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Elise Gout

The A-G Requirements

If you’re going through the labyrinth that is high school, you may have been introduced to something known as the A-G requirements. And, if you’re like me, you may be wondering how in the world the first seven letters of the alphabet apply to your future …


Here is a little bit of clarification:

What are they?

The A-G College Entrance Requirements are a series of high school classes that you have to complete and pass (as in, get a C or higher) to be at all eligible for admission at the University of California or California State University school systems. As stated by the University of California, they are implemented to “ensure that students have attained a body of general knowledge that will provide breadth and perspective to new, more advanced study.” In layman’s terms: they help prove that you know your stuff.

But before you start worrying, realize that the vast majority of these requirements will be synonymous to the credits that you have to complete to graduate high school. More often than not, students meet them without even really trying to.

How it Breaks Down

A – History/social science: Two years, including one year of world history, cultures and historical geography and one year of U.S. history.

B – English: Four years of college preparatory English that integrates “reading of classic and modern literature, frequent and regular writing, and practice listening and speaking.” (They are essentially asking that you take English every year of high school, which often is already mandatory).

C – Mathematics: This is perhaps one of the more important A-G requirements to keep an eye on. For many high schools, two years of math is sufficient to graduate. However, the UC’s and CSU’s desire three years of college-prep math that includes the “topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two and three-dimensional geometry.” (Think of it as one geometry class, one algebra class, and one class of “other” – trigonometry, more algebra, calculus…).

D – Laboratory science: Two years of laboratory science in at least two of the following: biology, chemistry and physics.

E – Language other than English: Two years of the same language other than English.

F – Visual and performing arts: One year chosen from dance, drama/theater, music or visual art.

G – College-preparatory elective: One year chosen from the “A-F” courses beyond those used to satisfy the requirements above. (In other words, if you take three years of a language, when you only need two, you will be satisfying the G requirement). Courses that are solely approved in the elective area also qualify, for example, woodshop or culinary arts.

It’s important when viewing these standards to realize that in many cases they are a bare minimum, so to speak. Just because you meet them does not automatically guarantee that the UC or CSU system will approve of your schedule as a whole.

Additionally, any questions that specifically pertain to your situation can most often be answered by your high school counselors (though do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section as well!)


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About Elise Gout

Elise writes articles for the Magoosh SAT blog to help teenagers during an exciting time in their lives. Despite residing in Southern California, where she attends San Dieguito Academy high school, she has no surfing abilities whatsoever; it’s actually rather sad. She is your typical senior high school girl who sword fights daily, and is pretty much convinced that bananas are a food sent from heaven. Elise will attend Columbia University next fall to study environmental science.

2 Responses to “The A-G Requirements”

  1. pheonix says:

    I’m 16 year old from india .my question is can I appear to SAT at age of 16??
    I’m preparing for IIT-JEE which is entrance exam for undergradute college in india and it is similar to SAT and GRE..

    • Rita Neumann Rita Kreig says:

      Hi Pheonix!

      Yes, you can take the SAT at age 16! 🙂 As far as I’m aware, the only additional requirement for taking the SAT in India is that you must bring a valid passport with your name, photo, and signature as your method of identification. Otherwise, you should be good to go. For more information about taking the SAT in India, I’d recommend taking a look at Collegeboard.org‘s International Registration requirements.

      I hope you find this information helpful! Good luck with your IIT-JEE and SAT prep! 🙂


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