What is the Hardest Grade in High School? Why?

What is the Hardest Grade in High School? Why?

What is the hardest grade in high school? It is generally acknowledged that the junior year of high school is the most challenging. Here is why.

It’s likely that if you ask four recent high school graduates which year was the hardest for them, you’ll get four different answers. While each year of high school will have its own stressors, many will say junior year is the most challenging.

For a variety of reasons, junior year can be the most challenging, but with the right preparation and expectations, high school students can make the most challenging year just a little bit easier.

See why the junior year of high school is the most challenging one.

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What is the Hardest Grade in High School?

The most difficult, busy, and important year of high school is typically junior year because of everything you have to juggle from academics, extracurricular activities, and college preparation to still maintaining a social life. However, some students may find that their freshman year is difficult.

Why Junior Year Can Be the Hardest?

Although each high school year is significant, a student’s junior year is particularly difficult and presents a number of special difficulties. Here’s what can make junior year tougher than the rest:

What is the Hardest Grade in High School? Why?

Course Load

Before students apply to colleges, junior year is the time to shine. It’s the last full academic year of grades a university will receive before deciding to accept or reject a student. To demonstrate to colleges their aptitude for academic rigor, students may decide to enroll in their most difficult courses during their junior year.

Some students may be enrolled in advanced placement (AP) courses. By studying college-level material while still in high school, AP classes give high school students the chance to get ready for college.

Students have the option to take the AP exams at the conclusion of an AP course. Scores from those tests may grant students college credits, so they can skip out on basic courses in their first years on campus.

If high school students choose to take advanced classes, their junior year can be a step up academically. In addition to having to take harder classes, there is pressure to succeed because grades can be used as a performance indicator for colleges.


Juniors have additional important exams to study for on top of their AP exams. Each test comes with its own strategies and approaches, meaning specialized study and prep. A junior might prepare for and take these tests during the year:

  • AP Tests. As was already stated, students who choose to enroll in an AP course have the option of also taking the associated AP exams.
  • PSAT/NMSQT. Students can take the Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as early as their sophomore year of school, but many take it their junior year. The PSAT/NMSQT has two sections; math, and reading/writing. Each section’s scores range from 160 to 760.
What is the Hardest Grade in High School? Why?

The PSAT, which is given in October each year, doesn’t have the same effect on college admissions as the SAT but, if a student receives a certain score, it may help them qualify for National Merit Scholarships. Although it is not required, taking the PSAT can be a good way to get ready for the SATs and maybe even qualify for scholarships.

  • SAT/ACT. Many colleges require test results from the SAT or ACT in order to admit students. A high SAT or ACT score, however, can give a student an advantage during the application process even if a college does not require them.

Most high school students decide to take the SAT or ACT exams in the spring of their junior year or the fall of their senior year. It may take a lot of preparation to get a great score on either test because they both have specific quirks and strategies that go along with them.

Some juniors choose to take rigorous in-person prep courses or take several practice tests before sitting for the exam.

College Prep

Juniors not only have more academic pressure on them and have tests to prepare for, but many will also add college preparation to their extracurricular activities. Finding a school that’s a good fit can take a lot of time, whether that means spending weekends touring campuses or doing research at night.

For all students, there isn’t a single way to guarantee the ideal fit. Some people might select a campus based on the degree they hope to earn, while others might do so because it is close to their home or fits within their financial range. Finding the ideal school can be time-consuming, regardless of the motivator.

There is no denying that junior year is very busy. The difficulty stems not only from the rigor but also from the stress brought on by having to make some significant life decisions. Freshman and sophomore year have their fair share of challenges, but the junior year will test the habits of students — pushing them to work harder academically and personally.

How Can You Alleviate Stress and Advocate for Yourself in High School?

What is the Hardest Grade in High School? Why?

You should get in touch with your school’s guidance counselor if you ever feel like you need assistance because they can be very helpful to you. You are encouraged by Michelle to network with a variety of people, including friends, acquaintances, teachers, and counselors.

Never be reluctant to ask teachers questions or seek out extra assistance. Reach out to people and share your interests if you want to be involved and active, especially if you need to ask your teachers for recommendation letters.

How to Set Yourself Up for Success as a Junior in High School?

You should try to stay organized and work on time management because junior year is a busy time. There will probably be more assignments and deadlines, so it’s critical to keep track of everything and finish your work on time.

Some of the tips:

  • Spend some time deciding what is really important to you to do (i.e. get rid of the distractions!)
  • Start your college research at the beginning of your junior year or even sooner
  • Create and write down academic and extracurricular goals

Setting goals for yourself can be very beneficial, especially if you put them in writing so that you will actually commit to them.

The Takeaway

The junior year presents students with the challenge of balancing their extracurricular pursuits, demanding academic coursework, and standardized testing, on top of the college application process. It shouldn’t be difficult to figure out how to pay for college. Students can begin thinking about the price of college and possible ways to pay for it as early as their junior year.

The junior year is a crucial one for college applications. But overall, you should work hard with academics and extracurriculars (don’t put too much pressure on yourself though!).


What is the Easiest Year in High School?

Going into high school, many students hear that freshman year is the “easiest” year. According to some, colleges don’t give it the same weight as their sophomore, junior, and senior years. Although this is usually the case, it doesn’t mean that students should completely discount the significance of their freshman year.

Is 11th Grade Hard?

Academically, 11th grade is the most rigorous yet for students aiming for selective colleges. Several students enrolled in a lot of honors and AP classes. Others will be tempted to increase their chances of achieving an ideal GPA by enrolling in easier courses.

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