note about the test: Colleges prefer that students who take AP courses also take the exams.

    Ms Souder’s Advice to Students and Parents


    Students and parents should have an open discussion about the rationale for taking on these higher level classes.  Choices to take on an AP or Honors class based on student interest or a specific aptitude generally result in greater success (fantastic!).  Choices based upon a boost in GPA generally result in greater stress for students (argh!). 

    My advice is to always strive for excellence and take a challenging curriculum: the most rigorous (AP/honors) classes you can take - without overburdening yourself.  Take into consideration the fact that 24 hour days are often chock full of other activities: dance class, drama rehearsal, saxophone practice, athletic competition, trips to the yogurt shop with friends, reading poetry for fun, walking the family dog, biking with your little sister, etc.  Those are all important components of a successful teenage life.  Try to figure out what is IMPORTANT to you, what is a priority in terms of college planning, and what is reasonable to accomplish in your 24 hour day.
    Remember that you are still a young adult with years to live and learn.  You do  NOT have to pack it all into your junior or senior year.  Save some energy for college and plan some joy into each day of your life now.

    Once you have some ideas of which classes you want to take and have been admitted for next school year, students will need to see Ms Souder to review a week in your life with the inclusion of these courses.  Complete a Time Management Worksheet and discuss your work, play, and athletic load (as well as time for sleep) prior to finalizing decisions.  It is wise to consider all of the things you love to do when making decisions.  It is not wise to take such a heavy academic load that you forego time with your family or time to sleep.


    This AP/Honors Matrix is updated regularly by the Principal's office.  Please review, check important criteria and dates, and e-mail me if you have any questions.


    Last updated on 12/04/2019 by Sheila R Souder.