9th Grade Subject Guide

When you’re a freshman in high school, you have to take classes that are required for graduation. There’s no other way around it. But what classes should I take? And how many do I need to graduate?

This is a difficult question and one that can’t be answered with a simple answer. Every student has different interests and abilities so the right answer will vary from person to person. But there are some general guidelines which might help you make your decision.

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9th Grade Curriculum Requirements

High school curriculum requirements vary depending on the state. However, most states require students to take 3-5 years of math and language arts with 4-6 years of science. Students may also be asked to take electives such as personal finance or foreign language. Since every high school is different, we recommend checking with your school to see what they require.

How many classes should I take in 9th grade to prepare for college?

Every student needs to take a core set of classes. These are the classes that you will need in any college or university and they include: 

In addition to these required courses, many high schools offer electives such as foreign languages, band, choir, and drama. The number and variety of classes that you take will depend on the number of credits needed for graduation and your interests.

High School of America’s 9th Grade Courses and Electives


How many electives can you take in 9th grade? 

In most areas of the country, you’re only allowed to take up to 4 electives. In California and New York City, it’s sometimes possible to take as many as 7 electives in your freshman year. If you want more than 4 electives but can’t manage to graduate early, you might consider taking courses online during the summer.

Below are electives all high school students should take

We have a broad selection of electives available in subjects such as:

Art, Criminal Justice, Science & Health, Internet Technologies, Business & Entrepreneurship & New Media and Health Sciences.

What are the best electives to take in 9th grade? 

Depending on a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, a good 9th grade elective is either humanity or a science class. A humanities course would be an AP language course such as French, Spanish, English, Latin, German, etc. A science elective would be AP Biology or Chemistry if interested in science/medicine or AP Environmental Science if interested in the environment.

However, it’s important to realize that 9th grade is a crucial year for honing academic focus. The courses taken at this time will affect what classes can be taken in both 10th grade and 11th grade and then on into 12th grade when students must complete not only college applications but also standardized college entrance exams. The time needed to prepare for these exams can’t be overlooked, which is why it’s best to take 9th grade electives that are already known to strengthen the student’s academic background knowledge in one particular field.

Some AP courses are not right for students who have yet to complete the prerequisite classes. Required courses include Algebra I, Geometry, and a basic science class such as Biology or Chemistry. These courses can typically be completed in the 10th grade if the student enters high school with advanced knowledge in some of these areas, but it’s still best to take some 9th grade electives that will cater to the strengths of the student while providing solid academic content for the future.

Options such as IB English, Intro to Spanish, World History, US History, and other AP courses should be taken in 10th grade along with other classes that build on previous academic knowledge. This is true for both general education electives and specialist-specific subjects depending on what direction a student plans to take academically after graduation.

The best 9th grade electives are those that are already known to prepare the student for future academic success. If unsure or overwhelmed, call or schedule a meeting with your child’s guidance counselor before the first day of school to determine what courses will be right for them.

What are the easiest electives in high school? 

English, math and history are thought of as the three easiest electives in high school. If a student wants to pursue one of these subjects at college, they will need to take various types of tests like the writing exam (required for English), the SAT II (subject standardized test) or CLEP (College Level Examination Program). These tests assess the student’s knowledge of their chosen subject and will likely count for credit at certain colleges.

The other type of test students may need to take is the AP (Advanced Placement) Exam. This test serves as an assessment tool that many US colleges look for when determining a student’s eligibility for college credit before entering college. Students who want to study these subjects at college are encouraged to take AP Tests throughout high school. For example, if you want to take an English class in college but have not taken the AP test for it yet, you would need to do so before applying as colleges might not accept non-AP students.

What science class should I take in 9th grade? 

Science class/course to take in 9th grade


IB Biology is one of the most popular science courses taken in high school. Offered at many schools, IB Biology provides an in-depth look into how living things function and interact with each other while introducing students to the basics of genetics (which includes studying inheritable traits). Taking this course can help out tremendously when applying for college or even medical school.

