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Course Guide Introduction

 Concordia International School Shanghai - Graduation Requirements

Select courses from Concordia's rich and extensive program offerings that provide a balanced and challenging program that suit your passions and support your long term goals. Concordia offers an American-based rigorous curriculum that meets university entrance standards for whether you wish to study in the United States or Internationally. A broad base of subjects in all academic areas is required for graduation. The digital Course Selection Guide will assist you in planning a high school program to meets your needs, interests and goals for further education. Courses represent what the high school may offer in any academic year. Generally, students study eight subjects each year, including: mathematics, science, English, social studies, identity & spirituality, physical education, world language, fine arts as well as additional electives.

Course Selection Process

Every Spring, the course selection process begins for the following academic year. Enrolled students complete the Four-Year Plan with their parents, submit a copy to their counselor and the student then enters the Course Request portal in Aspen and selects the courses they wish to take during the next school year. Newly admitted students will complete the process with support from High School Administration and counselors.

*Please note that the inclusion of a course description in this guide does not guarantee the course will be offered or will fit into a student’s schedule. The scheduling of a course is often dependent on a minimum number of interested students and the most effective utilization of teachers in particular subject areas.

Study Hall

Students are given one period in eight for a study hall. All Grade 9 students and all new students, regardless of grade level are required to have a study hall period. The study hall gives the student dedicated time to begin their homework or to study for an upcoming assessment. Any request to drop study hall must be approved by the administration.

What courses should I take in Grade 9?

In Grade 9, students take the following courses to fulfill graduation requirements. Many courses are prerequisite for courses taken in Grades 10-12.

  • Humanities 9
  • Math (appropriate level)
  • Biology
  • World Language (appropriate level)
  • Physical Education & Health
  • Fine Arts option
  • Study Hall (required)

What courses should I take in Grade 10?

  • World Literature
  • Math (appropriate level)
  • World History or AP World History
  • Chemistry or Accelerated Chemistry
  • World Language (appropriate level)
  • Reflective Spirituality
  • Physical Education 10
  • Fine Arts option
  • Study Hall (required)

What courses should I take in Grades 11 and 12?

Concordia’s High School curriculum provides students with a well-rounded education that combines both breadth and depth to their coursework. All students who meet Concordia’s graduation requirements will receive a high school diploma; however, in order to maximize your potential as a student, we recommend all Grade 11 and Grade 12 students to select a course load that will challenge them academically, cover a broad range of subjects and meet the admissions requirements of the universities in the country where they intend to study even if they are more rigorous than Concordia’s minimum requirements for graduation.

Graduation Requirements

Course Credits

Graduation from Concordia (Grades 9-12) requires the completion of the following high school course credits.

  • 4 credits of English
  • 3 credits of Social Studies
  • 3 credits of Science
  • 3 credits of Math, with a minimum ending level of Algebra 2
  • 2 consecutive credits of World Language
  • 2 credits of Fine Arts
  • 0.5 credits of Health
  • 2 credits of Physical Education (participation required each year while at Concordia)
  • 2 credits of Identity & Spirituality (participation required each year while at Concordia)
  • Electives

Virtually all students select more courses in some disciplines than the requirements demand.

Eight full semesters of high school attendance are required. For students who do not complete all four years of high school at Concordia, eligible credits from their previous high school will be added to those courses completed at Concordia to determine when graduation requirements have been met.

Four Year Plan

The Four-Year Educational Plan helps you take a long-range view of planning classes for both the upcoming year and for each of your remaining years of high school to ensure a holistic approach to your Concordia experience. This process is not so much about the courses that are ultimately selected, as it is a conversation starter between a parent and child regarding future plans, interests and skills.

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Planning for University Admission

In completing your Four-Year Educational Plan, take advantage of the wide range of learning opportunities at Concordia. Doing your research and knowing ahead of time what your desired universities or colleges are looking for in admissions can boost your chances of acceptance. Check college/university websites for their specific requirements.

The course sequencing chart on the next page provides students and parents with an overview of the courses offered at Concordia. Please note that not all courses listed are offered every semester due to student demand and scheduling constraints. Any course with an Accelerated or AP label is an advanced level and thus a more rigorous program. All AP courses require external assessment. For specifics on each course, please see the course descriptions by department. Specific situations may allow students to do higher level coursework than is suggested for their grade level; each case is assessed on an individual basis.

Advanced Studies

All Concordia students are expected to exhibit an ability to think critically and creatively, write clearly and persuasively and participate actively in class discussion. For those seeking additional challenges in particular disciplines, Concordia currently offers several independently designed Applied Learning courses with real-world application as well as 20 Advanced Placement (AP©) courses and exams to provide high school students access and exposure to college-level rigor. The AP designation for a Concordia course indicates there is an external exam at the end of the year. Concordia administration, counselors and teachers are available to advise students regarding appropriate course loads.

We stress the importance of balance in order for each Concordia student to have a healthy and well-rounded high school experience.

Balance is important and a student’s class schedule should not be over-weighted with too many AP (or Accelerated) courses. Students should keep in mind the demanding nature of their course load, as they participate in co-curricular activities. Typically, students in Grade 10 may take one AP class. Grade 11 students may take up to three AP courses and Grade 12 students may take up to four AP courses. There are exceptions to these limits but they are considered on a student-by-student basis.

AP courses are college-level courses and the level of work is rigorous. Students choose and request the courses they wish to take and the faculty reviews the course requests to determine if the load is appropriate to their individual needs.

