Colleges want to know that you have taken the kinds of classes that will prepare you to do well when you arrive at their campus. Which courses they count and which they don’t might vary from one college to another, so the best way to be sure that you are eligible at any college you might want to apply to is to satisfy the UC and CSU’s required courses. These are known as the A-G requirements. If you satisfy them, you will have the courses you need to meet the basic eligibility requirements for almost any university.
History / Social Science (2 years) "A"
Two years of history/social science, including one year of world history, cultures and geography; and one year of US history, or one-half year of US history AND one-half year of American government.
English (4 years) "B"
Four years of college-preparatory English. If taking ESL-type classes, only the highest year can be counted towards this requirement.
Math (3 years required; 4 years recommended) "C"
Three years of college preparatory mathematics; the minimum pattern is Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. Math courses taken in the 7th and 8th grades that the student’s high school accepts as equivalent to its own may be used to fulfill a part of this requirement.
Laboratory Science (2 years required; 3 years recommended) "D"
Two years of laboratory science in at least two of these three subjects: biology, chemistry, and physics.
Language Other than English (2 years required; 3 years recommended) "E"
Two years of the same language other than English. Courses taken in the 7th and 8th grades may be used to fulfill part of this requirement if the student’s high school accepts them as equivalent to its own courses.
Visual and Performing Arts (1 year) "F"
A single yearlong visual or performing arts class such as dance, drama, music, or visual art (drawing, painting, etc.).
College Preparatory Elective (1 year) "G"
One year chosen from additional "A-F" courses beyond those used to satisfy the requirements above, or courses that have been approved elective classes.
FAQ - A-G Requirements
Q: What are the differences between college requirements and graduation requirements?
A: Graduation requirements are not the same as college requirements. Usually, you can graduate from high school but be a few courses short of meeting the A-G requirements. Graduation requirements might include courses that colleges don’t care about like PE or Health. One of the biggest things to remember is that, while many high schools consider a D to be a passing grade for graduation, UC’s and CSU’s don’t. A class must be passed with a C- or better for a UC or CSU to count it.
Q: How do I know if a class counts?
A: Good ways to check which classes at your high school will count for college are to ask your counselor or to check for yourself on the University of California A-G Course List website. If your school does not offer all the classes you need to satisfy the A-G classes, a good way to get them is to take them at a community college.
Q: I heard that colleges count my GPA differently than my high school does, is that true?
A: This is true. UC’s and CSU’s, for example, will count only the grades from your A-G courses, and only from your sophomore and junior years. The grades you earned freshman year don’t count in your GPA for UC’s and CSU’s, although you still have to get at least a C- to get credit for freshman classes. Some colleges will give an extra point to Honors, GATE, AP, or IB courses as well, so your GPA for college admissions might be a little different from the GPA on your transcript.