EDUCATION | Education tips

What You Need To Know About Canadian High School and Advanced Placement (AP) Courses


Canada has a well-developed system for high school students, allowing them to decide for themselves on course selection and pursue their passion. Canadian secondary schools adopt a credit system, and each province has different regulations for graduation from secondary schools. Today, I will use the Canadian province of BC as an example to analyze the benefits of regular high school courses and AP courses (pre-university courses) in detail.

To obtain a BC High School Diploma (Dogwood Diploma), you must complete 80 credits, 52 compulsory credits and 28 elective credits. Including at least four 12th grade courses (16 credits), these four courses must have grade 12 language arts courses. In addition, 30 hours of volunteer activities (work experiences) are required.

Required Courses

52 compulsory credits (13 courses):

  • English 10, 11, 12 (12 credits in total)
  • Mathematics 10, 11 or 12 (8 credits in total)
  • Science 10, 11 or 12 (8 credits in total)
  • Social 10, 11 or 12 (8 credits in total)
  • Art or practical skills 10, 11 or 12 (4 credits in total)
  • Vocational education 10, 11 or 12 (total 8 credits)
  • Physical Education 10 (4 credits in total)

Elective Courses

28 elective credits (7 courses):

Options of elective courses are varied, depending on the focus of the school. The selection of elective courses should be chosen based on students’ interests and the major they want to pursue in university. It can be an independent directed study, an authorized course, an external certificate, or a dual-credit preparatory course.

AP Courses (Advanced Placement)

AP course is the abbreviation of Advanced Placement, that is, pre-university courses. AP courses are equivalent to the grade 12 courses and first-year university courses, which can help high school students better integrate and adapt to the university.

Advantages of Taking AP Courses

  1. Improve the success rate of college applications: Universities focus on students’ learning potential and ability to cope with challenges based on students’ course selection and grades. AP courses provide academic opportunities to show their abilities and help students stand out in the competition for further studies.

2. Equip yourselves for a better writing skills: AP courses allow students to engage in discussions and group cooperation, as well as enhancing their academic writing skills.

3. Earn university credits in advance, saving time and money: As a university-level course, AP courses have been recognized by thousands of universities in more than 20 countries around the world. In addition to paying a lower fee for AP exams, students could get waived for specific university courses. 

4. Exploring the future path in advance: AP courses involve more than 30 courses. Students can have a deep understanding of the field of interest before entering the university and determine the university’s professional direction as soon as possible.

Volunteer Activities (Work Experiences)

Volunteer activities are a “compulsory course” for BC high school students. Students will not graduate from high school if they could not fulfill the 30-hours work experience requirement.

There are many types of volunteers in Canada, and students can choose to volunteer in community centers, public welfare organizations, animal protection organizations, children’s hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, etc. Most student volunteer hours far exceed the time required for graduation, and these experiences could also be added to the “personal statement” when students are working on their university applications.

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