Class Rank & Grade Point Average

Concordia does not rank its students. As a statistical measure, the population of students is too small to have any comparative value when using rank. Additionally, Concordia does not weight grades for AP or Accelerated courses. The GPA maximum is 4.0. Concordia does not include credits earned at other institutions in the calculation of a student’s GPA.

Grading Scale

The scale below indicates the grade percentage, letter grades and points earned towards a student’s GPA at Concordia.
Grade Percentage Letter Grade Grade Points for GPA

Grade Percentage
Letter Grade
Grade Points for GPA
Below 60F0

Math and Language Placement

Initial Placement

Any students seeking placement higher than Algebra I will take a placement test prior to the start of school or within the first two days of arriving on campus mid-year. Math and Language placement testing is required for every student and results determine student placement regardless of course completion at a student’s previous school. It is critical that a student come to these tests feeling confident and having reviewed prior learning and able to demonstrate their level of content mastery. Calculators will not be used for most math exams. Foreign language placement tests will be required for students selecting non-entry-level courses.

Testing Out of a Math Course

Mathematics is a progressive course of study. Each course builds upon the skills and understandings mastered in previous courses. The Concordia math department has carefully designed the different mathematics tracks and courses of study to give each student an optimum chance for success as they develop their math skills.

On the rare occasion, it is appropriate to modify the set course of study to meet a specific student’s needs (e.g. allowing a student to test out of a course), however, this is not in the best interest for the majority of students. The math department has put this policy in place to ensure that students do not jeopardize their chances of future success by progressing too quickly and missing out on important skill acquisition. Attempting to skip a high school math course is a very aggressive and difficult task. The testing out of a math course has proven to be successful for only those students who show exceptional work ethic and personal drive in mathematics.


A student must take the math course (on-line, summer school, university, or some other high school class,) for which they wish to receive an exemption. This class must match closely with the syllabus and course content of the corresponding class at Concordia. Every student who takes such a course will, in addition to the course's final exam, write an on-site, Concordia administered exam. This additional exam is to determine whether the student has sufficiently mastered the necessary skills to receive placement for their external coursework. Math course syllabi are available through the high school math department. Studying independently, with a tutor, with a parent, etc. is insufficient for required coursework.

Some Recommended programs include:

Note: If you would like to take a different program, you are required to speak with a high school math prior to taking the class to ensure that it parallels our program.

Brigham Young University (BYU)

Available online, this is the program most often used by our students. It usually requires two BYU courses to be equivalent to one year-long course at Concordia

Stanford's EPGY Program

Available both online or on campus, this program is geared towards Accelerated students and no longer provides a transcript, but a “certificate of completion”. Based on previous experience with this program, Concordia will still accept the certificate from Stanford, but you must request that your grade be included on the document.

Carnegie Mellon

This is an on-campus summer program that only offers AP level courses or higher

Northwestern's CTD Program

This on-campus summer program offers courses for students completing grades 7-9 or for AP level.

Other Important Things to Consider

  • Some of these programs allow calculators on coursework while the test that students will Need to write at Concordia for placement is usually non-calculator.
  • Students should complete the required course work by mid-July so that the transcript will be available by the test date in August.
  • Students who take online classes during the summer should attempt to start the class prior to the end of the school year.
  • The summer is a very short period of time to cover such depth and breadth of material so the longer a student has to prepare, the better.
  • Some of these programs will require a letter of recommendation for entry, which is more difficult to obtain during the summer.

Concordia is not responsible for the student’s summer course. Proctors for exams, requesting transcripts and the like are the responsibility of the student and his/her family and not Concordia teachers or administrators.

Eligibility to Sit for the Placement Exam

There are four items needed to ensure eligibility to sit for the exam. At least one day prior to sitting for the exam the student must submit:

  1. Recommendation from the Concordia teacher of the student’s most recent math course
  2. Proof of enrollment from a recognized math program
  3. The course syllabus (which will be reviewed by the math department to see if sufficient content will be covered–only if the program is not one of the ones listed above)
  4. A transcript with a minimum grade of a B on the final exam and a B in the course

Exam Performance

If the student has been determined to be eligible to sit for the placement exam, the math department will administer the exam on a specified date at a specific time. If a student is unable to attend the specified date there will be one makeup date after the start of the school year, which will require them to pay a proctoring fee of 300 RMB. These are the only two dates available to take placement exams. Exceptions will be given only at the discretion of the math department with no guarantee of alternative testing arrangements.

Exam Evaluation and Course Placement

The performance on the exam must show mastery of the concepts in order for students to be exempted from the course. The math department will consider the placement exam, the alternative course grade and performance in the previous year’s Concordia course to determine course placement. Upon request, an analysis of the skills exhibited on the exam will be prepared.
Please note: The course placement, by the math department, is final.

Course Change: Add/Drop Procedures

Student-initiated course changes are permitted during the first week of each semester and must be completed before the 12th day of the semester. All changes require consultation with their teacher and administration. Beyond the first week, classes may be dropped only in exceptional circumstances, with the approval of the principal. An Add/Drop Form must be completed by the student, signed by parents and submitted to the principal before a course can be changed. An Add/Drop Form can be picked up from the high school office.

Semester Final Examinations

High School cumulative final examinations are given at the end of each semester. Semester grades are determined in part by each student’s performance on semester exams, which typically count for 20 percent of the final grade for the course. Each course is graded separately.

Senior Exemption from 2nd Semester Final Exams
Any senior student with semester average of 90 percent for any class may elect not to take the final examination in that class. AP Courses do not have a 2nd semester final exam.

Explore the high school course guide and discover unique offerings across the disciplines