The trend of young students studying abroad in Canada has increased significantly

With the improved living standards of the Chinese population the cost of studying in Canadaand attending high school is quite affordable.statistics compiled by Canadian Bureau for InternationalIn order to have better chances of getting into the top Canadian universities, a large number of students apply to go to high school in Canada every year. According to statistics collected by UtoCanada on Chinese students studying in Canada, applications for Canadian high schools have increased by 36% compared to the last year.

High school grades in 11th and 12th grade will directly affect a students’ chances of getting into university

In Canada's education system, high schools require students to start thinking about their future academic development and select their own courses in grades 9-10. By grades 11 and 12, their chosen courses will directly affect the application to different universities’ programs. This is definitely a challenge for Chinese students who are accustomed to taking classes step by step and following a unified curriculum. Let’s take Ontario as an example to discuss the relationship between Canadian high school elective courses and university/college applications. We’ll also teach you how to choose courses in the 12th grade.

In high school, students decide what classes they want to take

Let’s start by getting into what high school electives are about! Unlike the Chinese education placement system, where students study according to the school's unified curriculum, Canadian students select from a range of courses on their own. Most schools offer two to three hundred courses so students can choose from different types of courses according to their academic level, hobbies and skills. This allows for students to get educated based on each of their own abilities!
The Canadian high school education systemis very different from China’s. Here, there are no college entrance examinations or “SATs”. If you want to graduate from an Ontario high school, you only need to meet three requirements: complete 30 credits (including 18 compulsory and 12 elective credits), complete 40 hours of volunteering, and pass the OSSLT exam.

What are the compulsory courses?

The 18 compulsory course credits include English, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Canadian History, Canadian Geography, Arts, Basic Computers, Health and Physical Education, French as a Second Language, Vocational Studies, Citizenship Courses, etc. The 12 elective courses can be chosen from five disciplines, and the courses will be different in each school. They include:
1、Business Studies: Generally, courses including business, finance, accounting, statistics, economics, international business, business law, and consumer science are optional;
2. Science: Physics, chemistry, biology, advanced functions, computer science, etc. are optional;
3. The Arts: drama, drawing & painting, visual arts, photography, design, etc .;
4. Social Sciences: Sociology, anthropology, humanities, historical disciplines, etc.
5. Technological Education: auto repair, hair styling and aesthetics, green industries, electrical repair, woodworking, metal materials, construction technology, etc.
Other schools offer AP (Advanced Placement) courses or IB (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs (IB). An AP course is equivalent to a first-year university course, which is more difficult, but after entering university, the student may be exempt from taking a similar course. IB is characterized by their use of normalized courses with an international perspective to cultivate comprehensively-educated talents.

Unified Course Codes

Let's take Ontario's high school system as an example. There are unified course codes in Ontario's high school systems. For example, the more common examples are ENG4U, MCV4U, OLT4O, and so on. Do actually students know what these codes mean? Let us explain. The first three letters represent the title of the subject, "ENG" is "English" and "MCV" is "Mathematics, Calculus and Vectors". The fourth number represents the grade, grade 9 is "1", grade 10 is "2", grade 11 is "3", and grade 12 is "4", so what does the last letter represent? Represents the types of subjects including: P (application courses), D (academic courses), O (open courses), E (employment courses), C (college preparation courses), and U (university preparation courses). For international students, the most common courses are the M and U courses.
It should be noted here that most of the 12th grade M and U courses have prerequisites. For example, if you want to study 12th grade English, you must pass 11th grade English first. As an international student, you must pass the ESL course before you can proceed to the normal English course.

Common Courses in Canadian High Schools in Grade 12

High school grade 12 English

Course number: ENG4U. This course is one of the required courses for almost all majors in universities and colleges. It is very difficult for international students, involving a high level of reading comprehension and writing skills. Most high schools require students to read Shakespeare's Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and others. The biggest difficulty for international students is the vocabulary and the classical English styles in Shakespeare's works, which is similar to studying ancient Chinese in language classes back in China.

