If you’ve heard the term ‘CP’ used in relation to high school classes and are wondering what it means, you’re not alone. CP is a commonly used acronym in secondary education that refers to ‘College Preparatory’ courses.

In short, CP classes are designed to prepare students for the academic rigor of college.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain what CP classes are, how they differ from honors and AP courses, and how they can benefit students aiming for college. We’ll also provide an overview of typical CP course offerings across core subjects like English, math, science, and social studies.

Whether you’re a student, parent, or educator, read on to learn everything you need to know about CP classes in high school.

What Are CP Classes?

CP stands for “College-prep” in the context of high school. CP classes are designed to provide students with a curriculum that prepares them for college-level courses. These classes offer a more challenging academic experience compared to standard classes, but they are not as rigorous as honors or Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

College-prep curriculum

CP classes follow a curriculum that is specifically designed to help students develop the necessary skills and knowledge needed for success in college. The coursework in these classes is focused on preparing students for the academic demands they will face in higher education.

Subjects covered in CP classes include English, mathematics, science, social studies, and foreign languages. The curriculum is designed to provide a solid foundation in these core subjects and ensure that students are well-prepared for the academic challenges they will encounter in college.

Designed for average-to-above average students

CP classes are intended for students who fall within the average-to-above average range academically. These classes are a great option for students who are motivated to succeed in college but may not have the same level of interest or ability as those in honors or AP classes.

CP classes offer a balance between challenging coursework and a manageable workload. They provide students with the opportunity to develop their academic skills and excel in their areas of interest without feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of honors or AP classes.

Closer to standard classes than honors/AP

While CP classes are more challenging than standard classes, they are not as demanding as honors or AP classes. This makes them a good option for students who want to push themselves academically but may not be ready for the intense workload and expectations of honors or AP courses.

Unlike honors or AP classes, CP classes typically do not require students to take a college-level exam at the end of the course. However, they may still involve projects, papers, and assessments that are more in-depth than those found in standard classes.

According to the College Board, CP classes can still provide students with a competitive edge when applying to colleges and universities. They demonstrate a student’s willingness to take on a more challenging curriculum and can showcase their ability to handle college-level coursework.

So, if you’re an average-to-above average student who wants to prepare for college while maintaining a manageable workload, CP classes could be a great fit for you!

How CP Classes Differ from Honors and AP

Not as rigorous as honors and AP

CP classes, also known as College Preparatory classes, differ from honors and AP (Advanced Placement) classes in terms of rigor. While honors and AP classes are designed to challenge students with advanced coursework, CP classes are generally considered less rigorous.

They provide a more standard curriculum that is suitable for students who want to prepare for college but may not be ready for the intensity of honors or AP courses.

According to a study conducted by Education Dive, there is often a significant difference in the level of difficulty between CP, honors, and AP classes. This study found that honors and AP classes tend to have more challenging assignments, higher expectations, and more in-depth analysis compared to CP classes.

Slower pace and less homework than honors/AP

Another key difference between CP classes and honors/AP classes is the pace of learning and the amount of homework assigned. In CP classes, the pace is typically slower, allowing students more time to grasp the material.

This can be beneficial for students who prefer a less intense learning environment or who may need additional time to understand complex concepts.

Compared to honors and AP classes, CP classes generally have less homework. This means that students in CP classes may have more free time for extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, or other commitments.

However, it’s important to note that the workload can still vary depending on the specific school and teacher.

Don’t offer weighted GPA boost like honors/AP

One significant difference between CP classes and honors/AP classes is the impact on a student’s GPA (Grade Point Average). Honors and AP classes often offer a weighted GPA boost, meaning that the grades earned in these classes are given extra weight when calculating the GPA.

This can be advantageous for students aiming for a higher GPA.

On the other hand, CP classes typically do not offer a weighted GPA boost. The grades earned in CP classes are included in the GPA calculation, but they are not given any additional weight. This means that even if a student performs exceptionally well in a CP class, it will not have the same impact on their GPA as an honors or AP class.

According to a report by The College Board, the organization responsible for administering AP exams, colleges and universities often consider the difficulty of a student’s course load when evaluating applications.

Honors and AP classes are generally seen as more academically rigorous and can give students an advantage in the college admissions process.

Benefits of CP Classes

Prepare for college-level academics

CP classes, or College Preparatory classes, are designed to provide high school students with a curriculum that mirrors the rigor and expectations of college-level academics. By taking CP classes, students are exposed to a higher level of coursework and are better prepared for the challenges they will face in higher education.

These classes often require critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, which are essential for success in college.

According to a study conducted by College Board, students who took CP classes in high school were more likely to perform well in college and graduate on time. This shows that CP classes not only prepare students academically, but also contribute to their long-term success.

Strengthen foundational skills

Another benefit of CP classes is that they help students strengthen their foundational skills. These classes often focus on core subjects such as English, math, science, and history, providing students with a solid knowledge base in these areas.

By mastering these fundamental skills, students are better equipped to handle more advanced coursework in college.

CP classes also provide students with opportunities to develop essential skills such as time management, organization, and study habits. These skills are crucial for academic success in high school and beyond.

Option for students not ready for honors/AP

CP classes offer an alternative for students who may not be ready for honors or Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Honors and AP classes are more challenging and require a higher level of academic performance.

However, some students may not feel prepared or confident enough to enroll in these advanced courses.

CP classes provide these students with a supportive environment where they can build their academic skills and gain confidence before taking on more rigorous coursework. It allows them to gradually work towards more challenging classes and ensures that they are not overwhelmed by the demands of honors or AP courses.

Typical CP Courses

CP English/Literature

CP English/Literature courses in high school are designed to provide students with a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. These courses often cover a variety of literary genres, including novels, plays, and poetry.

Students will analyze and interpret texts, develop their writing skills, and engage in class discussions. CP English/Literature courses aim to prepare students for college-level English courses and help them become effective communicators.

CP Math – Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus

In CP Math courses, students will delve into various mathematical concepts, including algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus. These courses are designed to build a strong mathematical foundation and develop problem-solving skills.

Students will learn to analyze data, apply mathematical equations and formulas, and think critically to solve complex problems. CP Math courses prepare students for higher-level math courses in college and equip them with the necessary skills for real-world applications.

CP Biology, Chemistry, Physics

CP Science courses, such as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, allow students to explore the fundamental principles of the natural world. These courses provide a broad understanding of scientific concepts and emphasize hands-on experiments and laboratory work.

Students will learn about the interactions between living organisms, the properties of matter, and the principles of motion and energy. CP Science courses aim to foster scientific literacy and prepare students for further studies in the field of science.

CP History – World, US History

CP History courses cover a wide range of historical events and themes, including World History and US History. These courses aim to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the past and its impact on the present.

Students will study significant historical periods, analyze primary and secondary sources, and develop critical thinking skills. CP History courses help students develop a sense of historical context and encourage them to think critically about the world around them.

CP Foreign Languages – Spanish, French, etc

CP Foreign Language courses offer students the opportunity to learn a new language, such as Spanish, French, or other languages. These courses focus on developing language skills, including speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Students will learn vocabulary, grammar, and cultural aspects of the language they are studying. CP Foreign Language courses aim to promote cultural awareness and provide students with the ability to communicate effectively in a globalized world.


In summary, CP or College Prep classes are designed to challenge students while preparing them for the rigors of college academics. Though not as intensive as honors or AP, CP courses focus on building a strong foundation in core subjects through a moderately-fast paced curriculum.

For many high schoolers looking to continue their education after graduation, CP courses provide an excellent middle ground between standard and accelerated tracks.

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