What science subjects should you take in high school and what will you learn in them?What science subjects are expected from the universities you studied?, and how can you impress them by exceeding those expectations? Read this guide to learn more about the standard science curriculum, the types of AP and IB science courses, what college expectations are, and how to exceed college expectations and leverage your high school science teaching, to ultimately improve your academic performance. Most secondary schoolsrequire students to complete two to three years of science classes to graduate. These classes often include a lab component in which students are required to conduct hands-on experiments as part of the class. The course sequence for science education in most US high schools is as follows: Biology → Chemistry → Physics Some schools teach earth sciences in the first year and then move on to biology and chemistry, while others follow the "Physics First" curriculum in which students study physics in the first year. However, most secondary schools follow the above sequence of courses.and which we will see in more detail below. Biology is often the first science taught to high school students because it has itLess focus on maththan other science subjects, giving freshman time to improve their math skills before moving on to a more math-centric science. Main topics: Chemistry typically places more emphasis on mathematical concepts and laboratory work than biology, which is why it is typically taken in the second year. Main topics: This is probably the first year that you will have a choice of which science subject to study: Physics or Physics/Earth Sciences. Physics is most often taken by students who aremore confidence in your science and math skillswho plan to study Science or Mathematics in the future and/or wish to study at more competitive universities. Physics often requires higher math skills (e.g. algebra and above). Main topics: Different schools may have different names for this course, but most courses cover physics and earth science subjects. These classes are less math intensive and are often considered less rigorous than physics.
What is the standard high school science curriculum?
First year: biology
Second Year: Chemistry
First year: Physics or Earth Sciences/Physics
What science subjects should you take in high school and what will you learn in them?What science subjects are expected from the universities you studied?, and how can you impress them by exceeding those expectations?
Read this guide to learn more about the standard science curriculum, the types of AP and IB science courses, what college expectations are, and how to exceed college expectations and leverage your high school science teaching, to ultimately improve your academic performance.
Most secondary schoolsrequire students to complete two to three years of science classes to graduate. These classes often include a lab component in which students are required to conduct hands-on experiments as part of the class.
The course sequence for science education in most US high schools is as follows:
Biology → Chemistry → Physics
Some schools teach earth sciences in the first year and then move on to biology and chemistry, while others follow the "Physics First" curriculum in which students study physics in the first year.
However, most secondary schools follow the above sequence of courses.and which we will see in more detail below.
Biology is often the first science taught to high school students because it has itLess focus on maththan other science subjects, giving freshman time to improve their math skills before moving on to a more math-centric science.
Chemistry typically places more emphasis on mathematical concepts and laboratory work than biology, which is why it is typically taken in the second year.
This is probably the first year that you will have a choice of which science subject to study: Physics or Physics/Earth Sciences.
Physics is most often taken by students who aremore confidence in your science and math skillswho plan to study Science or Mathematics in the future and/or wish to study at more competitive universities. Physics often requires higher math skills (e.g. algebra and above).
Different schools may have different names for this course, but most courses cover physics and earth science subjects. These classes are less math intensive and are often considered less rigorous than physics.
Main topics in earth sciences:
- life processes
Main topics in the physical sciences:
Should you take Earth Physics/Physics?
It will look better on your transcript if you study physics, thoughMost colleges don't require this unless you want to study math or science.
If you are applying to a competitive university, plan to study math or science in the future, or are confident in your math and science abilities, consider studying physics.
If you're struggling with math and science and don't plan to study either field, studying Physics/Earth Sciences instead of Physics is probably fine. However, you should try to take higher-level courses in other subjects, such as English or social studies, to improve your academic performance.
Final year: optional electives
There is no standard science subject for high school students.Most high schools do not require seniors to take science classes, but you can take an elective if you wish. Electives are offered on a variety of subjects, including astronomy, human biology, and zoology.
Senior year is also an excellent year to improve your academic performance by taking advanced science courses (see Exceeding College Expectations section below).
You have the opportunity to take various high school science courses.(Image source: Pearson)
What science courses do universities expect from you?
