The Ultimate 10th Grade Subject Guide

The 10th grade can be a time of great change. You may not know what you want to do yet and that’s ok! Below is a complete guide for what classes you can take and how they can help you get ready to make your decision about college. Please note, these are just suggestions!

What subjects should I take in 10th grade? 

Here is a list of all the required courses for 10th grade:

  1. English Language Arts – English class is really important because you will need it to graduate from high school. In this class, you will learn how to write essays, read literature and respond to what you’re reading. If you don’t like to read, English might not be for you!
  2. Social Studies – Your 10th grade social studies course should focus on building your skills as a researcher! You will learn how to find, read and understand historical documents. You will also develop your writing skills through writing research reports.
  3. Math – Students who are interested in science might like math because it has many applications in the sciences. For example, you can use geometry to calculate the size of a room, you can use Algebra to figure out how many supplies you need for a certain task and you can use math to compare different investments.
  4. Science – Most 10th graders take biology, chemistry or physics. It is important to pick the class that interests you most because it will make learning more fun! If you’re a little nervous about science, don’t worry! Scientists are known for being incredibly helpful and they love to answer questions.
  5. Health/Physical Education – This class is important because it teaches you skills that can help you maintain your health throughout high school and beyond! In this class, you will learn the importance of being physically active, eating healthy food and having an understanding of how alcohol can affect your body.
  6. Art/Music – This class is fun because you will get to express yourself artistically. You don’t have to be good at art to take this course! Sometimes it’s just nice to have a creative outlet to express yourself.
  7. Foreign Language – The 10th grade is the perfect time to start learning a foreign language! Some students are able to complete two years of high school in one year because they are really motivated about learning a new language. Learning a foreign language will give you an edge when applying for college.
  8. Electives – It’s important to take electives that you find interesting because it will make learning easier! If your school offers an elective like art or computer animation, go for it! Sometimes students consider these classes as “extra credit” but they are important because they can help you figure out what you are interested in.         

10th Grade Courses at High School of America

10th grade is a time that students begin to realize that they need to get serious about their future and how they want to go about getting there. 

At High School of America, we believe in preparing students for the future by exposing them to courses that will challenge them and better prepare them for college and beyond. 

Of course it’s not the only factor that goes into college admissions, but it’s certainly important to ensure you are receiving a high quality education at your school. 

Here are some of our 10th grade courses and electives:

English 1 (1 Credit) Mathematics For College Readiness (1 Credit)
English 1 Honors (1 Credit) Algebra 1 Honors (1 Credit)
English 2 (1 Credit) Algebra 2 Honors (1 Credit)
English 2 Honors (1 Credit) Algebra I (1 Credit)
English 3 (1 Credit) Algebra II (1 Credit)
English 3 Honors (1 Credit) Advanced Placement Calculus AB (1 Credit)
English 4 (1 Credit) Pre-Calculus (1 Credit)
English 4 Honors (1 Credit) Pre-Calculus Honors (1.0 Credit)
French 1 (1 Credit) Geometry (1 Credit)
French 2 (1 Credit) Geometry Honors (1 Credit)
Spanish 1 (1 Credit) Introduction To C++ Programming (1 Credit)
Spanish 2 (1 Credit) Introduction To Computers (1 Credit)

What history class should I take in 10th grade?

It’s important to take history classes that interest you because you will be more engaged in the material! You can take American, World or European History.  There are also classes that focus on specific events or time periods. If you can’t decide, don’t worry! You can take more than one class if your schedule allows for it!

What science classes should I take in 10th grade?

There are lots of different types of science courses for students who are interested in learning about the world around them!

Some of these courses include:

  • Earth Science – This class focuses on the planet we live on. Students will learn topics like plate tectonics, fossils and climate change!
  • Biology – In this course, students will study living organisms from a variety of different perspectives including genetics, ecology and anatomy. This is a great course for students who are interested in becoming a veterinarian or doctor!
  • Chemistry – This course is for students who love learning about the different elements of our world. Students learn how to conduct experiments, what chemical reactions are and more!
  • Physics – Levers, forces…you’ll use lots of physical concepts in this class! If you enjoy working with your hands, this course is for you.

What math classes should I take in 10th grade?

If you are thinking about studying science or engineering in college, taking calculus in 10th grade might be a good idea to make sure that you will complete the course in your first year of college! If not, there are other math courses that are more focused on math applications.

High School of America offers these courses:

  • Accelerated Algebra – This course is for students who are really motivated about learning algebra quickly! Students start this class in 9th grade if they have already completed the 8th grade pre-algebra course.
  • Algebra 1 – This course will teach students how to solve different equations and systems of equations. If you are curious as to what pre-calculus is, this course will give you a better understanding!
  • Geometry – This course requires students to use deductive reasoning to solve problems that involve shapes. Students can measure angles and find the area of a variety of shapes in this course!
  • Pre-Calculus – This course will help students learn how to graph functions and solve different equations. Students will also work with conic sections, logarithms, sequences and series!
  • Statistics – This course is for students who are interested in learning about probability. Did you know that professional sports teams use statistics to make better strategic decisions? If you are curious about how statistics can help you make predictions, this course is for you!

