The High School English Classes You Should Take (2023)

The High School English Classes You Should Take (1)

It's no secret that colleges want you to take English class each year of high school. But what exactly are you supposed to be learning? What options do you have to exceed expectations and show off your stuff? And what if you're such a book-loving reader that in the dictionary under "bibliophile" there's a picture of you—how can you really max out your high school English experience?

Read on to learn about the common core, honors and AP classes, and going beyond what the standard curriculum offers!

What Do Colleges Expect?

You'll be hard-pressed to find a college that doesn't expect you to have taken 4 years of English or Language Arts classes. Likewise, the vast majority of high schools require 4 years of English in order for you to graduate. These 4 years are cumulative, meaning each year builds on what you learned before, and now each year is most likely based on the common core standards.

So, colleges assume that when you start freshman year, you've been learning all of this:

9th Grade is the setup year

  • you practice basic essay-writing skills
  • you study different literary genres
  • you analyze narrative voice, characters, and plot

10th Grade is the building year

  • you practice the outlining, drafting, and revising process
  • you focus on themes and literary devices like imagery and voice

11th Grade focuses on American literature

  • your writing gets more complex, as you do your own research and use outside sources
  • you now start reading not just for content but also for historical context, period, setting, and point of view
  • this is a good year to take American history as well

12th Grade looks out at the world

  • you read British literature and sometimes world literature, depending on your high school
  • you put all your skills together, analyzing complex literature and nonfiction
  • you produce research papers, presentations, and maybe even multimedia projects
  • this may be a good year to also take European or world history

Common Core Reading Standards

The High School English Classes You Should Take (2)There's... a lot of choice. Having a guide helps.

Want to know the type of books colleges assume you will have read by the time you get in? Here are some examples of what the common core standards want you to be reading in high school, broken down by year:

Literature: Stories, Drama, PoetryInformational Texts: Literary Nonfiction and Historical, Scientific, and Technical Texts
9th - 10th GradeThe Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1592)"Speech to the Second Virginia Convention" by Patrick Henry (1775)
"Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1817)"Farewell Address" by George Washington (1796)
"The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe (1845)"Gettysburg Address" by Abraham Lincoln (1863)
"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry (1906)"State of the Union Address" by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1941)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)"Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)"Hope, Despair and Memory" by Elie Wiesel (1997)
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1975)
11th - 12th Grade"Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats (1820)Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1848)Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
"Because I Could Not Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson (1890)"Society and Solitude" by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1857)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)"The Fallacy of Success" by G. K. Chesterton (1909)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)Black Boy by Richard Wright (1945)
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)"Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell (1946)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)"Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry" by Rudolfo Anaya (1995)

If you want a very long breakdown of what the common core recommends you study, check out their year-by-year guide.

(Video) High School English Subject: Pre Reading (Class VIII) - Part I

How Can I Exceed Expectations?

Honors Classes

These will most likely be similar to the standard classes your school offers, but the works you read will be more challenging and the assignments more complex and demanding. In other words, you'll do more work and put in more effort, but you'll be better prepared for college-level writing!

Pro tip: in your school, honors classes may be a prerequisite for AP classes.

AP English Classes

There are two AP English options:

  • AP English Language and Composition
    • if your school offers both AP English classes, this is the one you'll take Junior year
    • this class and exam are all about how writers do what they do: how they use rhetoric, genre, style, and how they play with audience expectations
  • AP English Literature and Composition
    • if your school offers both AP English classes, this is the one you'll take senior year
    • this class and exam have to do with critical analysis, close reading, literary structure, themes, as well as imagery

IB Diploma Classes

There are three IB literature options:

  • Language A: Literature
    • this course focuses on the analysis of literary texts
  • Language A: Language and Literature
    • this class takes the analysis further by looking at both literary and non literary genres, and by considering how the context of writing or reading something affects its meaning
  • Literature and Performance
    • this class is all about the relationship between literature and theater, focusing on close reading, critical writing and the aesthetic and symbolic elements of performance

Both Language A classes are offered in a variety of languages, and Literature and Performance can be taken in French or Spanish by special request, so these may be great options for non-native speakers or bilingual students.