IB Biology also provides an impressive list of lab skills that are all designed to prepare students for future scientific research. Students must complete experiments, projects, and group-related tasks which require proper safety protocol in addition to the command of basic scientific terminology (and its application). These skills will prove helpful if a student intends to major in science/medicine after high school.

IB Biology is also rigorous when it comes to test-taking ability. Students are tested on all aspects of the course including vocabulary, projects/research topics, and understanding scientific theories. Though this may sound like a lot of work for one year in school, IB courses provide students with an excellent foundation for future success.

All of this makes IB Biology one of the best choices for 9th grade electives. Check out other popular science courses to see what fits best with your student’s personality/academic strengths.

What happens if you fail an elective?

If you fail an elective, it’s always possible to retake the course in your junior or senior year. If a student is struggling, they can also consider taking online courses during the summer.

Do electives matter in high school?

Yes! Electives are what make high school special. Not only do they expose you to new subjects, but they also help develop the skills that are necessary for success in college or your career.

Do you have to take 9th grade electives?

No, they’re completely optional! That said, they are encouraged for all students as they provide a strong foundation of skills that are necessary for success in high school and beyond.

How many electives can you have in high school?

That’s up to you! We encourage all students to sign up for at least 5 electives in order to get the most out of their high school experience.

How do you get credit for an online elective?

If you take an online course, whether it’s a 9th grade elective or otherwise, it will be considered the same as any other course. If students would like to receive credit for their courses, all that’s required is that they score 70% or higher.

What courses should I take in 10th grade? 

The core requirements remain the same and all schools require math, science and social studies/history to be taken. In addition, most schools also require two years of a foreign language. In most states, the requirement is two years of a foreign language or four semesters. You can often take one year in middle school and continue it in high school if you have already taken a class. Choosing a second language is much more difficult than choosing your first language because there are so many languages to choose from. Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Latin are all popular.

But how can I be sure that I’m choosing the right language? 

When you’re in 10th grade, you don’t need to make this decision yet because there’s still time to change your mind. You should really take a foreign language class in ninth grade if at all possible because it will help you decide if this is the right choice for you.

But what if I don’t want to take a foreign language? 

There are still plenty of options that will prepare you for college and university. You can choose from advanced math such as calculus, statistics, and trigonometry; Pre-AP (advanced placement) science classes such as physics, chemistry, and biology; Pre-AP humanities classes such as economics, psychology, and United States government.

In addition to these core requirements and electives that you should take in 10th grade, there are a few other courses that may be beneficial including:

  • Co-op/Internship – This is a great way to explore career options, build your resume, and gain work experience. It’s highly recommended if you want to be successful in the workplace after you graduate.
  • Driver’s Education – If you have not already taken driver’s education classes in middle school, then this is another course that will benefit you for future success. These courses are offered through schools or private driving schools and they teach you the rules of the road, get you a learner’s permit, and help get your driver’s license.
  • College Preparatory Curriculum (CPC) – If you want to attend college after high school, then it can be helpful to take classes that will prepare you for life in the classroom at a university. CPC courses include college-level classes in English, math, science, social studies and foreign languages. They are offered at most public high schools. 

What should I know about taking AP courses as a ninth-grader?

Many high school students take Advanced Placement classes in their junior and senior years. Sometimes ninth-graders will enroll in AP classes but others prefer to wait until they’re a sophomore.

If you do decide to enroll in an AP course, such as calculus or statistics, then you need to be committed because this is one of the most rigorous classes a high school student can take. The class alone requires a lot of time and effort so you also have to be fully committed to attending all the classes, doing all the homework, studying for tests, and participating in class discussions.

The benefit of taking advanced courses such as AP is that your college applications will stand out when compared to other students. This will give you an advantage when applying to college because you’ll be seen as having more potential than students with a less rigorous course load. 

Learn more about AP courses and dual enrollment in this article

How can I get ready for college after high school?

Your high school years are probably the last time that you will be able to try out different classes and experiences before you have to commit to a specific major very early in your college experience. Take advantage of this opportunity by taking some AP courses, studying for the SAT subject tests, and signing up for an internship or a co-op.

