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Yes, Grade 11 Marks Matter

I get so many questions about grade 11 marks. Here is some foundational information you must know BEFORE you read the rest of this blog post:

Every university is different. They each have their own requirements, processes, and timeline for admission. There is no standardization. What courses and marks they use to calculate your average for admission depends on many factors, such as:

  • What university you apply to

  • What program you apply to

  • When you apply (at what point in the admissions cycle you apply)

  • What year you apply (universities can change their requirements, processes, and timelines from year to year)

For this reason, I cannot say with any specificity what courses and marks will be used in anyone’s admission average. I can only tell you what it likely to happen. Only the university you apply to can tell your specifically, so that’s why I always say you should contact the university itself for specific information.

What I can say is that if you're in a semestered system, some grade 11 marks are often used for early admission decisions by many universities in Canada. But which ones they use, again, depends on the factors mentioned above. Because it’s such an unknown, I always tell students that if your school is semestered, assume that grade 11 marks will be used in your admission average.

If you want specific information, contact the university itself.


One of the most common questions I’m asked is, "Do grade 11 marks matter?"

The short answer is yes, they matter.

How they matter is a little more complicated to explain, but I'll try to keep it simple.

However, before I go any further, I must preface this article with a disclaimer: even though I'm a former Admissions Officer at 2 different Canadian universities, I don't—and can't—know how every single university in Canada calculates a student's average.

The following information is based on what happens most of the time, at many universities in Canada. It may or may not be exactly what happens when your child applies, but it's probably pretty close.

However, if you want specific information about how the universities you're applying to will calculate the admission and scholarship average, first check their websites for it. If you cannot find it (which is common), contact Admissions via phone or email and inquire.

Note: Some universities are now giving conditional acceptance to students based on Grade 11 marks (normally self-reported grades). This is a “real” conditional early acceptance; however, the more important set of grades is the Grade 12 first semester finals. These grades will need to be sent on an official transcript (or electronically), usually in January - March.

These are the grades that will determine if they maintain their early acceptance in the program and, in many cases, it will determined their entrance scholarship offer from the university.

Also, please note this information is for EARLY admission. Early admission is a conditional acceptance based on grades that are not final. There is no standardization. Each university will have its own early admission schedule (when they start accepting students), their own process (how they calculate your average), and their own grade requirements (what average you need for early admission).


So here's how it works...

Some Canadian universities require 5 Grade 12 academic courses for admission, and some require 6.

For my example, to try to keep it simple, let's use 5.

So, generally speaking, when calculating your student's average for early admission and scholarship, universities will use marks from 5 courses from your student's first semester finals (if the school is on a semester system) or from his/her mid-year grades (if the school is not on a semester system).

"But Janet", I hear you saying, "My child's school is semestered. What if they don't have 5 Grade 12 courses completed at the end of first semester?

That's when the Grade 11 marks come into play.

Most students don't have 5 Grade 12 courses completed at the end of the first semester—even if they do, they probably don’t meet all the pre-requisites required for their desired program—so admissions officers will use Grade 11 marks as 'predictors' for Grade 12 marks. Which marks they use depends on what program the student has applied to.

Every degree program (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and so on) will have certain Grade 12 courses that are required for admission. For example, Arts generally requires English 12 + 4 other Grade 12 academic courses.

To illustrate how Grade 11 marks factor in, let’s say your student is applying to Engineering. The requirements are English 12, Pre-cal 12, Physics 12, Chemistry 12 and one other grade 12 academic course.

If the student has completed English 12 and Pre-cal 12 in first semester of Grade 12, those courses are used (these will be final Grade 12 marks). If the student is taking Chemistry and Physics in their second semester of Grade 12, the student’s Grade 11 marks in these subjects will be used for these required courses as 'predictors' for Grade 12 requirements.

The other course used in the average can be any other Grade 12 academic course (which may have been completed in Grade 11 or Grade 12, it doesn’t matter which one).

Here is the example broken down:

Engineering requirements: English 12, Pre-cal 12, Chemistry 12, Physics 12 + one other grade 12 academic course. Here are the courses and some made-up grades, with the calculation of the admission average:

English 12 - 91%

Pre-calculus Math 12 - 87%

Chemistry 11 - 88%

Physics 11 - 85%

Global History 12 - 94%

Admission average: 89%

The goal is to be accepted to a program as soon as possible so you know your options. Early admission can be especially important if your student is applying to a competitive, limited enrollment program, and/or to residence.

And remember, the early admissions average is also (usually) the average the university uses for entrance scholarship consideration.

So, a lot is riding on those Grade 11 and Grade 12 first semester marks!

I always emphasize that students should try their best in both Grade 11 and first semester of Grade 12.

Not to stress y'all out, but these grades may be the most important of your academic life so far!

The second semester Grade 12 marks are checked by admissions to make sure requirements are met, and sometimes they are used for scholarships (your schoalrship offer may increase if your grades are higher in second semester).


Part of the reason why I wrote this blog is to help parents and students understand the university entrance scholarship process, because the best opportunity for your student to get a scholarship is in Grade 12, for when they enter university. There will be far fewer opportunities once they are attending university.

Of course, the final and best reason to do well in Grades 11 and 12 is to know the information well enough so when you get to university, you’ll be adequately prepared.

But a little less stress about admission—and possibly some scholarship money—is a great reason too!

I work with students across Canada. I can help your Grade 11 student get set up for admission and scholarship success in Grade 12.

Contact me to discuss my services!

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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