Skip to content
Home » Honors physics vs ap physics

Honors physics vs ap physics

if you are interested to know the difference between physics and ap physics you’re in the right post.

The difference between honors physics and ap physics 

Honors physics  is an algebra-based course that student mostly takes in high school, is a singular course that teach the basics or fundamental physics course While AP Physics course is divided into four categories:

In honors physics, students study all algebra-based physics courses like:

  1. Kinematics
  2. Dynamics
  3. Momentum
  4. UCM & Gravity
  5. Rotational Motion
  6. Work, Energy & Power
  7. Fluid Mechanics
  8. Thermal Physics
  9. ElectrostaticsCurrent
  10.  Electricity
  11. Magnetism
  12. Microelectronics
  13. Waves& Sound
  14. Optics
  15. Modern Physics

So let’s compare honors physics to the 4 AP Physics courses.

1 – AP Physics 1 vs honors physics 

AP Physics 1 is an algebra-based course,  it is the most similar course to Honors Physics,  AP Physics 1 and honors physics almost cover the same topics:

The main difference between AP Physics 1 and honors physics is an honor physics Student study the same AP Physics 1 courses in addition to some topics like:

  1. Fluid Mechanics
  2. Thermal Physics
  3. Electrostatics
  4.  Electricity
  5. Magnetism
  6. Microelectronics
  7. Waves& Sound
  8. Optics
  9. Modern Physics

So Honors physics is more engaging and demanding than AP Physics 1,  if you have taken an honors Physics course you don’t have to take an AP Physics 1 exam the best option would be to switch directly to the AP Physics 2 course we’re going to describe in the next paragraph.

2 – AP Physics 2 vs honors physics 

In AP Physics 2 you have 7 principal courses complete:

If we compare AP Physics 2 to honors physics we will find some common subjects that students take in these courses,  including fluids,  electromagnetic, and Optics.  

On the other hand in honors physics, you don’t study quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, or nuclear physics, these are new subjects that you will discover in AP Physics 2.

So, AP Physics 2 is more difficult and advanced than the honors Physics course.

3 – AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

In AP Physics C electricity and magnetism you study deeper and more specialized subjects preparing for some engineering classes, especially electrical engineering.  In AP Physics C you will be studying theses following topics:

If we compare AP Physics C electricity and magnetism to honors physics you will find some common subjects like electrostatics and electromagnetism.  but you have to understand that, in AP Physics C course, students go deeper than in honors physics courses.

Because in AP Physics C students require to have a calculus, at least having calculus 1, while honors physics courses don’t require it. Is a completely algebra-based Physics course that is easier than AP Physics C electricity and magnetism.

4 – AP Physics C: Mechanics 

If you are looking to become a mechanical or aerospace engineer taking an AP Physics 2 C mechanics is an ideal decision to make. in AP Physics C mechanics student study the following topics:

If we compare AP Physics C mechanics we’ll find some common topics that students take in AP Physics C and honors courses like kinematics, work energy, and power oscillations.  but These courses are more challenging and detailed in AP physics C mechanics than honors physics.

 For instance, the kinematics topics you study in honors physics don’t involve calculus like in AP physics C mechanics. In AP Physics C mechanics, All kinematics problems are solved using calculus, not only algebra like in honors physics,  the same thing is applied to the other topics we mentioned like oscillation, energy, and power.

In AP Physics  C you are required to have at least a Calculus 1 course, the same thing for Ap physics C electricity and magnetism.

Should I take honors physics or AP physics?

It is better to take AP Physics courses because they are standardized and not volatile as honors physics courses. In other words, honors physics course programs are not uniform so you’ll be finding some differences between each school you apply to.

 In addition, AP Physics gives you college credit Adopted by all United State universities while some schools don’t accept honors physics courses.

In addition, AP 2 and AP C physics, Are more advanced than honors physics programs, meaning you will be more prepared for college classes, but you have to consider taking calculus courses like calculus 1 or take Ap Calculus ab or bc before AP Physics

We recommend taking AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 if you are thinking of majoring in physics or civil engineering. AP Physics 1 is equivalent to an algebra-based Physics course. while AP Physics 2 is an equivalent calculus-based physics course.

If you are preparing to major in mechanical engineering or aerospace engineering,  it would be a good idea to take AP Physics 1 and AP C mechanics,  it involves a lot of specialized topics you would need in your mechanical engineering future major.

 On the other hand, if you are preparing to major in electrical engineering we recommend taking AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C electricity and electromagnetism. It involves a lot of specialized topics like Electric circuits, conductor capacitors and dielectrics.

Honors physics or ap environmental science

AP environmental science is an easy and general subject. You would not have any significant benefit from taking this course,  while the honors physics is good, helping you to prepare for physics and Engineering majors by studying physics algebra-based courses.

Even if you want to major in environmental science or want to become an environmental engineer you would be required to complete General Physics courses which honors physics help you to prepare for. 

you could read this related article environmental engineering vs physics which is better

 But the best thing we recommend is taking AP1 and AP2 physics courses. They are better than honors physics,  but they are required to complete a calculus course which is a great idea if you want to prepare for environmental engineering or any other STEM major.