Fostering academic excellence and biblical virtue to equip students for lives as local and global Christian servants.

Academic Planning Guide

This guide will walk you through basic steps for planning your courses to meet high school graduation requirements, prepare for college and career, or build your most competitive transcript to maximize college and scholarship opportunities. When you have questions, please use our Enrollment / Advising Support to chat with a support team member, send us a message with your question, or request a phone meeting with an experienced academic adviser.

TPS is pleased to provide the same excellent courses to all academically prepared students, regardless of credit or diploma status. For some students — including students outside the U.S. or students preparing to apply for competitive colleges and scholarships — the Diploma Partnership option provides desirable benefits and meets additional requirements.

  • Supports students required by state or national law to be in an accredited degree (diploma) program.
  • Advising regularly to review and update your course plan for a standout transcript.
  • Enrolling courses with priority seating, and tracking progress to make timely adjustments.
  • Assisting and guiding in preparation of competitive college application packages, starting in early high school to have a strong application package ready for scholarship applications and early or regular college admission timelines.
  • Coordinating credible first-hand recommendations for extracurricular programs, scholarships, and college applications.
  • Working directly with colleges to overcome unexpected difficulties in the application process.
  • And more, starting before grade 9 and continuing through graduation

If you have competitive colleges and scholarships in view and you want to to stand out from the competitive college app crowd, consider partnering your homeschool with TPS in the Diploma Partnership.

Step 1 – English Language Arts – Becoming a skilled confident writer is the strongest single predictor of success in college and career.

We recommend you start by planning your English courses and curricula.

  • Analytical writing is required for success in all fields. Even Math and Science majors have to be able to write good essays and arguments to do well in their fields.
  • Besides English courses, Humanities and Social Science courses also require good writing skills, so writing and analytical reading will have the the biggest single impact on college success.
  • SAT / ACT / CLT, Advanced Placement (AP), and other standardized placement tests require writing.

Requirement: College readiness requires writing skills through English 4 (TPS Grade 10+).


  • Many high school English programs are light on writing instruction past the grade 9 level. Good writing is a skill that can be systematically taught and improved into college.
  • Literature courses that are primarily reading and discussion (often a characteristic of homeschool Literature or Humanities classes) are hard to explain and defend for credit. A high school credit course requires ample evaluated work (essays and tests).
Learn More: Why are TPS English students such skilled and confident writers?

Go to the English tab to start planning your English Language Arts courses, then return to the Academic Planning Guide when you’re ready for the next subject.

Step 2 – Math – A complete math background though Algebra 2 is required.

Learning math is about more than the equations — it’s about developing the analytical skills that are needed in college, career, and life — including math, science, essay writing, social studies, and day-to-day discernment and decision-making.

  • Analytical thinking skills are required for success in all fields and everyday life.
  • Besides Math and Science courses, Humanities and Social Science courses also require analytical thinking skills. The “analytical essay” or “position paper” is the core component of education and business communication.
  • SAT and ACT and other standardized placement tests require math through Algebra 2.

Requirement: Every U.S. state and most colleges require completion of high school math through Algebra 2.

Recommendation: A thorough education in math concepts and analysis through Algebra 2 is more important than completing Precalculus or Calculus in high school (i.e., a stronger more complete Math foundation is better than pushing ahead with a weaker foundation).

Caution: Homeschool-oriented math curricula and courses are nearly always reduced in scope (missing essential topics to make them easier to take at home), light on conceptual problem-solving (emphasizing formulas over analysis), and weak on evaluation and retention. (TPS math courses include all essential topics and feature regular evaluation for understanding and retention.)

Learn More: Why are TPS Math students so prepared and confident in Math?

Go to the Math tab to start planning your Math courses, then return to this tab when you’re ready.

Step 3 – Science – Two high school formal lab report sciences is a minimum requirement.
  • In the U.S., Biology and Chemistry taken as lab sciences are usually required by states and colleges.
    • Biology and Chemistry should be taken as “lab sciences”.
    • A “lab science” includes practical training in precise lab procedures and scientific methods with formal lab reports. Other science courses — including those typical of home schooling — are referred to as “lab activity” sciences.
    • TPS Biology, Chemistry, and Physics (including the AP courses) meet state and college requirements for credit as a “lab science”.
  • Physics is recommended for U.S. students and often required by countries other than the U.S. (TPS offers Physics as a lab science.)
  • A “lab activity” science (i.e., where the labs do not emphasize precise lab procedures and methods with formal lab reports) will satisfy requirements for additional science courses (at least one science course for each year of high school).
  • Middle School Life Science is great preparation for high school Biology because it covers similar topics at a more introductory level but the middle school course (and grade) do not appear on the high school transcript. (TPS offers an excellent Life Science course to prepare for Biology.)
  • Middle School Physical Science is great preparation for high school Chemistry and Physics because it covers similar topics at a more introductory level but the middle school course (and grade) do not appear on the high school transcript. (TPS offers an excellent Physical Science course that provides thorough preparation for Chemistry and Physics.)

