Exploring the Differences Between Spanish High School and U.S. High School 

Spanish and United States flag
Spanish and United States flag

High school is a significant period in my life, where I am having the opportunity to learn and grow. Interestingly, I discovered that Spanish high schools and U.S. high schools have notable differences. In this article, I will share some of the main distinctions I observed. We will explore subjects taught, grading systems, extracurricular activities, and the influence of culture on the overall experience. Let’s dive into the unique aspects of these two types of high schools! 

What I Learned: In Spain, high school is called “Educación Secundaria Obligatoria” (ESO) and spans four years. During this time, I studied various subjects such as math, science, history, literature, languages, and physical education. On the other hand, U.S. high schools offer more flexibility in course selection. I had the opportunity to take core classes like math, English, science, and social studies, while also being able to choose elective classes based on my interests. 

Grading Systems: In Spanish high schools, grades are given on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Typically, a passing grade is around 5 or 6. In contrast, U.S. high schools use letter grades like A, B, C, D, and F.  

Extracurricular Activities: Both Spanish and U.S. high schools encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities. In Spain, these activities are often integrated into the regular school day and include sports, music, theater, and debate clubs. In the United States, extracurricular activities usually take place after school, offering a wide range of options such as sports teams, student government, academic clubs, and community service groups. In the U.S., involvement in these activities is seen as an essential part of the high school experience. 

Cultural Influence: Culture plays a significant role in shaping the high school experience in both Spain and the United States. In Spain, the emphasis is on formality, respecting authority, and fostering a sense of community. Students address teachers using formal titles and follow a structured educational approach. On the other hand, U.S. high schools have a more relaxed atmosphere. Students typically refer to teachers by their first names, and individuality and self-expression are encouraged. 


— Ema exchange student from Slovakia living with the Cates family in Cashion, Oklahoma

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  • B

    BranasiaFeb 2, 2024 at 2:03 pm

    i really enjoyed learning about this! it’s always nice to learn about other countries and how they run things.

  • S

    Sam CortesOct 17, 2023 at 12:26 pm

    Hey Iker, I really liked your article! I didn’t know there were so many differences between Spanish High Schools and U.S. High Schools. I think Spanish High Schools grading systems are the most interesting difference.