Some IB diploma classes can be taken online, but the closest you'll come to English online is the Film SL class, which is all about the history, formal elements, technical production, and of course critical analysis of film.

What If I'm an English Class Junkie? Is There More?

The High School English Classes You Should Take (3)

Please, sir, may I have some more... English class? In this bowl, for some reason?

Check Out Your School's Electives

This is the time to think just a little bit outside the box! For example, classes in creative writing offer a great window into later being able to see how someone else did it. Electives in the humanities can often offer what is basically a modified literature class. And there are many other subjects that focus on reading, analyzing, and writing about texts—subjects like philosophy, theater studies, world religions, psychology, or anthropology.

Design Your Own Course

Your school is your resource, so don't be afraid to get creative. Consider asking a teacher to help you set up an independent project or independent study to explore your interests!

(Video) English Class in School [Different Ways to Say BORING]

For example, in my senior year, on top of my coursework, with the help of my favorite English teacher I designed an independent study of reading and writing poetry. It was incredibly rewarding!

Take High School Classes Online

For instance, Stanford University has an online high school which features 7 English courses and lets you enroll to take as many of them as you want.

Brown University also offers a set of online pre-college courses. They have 4 related classes on nonfiction, travel writing, formal college writing, and a humanities seminar on evolutionary thought.

Take Summer Classes on College Campuses

You can check out our guide to the Summer Institute for the Gifted or all the info we have collected about Stanford's two summer programs.

Take Some Online College-Level Classes

Are you super confident in your abilities or interested in something specific you can't find anywhere else? Maybe the best thing for you to do is prove yourself on a whole another level! Just think, doing well on a college-level course will look great on your transcript, and you might even get college credit for it!

What's Next?

Need to improve your acquaintance with key literary terms? Use our articles on personification, imagery, rhetorical devices, point of view, literary elements, assonance, and iambic pentameter to aid you in your quest.

Still wrestling over whether AP or IB is better? Check out our guide to deciding between them.

Curious how your writing skills will apply to the SAT? Read about how to improve your SAT writing score, or better yet, how to get a perfect 800 and how to get a 12 on the SAT essay.

And don't forget to read about the ACT Writing test and SAT essay.

(Video) Highschool subjects as humans generated with AI - Part 2

The High School English Classes You Should Take (4)

Thinking ahead to college applications?

If you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior worried about college admissions, our world-class admissions counselors can help. We know exactly what kinds of students colleges want to admit and can make sure your profile shines.

PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We've helped thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

Join our mentoring program today:

The High School English Classes You Should Take (5)

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!

The High School English Classes You Should Take (6)

Dr. Anna Wulick

About the Author

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

(Video) CLASS X ENGLISH ( COURSE BOOK ) CH -08 At The High School

Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT

(Video) The Amazing AI Super Tutor for Students and Teachers | Sal Khan | TED


The High School English Classes You Should Take? ›

As long as they both get taken, no one should care. I mean you did the work, as long as you pass the classes it doesn't matter when you took them.

Can you take English 3 and 4 at the same time? ›

As long as they both get taken, no one should care. I mean you did the work, as long as you pass the classes it doesn't matter when you took them.

What should be taught in a high school English class? ›

Students will grow in their ability to communicate in formal and informal situations while developing the interpersonal skills required for effective collaboration.
  • Comprehension and collaboration.
  • Presentation of knowledge and ideas.
  • Research to build and present knowledge.
  • Range of writing.

What is the easiest English class in high school? ›

AP English Literature

English classes typically come across as one of the easiest AP classes. Even though AP English Literature covers college-level reading, you should still do well in this course as a junior or senior!

What are three important reasons why students must take English classes before graduating from high school? ›

English courses can be helpful for improving your fluency in speaking, polishing your writing skills and targeting specific skills you need for a particular social or professional environment.

What is 9th grade English called? ›

The basic level for a 9th grader is often listed as English I (may also be called English 9). This course will often teach the fundamentals of higher-level literature and how to analyze and respond to such literature.

What do 12th graders need to learn in English? ›

While critically reading fiction, poetry, drama, and expository nonfiction, 12th graders will learn comprehension and literary-analysis strategies. Tasks will build oral language skills and produce creative, coherent writing.