Requirement: Two lab science courses taken in high school with rigorous research methods and laboratory skills, and formal lab reports.


  • A strong transcript includes a science course every year in high school.
  • Ideally the student be able to show high school level work in all three sciences: Biological, Chemical, Physical.


  • Chemistry and Physics require Algebra. Students without a good Algebra foundation are not well-prepared for a creditable Chemistry or Physics course.
  • Computer Programming (“Computer Science”) may not be credited as a science course for most states and colleges.
  • Most science curricula and courses designed for homeschool do not meet the expected state and college requirements for a “lab science”. (TPS Biology, Chemistry, and Physics — including the AP courses — meet state and college requirements for credit as a “lab science”.)

Go to the Science tab to start planning your Science courses, then return to this tab when you’re ready.

Step 4 – Social Studies – U.S. History and U.S. Government required. World History and Cultures expected.


  • For U.S. students, U.S. History and U.S. Government are required by most states as separate courses taken in high school.
  • U.S. History must be taken at the high school level and a college dual credit U. S. History course or AP U.S. History course also meet the requirement.
  • U.S. Government may be a one-semester or a full year course and AP U.S. Government meets the requirement.
  • Many states also require Economics in high school. AP Economics meets the requirement.


  • Although it is usually not a requirement, World History and Cultures (i.e., a survey course that studies history and cultures of the entire world) is expected for a strong transcript.
  • Consider this four-year plan (sequence suggested, not required) that meets all requirements with numerous options (all of these courses and options are offered by TPS):


  • Social Studies courses that are primarily reading and discussion (often a characteristic of homeschool Social Studies or Humanities classes) are hard to explain and defend for credit. A high school credit course requires ample evaluated work (essays and tests).
  • U.S. History taken at the elementary or middle school level does not count toward a high school U.S. History requirement.
  • U.S. History does not satisfy a U.S. Government requirement (even if you talk about Government in your History class).
  • Ancient History and Western History courses do not count as World History (though Ancient History may be required by some states).
  • Personal finance or investment classes do not count as Economics.

Go to the Social Studies tab to start planning your History, Government, and Social Studies courses, then return to this tab when you’re ready.

Step 5 – Global Language – At least two years of second-language study required .

Most colleges require Global Language (i.e., contemporary spoken language other than your native tongue) study in high school.

  • Nearly all colleges require at least two years of a Global Language (sometimes listed as “World Languages” or “Foreign Languages”) in high school.
  • Competitive colleges often require three years of Global Language study in high school.
  • There are valid ways to credit Global Language study prior to high school or proficiency gained outside the classroom.


  • If you are not sure what colleges you are preparing for, the safe path is to start taking at least two years of a global language that uses an academic curriculum of spoken, written and cultural study. If you later learn that your preferred college requires a third year, you can add it into your grade 11 or 12 plan as needed.
  • If you are considering taking the AP exam in your second language, start with the Year 1 course in grade 8. This allows you to take the AP course and exam in Year 5 (grade 12), which can raise your AP exam score significantly.
  • Consider taking Latin in middle school. It improves your English vocabulary and global language skills (especially for Latin-based languages like French and Spanish) prior to high school.


  • Colleges generally do not accept tutoring, DVD learning or overseas experiences, unless there is also evaluation and examination (i.e., it is not enough to take a trip or listen to language lessons).
  • Most global language courses targeted for home school do not keep you on track for the AP exam (if this is a possible goal for you). (TPS global language courses stay on track for AP exam readiness for students who may want this opportunity.)
  • Colleges might not accept Classical languages (e.g., Latin) as meeting this requirement. You must check with each college.

Go to the Global Languages tab to start planning your Global Language courses, then return to this tab when you’re ready.

Step 6 – Electives – Required for a competitive transcript, but choose wisely.

Since college applicants meet the same minimum requirements, it is the non-required courses that give the colleges the best picture of the applicant as a student.

  • Your choices of electives demonstrate and validate your individual interests and enthusiasm for a subject (i.e., you chose to invest time, energy, and money into them over other options.)
  • Challenge yourself even outside your strength areas (i.e., things that come more easily). Avoiding challenging courses just to keep a high GPA still looks like a weak transcript.

    Recommendation: Take as many challenging courses as you can at as high a level as you can while maintaining a respectable GPA. Even if you don’t plan to major in some of the hard courses, they still help your college readiness and your transcript.

    Caution: Listing group participation or life experiences as academic courses (e.g., co-op discussion group as a literature class or working on the car as an automotive repair course) does not present well on a transcript. Academic credit courses are expected to have significant formal evaluation.

    Use the rest of the tabs on this page to research other courses to challenge and prepare your student with a good education and a strong transcript. When you’re ready to start searching our hundreds of courses, head to the Course Catalog where you can browse, filter, search, and enroll.