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What are Honors Classes In High School?

What is an Honors class?

Honors classes are generally more challenging and proceed at a faster pace than normal classes. These classes are academically more rigorous and require extra efforts from the students. Although these classes are not necessary for everyone, yet there are for those students who excel in their studies.

Moreover, Honors classes are usually more helpful for college admissions and further studies and can be very beneficial to secure scholarships.

Honors classes help your college application to stand out amongst all other applicants as they are a proof of academic excellence. Honors classes are available to students during their entire period in high school and are not limited to specific subjects.

Honors classes cover almost the same curriculum as the regular classes but the difference is in their delivery and the insight they offer. Honors classes are more time taking, require extra effort and that is why are considered as decisive factors in your college application. So, if you’re looking for an early head start on your college application, honors classes are your way to go.

This article will explain in detail all that you need to know about Honors classes.

What is the difference between an Honors class and AP class?

Sometimes, students tend to confuse Honors classes with AP classes. Although both are academically challenging, yet there are major differences that exist between them both. It is generally perceived that Honors classes are more tough and rigorous but in reality, AP classes are even more tough as they also let you earn college credits and require you to pass an exam set by the high school board.

AP classes can be passed by taking an exam in the Spring. In this case, the AP classes are more like the general classes except they are require more studying and reading. But the good thing about them is that AP classes also help you in the future by giving college credits which can be claimed later when you join the college. Most schools require students to pass the AP exams with a score of 3 or above to earn college credits while in some school, the desired college credits can be earned by scoring 4 or higher from a maximum score of 5.

On the other hand, honors classes are also tough in academics but are usually flexible as you don’t have to clear any exam. In addition, honors classes do not offer any college credits like AP classes. Students can take honors classes on any course as there is no standardization. Honors classes are usually for students to show more academic motivation.

High School Honors classes VS College Honors classes

Honors classes in High School and those in College are vastly different in their nature and execution. Honors classes in High school are more stressing on the course work and they require much more time and efforts by students. But honors classes in college are more student centric.

It means that college honors classes are more diverse and provide more opportunities to students. College Honors classes are more open for students to develop their own set of ideas and innovative studies. These classes are meant to create an open environment for students to develop their independent thinking by inter-disciplinary coursework and students are encouraged to maintain one-on-one interaction with professors.

Why you should take Honors classes?

A little extra won’t affect your regular studies if you do it right. Same is the case with Honors classes. If you take honors classes diligently and in a right manner, they will be very helpful for your future prospects such as securing an admission at your desired college or even get a scholarship, for that matter.

Many students ask whether honors classes affect your GPA. That depends on the weighted system of your school. Generally, most schools have a weighted GPA scale where you can score out of 4. Honors classes or AP classes are not included in the overall weightage of results but these classes can help you in improving your college prospects. If you have taken honors classes and are applying for a scholarship, it will not have any impact on your GPA but it will definitely improve your chances since honors classes or AP classes are considered more impressive than normal classes.

If you take honors classes in your high school, it also makes the transition easier when you go to college. You will already be accustomed with increased workload and your time management skills would already be better. If you have taken honors classes on a specific subject, that will give you an advanced observation of that very subject thus making it easy for you to choose a major. Moreover, students who take honors classes are received well by colleges due to their advance resilience.


How can you enroll yourself in an Honors class?

The best and most obvious place to get information about honors classes in the student counsellor or adviser. Every school has set requisitions which must be met before you can enroll in an honors class. Generally, you will need to maintain a specific GPA in order to get into an honors class.

Schools have a set standard about when and how a student is eligible to get into an honors class. In other case, you may need to complete a project of some sort to show that you are ready to take the extra coursework required to get into honors class. Schools require that a student show maximum aptitude before he/she is enrolled in an honors class.

How do Honors classes impact your chances for college admission?

College would always prefer those students who show an extra effort in their academics and who are more likely to bear the workload in college. Therefore, taking honors classes in high school impact your college application in many ways. While considering a student for admission, college look at the curriculum strength of the student.

If a student has taken extra honors classes or AP classes, it will increase their chances as compared to students who have only taken normal classes. In addition, if you have honors classes on your transcript, it can also help you in places where there are limited spots available. So, students with more academic achievement through honors classes will succeed in getting admission.

Skills you should have for Honors classes

Like any normal class, you need to have basic cognitive skills required for learning. The thing that separates honors classes from normal classes is not any specific skills that come beforehand but skills that you can shape and learn while enrolling in an honors class.

In general, you should have good time management skills to handle the extra work that comes with honors classes.

Honors classes are usually fast paced so you should have good organizational skills plus good note-taking skills in order to not lack behind. Honors classes require an independent thought process so you should be ready to take independent ideas.

Since there is no restriction on any course, you should have initiative skills to explore different subjects which can help you in the longer run.

How many Honors classes should you take?

Taking many honors classes at once can be tempting but this is also a very objective choice so you should weigh in all your options before making any final decision. Like explained earlier, colleges appreciate students who take an extra step to increase their academic strength but at the same time, your honors classes should not affect your regular coursework which is the basic requirement you need to clear.

Therefore, a good judgement is very important while choosing how many honors classes you can take without affecting your regular studies. Colleges do not require students who are ‘Mr. Know-it-all’ but they prefer students who have ability to excel when push comes to the shove. You can talk to the student advisor and they can provide a valuable counsel on how many honors classes you should take.


Remember success cannot and will not come through any shortcuts. So, you should be always prepared for the any kind of situation. Honors classes are a great way to accumulate an early academic strength and avail any opportunity that comes to improve your chances for college. But at the same time, remember your future plans and align them with the situation.

In this way, you will have ample opportunities to have the best outcome out of any situation. Good luck with your choices !

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