List of High School Year Names (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior)

In America, high school is considered the final stage of primary education and consists of four high school year names: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. It can be a defining time for teenagers as they learn to drive, form friendships, enter romantic relationships, and start thinking about college. 

Along with using numbers to denote grade level, Americans have names for each year: freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. If you aren’t familiar with this type of system, it might be confusing at first. To help you out, we researched the origin of each name and included some basic information for each of the years of high school.

Year One: Freshman (9th Grade) 

what grade is freshman

What grade is freshman?

Freshman is grade 9.

Originally meaning “newcomer” or “novice, the word freshman dates to the mid-16th century. Today, it’s used to denote students entering their first year of high school. Most teenagers start the 9th grade at 14 years of age, turning 15 before the end of the year. 

Year Two: Sophomore (10th Grade)

what grade is sophomore

What grade is a sophomore?

A sophomore is 10th grade.

It is believed that the word sophomore was derived from two Greek terms: Sophos, meaning “wise,” and Moros meaning “foolish”. You might take offense to being considered a “wise fool” but remember: as a teenager, you still have a lot to learn and that’s okay!

Usage of the word sophomore dates to the 1650s where it was used to describe university students who were in their second year of study. The typical age for this grade is 15 to 16 years of age. 

Year Three: Junior (11th Grade)

what grade is a junior grade 11

What grade is a junior?

A junior is 11th grade.

The designation of junior dates way back to the 13th century, where it was first used to describe someone younger than another. This is when students are considered upperclassmen and should begin thinking about post-secondary options. Most students are 16 to 17 years of age. 

Year Four: Senior (12th Grade)

what grade is senior

What grade is a senior?

A senior is grade 12.

The word senior has been used in the English language since the mid-14th century to describe an older person or a person of authority, but it wasn’t used to indicate fourth-year students until the 17th century.

This is the final year of high school, with students typically turning 18 by the end of the year. At the beginning of the school year, you’ll want to start narrowing down your post-secondary options, so you are ready to apply by the end of January.

High School Years in Order

High School Years in Order


The high school years in order are freshman, sophomore, junior, senior.

This list is starting at the earlier year, which is freshman (grade 9) and ends with senior (grade 12).

What are the grades in high school?

The grades in high school are as follows:

  • Grade 9 is Freshman
  • Grade 10: is Sophomore
  • Grade 11 is Junior
  • Grade 12 is Senior

The names of high school grades can be a bit tricky to remember at first, but once you’ve spent a day or two trying to remember them, you’ll be all set. Once you’re a freshman, you’ll learn the years in high school and you’ll be able to recite them off the top of your head, easily.

Once you learn the high school grade names for the first time, you won’t even have to think about them, you’ll just remember it. If you really want to make sure you get it down, just write down back of the grades in high school onto a piece of paper or an index card, then study the cards.

On each card, include the grade, the year name, what age students are, and even some of the additional information from above if that helps you to remember it. If the names of the four years of high school are tricky to remember, just study them a bit!

Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior

Now that we’ve gone over how many years are in high school, and studied the high school year names, you’re all set for class!

Thanks for going over this information with us. If you’re reading into high school and wanted to make sure you knew the names, don’t worry, after the first couple days of school, they’ll be like second nature.