Applied vs Academic

An Applied Course covers the essential concepts of a subject.  Knowledge and skills will be developed through both theory and practical applications, but the focus will be on practical applications.  In applied courses, familiar, real-life situations will be used to illustrate ideas and students will be given more opportunities to experience hands-on applications of the concepts being studied.


In an Academic Course, students will learn the essential concepts of a subject and explore related material.  Although knowledge and skills in the subject will be developed through both theory and practical applications, the emphasis will be on theory and abstract thinking as a basis for future learning and problem solving.


General Comparison

  • hands-on, concrete (practical)
  • personal & community examples
  • shorter, more familiar examples
  • step-by-step teacher directed
  • using prepared models in learning
  • conducting and reporting on research
  • recognizing and describing what is heard/read
  • developing essential skills
  • abstract (theoretical)
  • complex & global examples
  • longer, more unfamiliar examples
  • independent, student directed
  • creating models in learning
  • drawing conclusions and making predictions from research
  • explaining and analyzing what is heard/read
  • building on essential skills

The selection of type of course should be subject-specific; students may choose a combination of academic and applied courses.  For example, a student may choose academic English and applied Science.

The type of course selected depends on many factors, including: attitude/motivation, organizational skills, homework skills, independence/ initiative, provincial standard (Level 3 or 4), who have learning styles suited to theoretical, abstract thinking, who are self-motivated and require less teacher direction should choose academic type courses.  Students who benefit from additional time spent on individual topics, with learning styles suited to hands-on, practical learning should choose applied courses.  This includes students working consistently at Level 1 or higher.

Students can move directly from Grade 9 Applied courses to Grade 10 Academic courses.  It is strongly advised that students only do this with the recommendation of their teacher.

Students must choose academic or applied courses in the core subjects only:  English, Science, French, and Geography.  Note:  Mathematics is not streamed in grade 9.




  • 90% of the Overall Expectations (core knowledge & skills) are the same.
  • Most of the Specific Expectations are similar or the same.
  • Both share the same four strands: Literature Studies & Reading, Writing, Language, and Media Studies.
  • Prepare students to meet the requirements of the Grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test
  • Essential concepts and skills of English are practiced and developed.
  • Emphasis is on the development and use of appropriate oral and written vocabulary for a variety of purposes and audiences.
  • Emphasis on the effective use of communication skills.
  • Emphasis on the effective organizational skills.
  • Assignment completion expectations are the same.
  • Both include a final project and examination.
  • Percentage grades are based on four levels of achievement in the four categories of Knowledge/Understanding, Thinking/Inquiry, Communication, and Application.


Applied Academic
  • Practical expectations are stressed.
  • More time is spent developing essential skills, emphasizing practical, concrete applications.
  • Emphasis on guided development of independent reading strategies.
  • More opportunity to practice and develop skills.
  • Most of the tasks require practical application of knowledge and skills.
  • Assignments are broken down into a single task at a time.
  • Students are assessed on their ability to communicate essential skills and their application of concepts to practical situations.
  • Theoretical expectations are stressed.
  • More time is spent on the essential concepts and the abstract principles of English.
  • Requires strong independent reading strategies.
  • Requires more understanding of concepts.
  • Many of the tasks require abstract thinking (analyse, synthesize, compare, contrast, distinguish, produce a set of criteria).
  • Assignments are complex and require balancing a variety of tasks.
  • Students are assessed on their understanding of concepts and their ability to use thinking and inquiry skills.




  • Essential knowledge and understanding is emphasized.
  • Work is assessed in four categories: Knowledge/Understanding, Inquiry, Communication, and Making Connections.
  • A great deal of hands-on activities.


Applied Academic
  • Practical emphasis with real-life applications.
  • Teacher-directed work.
  • Structured homework.
  • Favours a kinesthetic and visual learner.
  • Less emphasis on math skills.
  • Cell theory not present.
  • Describe the basic process of cell division (mitosis).
  • Recognize and describe the major components of the universe.
  • Solar system theory not present.
  • Formulate a question related to space exploration.
  • Theoretical emphasis with abstract applications.
  • Independent work.
  • Analytical homework.
  • Favours and verbal and mathematical learner.
  • Cell theory present.
  • Explain the process of mitosis and the roles of the organelles involved.
  • Describe and compare the major components of the universe.
  • Outline the accepted theory on the formulation of the solar system.
  • Space exploration not present.




  • 100% of the Overall Expectations are the same for each strand:  Oral Communication, Reading, and Writing.
  • Students should recognize and use the language structures outlined in the curriculum.
  • Some Specific Expectations are similar.


Applied Academic
  • Understand and follow specific instructions.
  • Listen and respond to spoken text and media works in order to practice correct pronunciation, intonation and expression.
  • Share information and ideas to produce and present prepared conversations in dialogues or dramatizations.
  • Read a variety of materials containing a brief text (eg. brochures, advertisements).
  • Demonstrate and understanding of articles, short stories ad poems or lyrics.
  • Model ideas and formats from their reading to produce written work and oral presentations.
  • Write a letter that includes a salutation and an ending.
  • Create an invitation or a poster for an event, giving date, place, time and other relevant details.
  • Prepare and conduct a survey to gather information and summarize the data in short sentences.
  • Listen and respond to spoken texts, ideas and opinions.
  • Present using complete sentences in sustained conversation.
  • Interpret meaning of a poem or short text through dramatization to demonstrate mood and feeling.
  • Describe, analyse and respond to fiction and non-fiction narratives, short stories, articles and poems.
  • Identify key elements (eg. setting, plot, main characters) to demonstrate understanding of text.
  • Prepare dialogues and create written text using models from reading selections.
  • Exchange information by writing a letter, a postcard or an email message.
  • Record personal thoughts and observations in diaries, journals and logs.
  • Write point-form notes to record key information from articles, poems and reading passages.




Applied Academic
  • Expectations focus on connecting practical, everyday experiences to learning and engaging learners in concrete, hands-on application of knowledge and skills often within a local familiar context.
  • Assignments are more practical and skill based.
  • Applications are concrete, practical and hands-on, involving more familiar situations.
  • Communication, reading and writing skills required are at level 2 or level 3.
  • More frequent teacher-directed and guided learning activities with emphasis on skill development, organizational skills and study habits.
  • Favours a kinesthetic and visual learner who learns best with step-by-step guided teaching.
  • Students are assessed on how they communicate the skills of the course and apply concepts to practical situations.
  • Expectations focus on the development and application of concepts, principles and theories.
  • Assignments require more in-depth research, reading and processing of information into many different presentation formats.
  • Applications are more theoretical, requiring more frequent use of synthesis and analytical skills.
  • Communication, reading and writing skills required should be consistently at level 3 or level 4.
  • More student or small group initiated learning activities requiring independence, self-motivation, organizational ability and the ability to be cooperative and productive in group situations.
  • Directed towards the abstract learner with highly developed reading, writing, communication and higher order thinking and information processing skills.
  • Assessment practices are more weighted towards demonstrating an understanding of concepts and using acquired thinking and inquiry skills in more theoretical situations.