Similar to secondary schoolsMost colleges require applicants to have completed two to three years of science. These requirements often include passing biology and chemistry.
However, if you avery selective university, consciousnessMany will require or strongly recommend that you complete themfourHigh school science years. They may also require their fourth science year to be an advanced science class.
Regardless of the type of university you are interested in,if you intend to do thisimportant in a STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) you will be expected to have completed a four year science educationin high school, including physics.
How to Exceed College Expectations with Science Education
Unless you plan to study a STEM subject or are applying to highly competitive colleges, it's more important to focus on courses that are more related to your intended course than to try to exceed college expectations . with your science lessons.
Colleges are more interested in knowing how you did in the subjects you want to continue your studies in college.Doing three years of science and getting solid grades in those subjects is usually all you need to do.to meet the expectations of university admissions officers.
However, if you can take four years of science classes, perhaps with some of these courses at Honors or AP level, that's great and will boost your academic performance. But don't take a high-level science class if it will lower your grades in your intended major.
If you intend to study a STEM subject, it is important that you demonstrate strong science skills.and that your science major goes beyond the basic entry requirements. You're likely to use at least some of the skills you learn in your science class in your future career, and colleges want to make sure you're proficient in the subject before you're admitted.
As you compete for a spot with many other talented STEM students, exceeding expectations is important to stand out from the crowd. You can achieve this by completing four years of science, taking science courses at the highest level offered (with honors or AP),jget good grades in all these subjects.
More specifically, here's what to do if you're planning on studying in a STEM field:
- If possible, attend honors classes for the first three years
- Take physics instead of earth sciences
- During your senior year, take one or more AP Science courses
- Get good gradesatScience class you are taking
Below are some examples of advanced science courses you can take in your senior year.
Advanced science education
Here is a list of all AP Science classes:
- AP Biology
- AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
- AP Physik C: Mechanic
- AP Physics 1 and 2 (based on algebra)
- AP Environmental Sciences
- AP-Computing A
- AP Principles of Computer Science
These courses build on material learned in regular or advanced science courses, but are more rigorous, require more math skills, and generally have a larger laboratory component.
If you plan to take one or more of these courses in your senior year,Make sure you have enough space on your calendar. Because of the number of labs students must complete, these AP classes sometimes take an hour and a half to two hours a day to accommodate all of the material.
Biology, Chemistry uAdvanced Physics Lesson, neither is automatically the “best” to adopt; All are rigorous courses known for having challenging AP exams (although both are Physics C-testsgenerally considered more difficultthan Physics 1 and 2 because they require knowledge of calculus).
If you choose one of these courses,Choose the one that you think is most related to your further studies and career, or check the college websites to seewhich courses would earn you the most creditsand make up your mind.
AP Environmental Sciencesis another option you have. This class focuses on human impact on the environment, climate change, the interrelationships of the natural world, and ways of developing solutions to environmental problems.
The difference is that AP Environmental Sciencesis not considered strictlike other advanced science courses, as they usually have no performance requirement and require less laboratory work and mathematics; However, it is still an AP course and so will still be challenging and better regarded than if you had taken a non-AP science elective.
AP Environmental Science is a good option for anyone who wants to take an AP Science course but without as much rigor or time commitment., or for someone who is already taking another AP science course and wants to add another one that only takes one class hour.
Finally you havetwo AP computer science courseshold. These aren't exactly traditional sciences, but they're great options to think about, especially if you plan to study computer science or another discipline related to computers or technology.
While Computer Science A is more codified and technical, Principles of Computer Science offers a broader view of computer science as a whole.Both tests are about the same level of difficulty., CheaterPass rates around 70%.
IB science classes
to get thatDiploma IByou must take at least one course from each of the six IB subject categories.Science is one such category, withseven different IB optionsaccessible.Many IB courses are offered at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL).
The seven science courses at the IB are as follows:
- computer science
- environmental systems and societies
- Sports, exercise and health sciences
IB's 3 Best Science Courses: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics
These three courses are comparable to AP courses, although IB courses often involve more report writing and lab work.
