Some Terms Used in Secondary School


Student success is maximized by careful and appropriate course selection.
Courses are available in many subject areas in secondary school. Within a subject area, students can further specialize their study, depending on their personal interests. Students registered in courses in several grades may encounter timetable and examination problems. Students may not get all the courses they have requested due to timetable conflicts and the examination timetable may require a student to write more than one exam on the same day.
Note: Some courses require specialized equipment.

Types of Courses: Grades 9 and 10

Academic courses develop students’ knowledge and skills through the study of theory and abstract problems. These courses focus on the essential concepts of a subject and explore related concepts as well. They incorporate practical applications as appropriate.

Applied courses focus on the essential concepts of a subject, and develop students’ knowledge and skills through practical applications and concrete examples. Familiar situations are used to illustrate ideas, and students are given more opportunities to experience hands-on applications of the concepts and theories they study.

Essentials courses (sometimes called Locally Developed) are designed for students who will move directly into the workforce upon completion of secondary school. These courses lead to completion of the OSSD and access to the workplace, and some apprenticeship and college programs.

Students must choose between academic and applied courses (and essential courses where offered) in each of the core subjects – English, French as a second language, Mathematics, Science, Geography, and History. All courses set high expectations for students while preparing them for studies in the senior grades. The courses differ in the balance between essential concepts and additional material, and in the balance between theory and application. In planning courses of study, teachers should take into account the need to adapt instructional approaches and materials to reflect the differences between the two course types.

Open courses are the only type of course offered in these subjects other than those listed above. They are designed to prepare students for further study in a subject, and to enrich their education generally. Open courses comprise a set of expectations that are appropriate for all students: academic, applied and essential.

Types of Courses: Grades 11 and 12

University preparation courses (U code) are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for university programs.

University/college preparation courses (M code) are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for specific programs offered.

College preparation courses ( C code) are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the requirements for entrance to most college programs or for admission to apprenticeship or other training programs.

Workplace preparation courses (E code) are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the expectation of employers, if they plan to enter the workplace directly after graduation, or the requirements for admission to certain apprenticeship and some college programs.

Open courses are designed to broaden students’ knowledge and skills in subjects that reflect their interests and to prepare them for active and rewarding participation in society. They are not designed with the specific requirements of universities, colleges, or the workplace in mind.

Course Codes

Each high school course is identified by a five character “code”
( eg. ENG1D; BTT1O; MFM1P)

The first three characters refer to the subject and specific area.
eg., ENG is English. MAT is mathematics.

The fourth character normally refers to the grade:
1 = grade 9   2 = grade 10   3 = grade 11   4 = grade 12

The fifth character refers to the type of course as outlined above:
D = Academic; P = Applied; O = Open; M = University/College; U = University;
C = College; E = Workplace


A credit is granted when a course of 110 hours is successfully completed.
Students study 4 courses from September to January, and 4 courses from February to June, with examinations and reports at the end of each semester.


Some courses require that students have completed a “prerequisite” course in order to enrol. These prerequisite requirements are indicated in high school course calendars. Students and their families should study carefully the requirements for senior level courses when selecting a program in earlier grades.