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AP vs. Dual Enrollment Classes: What's the Difference?

Dual enrollment classes and AP classes are similar--but they're not the same. Here are some of the major differences.

Throughout high school two unique types of advanced classes tend to pop up: dual enrollment classes and AP classes. Although these two types of classes are similar—they’re both similar to honors-level classes and they both require a great deal of time and effort—they definitely aren’t the same. But not everyone knows what truly sets them apart. Here are some of the major differences between AP and dual enrollment classes.

AP classes

AP classes are college-level classes taught to prepare you for AP tests, which you take at the end of the school year to earn college credit and/or “advanced placement” (hence, “AP”). The AP exam has two parts: a multiple-choice section and an essay portion that will be added together to determine your score on a scale of 1 to 5. Usually, you must get a score of 3 or higher to gain college credit. These classes require a substantial amount of writing as well as reading chapters from a textbook.

Related: Should I take AP tests?

Dual enrollment classes

A dual enrollment class is also a college-level class given at a high school, but it counts for both college and high school credit. Unlike in 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 earn a grade of C or higher in the class. That being said, dual enrollment classes are not easy. The writing requires an in-depth analysis of subject matter, and many pages of writing are required each semester. The texts and chapters you will be required to read may even be longer than those in AP classes.

Related: 5 Reasons to Consider Dual Enrollment

You can do it!

Even though dual enrollment classes and AP classes are tough, as long as you work hard and get help if you need it, passing them is totally within your reach. Also, if you decide not to take either type of class, that doesn’t mean you aren’t ready for college or you aren’t smart enough. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to meet such high expectations, and that’s okay (as long as you’re challenging yourself in your high school classes overall, because that’s the most important thing to college admission officers). But now that you know a little more about AP and dual enrollment classes, it will be easier to choose which one is right for you to take in high school.

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About Caroline Potts

My name is Caroline Potts. Basically I'm just a small town 16-year-old girl with big hopes for the future. My love of reading really fueled my passion to write, and although I want to be major in archaeology, I would like to write books as well. I love to travel—there is so much of the world to see than just the United states! Basically, I'm your typical shy, quiet, reading nerd.


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