Especially if you plan to study science at university., it would be a good idea to take one of these courses for the group requirement as it is the science subjects that universities are most interested in.
All three courses are offered in SL and HL.
The Computer Science IB course focuses on computational thinking and how computers work. This also includes hands-on activities such as programming. This class is onegood option if you want to study computer scienceor a comparable subject at the university. Offered in SL and HL.
In this course, students will learn how to use the design cycle and technology to create solutions to common problems. Some of the core subjects taught are pattern making, sustainable production, and innovation and design. Like previous IB courses, Design Technology is offered in both SL and HL.
environmental systems and societies
Environmental Systems and Societies is an interdisciplinary course that focuses on conservation and biodiversity, pollution management, and the environmental demands of human populations. ANDonly available in SL.
Sports, exercise and health sciences
This IB science course focuses on human anatomy and physiology, as well as nutrition, psychology and biomechanics. The students can take itsim mar SL or HL.
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3 additional options for science lessons
If you are looking to take a specific science class, perhaps one that is closely related to your future career, or you simply want the opportunity to take more science classes beyond the required high school curriculum, there are several ways you can can do this. .
Option 1: Electives
While taking an AP college science course sounds more impressive, electives are always an option too, especially if you don't plan on taking a STEM major.
Many high schools offer a wide range of science electives., and these are a great way to take a course in a more specialized science area that you're particularly interested in, or to add other science courses to your transcript if you don't have the time or inclination to take an AP science course.
Option 2: Community College-Klassen
If your school does not offer a specific advanced science course or elective course, you may do sotake a similar course at a local community college.It's also a convenient way to take advanced science courses that most high schools don't offer.B. advanced courses in biology, chemistry or physics.
While it can be difficult to take a college-level course, it will look good on your report card, and you'll often get college credit for it. Talk to your careers advisor about registering for courses at the community college.
Option 3: Career-oriented alternatives
It is increasingly being offered to secondary schoolsCourses specifically designed for students planning an academic career, such as B. medicine or research.
For example, my own college offered a course for students who wanted to become doctors. Three days a week they had standard human physiology classes and twice a week they visited a local hospital and observed doctors and nurses.
similar toprofessional observation,Taking these career-focused courses is a great opportunity to gain more hands-on experience and see if a specific career path is right for you.. Even if your school doesn't offer such classes, you can set up something similar to self-paced study.
Your school may offer science classes specifically for students considering a medical degree.
Summary: What Science Subjects Should You Take in High School?
Most colleges and high schools in the United States require you to graduatetwo- to three-year course in natural sciences. You'll probably have to study biology and chemistry in your first two years of high school.
It shouldDo third year physicsif any of the following apply to you:
- You are confident in your math and science skills.
- You plan to study mathematics, engineering or natural sciences at university
- Would you like to visit one of the best universities?
If you are planning to study in a STEM field, you should definitely do itTake four years of science, including an AP science class in your senior year if possible.
If you wantNOIf you're studying in a STEM field, however, you might want to consider taking science electives in your senior year.
Are you trying to decide whether AP or IB is better for you? Check out our full guideto see which program best suits your skills and goals.
Do you want to know which math courses you should take in high school too? We have an expert guidewhich looks at the standard curriculum, basic course sequence, and the various ways you can impress colleges with your choice of math instruction.
Are you considering summer academic programs for middle and high school students?Take a look at our guides for theSAY,CTY, OfEPGY from Stanfordprograms to get you started.
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About the author
Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in environmental biology and geography and received her master's degree from Duke University. In high school, she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. He has taught English and Biology in several countries.
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Physics is most often taken by students who are more confident in their scientific and math abilities, who are planning to study science or math in the future, and/or who want to get into more competitive colleges. Physics frequently requires higher-level math skills (i.e., algebra and above).What is the easiest science to take in high school? ›
- Earth/Physical Science.
- Optional Electives ( Forensic Science, Environmental Science, Zoology, Astronomy, etc.)
