grade-level mastery

Getting the most out of 8th grade

VP SAT Instructor

Based on Common Core Standards
Written by Brian Galvin, MEd Chief Academic Officer

Key Takeaways

These are the most critical skills a 8th grader should master before entering 9th grade:

1. Geometry
2. Functions
3. Statistics and Probability
4. Expressions and Equations

English Language Arts:
1. Reading to Determine Main Idea and Theme
2. Use Appropriate Shifts in Verb Voice and Mood
3. Reading to Understand Structure

Find out which 8th grade skills your student needs to work on by taking our learning assessments:

8th grade is an important year for students as they prepare to move into high school. And as they prepare for that transition, both the complexity of subjects and the expectation for independent work increase. In math, 8th-grade students will be working with functions, transformations, and scatter plots. In their reading and writing classes, students will learn new skills like analyzing rhetorical techniques and structures in texts and varying verb voices and moods in their own writing. 8th grade is a vital year for students to develop the strategies and skills necessary for success in high school.


Critical Skills for Math

Geometry As 8th graders move into high school they should be able to understand and describe the properties of rotations, reflections, and translations; describe the effect of certain actions - such as translations and reflections - on shapes in the coordinate plane; find angle measurements; and understand congruence and similarity using physical models, transparencies, or geometry software. High school geometry students will build upon all of these skills to express geometric properties with equations, model with geometry, and find arc lengths and areas of sectors of circles. These complex skills require a strong geometry foundation from 8th grade.

At the end of their 8th-grade careers students should be comfortable solving equations with functions, comparing functions, and even writing their own function notation to model relationships between quantities. High schoolers who take courses involving functions will interpret and build functions, and construct and compare linear, quadratic, and exponential models. With much of Algebra 2 and Precalculus involving the interpretation and graphing of functions, a strong familiarity with the fundamentals of linear functions is essential for success at the next level.

Statistics and Probability
When 8th graders complete their school year they should be able to construct and interpret scatter plots (and the line of best fit) to investigate relationships and patterns in data. This involves both qualitative understanding of those relationships and the ability to use the equation of a line, slope, and intercept to quantitatively interpret scatter plot data. At the next level, students will graduate to quantitative modeling of probability and statistics, a much easier leap to make with a firm visual understanding of data relationships.

Expressions and Equations
In 8th grade, students must become comfortable both graphing and solving linear equations - including finding solutions to systems of two equations and solving for the point of intersection. 8th graders also need to be able to solve for square roots and cube roots, approximate the values of irrational roots, and apply properties of integer exponents. In 9th grade, students will build on these foundations to solve and graph quadratic and polynomial equations, making it critical to have a firm foundation from 8th grade.

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Math Assessment – 8th Grade

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Critical Skills for English Language Arts

Reading to Determine Main Idea and Theme
In 8th grade, students should be able to analyze a piece of literature or informational text, identify the central theme, and explain how it develops over the course of the text. Students should also be able to discuss how the theme is driven by and affects the characters and events in the story. When students move into 9th grade they will be presented with a wider range of literature classes and will need to draw on their 8th-grade skills as they face new challenges like analyzing complex characters and finding major and minor text themes.

Use Appropriate Shifts in Verb Voice and Mood
Students who are completing 8th grade should be able to use and identify verbs in a variety of forms. Students should know how and when to use verbs in the active and passive voice and in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive moods. They should also be able to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood. 9th graders are using these strategies as a foundation for using parallel structures and various types of phrases in their speaking and writing, and in just a few years the PSAT, SAT, and ACT will all test verb tense, voice, and mood, so these skills are important for a variety of use cases.

Reading to Understand Structure
As 8th graders move on to middle school they should be able to identify, understand, and explain the rhetorical structure of an informational or literature-based text. They should be able to compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how different structures contribute to the passages' meaning, narrative, and style. When students enter 9th grade they will be taking the use of text structure to a whole new level. They will analyze an author's choice of how to structure a text, how to order events within it, and manipulate time to create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

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ELA Assessment – 8th Grade

Our smart learning system can assess your student, identify their strengths and weaknesses in a subject, and recommend learning tools to help them improve their mastery.
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