These activities will help you become more familiar with the types of classes and experiences offered at a university which can help you decide if this is the right choice for you after high school.

You may also want to try out different extracurricular activities such as joining clubs or playing on a sports team. This will allow you to meet new people, try different things, and get yourself out of your comfort zone.

Will I have enough time to participate in extracurricular activities?

Many high school students participate in some type of extracurricular activity outside the classroom. Some activities are more involving than others but all require a good amount of time commitment as well as a commitment to practice and rehearsals.

If you’re choosing between taking a traditional course load or participating in extracurricular activities, then it’s usually better to take the more rigorous classes. This is because you want your transcripts and resume to stand out when applying for college next year and having a heavy course load may give you an advantage.

However, if you choose to participate in sports, clubs, or other student activities, then it’s important that you’re honest with your parents and teachers about how much time you can dedicate outside of the classroom. Let them know what your time commitments are for each activity and be sure not to sign-up for too many extracurricular activities so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

What is the difference between AP and IB courses?

American Universities and colleges offer two programs that allow you to earn college credit while still in high school: AP and International Baccalaureate (IB). Both of these programs are respected by colleges and universities because they demonstrate that a student has completed challenging course work.

The biggest difference between AP and IB courses is that you can take AP classes in high school whereas the IB program has to be started in middle school.

Another difference is that all AP exams are graded on a scale ranging from 1-5 whereas your final score for an IB exam ranges from 1-7 with some exams requiring more than one writing component.

Overall, colleges and universities value AP more because you have to work harder for a 5 on the exam whereas IB courses are designed to be challenging but you can sometimes skate by without studying.

Should I take IB English? Should I take another language class instead?

IB English is a rigorous course that requires students to read novels, poems, short stories, and even watch plays. English skills are tested via written essays that must be well-written, properly cited (if applicable), and organized in a logical manner. IB English is known for having exceptionally prepared students who complete the course with high scores on their exams.

IB English also has an impressive list of past literary work which is studied throughout the year. Students are expected to not only read these works but also provide an in-depth analysis (via essays) with supporting evidence. This is done once with every work of literature that is assigned, which provides students with a diverse selection of literary analysis by the end of the year.

IB English is also great for students who want to pursue college degrees in English, writing, or education. These courses become much easier through the use of proper vocabulary and technical skills that are learned/required for IB English.

On the flip side, some students may not enjoy literature as much as others. If this is the case, consider taking another language instead (Spanish, French) which will prove to be more useful once a high school diploma is earned.

How will IB History help me?

IB History is an excellent elective for students who plan on going to college and majoring in the Social Sciences. Though not required by most universities, taking IB History can provide students with a significant advantage over those who haven’t before entering higher education.

IB History students study various historical events and societies through a course that is based on testing skills such as essay writing, analysis of primary/secondary sources (documents, paintings, etc.), and providing evidence to support claims. These courses are designed to prepare students for future college classes where they will be expected to learn about key people, events, and theories/philosophies that shaped the world.

IB History is also excellent for anyone interested in pursuing a career related to law enforcement or politics. Knowing how societies evolved can help predict future issues that could arise if not dealt with properly (natural disasters, civil unrest).

While taking IB History might not be necessary for everyone, it is an excellent course that prepares students for life after high school. Take a look at other IB courses to see what you are most interested in before signing up.

Are there any major downsides to IB courses?

Before committing, it’s important to know all about IB courses and whether or not they fit best with your student’s academic and personal goals.

One downside to IB courses is the workload. Since these classes are college-level (college and university credit can be earned), they require a significant amount of time and effort from students in order to complete the subject matter throughout the year.

This often includes late nights, early mornings, and/or weekends spent doing homework assignments and studying for exams. In some cases, students may be required to read a novel or watch a play as part of the coursework which requires an even greater amount of time and dedication.

In addition to this, most colleges require specific courses in order to apply (AP classes are often more than enough). If these courses cannot be taken during senior year, consider completing the IB requirements during the summer in order to be able to apply for college.