Physics is most often taken by students who are more confident in their scientific and math abilities, who are planning to study science or math in the future, and/or who want to get into more competitive colleges. Physics frequently requires higher-level math skills (i.e., algebra and above).What is the hardest science course in high school? ›
This class combines physics, scientific inquiry, and algebra. AP Physics 1 is considered one of the hardest AP classes, covering topics like Newtonian mechanics and electrical charge and force.
Most commonly, 9th graders usually focus on biology; however the beauty of homeschooling is parents can choose what course they want their freshmen to begin with. These can include chemistry or physics.What science do most 12th graders take? ›
12th Grade Science
Seniors taking science in 12th grade often choose between: Biology. Chemistry.
Common 10th-grade science courses include biology, physics, or chemistry. Most students complete chemistry after successfully completing Algebra II. Interest-led science courses may include astronomy, marine biology, zoology, geology, or anatomy and physiology.What science classes do most colleges require? ›
Most colleges expect to see biology, chemistry, and physics. History / Social Studies — Again, 4 years is strongly advised. Most students will likely take geography, history, and some type of government or civics class. Other Language — 2 years of the same language is the minimum; 3 is recommended.What is the best science to take in Grade 11? ›
It is recommended that you take at least one Science in grade 11. Students planning to pursue Health Science programs at university or college should take both Chemistry and Biology (many programs also require and/or recommend physics e.g. Kinesiology).What is the easiest science? ›
Psychology is commonly thought of as the easiest of the science majors thanks to its relative lack of complex math, although psych majors can still expect to do a fair amount of statistical analysis on their way to a degree.
Mathematics is often considered to be one of the most challenging subjects for students. Recent surveys report that 37% of teens aged 13-17 found math to be harder than other subjects – the highest ranked overall.Is biology or chemistry harder? ›
As a general rule, most students find biology easier except, they may be required to memorize more information. Chemistry is usually more difficult, especially the labs, because they require a better understanding of mathematics, especially error analysis.Do all 9th graders take biology? ›
Is Biology for 9th Graders? Students in grade 9 will typically take biology as their science curriculum. This is common within the United States, however it is definitely more true for some states than others.Do 9th graders take physics? ›
Almost all ninth grade students are expected to enroll in Physics - 9.Is AP Chemistry hard? ›
AP Chemistry consistently ranks among the most difficult AP courses. The course covers many topics, while prioritizing essential scientific practices. AP Chemistry test data overlooks factors like the quality of teachers and schools. The AP Chemistry exam comprises both multiple-choice and written sections.What is the hardest science in school? ›
Chemistry is famous for being one of the hardest subjects ever, so it's no surprise that a Chemistry degree is fiercely challenging. Just one topic in Chemistry (for example, organic chemistry) is incredibly complex.What grade should physics be taken? ›
The physics course is designed to prepare students for college level science. In high school, physics is usually taught in 11th grade, although some students may take the course in 12th grade or as early as 10th grade depending on their academic level.How old is a 12th grader? ›
Students in twelfth grade are usually 17–18 years old.Is 11 AP classes good? ›
If you manage to take 11 AP classes throughout your high school stay, that's enough (33 credits on average) to skip a whole year of college. While that may too much, even a couple of classes can be enough to give you a semester ahead of your peers coming into college.Should I take an AP class in 10th grade? ›
AP® isn't just for juniors and seniors. In fact, some of the most popular courses are often taken by 9th and 10th graders.
|Grade||Recommended Number of AP Classes to Take|
Honors classes increase the points awarded by 0.5 for everything except a grade of F, while AP, IB, and AICE classes increase the points awarded by 1.0 for everything except a grade of F. You can access a GPA calculator that allows for easy computation of weighted GPAs.What GPA do colleges look at? ›
Colleges will look at either weighted or unweighted GPAs in your application. They do tend to prefer weighted, because it gives more information about the difficulty of your classes, but don't worry if your school uses an unweighted scale.Which grade is the hardest in high school? ›
While junior year is often the hardest year of high school, the transition from middle school to 9th grade can also be tough. To make it easier, don't feel afraid to reach out to your teachers and counselors, and take advantage of the support resources that are available.What classes affect science GPA? ›
Science GPA: all undergraduate, graduate and cumulative courses identified on the transcript as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math and Other Science.What classes to take to boost science GPA? ›
Sprinkle in some easier science classes.
