The Academic Record

College Recommended Courses

Four-year colleges generally recommend that students take the following college preparatory courses in high school:

  •     4 years of English
  •     3 years of math (including Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II)
  •     3 years of science (with laboratory experience)
  •     2-3 years of the same foreign language
  •     3 years of social studies
  •     1 year of fine or performing arts

*Individual states may have different or additional requirements

College bound students should complete all of the above recommended courses if possible.  Students who haven’t taken all of the above courses may be required to take remedial and/or additional courses once they are in college.  Students who haven’t taken several of these courses may want to consider starting at a community college or at a college’s branch campus.  They can transfer to a four-year college (or to the main campus) after a year or two.

Competitive schools and programs consider the above to be the minimum requirements.  They recommend that students challenge themselves by taking advanced, honors, and AP courses whenever possible.  As a general rule, high school students should take as many college preparatory math, science, English, social studies, and foreign language courses as possible.

Four-Year High School Plan

The four-year high school plan is a listing of the courses a student plans to take during his/her freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years.  When making a four-year high school plan, students and parents should take into consideration high school graduation requirements, college recommended courses, career plans, and, if the student is an athlete, athletic eligibility requirements.    A student’s four-year high school plan should be developed during the eight grade.  It should then be reviewed and revised each year with adjustments made for academic performance, personal interests, revised career plans, and changes in curriculum offerings.

College Testing


A practice test for the ACT. Some high schools make the PLAN available to sophomores.

PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)

A practice test for the SAT. This test is also used to determine National Merit semifinalists.

The PSAT/NMSQT is given in October, primarily to juniors.

ACT (American College Test)

A college entrance examination that students generally take during their junior and/or senior year.  Students receive scores in English, Reading, Math, and Science, as well as a Composite score.  There is also an optional Writing Test.

SAT I (Scholastic Assessment Test)

A college entrance examination that students generally take during their junior and/or senior year.  The new SAT I has three sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing.

SAT II: Subject Tests

One-hour tests that measure a student’s knowledge in specific subject areas.  These Subject Tests are required by some of the more competitive colleges.