Understanding a Typical Course of Study for 8th Grade

8th Grade Typical Course of Study
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The final year of middle school, eighth grade is a time of transition and preparing students for high school. Eighth-grade students will spend their last year of middle school building on what they learned as sixth- and seventh-grade students, strengthening any areas of weakness, and digging into more complex coursework as they prepare for high school.

Though many will still need guidance and a source of accountability, eighth-grade students should be making the shift to self-directed, independent learning.

Language Arts

As in previous middle school grades, a typical course of study for eighth-grade language arts includes literature, composition, grammar, and vocabulary-building. Literary skills focus on reading comprehension and analyzing texts. In preparation for standardized testing and college entrance exams, students should practice applying their reading comprehension skills to a variety of documents. 

They should be able to recognize the main idea, central theme, and supporting details. Students should have plenty of practice summarizing, comparing and contrasting, and inferring an author's meaning. Eighth-grade students should also learn to recognize and understand the uses of language such as figurative language, analogies, and allusion.

Students should begin comparing and contrasting two texts that present conflicting information on the same topic. They should be able to identify the cause of the conflicts, such as contradictory or inaccurate facts or the author's opinion or bias on the subject.

Provide eighth-graders with ample opportunity to practice their composition skills. They should write a variety of essays and more complex compositions including how-to, persuasive, and informational articles; poetry; short stories; and research papers.

Grammar topics include correct spelling throughout the student's writing; proper use of punctuation such as apostrophes, colons, semicolons, and quotes; infinitives; indefinite pronouns; and correct use of verb tense.


There is some room for variation in eighth-grade math, particularly among homeschooled students. Some students may be ready to take Algebra I for high school credit in eighth grade, while others will prepare for the ninth grade with a prealgebra course.

In most cases, a typical course of study for eighth-grade math will include algebraic and geometric concepts, along with measurements and probability. Students will learn about square roots and both rational and irrational numbers.

Math concepts include finding a line's slope using the slope-intercept formula, understanding and evaluating functionsparallel and perpendicular lines, graphing, finding the area and volume of more complex geometrical shapes, and the Pythagorean theorem.

8th graders can test their math skills with practice word problems.


Although there isn't a specific recommended course of study for eighth-grade science, students typically continue to explore earth, physical, and life science topics. Some students may take a general or physical science course for high school credit while in eighth grade. Common general science topics include the scientific method and terminology.

Earth science topics include ecology and the environment, conservation, composition of the earth, oceans, atmosphere, weather, water and its uses, weathering and erosion, and recycling. Physical science topics include magnetism and electricity; heat and light; forces in liquids and gases; wave, mechanical, electrical, and nuclear energy; Newton's laws of motionsimple machines; atoms; the periodic table of elements; compounds and mixtures; and chemical changes. 

Social Studies

As with science, there is no specific course of study guidelines for eighth-grade social studies. A homeschool family's curriculum choices or personal preferences are usually the determining factors. An eighth-grader following a classical homeschooling style will likely study modern history. 

Other standard topics for eighth-grade social studies include explorers and their discoveries, the growth and development of the United States, colonial life, the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Students may also study a variety of topics related to the United States such as the U.S. culture, political system, government, economic system, and geography.

Health and Safety

For families who have not already done so, eighth grade is an excellent time for a health and safety course. Many states' homeschooling laws or umbrella schools require a health course for high school graduation, so students who are ready for a high school-level course may be able to earn credit for it in middle school. 

Typical topics for a health course include personal hygiene, nutrition, exercise, first aid, sexual health, and the health risks and consequences associated with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use.

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Bales, Kris. "Understanding a Typical Course of Study for 8th Grade." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/typical-course-of-study-8th-grade-1828410. Bales, Kris. (2020, August 27). Understanding a Typical Course of Study for 8th Grade. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/typical-course-of-study-8th-grade-1828410 Bales, Kris. "Understanding a Typical Course of Study for 8th Grade." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/typical-course-of-study-8th-grade-1828410 (accessed June 6, 2023).