You need to fulfill pre-med requirements, but sprinkling in courses like Astronomy, Ecology, Entomology, or Zoology (which all count towards BPCM GPAs) can help raise your GPA.
- AP Art & Design: Drawing.
- AP Art & Design: 2-D.
- AP Calculus BC.
- AP Chinese Language.
- AP English Literature.
- AP French Language.
- AP Government & Politics.
- AP Italian Language.
Typically, students in grade 11 take Algebra II (if they followed the traditional course sequence: Algebra I in 9th grade, and Geometry in 10th grade). However, some students may be able to take Algebra I while still in 8th grade. In those cases, both 11th and 12th grade become open for advanced math options.How hard is Grade 12 chemistry? ›
SCH4U Course - Chemistry Grade 12. SCH4U Chemistry Grade 12 is the key grade 12 course for students going into life science or engineering. This course, in our opinion is one of the 3 toughest courses in high school (the other two being physics 12 and calculus).What grade do you take Geometry? ›
Students who plan on going to college should take a fourth year of math. These students pass Algebra I in 9th grade. They pass Geometry in 10th and Algebra II in 11th grade.
Engineering is considered one of the most difficult courses in the world as it involves more math and physics than most students want to take on. The course curriculum includes problem-solving using tactical and analytical skills and critical thinking.Is physics or chemistry harder? ›
Because physics generally requires more math and complex reasoning, many students consider it harder. However, chemistry also requires complex thinking, in addition to a tremendous amount of rote memorization.Are stem classes hard? ›
Are STEM Majors Hard? STEM majors can be challenging, but their rigor shouldn't stop you from pursuing one. Expect to take a variety of foundational science, math and computer courses.What do most high school students struggle with? ›
- Fear of failure. Kids who've struggled in school might come to high school with a history of setbacks. ...
- Tougher academics and more responsibilities. ...
- Social pressures. ...
- Uncertainty about the future. ...
- Concerns about college.
Several other studies suggest that mathematics has the dubious honor of being the least popular subject in the curriculum."Is AP Biology easy? ›
Excelling in AP Biology tends to be more challenging than other popular AP courses. Of the more than 212,000 students who took AP Biology in 2021, less than 10% earned the highest possible score (5) on the exam for this course.Is chemistry or microbiology harder? ›
Is Microbiology Harder Than Chemistry? Comparing the two head-to-head, microbiology is the easiest but very objective-based. Chemistry is applied knowledge and is also dependent on simple algebra, formulas, and some calculations. All things that make it math-heavy than microbiology.Can I take biology without chemistry? ›
Do you need to take chemistry before AP Biology? No, but it is highly recommended that you take a high school chemistry course before taking AP Biology.What grade should a 15 year old be in? ›
|Student Age (as of September 1, 2023)||American Grade Equivalent|
|17 years old||Grade 12|
|16 years old||Grade 11|
|15 years old||Grade 10|
|14 years old||Grade 9|
If you fail biology in high school or college, you just retake biology. You will probably have to retake the class if you are in high school. If you are in college, you can either retake it or pick a new science class to cover your requirements.
- Depending on the program sequence, most students enroll in AP Biology during their junior or senior year. ...
- Some schools require that all three first-year science courses (biology, chemistry, and physics) be completed before a student.
