Grade 11 frequently asked questions

HOW MANY ACADEMIC COURSES MUST I TAKE?

Grade 11 students are expected to take SIX academic courses in the academic morning timetable.

WHAT COURSES ARE REQUIRED?

The courses that are required within Grade 11 program are: a Language Arts 11, a Grade 11 or 12 Mathematics course, a Grade 11 or 12 Science course, and a senior Social Studies course. These are required for graduation here in British Columbia.

The courses that Brentwood offers to Grade 11 students that satisfy these general requirements are made clear on the Grade 11 Courses page.

DO I NEED A LANGUAGE 11?

A Language 11 is not required for graduation from a high school in British Columbia; however, Brentwood believes strongly that students should study a second language as part of their secondary education. So even when students have limited or no second-language background, Brentwood offers beginner's level courses in Spanish and Mandarin.

Perhaps more importantly, completing a Language 11 course is an admission requirement at specific universities in British Columbia:

  • University of British Columbia requires all applicants to have a Language 11. This only applied to their Vancouver campus.
  • Simon Fraser University requires British Columbia high school applicants to have a Language 11, although a beginner's level Language 11 credit is acceptable.
  • Most universities in the United States expect applicants to have completed three years (Grades 9-11) of a second language, and sometimes even four years.

Notes about these Language 11 requirements:

  • If English is your second language, then you are already covered, as long as we are able to grant course credit for your first language.
  • Universities typically grant waivers of the Language 11 requirements for students who qualify:
    • Students who are exempt from second-language acquisition for reasons outlined in a psycho-educational assessment can request a waiver.
    • Students who enter the British Columbia school system in Grade 10 or later can request a waiver from UBC and SFU.

WHICH MATH COURSE SHOULD I TAKE?

Pre-Calculus 11 or Foundations of Mathematics 12…? It depends on your post-secondary plans. One course it is not necessarily easier than the other, but they do have different approaches and different purposes.

  • If you think you will want to study anything related to Science, Engineering or Commerce, Pre-Calculus 11 is a must because you will need Pre-Calculus 12 in Grade 12 in order to do Calculus for these fields.
  • If you plan on studying something that will not require university-level Calculus, such as Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences, then Foundations of Mathematics 12 might be the better option.

UBC complicates things: they require ALL applicants from BC to have either Pre-Calculus 11 or Foundations of Mathematics 12. That is why we offer the Grade 12 level of the course instead of 11 because those students who take it are typically not looking to do two more years of math after they finish Grade 10 math.

For students who take Foundations of Mathematics 12 in Grade 11, it usually the last math course they take. It is NOT possible to go from Foundations of Mathematics 12 to Pre-Calculus 12 in Grade 12; Pre-Calculus 11 is pre-requisite for Pre-Calculus 12 and Foundations of Mathematics 12 is NOT equivalent to Pre-Calculus 11.

If this makes you think, "I should take Pre-Calculus 11 to keep my options open," we advise considerable caution! Do NOT take Pre-Calculus 11 if you cannot get a B (73%) in Math 10, and those who cannot get at least 80% in Math 10 are usually counselled against taking Pre-Calculus 11.

WHAT ELECTIVE COURSES SHOULD I TAKE IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO?

Take what you enjoy; if you enjoy a subject, you will very likely do well in it.

Some people might advise you to “keep your options open." That is NOT always the best advice. You need to ensure that the options you keep open are practical ones for you. For example, taking Pre-Calculus 11 when you can only manage a C in Math 10 is a terrible idea!

WHAT DOES “KEEPING MY OPTIONS OPEN” ACTUALLY MEAN?

Generally speaking, programs that have very specific admission requirements are in the Sciences, Engineering, and Commerce. They always require English Studies 12, plus...

  • Life/Health/Medical Science programs typically require students to have as many Grade 11 and Grade 12 Science course as possible, but normally focus on biology and chemistry. They also require Pre-Calculus 12 and very often Calculus 12.
  • Physical Science programs typically require students to have as many Grade 11 and Grade 12 Science course as possible, but normally focus on chemistry and physics. They also require Pre-Calculus 12 and very often Calculus 12.
  • Engineering programs requires Physics 12, Chemistry 12, Pre-Calculus 12 and Calculus 12.
  • Commerce programs requires Pre-Calculus 12 and often Calculus 12.

The only specific requirement for a Bachelor of Arts degree is English Studies 12. So, essentially, “keeping your options open" means keeping options open THAT REQUIRE HIGH LEVEL SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS COURSES. Ask yourself the question: do you really love science and math... especially the really hard courses in science and math?

You must be cautious of this approach, though: you do not want to keep options open that are not practical for you.

DO I NEED A LANGUAGE 12?

There are no universities that generally require a Language 12 credit for admission.

Some Bachelor of Arts degree programs, like that at UBC, include a second language requirement. At UBC, that requirement can be satisfied with a Language 12 credit!

IS THERE AN ADVANTAGE TO TAKING AN AP COURSE?

AP stands for Advanced Placement. AP Courses are those administered by the CollegeBoard (the SAT folks) and are supposed to be equivalent to first-year university courses. Success is measured by exams that are taken in May. Rather than percent marks, the exams are graded on a five-point scale: 5 being the best and 1 the worst. A score of 4 or 5 may get you credit for the equivalent first year university course at most schools in North America. Often at very selective schools in the UK and elsewhere in the world, AP exam results would be required to be eligible for admission.

In all courses, taking the AP exam is mandatory.