What is 11th grade English called? ›

Language Arts

In 11th grade, students will likely study American, British, or World literature, completing whichever course they did not complete in 9th or 10th grade.

What should 10th graders learn in English? ›

What English Language Arts Concepts Should a 10th Grader Know? A typical course of study for 10th grade English language arts will include a diverse selection of world literature organized into thematic chapters. Students will be encouraged to refine their listening, speaking, and writing skills.

What should be taught in 9th grade English? ›

A typical course of study for 9th grade English language arts will include a variety of literary works from different cultures around the world. 9th graders usually cover book reports, which build both reading comprehension and composition skills, as well as expand on writing skills they built in previous years.

What English should I take senior year? ›

There are two AP English classes: English Language and Composition (usually taken junior year), and English Literature and Composition (usually taken senior year).

What is the hardest class in high school? ›

  • Physics 1. As one of the hardest high school classes, this course includes not only algebra but also scientific inquiry and physics. ...
  • Environmental Science. ...
  • Chemistry. ...
  • U.S. Government and Politics. ...
  • U.S. History. ...
  • Human Geography. ...
  • European History. ...
  • Statistics.
Dec 17, 2022

What is the lowest English class? ›

English Course Levels
LevelLevel name
B2Upper Intermediate
2 more rows

Why is English so important in high school? ›

English language plays an essential role in our lives as it helps in communication. It is the main language for studying any subject all over the world. English is important for students as it broadens their minds, develops emotional skills, improve the quality of life by providing job opportunities.

What grade would a 15 year old be in? ›

Grade 10

How many AP classes should I take? ›

This is when you should start taking your AP core classes. Take 3 to 5 if you are aiming for a highly selective school, and 2 to 4 if you are aiming elsewhere. Note that many students describe this year as significantly harder than past ones. And you'll also likely be taking your standardized tests.

What does 11th grade English focus on? ›

Reading complex materials from a range of genres, including drama and poetry. Making logical inferences and conclusions from text evidence. Analyzing the structures of various texts and how those structures relate to the purpose. Interpreting the use of rhetorical devices and subtle changes in word meaning.

What English skills do students need? ›

What do employers say are the most important English skills? Overall, employers say they want all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). So it's important to practise all of them.

What skills do you need for English class? ›

Skill #1: Listening. Skill #2: Speaking. Skill #3: Reading. Skill #4: Writing.

Is junior year the hardest? ›

Although some people might find that freshman year of high school is challenging, junior year would typically be the most difficult, busy, and important year because of everything you have to juggle from academics, extracurricular activities, and college preparation to still keeping a social life.

How old are you in 11th grade in Korea? ›

School grades
Level/gradeTypical age
10th grade15-16 (17)
11th grade16-17 (18)
12th grade17-18 (19)
Post-secondary education
16 more rows

What is taught in English 3? ›

English III Advanced Placement

This course engages students in becoming skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts, and in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes.

What is taught in high school English 2? ›

English II builds upon students' foundation of critical reading and analytical writing skills. Through texts that range from investigative journalism, essays, articles, and historical documents to short stories, drama, and poetry, students analyze the use of elements in literature and nonfiction.

What are ELA skills in high school? ›

DoDEA defines literacy as: reading, writing, speaking, and listening across disciplines. Our curriculum engages students in both traditional print formats and interactive multimedia to increase student capacity to be digital citizens and learners.

What does English 10 consist of? ›

English 10 is a course organized around the study of various genres of literature, including novels, non-fiction expository texts, drama, and poetry. The course emphasizes instruction in the development of clear argumentation, support, and structure of analytical paragraphs and essays.

Why is 9th grade English important? ›

Ninth grade English engages students in a rich, challenging year of growth as thinkers, readers, and writers. Instruction develops higher-order thinking through a focus on critical reading, essay writing, language usage and style, the elements of literature, and vocabulary development.

What do you learn in 9th grade advanced English? ›

Course Description: English 9 integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing through studies of literature and composition. Types of literature studied include biographies, autobiographies, essays, short stories, dramas, speeches, and novels.

What is taught in 9th grade ELA? ›

English 9 covers literary terminology, vocabulary building, test-taking strategies and a range of text types. Students will be reading fictional literature as well as non-fiction informational texts.

