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Differences between AP, X, H courses explained

English Teacher Sherlyn Reafsnyder has taught freshmen English 1X for the last two years. Photo by Morgan Ham

Though many take advanced classes for more of a challenge, there is a bit of confusion behind the differences between the different labels.

At Bear River High School, there are many differences between X, H, and AP classes, including but not limited to: grade bump, testing, and specific curriculum.

Each type of class tends to correlate with a specific grade level.

“At Bear River, the X is freshmen and sophomore years, H junior year, AP senior year, at least until this next year when the junior class will become AP Language and Composition, while the senior class will remain AP Literature and Composition,” said English Teacher Sherlyn Reafsnyder. “Passing both these classes, and the subsequent AP exams each spring, will exempt the student from both required college-level classes when attending college.”

One of the earliest challenging options students can take is an accelerated class more commonly referred to as an X class.

“An ‘X’ class is an accelerated class, currently offered to freshmen and sophomores,” said English Teacher Sara Noah. “These classes are more faster-paced than the regular sections of English and will include more novels to read as well as more writing assignments and projects.  The goal for these classes is for students to work more independently with more challenging material.”

X classes do not offer a grade bump.

“An X class is a class that is part of a school’s honors track classes but which does NOT have a GPA bump. (i.e., an A receives a 5.0 and a B a 4.0.),” said Mrs. Reafsnyder.

Honors or  “H” classes are commonly offered at Bear River.

“An ‘H’ class is an Honors class, which carries more weight for college and university admission, specifically within the CSUS and UC system,” said Mrs. Noah. “The work is more challenging, there is summer homework to be completed before school starts, and students read a greater variety of novels, plays, and other texts.  We are working to have the sophomore X class changed to an H designation, which involves working with the CSUS/UC curriculum system.”

H courses, unlike X courses, offer a grade bump.

“H courses offer a grade bump so that students who take the course have what is called a weighted GPA, which can add to a potential GPA as more than 4.0,” continued Mrs. Noah. “On a student’s transcript, there will be a section that lists both the weighted and unweighted GPA. Students can only get into an H course by teacher recommendation based on previous work and grades in English.”

Another different type of advanced class offered by Bear River is Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

“An AP course is an Advanced Placement course, which is designated as such by an organization called The College Board,” said Mrs. Noah. “These courses are technically open to everyone, although there is both a spring and summer assignment, which students are expected to complete.  These courses are college-level courses, with more difficult reading and writing assignments with a basic curriculum expected to be taught by the College Board. Students who take this course are expected to be college-bound and serious about the amount of work it will take to complete the course.”  

AP courses have the option to take an exam for college credit.

“In May of each year, there is an AP exam for each area which students will pay a fee to take,” said Mrs. Noah. “If the students receive a higher score on the exam, it will take the place of a course they have to take in college, which can save a lot of money in college costs.”

Alongside H classes, AP classes also receive a grade bump.

“Students also receive a grade bump for taking an AP class, but many colleges will not look at the grade bump for GPA if the student has not attempted to take the exam,” Mrs. Noah continued. “Some schools also do not offer the grade bump if students do not take the exam.”

Bear River offers many AP, X, and H classes and there are many reasons that students choose to take them.

“I have taken English 1X and 2X and World History X,” said Junior Claire Schadd. “I chose to take them so I could be more challenged and so it would help me get into AP classes.”

Others wanted a challenge as well.

“I took English 2x and History x last year,” said Junior Lydia Fuller-Hall. “I chose them because I wanted something harder than normal classes.”

Others took the harder class because of their love for the subject.

“I took APUSH (AP U.S. History),” said Senior Jazzlyn Jasper. “I chose that class because history has a special place in my heart.”

For many, it lived up to their expectations.

“I expected that it was going to be a faster-paced class than the regular History class,” said Jasper. “It was harder than my other classes mostly because we had homework almost every night and a quiz the following day.”

Teachers like Mrs. Reafsnyder love teaching an AP class.

“The last two years I have taught freshmen English 1X which has been an interesting challenge,” said Mrs. Reafsnyder. “I love it! These students keep my own curiosity and excitement for learning active and alive.”

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Differences between AP, X, H courses explained