Typical Course of Study for 10th Graders

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By 10th grade, most students have acclimated to life as a high school student. That means they should be primarily independent learners with good time management skills and a sense of personal responsibility for completing their assignments. The goal of high school coursework for 10th-grade students is to prepare them for life after high school, either as a college student or a member of the workforce. Coursework should also ensure that students are equipped to perform at their best for college entrance exams if secondary education is their goal.

Language Arts

Most colleges expect a high school graduate to have completed four years of language arts. A typical course of study for 10th-grade language arts will include literature, composition, grammar, and vocabulary. Students will continue to apply the techniques they've learned from analyzing texts. Tenth-grade literature will likely include American, British, or world literature. The choice may be determined by the homeschool curriculum a student is using. 

Some families may also choose to incorporate the literature component with social studies. So a student studying world history in tenth grade would choose titles associated with world or British literature. A student studying U.S. history would choose American literature titles. Students may also analyze short stories, poems, dramas, and myths. Greek and Roman mythology are popular topics for tenth graders. Continue to provide students with a variety of writing practice across all subject areas, including science, history, and social studies.


Most colleges expect four years of high school math credit. A typical course of study for 10th-grade math will have students completing geometry or Algebra II to fulfill their math credit for the year. Students who completed prealgebra in ninth grade will usually take Algebra I in 10th, while students who are strong in math may take an advanced algebra course, trigonometry, or precalculus. For teens who are weak in math or who have special needs, courses such as basic mathematics or consumer or business math can fulfill math credit requirements.

10th Grade Science Options

If your student is college-bound, he will likely need three lab science credits. Common 10th-grade science courses include biology, physics, or chemistry. Most students complete chemistry after successfully completing Algebra II. Interest-led science courses may include astronomy, marine biology, zoology, geology, or anatomy and physiology. 

Other common topics for 10th-grade science include the characteristics of life, classification, simple organisms (algae, bacteria, and fungi), vertebrates and invertebrates, mammals and birds, photosynthesis, cells, protein synthesis, DNA-RNA, reproduction and growth, and nutrition and digestion.

Social Studies

Many tenth-grade college-bound students will study United States history during their sophomore year. World history is another option. Homeschool students following a traditional curriculum will explore the Middle Ages. Other alternatives include a U.S. civics and economics course, psychology, world geography, or sociology. Specialized history studies based on a student's interests are usually acceptable as well, such as a focus on World War II, European history, or modern wars.

A typical course of study may also include prehistoric peoples and the earliest civilizations, ancient civilizations (such as Greece, India, China, or Africa), the Islamic world, the Renaissance, the rise and fall of monarchies, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. Modern history studies should include science and industry, the world wars, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the rise and fall of Communism, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and world interdependence.


Electives can include topics such as art, technology, and foreign language, but students can earn elective credit for almost any area of interest. Most 10th graders will begin the study of a foreign language since it is common for colleges to require two years' credit for the same language. French and Spanish are standard choices, but almost any language can count toward the two credits. Some colleges even accept American Sign Language. 

Driver's education is another excellent option for a high school sophomore since most are fifteen or sixteen years old and ready to begin driving. The requirements for a driver's education course may vary by state. A defensive driving course can be helpful and may result in an insurance discount.

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Bales, Kris. "Typical Course of Study for 10th Graders." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/10th-grade-social-studies-1828431. Bales, Kris. (2020, August 27). Typical Course of Study for 10th Graders. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/10th-grade-social-studies-1828431 Bales, Kris. "Typical Course of Study for 10th Graders." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/10th-grade-social-studies-1828431 (accessed June 1, 2023).