What happens if you get a 4 in English language? ›

Therefore, even if you are not happy with the result, it is important to remember that getting a 4 still means that you have passed your GCSE English Literature or Language exam. Achieving a grade 4 essentially means that you have displayed a basic solid knowledge of the subject – it is nothing to be ashamed of!

What grade is English 3? ›

11th Grade English III Curriculum.

Do you need a 4 in English language? ›

For studying any A-Level, you need to have achieved five GCSEs between grades four to nine. One of these GCSEs must be GCSE English Language. However, for specific subjects that you want to study at A-Level, a grade four may not be enough. This is because a grade four is just a pass.

What is English 3 in college? ›

English III Advanced Placement

This course engages students in becoming skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts, and in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes.

What is English 4 honors? ›

English 4 Honors is an advanced course that will study the masterworks of British literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to contemporary era. This course also includes intensive work on composition, including literary analysis and criticism and other expository forms.

What grade is passing in English? ›

C - this is a grade that rests right in the middle. C is anywhere between 70% and 79% D - this is still a passing grade, and it's between 59% and 69% F - this is a failing grade.

What grade do you need to pass English? ›

You may already know that the grade which is seen as a pass is grade 4 in the new grading system. This means that if you receive a grade 4 for English, well done! This means that you have passed. Different exam boards contain different amounts of marks in their papers.

What is taught in English 2? ›

The purpose of English II is to provide a balanced language arts course that explores literary concepts, themes, and genres. This class will promote and encourage an understanding and appreciation of literature through the study of short story, poetry, drama, the novel, and historical speeches/essays.

What is English 2 honors? ›

Description. English 2 Honors promotes excellence in English language arts through the study of world literature. This course provides instruction in universal themes found in world literature as well as in the critical analysis of various genres in that literature.

How can I get Grade 7 in English? ›

Top Tips for English Language GCSE Exam- 2023
  1. Use the exam to help you. ...
  2. Don't rush to the writing section. ...
  3. Familiarise yourself with a wide range of texts. ...
  4. Churn out all the cream of a quote! ...
  5. Be 'Perceptive' ...
  6. Research the mark schemes for GCSE English Language Past Papers.

What happens if you don't do your English speaking exam? ›

If you don't you will receive a 'Not Classified' result. Candidates need to achieve a 9-1 grade in GCSE English Language or the endorsement can't be awarded. The endorsement can't be added on later without resitting the entire qualification.

How many marks do you need to get a grade 4 in English language? ›

A grade boundary is the minimum mark you need to get a grade. For example, if the grade boundary for a Grade 5 is 122 marks, you need to get at least 122 to achieve a Grade 5. A mark of 121 would therefore be a Grade 4.

What is English 4 called? ›

Course Description

English IV (General) is a chronological study of the development of British literature through various genres including: non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and excerpts from various dramas, and novels.

How hard is AP English 3? ›

AP English Language is considered moderate difficulty, with class alumnae rating it 5.2/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 16th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

What is 10th grade English called? ›

In the U.S., tenth grade is also known as sophomore year. The word sophomore is ultimately from the Greek word "sophia", meaning wisdom or knowledge. It is listed as a North American English term by the Oxford English Dictionary [1] and it means little to the majority of English speakers outside the U.S.A.


1. At the high school class 10 english in odia part 1
(Odisha primary School)
2. At the high school class 10 english question answer paragraph 1, 2 & 3 by tapan sir
(Odisha primary School)
(Lisa's Study Guides)
4. School life conversation | Basic English conversation | Learn English | Sunshine English
(Sunshine English)
5. High School English:Post Reading [Discourse Editing](Class VIII) – Part I.
6. American School System (English)
(San Juan Unified School District)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Roderick King

Last Updated: 06/19/2023

Views: 5900

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Roderick King

Birthday: 1997-10-09

Address: 3782 Madge Knoll, East Dudley, MA 63913

Phone: +2521695290067

Job: Customer Sales Coordinator

Hobby: Gunsmithing, Embroidery, Parkour, Kitesurfing, Rock climbing, Sand art, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Roderick King, I am a cute, splendid, excited, perfect, gentle, funny, vivacious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.