What languages should I take in 10th grade?

10th grade classes honors


If your school offers Chinese or Spanish as a language to study, that’s great! If not, don’t worry. There are many options for students who want to learn a new language such as:

  • American Sign Language – This is a great course for students who are interested in learning how to communicate with those who are deaf or hard of hearing!
  • French – This course will introduce you to different vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure. You can even travel abroad and use your French skills to help you get around!
  • German – German is a language that is very similar to English. This course will help students learn phrases and vocabulary that is used in everyday life!
  • Spanish – If you speak Spanish, this is a great class to take if you want to improve your language skills or if you would like to learn how different cultures use the language.
  • Latin – Latin is a very old and important language and many English words come from Latin! This course will help students understand the language and even read some of the greatest classic literature in its original form.

What courses should I take for college?

There are a lot of college courses at High School of America, but there are also many options that can help you prepare for college too! Some programs include:

  • College Prep – This course is a great way to get your feet wet when it comes to college. The class will focus on topics such as studying in a group, preparing for exams and writing research papers.
  • Academic Success – If you are curious about how to study more effectively or if you would like to take the SAT in 11th grade, this is the course for you!
  • SAT Preparation – This course is an intense 3 days of testing your knowledge of all things SAT. You can learn new strategies to help with answering different types of questions and test out your skills on actual standardized exams.
  • College Prep & College Essentials – If you would like to take both classes, you can take them consecutively in 11th grade to continue building your knowledge for college applications and scholarships. In this course, students have the opportunity to complete a mock college application!

Do I have the right to appeal my placement?

You sure do! If you feel that you were placed into one of these courses based on a mistake or error, you can always appeal your placement. The school will then review your transcript to find where the error might be and change your course accordingly!

Tips for Choosing a High School Major

Choosing a high school major can be stressful. There are so many options. What should you focus on? Where do you want to go? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Make a list of all the classes that interest you from your required courses and electives 
  2. Take a look at what classes you liked or did not like 
  3. Think about what types of jobs you might like after school 
  4. Get advice from teachers, family and friends on your plans of interest 
  5. Test out different options by shadowing professionals or trying internships to see what interests you the most

With these things in mind, you will find it much easier to choose a high school major! Good luck!

If I am interested in an elective course, can I take it?

Yes! If you are interested in an elective course, ask your counselor or teacher to sign you up for it. Some of the most popular courses include: 

  • Graphic Design – This class will allow students to explore their creativity and let them work on projects that they can share with others. 
  • Arts – This course lets students experience different types of art projects. 
  • Computer Programming – Take this course if you are interested in learning how to create your own software or website!
  • Creative Writing – If you like to write stories, poems or scripts, then this is the class for you.
  • There are many more courses offered at the High School of America and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Why is choosing a major important when picking your classes at 10th-grade level?

Choosing a major is one of the most important things you will do as a high school student. If you choose your classes wisely now, it will help set you up for success later on in life with getting the right degree and opening up opportunities for careers! Generally, students who take challenging courses early on tend to have higher GPAs and better conduct records. These students also tend to get into their ideal colleges!

The importance of taking challenging classes in high school

The best way to get ahead in life is to take the most challenging classes you can while you are still in high school. The earlier you start, the better your chances are at succeeding. Many colleges have programs that allow students with good grades to skip specific lower-level courses, so it is important not only to earn a high GPA but also to have a transcript that is full of the most advanced courses.

What if I do not meet the criteria for my 10th-grade level course placement?

Not meeting the criteria can either mean having an incomplete class like English or History, or it could mean not passing your biology exam with enough points in 9th grade. If you feel like you did not meet the criteria and you still want to take a higher-level course, talk with your counselor.

What is an example of a 10th-grade placement test?

A sample of past exams includes the reading comprehension and writing portions from 9th grade and math levels of pre-algebra, algebra I, or geometry. If you are interested in taking a higher-level math course, you will need to take the appropriate level placement test.

How to Choose Courses That Will Help You Get Into College (5 Steps)

Choosing the right courses in high school is important because it affects your chances of getting into college. The following steps will guide you on how to make smart decisions when choosing your classes.

  1. Figure out what subject area interests you 
  2. Start taking challenging courses 
  3. Make sure you are prepared for college coursework by taking AP courses, especially if your dream college offers credit for them 
  4. Make sure you are prepared to take the SAT or ACT 
  5. Visit different colleges and find out what classes they recommend for students who are interested in their majors. That way you know what types of classes you should be taking now to prepare yourself.