However, around sixth-grade students generally start to learn some very basic chemistry, such as the periodic table of elements in their science class. Later on, in high school around tenth grade, students will take chemistry class to begin to learn all the basic concepts of chemistry.What is 9th grade math called? ›
9th grade math usually focuses on Algebra I, but can include other advanced mathematics such as Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus or Trigonometry.What should every 9th grader know? ›
The topics they'll study include language arts, science, history, math, and more. In English, ninth-graders will improve their writing skills, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar skills. Meanwhile, they'll learn about equations, formulas, complex numbers, graphs, and more in math.Is it normal to fail AP Chem? ›
All AP exams have a passing rate of at least 50%. The most failed AP exams are Physics 1 (failed by 48.4% of all students), Environmental Science (failed by 46.6% of all students), and Chemistry (failed by 43.9% of all students).Is AP Bio or Chem easier? ›
No, it's not! My research assures that neither AP chem nor AP bio is tougher than one other. But as AP chemistry is more application based, students who take this subject need to spend more study hours for this subject. The difficulty of an AP class is based on the student's interest and likeness to the subject.Is AP Chem or physics easier? ›
Based on College Board pass rates, AP Physics 1 is more difficult than AP Chemistry.What is the easiest subject in science? ›
Psychology is commonly thought of as the easiest of the science majors thanks to its relative lack of complex math, although psych majors can still expect to do a fair amount of statistical analysis on their way to a degree.What science is the easiest to learn? ›
- Geology. Geology is widely regarded as one of the easiest science classes you could take in college. ...
- Physics. Physics is a fascinating field, and taking a course in it will vastly improve your understanding of the world around us. ...
- Astronomy. ...
Going into high school, many students hear that freshman year is the “easiest” year. Some think that colleges don't consider it as much as they do one's sophomore, junior, and senior years. While this is typically true, it doesn't mean that students should entirely dismiss the importance of their freshman year.
- Group Guitar or Piano. Who doesn't want to learn a new instrument? ...
- World Music. ...
- Improv or Acting. ...
- Psychology 101. ...
- Graphic Design. ...
- Physical Education. ...
- Creative Writing. ...
- Pottery or Painting.
Chemistry is famous for being one of the hardest subjects ever, so it's no surprise that a Chemistry degree is fiercely challenging. Just one topic in Chemistry (for example, organic chemistry) is incredibly complex.What science class is the hardest? ›
It also requires the memorization of many formulas, which you must then be able to apply to real-life problems. Quantum physics/mechanics deals with very small particles like atoms and subatomic particles and how they work.
It shouldn't surprise you that organic chemistry takes the No. 1 spot as the hardest college course. This course is often referred to as the “pre-med killer” because it actually has caused many pre-med majors to switch their major.What's the hardest degree? ›
- Chartered Accountancy.
- Quantum Mechanics.
- Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
- Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
- Dentistry, Medicine.
As a general rule, most students find biology easier except, they may be required to memorize more information. Chemistry is usually more difficult, especially the labs, because they require a better understanding of mathematics, especially error analysis.What is the toughest year of high school? ›
While junior year is often the hardest year of high school, the transition from middle school to 9th grade can also be tough. To make it easier, don't feel afraid to reach out to your teachers and counselors, and take advantage of the support resources that are available.What is the lowest GPA for high school? ›
A 2.0 GPA meets high school graduation requirements but most colleges—and some trade schools—expect a high school GPA of at least 3.0 (B) or better. If you take honors and advanced classes, you can earn additional points toward GPA calculation because these classes have an increased level of difficulty.Is a 3.8 GPA good in high school? ›
A 3.8 GPA is considered to be a very good GPA and is often an indicator of strong academic performance.What is the easiest AP class? ›
- AP Art & Design: Drawing.
- AP Art & Design: 2-D.
- AP Calculus BC.
- AP Chinese Language.
- AP English Literature.
- AP French Language.
- AP Government & Politics.
- AP Italian Language.
Several other studies suggest that mathematics has the dubious honor of being the least popular subject in the curriculum." In one survey of high-school seniors, investigators found that 12% had never taken any algebra or geometry, 26% had dropped mathematics after only one year, 30% had dropped it after two.What classes actually matter in high school? ›
Colleges look at the specific classes you take in high school. Admissions officers want to know whether you took all the core courses, including math, science, foreign language, English, and social studies. They also take note of whether you progressed to higher-level classes in the core subjects.