How is High School Different from Elementary School?

Transitioning from elementary school to high school can be, and often is, a real challenge for students. While the Grade has only changed from 8 to 9, virtually every aspect of the education experience will have changed. We will highlight the most important changes here, but know that with the right strategy, the move to high school doesn’t have to be painful.

There are three main ways in which high school differs from
elementary school:

A new marking system
Firstly, one of the most jarring changes students encounter when entering high school is the new marking system. Unlike elementary school, evaluation will now be divided into four categories : knowledge, application, thinking and communication. These four are marked separately and then combined. Being aware of this can help students zero in on the areas they need to improve. More often than not, students have an easy time answering the straightforward knowledge questions, which are usually right or wrong. However, troubles often begin with application and thinking questions which require higher level analytical thinking that may or may not have been taught previously. These require not simply knowledge, but also the ability to understand concepts on a deeper level, and to apply them in real or theoretical situations. In Science this might take the form of asking a student to explain how to proceed with an experiment if they are trying to find a certain property from a substance. This requires knowledge of elements and reactions, and applying that for the desired result.

Tougher materials
Secondly, because of this, tests, assignments and exams are bound to be more difficult, but with a strong, and well planned strategy, students can prepare for this kind of questioning before becoming overwhelmed. The key to success in meeting these challenges is to develop strong and enduring study habits. While simply completing homework will not be enough in and of itself, keeping up with regular homework is essential (especially in science and maths which are cumulative) to understanding the material.

Faster pace curriculum to stay on top!

Finally, the quicker pace of semestered classes can present a district challenge to new students. A semestered class is one which is only run for a single semester, meaning that falling behind gets much easier and less forgiving. With these new demands on a student’s time, it is crucial that a strong work ethic and study habits are developed. Keeping on top of concepts and material, and seeking help as early as possible will help students to work through these new challenges. The worst case scenario is a student who has fallen behind, who has lost confidence, and who no longer bothers attempting to understand concepts. It requires a great deal of effort and assistance to “catch up” and answer application and thinking problems effectively. By maintaining a strong work regimen and seeking assistance in good time, students will set a foundation for success.

While high school represents a new and challenging stage in a student’s life, it need not be too daunting a challenge. With the right attitude toward work and being honest about the need for assistance, students can create the conditions to succeed in high school, and to thrive beyond.