Is it necessary to get good grades?

Though this is certainly not true of every student who commits to taking an IB class, it’s common for students to only get accepted into the program if they maintain high academic standards throughout their studies.

IB courses are often rigorous and difficult, which is why only students who plan on graduating college with good grades should take part in the program.

For those who struggle to maintain above-average grades, it might be best to consider taking SAT/ACT prep courses throughout their school year so that they can get accepted into a strict IB class.

This way, students can still learn interesting material and get college credit while pursuing other interests such as sports or clubs.

When should I commit to taking an IB course?

The best time for any student to start thinking about taking the IB program is during sophomore year in high school. During this time, students take “Pre-IB” courses in order to prepare for the rigors of a full IB schedule.

In most cases, students who have been given permission to take part in the program receive an IB course syllabus during their sophomore year that shows how many hours/week they will need to commit in order to complete the assigned work. Knowing this allows students and parents alike to determine if IB classes are feasible for their schedules.

Working Part-Time After High School: Pros and Cons

Another option that some students choose is to take a year off after high school either to work or to travel. One of the benefits of working is that it allows you to make money for college while gaining some real-world work experience. You can learn more about working during and after high school in these articles:

The Best Paying Part-Time Jobs for High School Students

How Students Can Increase their Marketability

However, there’s no rule that says you have to work either. If you do decide to take a year off, then it’s important that you focus on self-improvement activities such as learning a new language, saving money for college, traveling, and interning in your desired field.

Overall, working after high school is a good way to prepare yourself for college and the future while earning some extra cash but it’s not for everyone.

By choosing to work either full-time or part-time you’re sacrificing some time that could be spent studying for the SAT, writing your college application essays, and generally preparing yourself for college life. This choice is usually dependent on the financial situation of the student and their family and whether they can afford to take a year off.

Free Online 9th Grade Classes vs Paid Online High School Courses

The between online high school courses and free 9th grade classes is quality. High-quality, paid courses are led by trained, committed teachers with real-world experience. Free courses are typically offered by teachers who may not have the best track record at their schools or just don’t care. We encourage students to think long-term instead of taking free online classes simply because they are more convenient. 

What’s the difference between an online class and my regular classes at school?

Your online class is typically taken from home and is led by a dedicated, passionate teacher. Your in-person classes are taught at your high school and maybe led by teachers who aren’t as interested in education.

What are the benefits of online high school courses?

Benefits of online high school courses


Online high school courses allow students to work at their own pace through content that is tailored to their individual needs. Teachers are also typically more accessible and responsive, leading to higher quality education overall. Furthermore, taking all of your classes online can help students graduate one to two years early.

Is it possible to get an associate’s degree in high school?

Yes, however, you would have to meet certain requirements including taking specific courses and having a high GPA. We encourage all students to consider college and take advantage of their local community colleges or universities in order to get ahead.

What’s the difference between traditional high school and online high school?

The biggest difference is that you can complete coursework on your own time with an online high school. You also have the flexibility of fitting your courses into your schedule, for example by studying at 2 AM if you feel like it! Online homeschooling also provides more customized education since students are able to work through individual courses at their own pace.

What are the requirements for graduating high school in my state?

For example, in Ohio you must show proficiency in 15 units of required content with passing grades on tests/assignments including 4 units of English language arts, 3 units of math (Algebra I or higher), 3 units of science (biology, chemistry, or physics), 2 units of social studies (including world history and American history), 1.5 units of fine arts, .5 unit of wellness, and 1 unit of either a foreign language or career-technical education to receive your diploma. You can find more information on the state requirements for Ohio here

Enroll for 9th Grade Online Classes at High School of America Today!

You Can Begin Enrolling in The 9th Grade Through High School Of America at Any Time! We provide one of the most flexible online high school programs in America today. Our courses are affordable, fun to learn, self-paced, and designed to help you succeed.

Online high school courses are ideal for students who are eager to get ahead of the curve through customized education. Enrolling online 9th grade classes with High School Of America is your first step towards college!