How to Pick the Right Electives for Your Interests and Goals

Choosing the right electives can be tricky, but there are ways to make smart decisions. 

  1. Start small by choosing an elective based on a minor interest in a subject area you love
  2. If you want to explore a major in a field that interests you, take classes related to it in your major or choose electives related to it in a different subject area
  3. If you want a well-rounded education, take a variety of electives that appeal to different interests 
  4. If you have no idea what major you might choose in the future, take general electives in a variety of areas so you have plenty of options when choosing your classes

Should I Take AP or Honors Courses in High School? Why It Matters

Students who take AP and Honors courses tend to have higher GPAs and better conduct records than students who choose not to. They also tend to get into their ideal colleges!

AP or Honors courses are typically more challenging than the regular coursework offered in most high schools, so it is important that you are prepared for this type of work. If you do not think that you can handle the academic load, then it is better to take standard classes instead.

How much does your transcript count in college admissions?

The GPA and class choices on a high school transcript are very important for college admissions because these factors make up 50% of the score when schools decide whether or not to accept students. 

However, if you want to strengthen your application, there are ways to make your transcript better such as by taking higher-level classes and doing well in them. Also participating in extracurricular activities on top of challenging coursework will show admissions counselors that you can balance studying with other responsibilities.

Do colleges care about honors or AP courses?

How to Get Into Your Dream College (5 Steps)


Colleges care about the classes you take because it shows them how well you will do in their environment. 

AP and Honors courses are typically more rigorous, so taking these kinds of classes is great for students who are able to handle the academic load. However, not all colleges accept AP course credit. Some colleges in the Ivy League and other elite schools in the U.S., such as Stanford and MIT, do not accept AP credit for their core classes.

How to Get Into Your Dream College (5 Steps)

If you want to get into your Dream College or university, it is important that you choose classes wisely because they are 50% of the score when schools decide whether or not to accept students. 

  1. Pick college-level coursework if it is offered at your high school so you are adequately prepared for what colleges consider “college-level”
  2. Begin early by starting to research colleges in 8th grade. If you didn’t begin at 8th grade, 10th grade isn’t a bad time to start. 
  3. Take the SAT/ACT once you think you are ready for it
  4. Make sure you do and see everything you can to strengthen your application such as community service and extracurricular activities
  5. Ask for recommendations from teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors, or tutors who know you well 

What if my GPA is low? 

A low GPA is definitely not ideal, but if your school does offer AP and honors classes and you take them and do well in them, that is a positive sign for colleges. 

If your GPA is low because you did not take challenging coursework in high school, it is still possible to strengthen your application by taking courses at a community college or other institution. Doing well in those classes will show colleges that you can handle a more rigorous academic load. 

What’s the best letter grade for college applications?

The best letter grade to have on your transcript is an A or high B because these are considered “good grades” by most schools. 

However, if there is something specific you think would help your application, it is also a good idea to have the “best” letter grades for that subject. For example, if you are applying to a STEM-related major or you want to apply as a science major, having As in Honors and AP biology would be ideal for your transcript.

How many AP courses should I take?

Taking more than 8 AP courses is generally excessive and more than 10 is unnecessary, so it’s best to stick with the 4 or 5 recommended by most school districts. However, if your high school offers fewer AP courses than this number, you should take more to strengthen your transcript. For example, if you are applying for a STEM-related major and/or you want to apply as a science major, taking AP biology and AP chemistry will improve your transcript. 

What if my school doesn’t offer AP or honors courses?

Taking college-level coursework at a community college is an alternative way to strengthen your application because you are adequately prepared for “college-level” work. Doing well in those classes shows colleges that you are capable of doing more difficult coursework.

If your school doesn’t offer AP or honors courses, you can still do well in college-level work at a community college because these classes are generally considered to be of similar difficulty as AP or Honors courses. Taking them shows colleges that you are capable of dealing with the academic load.

The following are resources for students who are looking to learn more about college admissions, applying to college, or need help with their applications:

Is It Better To Take AP Classes Or Dual Enrollment?

Does Dual Enrollment Look Good on College Applications?

How Important is GPA to Colleges?

Is Online High School a Good Idea?

How to Save Money for College

5 Habits to Form Now to Prepare for College

Your Ultimate Guide to College Math Placement Test

How long should a 10th grader study? 

The key to a successful study session is not just how much time you devote but also what those hours are spent doing. It’s important for students of all levels and abilities, from the very beginning up through graduate school if necessary!

A good rule-of-thumb would be 7 – 10 hours per day with some flexibility depending on your needs as well as those things like family obligations or sports practices which may come up every so often during someone’s schedule year (a semester).

If you would like more information about how different courses work here at High School of America, please contact us at your earliest convenience!