The majority of AP courses are offered to Grade 12 students, but keen and talented Grade 11 students may be allowed to enrol.

There are a set of courses focused on Grade 11 students: AP Biology 11, AP Chemistry 11, AP English 11, AP Physics 11, and AP Seminar 11. Only in AP English 11 and AP Seminar 11 is an AP exam written in May. In the sciences, the courses can be thought of as "Pre-AP" courses in that they must be taken to enrol in AP Biology 12, AP Chemistry 12, and AP Physics 12 in which AP exams are written in May. In the case of these Grade 11 AP courses, students who complete courses gain the following British Columbia Ministry of Education credits:

    • Life Science 11 (LFSC 11) for students in AP Biology 11;
    • Chemistry 11 (CH 11) for students in AP Chemistry 11;
    • Physics 12 (PH 12) for students in AP Physics 11;
    • AP Capstone Seminar 11 (APCS 11) for students in AP Seminar 11;
    • Literary Studies 11 (LTST 11) for students in AP English 11 and AP English Language & Composition 12 (APEN 12) for taking the AP exam.

Reasons to take an AP course:

    • You are genuinely interested in deeper study of the subject.
    • You are seeking more rigour in the subject.
    • You may need the AP course to satisfy certain university admission requirements.
    • Success on the AP exam may allow you to gain university course credit.

There is a myth out there that says that if you are applying to universities in the U.S., you need APs. You need to challenge yourself to a reasonable degree, and a way to do that is with AP courses. They are not, however, required.

The other side of that myth is that if you are applying to universities in Canada, you do not need APs. There are Canadian universities that favour applicants taking AP courses for admission and scholarship purposes. Regardless, if you are deeply interested in the subject, an AP course will likely give you a much richer experience and better preparation for further study in that subject.

When it comes to AP courses, the School approaches them with this mindset: students should not feel like they are being penalized for taking an AP course over a regular course.

AM I SUITABLE FOR TAKING AN AP COURSE?

Probably the best person to ask would be your teacher in the Grade 10 version of the subject you are considering. For example, ask your Science 10 teacher if you are considering the AP versions in biology, chemistry, and/or physics. You can also ask your Advisor.

AFTER I’VE SELECTED MY COURSES, CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?

Yes. You do this through University Counselling.

New Students, you do this by contacting Mr. Rodrigues. He will be reaching out to you after you make your initial selections.

Returning Students, you will need to review and discuss your course selection in University Counselling regardless, but see one of the University Counsellors again to make a change if, after reflecting on things, you believe it is warranted.

HOW LATE CAN I CHANGE MY MIND ABOUT MY COURSES

We build the Academic Timetable early in the summer based on your selections, so changes are best made before the summer.

Returning Students, when you receive your final Report Card of the year, there will be the opportunity to contact University Counselling with any changes that you need to make based on final results and/or recommendation made by them.

Inevitably, there are students who want or need to make changes to their courses in September. You can make changes, as long as the planned change works in your timetable and there is room available in the intended courses.

We require that you make any changes by Thanksgiving of the first term.

SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT GETTING ENOUGH CREDITS TO GRADUATE?

No. Numbers of credits is not a problem for Brentwood students who attend for at least two years. For other students, records are reviewed thoroughly to identify any specific missing credits.

CAN I TAKE A COURSE IN THE SUMMER ON-LINE?

Yes, it is possible for a student to complete a course over the summer before Grade 11 via Distance Learning, if students feel that it would be in their best interest.

There are definitely advantages to being able to take a course by Distance Learning, particularly if students are interested in taking more courses than are possible in the Brentwood academic timetable. At the same time, there are instances in which a Distance Learning course would not be advised.

Courses completed by Distance Learning tend to do a poor job at preparing students for further study in that subject, thus we DO NOT recommend taking a course by Distance Learning in a subject in which you intend to further courses. For example, we do NOT recommend students take a math course by Distance Learning if they want to take further math. We recommend that you consider a Distance Learning course in a terminal subject, in other words, in a subject where you will not be pursuing further studies.

WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO STUDY AT UNIVERSITY?

It is not unusual for students at your age to be uncertain about what they want to study. (In the U.S., for example, nearly 75% of students change their Major area of focus over the course of their undergraduate degree.)

The key for those who are uncertain at this time is to consider your interests and abilities. What are the courses that I enjoy? What are the courses that I do well in? Normally the answers are the same for both questions, so the selection of courses is typically straightforward.

But remember, for Grade 11 you are only selecting a small number of elective courses, so the choices you have to make are not too complex. And if you think you get it wrong in Grade 11, there is still time in Grade 12 to re-focus your course planning.

HOW DO I FIND OUT WHAT COURSES I NEED FOR MY CHOICE OF UNIVERSITY/PROGRAM?

Check the Admission Requirements pages of university websites. If the information is unclear to you, then ask one fo the University Counsellors as they are experts on that question!

You can also use the great tools that available through your MyBlueprint account.

ARE THERE COURSES THAT DON’T COUNT FOR UNIVERSITY ADMISSION?

This depends on the university and the program. Some generalizations are that Entrepreneurship 12 and Financial Accounting 12 typically do not count as they are not considered to be Academic courses (foolishly, we believe) at schools such as University of Victoria.

There are many cases, however, when all courses that you take, including fine arts courses, are considered or can be used to satisfy admission requirements. It is best to get clarity on this by talking to one of the University Counsellors.

U.S. universities will look at ALL of your courses from Grade 9 to Grade 12.