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What's the Difference Between AP and Dual Enrollment Classes?

Dual enrollment classes and AP classes are similar, but they're not the same. Here are some of the major differences from a student who's been there.

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CollegeXpress Student Writer
In high school, two unique types of advanced classes are common: dual enrollment classes and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. They’re both similar to honors-level classes and require a great deal of time and effort, but they definitely aren’t the same. Here's a quick list of some of the major differences between AP and dual enrollment classes.

AP courses:

  • AP courses are college-level classes taught at your high school.
  • At the end of the school year, you take an exam to earn college credit and/or “advanced placement” to skip entry-level courses when you get to college.
  • AP exams have two parts: a multiple-choice section and an essay portion.
  • The two parts are added together to determine your score on a scale of 1–5.
  • Usually, a score of 3 or higher is required to earn college credit.
  • AP classes require a substantial amount of writing as well as textbook reading.

Dual enrollment classes:

  • A dual enrollment course is a college-level class that can be taught at a high school or on a college campus.
  • It counts for both college and high school credit, which transfers to whatever college you attend later and goes on your permanent college transcripts. 
  • These courses are delivered in a college-level format and give you a glimpse of what to expect from college classes.
  • Unlike AP classes, you don’t need to take an exam at the end of the year to gain college credit, but you do need to pass the class with a grade of C or higher.
  • Dual enrollment classes are not easy, as the assignments require in-depth analysis of the subject matter, and many pages of writing are required each semester.
  • The texts and chapters you'll be required to read may even be longer than those in AP classes.

Even though dual enrollment and AP classes are both tough, as long as you work hard and get help if you need it, passing them is totally within your reach. Now that you know a little more about AP and dual enrollment options, it will be easier to choose which one is right for you to take in high school.

If you're leaning more toward taking dual enrollment courses, check out our blog How to Get Ahead in High School With Dual Enrollment Credit to learn how to get started.

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