Grade 12 frequently asked questions

HOW MANY ACADEMIC COURSES MUST I TAKE?

You must take five, but you can sign up for six. If you sign up for six, you should do so with the intention of completing all six.

WHAT COURSES DO I HAVE TO DO?

English Studies 12 is the only required course, all others are electives. The electives you choose must satisfy admission requirements for your program/post-secondary institution of choice.

WHAT 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 12 when you can only manage a C in Pre-Calculus 11 is a terrible idea!

WHAT DOES “KEEPING MY OPTIONS OPEN” 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 focus on biology and chemistry. They also require Pre-Calculus 12 and very often Calculus 12.

  • Physical Science programs typically require students to 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.

SHOULD I TAKE SIX COURSES?

  • The major reason to take SIX courses (and not have a study block) is that you love those courses.

  • Another common reason is because you have to take five courses for your degree choice, but you want to take the 6th for interest. For example, an engineer would have to take English, chemistry, physics, calculus and pre-calculus, but might like to take history as well.

  • The last reason is indecision – “I’ll start with six and drop one before Thanksgiving.” This last option NOT recommended; it is not ideal because we have to build a timetable around your selections, you may select six if you really cannot make up your mind.

CAN I TAKE ONLY FOUR COURSES?

No. The Brentwood minimum is FIVE. The only exception is for students who access the Learning Centre on a formal basis: they can take four classes and a block in the Learning Centre as their fifth. That is an arrangement that has to be pre-approved by Learning Centre staff, so it is important that students currently in the Learning Centre discuss course selections with the staff in order to determine the type of arrangement that is best in Grade 12.

SHOULD I TAKE ENGLISH STUDIES 12 OR LITERARY STUDIES 12?

The obvious advantage of taking Literary Studies 12 (or AP English Literature & Composition) is that you get two credits for the price of one, in that you are assessed for and receive credit for both English Studies 12 and Literary Studies 12. The disadvantage is that you will spend less time improving your English basic skills – lack of English skills is one of the biggest barriers to academic (and employment) success. So think carefully before selecting the Literary Studies 12 option.

DO I NEED A LANGUAGE 11?

A Language 11 is not required for graduation from a high school in British Columbia; however, 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 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.

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!

DO I NEED TO DO A PRE-CALCULUS 12 (AND CALCULUS 12)?

Pre-Calculus 12 is only required if you are going to take higher level mathematics courses at university. University math courses are required for commerce, science, and engineering programs, and thus you need to take Pre-Calculus 12 if you plan on pursuing studies in these areas. (First year math courses at university are normally calculus, hence it is a good idea to take both Pre-Calculus 12 and Calculus 12). Although you do not need a Math 12 course to study arts/humanities/social sciences, Foundations of Mathematics 12 is required for admission to University of British Columbia-Vancouver, if you did not take Pre-Calculus 11 in Grade 11.

Beyond commerce, engineering and science, studies in certain specific areas may very well require Pre-Calculus 12, and even Calculus 12. Higher level study in economics at university certainly demands Pre-Calculus 12 as calculus is part of the program. Psychology at some universities requires either Pre-Calculus 12 for admission, or as a course pre-requisite for higher level study in the subject.

In the end, unless you are confident that you can get 80% or above in Pre-Calculus 12, we recommend against taking it. Pre-Calculus 12 is a very challenging course, and a low mark in it will not serve you well in the admissions process. Remember, the point of taking Pre-Calculus 12 is to be prepared to take MORE and HARDER math at university... do you really want that?

WHICH GRADE 12 COURSES DON’T COUNT FOR UNIVERSITY ADMISSION?

This depends on the university and the program. Most universities will have a list of Acceptable Courses somewhere on their website. If you are unsure, ask one of the University Counsellors.

Courses like Entrepreneurship 12 and Financial Accounting 12 tend not to be on those lists of Acceptable Academic Courses when a university requires FOUR courses for admission. Some universities require five (or more) Grade 12 courses. In those cases, the fifth course can include a course like Entrepreneurship 12, Financial Accounting 12, or even a fine art course.

U.S. universities will look at ALL of your courses from Grade 9 (or 10) to Grade 12.

Universities in the U.K. and elsewhere will focus their attention on your Grade 12 subjects that are most relevant to the course to which you are applying. They will consider your achievement in Grade 11 and 12 for admission, but will make conditional offers on Grade 12 subjects.

DO FINE ART 12 COURSES COUNT FOR UNIVERSITY ADMISSION?

Typically only if you are applying to a fine arts program, but there are a few exceptions. For example, the new admissions policy at UBC states that a student applying for admission to the Faculty of Arts will have their fine arts courses considered in the application review.

Speak to one of the University Counsellors to learn more.

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) that 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.

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 or a regular course.

IF I TOOK THE AP VERSION OF A COURSE IN GRADE 11, HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER I SHOULD CONTINUE WITH THE AP VERSION IN GRADE 12?

Ask your Grade 11 AP teacher for guidance.

You are always trying to strike the balance between the value of the enrichment that you will get from the AP course and the rigour that comes with it. And, you should not apply simplistic assumptions that are generally untrue, such as, "I don't need AP since I'm not applying to the US." AP matters elsewhere!

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

Yes.

After you select during the winter midterm, you will have until spring break to go into the Course Registration Form and change your selections. After spring break and through the spring term, you will need to connect with University Counselling to make changes.

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?

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

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, unless you are starting at Brentwood in Grade 12, the number of credits a student accumulates for graduation is not normally a problem.

Ensuring that you have satisfied all aspect of the requirements listed in the British Columbia Graduation Program is another matter. Brentwood students rarely have an issue with these if they have been attending the school since Grade 10. Student who enter after Grade 10 need to carefully review their records to ensure that the transfer credits we can award cover all of the graduation requirements. If not, supplemental course work may have to be completed.

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 tools available through your MyBlueprint account.