》 High School Grade 12 Mathematics

Course codes MHF4U (Advanced Function), MCV4U (Calculus and Vectors), and MDM4U (Data Management) are the three most common grade 12 math courses. They are also required courses for most majors in university. These are generally the fortes of international students. The course, Advanced Functions, is mainly about linear functions, quadratic functions and trigonometric functions. Calculus is a compulsory subject for engineering subjects. Data Management is more suitable for students who want to study business and computers. The knowledge of this course mainly includes data management, probability theory and some applications of Excel.

》 Grade 12 Physics, Chemistry, Biology

Grade 12 Physics (SPH4U) mainly includes the preliminary knowledge of kinematics, mechanics, electric field, magnetic field, optics and relativity. This course is compulsory for those wishing to enter engineering.
Grade 12 Chemistry (SCH4U) is mainly about intermolecular forces, the periodic law of elements, the rate of chemical reactions, the structure of atoms, the structure of molecules, and so on. This course is relatively difficult in Canada because it covers a wider area beyond one country. When taking tests, the written questions require a higher English level as well.
Grade 12 Biology (SBI4U) is mainly animal and plant structures, biological evolution, genetics and mutation, etc. There tests are long with many questions that are obscure, and require a high level of English. This course is recommended for those wishing to enter the engineering programs of some schools, or as a prerequisite to some elective or compulsory courses in the life sciences programs.

How can I make myself qualified for an ideal university?

The compulsory courses for each university major will differ according to their discipline. Applying to Ontario universities usually requires submitting the grades of six M or U courses in high school to calculate the average score. However, most university programs will not require 6 compulsory courses so it would be acceptable to choose some easier courses that can help increase the average score, or elective courses that can prepare you for your university courses. In our experience, it is advisable that you think about your choice of majors and universities as soon as possible in the 11th or 12th grade, and find out the corresponding requirements, so as to gain useful knowledge quickly and not waste any time. For example, you originally wanted to study an art major and as a result, you did not choose 12th grade physics. However, you suddenly decide to transfer to an engineering major when applying for university. This becomes impossible because you do not have the compulsory prerequisites for engineering. So be sure to plan early and decide which university you would like to get into and what major you want to study!

How to choose courses to prepare yourself for the major and university you are getting into?

Business is the most common major among Chinese students in Canada. The requirements for high school grades are different for each university/college. The required credits are 12th grade Advanced Functions (MHF4U) and English (ENG4U). Most universities will also take Calculus and Vectors (MCV4U) as a required course. The remaining three or four elective credits can be selected corresponding to the major you want to study, so that after high school, you will be better adapted in university.
Getting into engineering requires the most compulsory courses and higher grades. Most schools require a business compulsory course in addition to grade 12 physics and chemistry. Environmental and bioengineering majors require grade 12 biology. As for elective courses, it is recommended to choose courses that can help increase your average.
The compulsory courses for the Natural Science major are similar to those for engineering. The grade average requirements are lower than that for the engineering major. The required courses are also mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. It is important to point out that there are no medical majors in Canadian undergraduate programs, and students who plan to study medicine usually start their undergraduate studies majoring in Life Science.
The social science and humanities majors are less competitive than the previous majors. Generally, the required courses are ENG4U and MHF4U; and MCV4U may also be required for economic-related majors. As for elective courses, the choice is yours! You can also choose the compulsory courses of other majors, so that if you will have the option of changing majors when applying for university. It should be noted that these two majors have higher requirements for English after entering university, so you must have a solid foundation in high school!
Art programs are similar to those in art schools in China. The average grade of the 6 compulsory grade 12 courses does not need to be very high. Most of the required courses are ENG4U and MHF4U. Art majors will require an additional 12th grade visual arts course. These majors require the applicant to prepare a portfolio and interview.

Summary: Don’t follow my detour to success!

I started high school grade 9 in Canada. My original plan for university was to choose a computer-related major. However, in high school, I didn’t actually take any computer science courses and so, I was forced to choose another major. I ended up with a major I did not enjoy and studying in that program was a real pain. At the same, there were also other students who had to stay in high school for one more year because they had not completed their required courses. In order to keep future students from taking the same detour, we have decided to made this video. If there are more questions, you can follow our WeChat subscription account, or scan the QR code below for more help and advice!