American high schools are divided into public high schools and private high schools. Public high schools are funded by local government taxes, so the qualifications of teachers are clearly defined. Private schools are funded by private agencies, such as churches or charities, and they hire their own teachers. Public high schools provide free education, while some private high schools charge more for tuition so schools can hire well-qualified teachers to protect their school's students and reputation. In some good school districts, there are ‘Gifted Programs’ in public high schools, which select students by their test scores, raise standards of teachers, and attract many qualified families, which enhances the local school district. Public high schools do not have dorms. Some private high schools can be boarding schools, or include dormitories. Boarding schools are generally better in terms of teaching and education quality, and the 24-hour closed-door management gives students and teachers more opportunities to communicate. Students meet more people of different cultures, as well as building independence in students. Boarding schools also exercise students' self-discipline and independence. Boarding schools are also relatively safer. Of course, if you can find a good host family, the integration of language and culture and learning how to get along with people are much more important. There are multiple places to go to school in cities, students have more opportunities to get in touch with society, and students have more time with their families.
American high schools usually start from the ninth grade, and end at 12th grade (relative to the third of the third year in China), regardless of arts and sciences. It is similar to the university's use of credit system. Each school will have different course requirements, divided into compulsory courses, electives, AP courses, IB courses and honor courses. Compulsory courses include English, mathematics, natural sciences, social studies, etc. Electives cover fields such as economics, law, architecture, foreign languages, arts, water conservancy and commerce. Each course has different levels of difficulty and students can choose accordingly, considering their own situation. Some courses are only one semester long, while others last a school year or even longer. Taking 5-7 AP courses is a reasonable option, so that some AP credit will be included, without burdening the GPA. For students with low learning efficiency, you can also take summer courses. High school electives are taken into account on the university application. GPA is important, but admission to U.S. universities are also based on the difficulty of the course. For international students, many American private high schools offer ESL (English as a Second Language) and many things are scheduled after school. Therefore, international students can take both major and language courses at the same time. There are many ESL classes that even cover SAT and TOEFL classes and offer arrangements for U.S. high schools to apply for U.S.-sponsored international students.
AP is short for Advanced Placement and is an education program run by the National College Board for high school students with excellent grades. AP courses are equivalent to the American University prerequisite courses, and equivalent to the difficulty of basic courses for the freshman. There are 22 subjects and 37 total different courses. It is required to pass the AP exam held globally by ETS every May to earn AP credit. Different universities in the United States also have different requirements for AP test scores. Depending on the university, some AP classes may not be able be exchanged into university credits. Because many American university tuition fees are collected according to credit, the biggest advantage of passing the AP exam is that you can save money.
Honor Courses: Most U.S. high schools have honor courses. Honor courses are equivalent to the top class, being more difficult than the average course. Due to the difficulty of the course, GPA scores also outpace regular courses, usually 4.25 or 4.5. The application of prestigious schools also has a crucial role. Usually Honor class students are allowed to take the class based on the previous semester GPA, so not all students can participate.
IB: IB is short for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and is a two-year foundation program for high school students. Unlike the AP and Honor classes, IB is an independent program. IB courses have their own independent curriculum, so IB courses around the world follow the same syllabus, and participate in a unified graduation selection test. IB courses are divided into six basic disciplines, each participating IB students must choose one course per group. Each course is divided into HL (High Level) and SL (Standard Level), and each student must choose at least three HL courses. Students who complete the two-year IB course will take their exams in May of each year and if their score is passing, they receive the IB Diploma. Most American universities are accredited, including Ivy League.
The SAT is one of the universally accepted admission tests created by the two major non-profit educational organizations in the United States, Education Testing Service (ETS) and College Board. It and the ACT (American College Test) are well-known as the major United States college entrance examinations. In 2016, the SAT was revised to have a total score of 1,600, divided into reading and mathematics in two parts, writing being optional. The ETS is be available to provide reference to students. They are not completely deterministic factors like the college entrance examination. The SAT score is valid for 2 years. SAT exams including thewriting section takes 3 hours and 50 minutes (230 minutes). SAT is divided into SAT1 and SAT2 exams. SAT1 is the SAT test we usually refer to, and the full name is SAT Reasoning Test. For an introduction to SAT1, SAT2, also known as SAT Subject Test, is a special exam, and many top-ranked university entrances require students to provide 2-3 SAT2 results. PSAT full name is the Preliminary SAT, SAT exam preparation exam, which is held in October each year. American high school is generally 4 years, and usually in the third year students will participate in this exam. The PSAT / NMSQT and PSAT 10 scores are 320-1520 (160-760 for each section) and PSAT 8/9 is 240-1440 (120-720 for each section). The PSAT testing time is 2 hours and 45 minutes, the test content and SAT are very similar. Some people think that PSAT is simpler than SAT, which is not always true. PSAT has the first raw score, which is then calculated as the final score. However, the PSAT is not as important as the SAT, because university applications generally do not need this score. Americans test PSAT mainly to obtain the American National Merit Scholarship, and only the third year of high school students can take it. The full name of the ACT test is American College Testing (American University Exam), and it is also a standardized test. ACT was introduced by Everett Franklin in 1959 and appeared as a competitor to the SAT. The ACT exam consists of four sections, English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning. In February 2005, the optional Writing section was added to the ACT exam. So SAT and ACT are two very similar exams. Almost all 4-year universities in the United States accept SAT scores and/or ACT scores.