What is the Difference Between Junior and Senior High School?

female senior high school

The Philippines recently underwent a major change in the educational structure. Previously, students went from six years of grade school, and then finally headed to four years of high school. This led to a total of 10 years of education, which was far less than the global standard.

The newly reformed education system added two more years to the students’ total learning journey, hence the term K (for kindergarten) to 12 (for a new total of 12 years). These 12 years are divided as follows: 6 years in elementary school, 4 years in junior high school, and 2 years in senior high school.

Now the question most parents and students alike have is: what are the differences between online middle school and online senior high school?


The subjects discussed in junior high school and senior high school are extremely different. In junior high school, subjects are divided into two: general subjects and vocational subjects. General subjects include Mathematics, Science, Filipino, English, and so on and are continuation of lessons from the previous years. Vocational subjects, as the name implies, teach the students life-skills that students can use both inside and outside of the classroom. These include subjects such as Computer and Home Economics for Grades 7 – 9, and an elective of their choice for Grade 10 which is set to be a precursor for the track they are going to choose in senior high school.

Senior high school, on the other hand, teach students core subjects, specialized subjects, and applied subjects. Core subjects are subjects that are taught to all students such as General Mathematics, Personality Development, English, etc. Specialized subjects are subjects that are dependent on the strand you choose. Some of the subjects you may encounter include Pre-Calculus or Business Ethics (more on this later). Applied Subjects refer to subjects such as Research in Daily Life and Applied Economics.

Work Load

As can be expected, the work load students experience in senior high school is heavier and greater than that experienced by those in junior high school. The texts assigned, home work given, and papers written are more than those done in junior high school and is a preparation for what’s to come in college. Junior high school students typically read select pages from a chapter while senior high school students read two to three chapters a day per subject.


As mentioned earlier, senior high school students each have to choose a specific strand before they begin. This is to make their schooling more specified and to help them narrow down their choices for college, or to assist them in finding a job should they choose to forego college and work straight out of senior high school. As such, the subjects for students are tailored to their specific strands. Curricula veer away from more generalized subjects experienced by all students and instead, are more targeted to the student’s strengths and interests.


STEM, short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is a SHS strand which focuses on the intertwining disciplines revolving around the hard sciences. Students enrolled in this track will be exposed to advanced concepts and topics that will help them explore careers as pilots, architects, biologists, doctors, and engineers.


The Accountancy, Business and Management or ABM strand is geared for students who are adept at financial management and would like to pursue careers in the corporate world or perhaps pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams. Students will be taught basic concepts revolving on business management, corporate operations, accounting, marketing, and sales.


The Humanities and Social Sciences strand is ideal for students who are innately curious and often find themselves asking questions about why things are the way they are. This strand is focused on communications and prepares students for courses such as journalism, communication arts, liberal arts, education, political sciences, and community development.


The General Academic Strand (GAS) understands that not all students have decided on their course and career path in life just yet. With GAS, students can freely explore their options by choosing from several electives from the different academic strands. This allows graduates of GAS to then pursue a career under any of the three academic strands (STEM, ABM, or HUMSS).


TVL or the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track is designed for students who may or may not pursue a college degree after Senior High. Through TVL, students are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to gain the requisite COCs (Certificates of Competency) and NCs (National Certifications) which are essential for employment. At OEd SHS, we offer the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) with specializations in Computer Programming strand under this track.

Junior high school and senior high school, although both relatively new to the Philippine setting, are vastly different from each other. Junior high school is more generalized, with students more or less studying the same subject matter, while senior high school is more individualized. Students should also expect to have more work and projects assigned to them in senior high school as a preparation for their life in college. While it isn’t easy, these are done to help set the path for success for each student and lay the foundation for a bright future ahead.