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What Are the Most Important Skills in 12th Grade English?

by Nadia Archuleta, studioD

Twelfth-grade English prepares students with the reading, writing and communication skills they need in college and the world of work. Districts across the Unites States are adopting the Common Core State Standards as a guide to what competencies and skills are relevant to the real world. These common standards set clear guidelines for what knowledge a graduating senior should have related to English.


Seniors in high school read complex forms of literature including stories, drama and poems as well as non-fiction texts. By the end of the year they must have the strategies to comprehend these texts independently. They learn how to determine the central idea of a text. For example, they are expected to read a work by Shakespeare and analyze how a theme about love progresses over the course of the story. They also learn to evaluate the writer's craft as it relates to word choice, figurative language and plot structure. These skills help prepare them for college.


Seniors need strong writing skills both for college and the world of work. Twelfth-grade English teachers expect students to introduce a topic in writing and develop it through the organization of concepts, formatting and graphics in a paper. Seniors must adhere to the writing process to strengthen their writing. They also become adept at the use of transitions and precise language. In short, their writing becomes smooth and sophisticated. A key skill is the ability to evaluate the authority of resources when conducting research. Essentially, seniors develop the writing skills they need for 21st-century work and study.


Communicating effectively when making presentations and participating in discussions is essential for work and study. Seniors show their mastery of critical thinking and reasoning skills through verbal communication. To facilitate effective participation, students learn to come to discussions prepared. For example, students participating in a literature circle not only read the book but also prepare what remarks they want to make. They also learn to adapt their speech according to the task at hand, be it a formal speech to adults or a persuasive speech to peers. Relevant to the 21st century, seniors learn to make strategic use of digital media and to present their information clearly.


In 12th grade, students learn how to make a claim and support it by searching for textual evidence. They take this skill to the realm of writing, learning to phrase a claim decisively and organize their support of the argument. For this they need sufficient evidence and strong reasoning skills. They learn to evaluate a speaker's point of view and purpose, assessing his use of rhetoric in relation to supporting a claim. Twelfth-grade teachers advise students that college professors expect strong argumentation skills and point out that the ability to argue effectively helps them in many aspects of life after high school.

About the Author

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.

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