The Basic Academic Competencies Needed for College Students

science, laboratory, chemistry room, physics, biology, classroom, high schoolBy: LP 3/4/2010  (Or, click here to download Basic Academic Competencies required for college entry 2010)

Are we preparing our children for college success?

The Basic Academic Competencies are the broad intellectual skills essential to all fields of college study. They provide a link across the disciplines of knowledge although they are not specific to any particular discipline.

The Basic Academic Competencies are reading, writing, speaking and listening, mathematics, reasoning, and studying. These competencies are interrelated to and interdependent with the Basic Academic Subjects. Without such competencies, knowledge of history, science, language and all other subjects in unattainable.

The Basic Academic Competencies are developed abilities – the outcomes of learning and intellectual discourse. There are different levels of competency; they can be defined in measurable terms.

Although the Basic Academic Competencies are not always identified explicitly, spelling them out provides a way to tell students what is expected of them. Knowledge of what is expected is crucial to effective learning.

In order to do effective work in college, it is essential that all students have the following academic competencies.
The Reading, Writing, Math and Speaking and Listening Skills, below, are based on the 2010 Revised Government Core Standards for College Entry/Career Readiness Skills based on the U.S, Dept. of Education’s “Blueprint for Reform.” The “Blueprint gives guidance towards national and state standards in education for the next 10 years. You can access a comprehensive list with examples directly at: Standards.


• Determine both what the text says explicitly and what can be inferred logically from the text.
• Support or challenge assertions about the text by citing evidence in the text explicitly and accurately.
• Discern the most important ideas, events, or information, and summarize them accurately and concisely.
• Delineate the main ideas or themes in the text and the details that elaborate and support them.
• Determine when, where, and why events unfold in the text, and explain how they relate to one another.
• Analyze the traits, motivations, and thoughts of individuals in fiction and nonfiction based on how they are described, what they say and do, and how they interact.
• Determine what is meant by words and phrases in context, including connotative meanings and figurative language.
• Analyze how specific word choices shape the meaning and tone of the text.
• Analyze how the text’s organizational structure presents the argument, explanation, or narrative.
• Analyze how specific details and larger portions of the text contribute to the meaning of the text.
• Synthesize data, diagrams, maps, and other visual elements with words in the text to further comprehension.
• Extract key information efficiently in print and online using text features and search techniques.
• Ascertain the origin, credibility, and accuracy of print and online sources.
• Evaluate the reasoning and rhetoric that support an argument or explanation, including assessing whether the evidence provided is relevant and sufficient.
• Analyze how two or more texts with different styles, points of view, or arguments address similar topics or themes.
• Draw upon relevant prior knowledge to enhance comprehension, and note when the text expands on or challenges that knowledge.
• Apply knowledge and concepts gained through reading to build a more coherent understanding of a subject, inform reading of additional texts, and to solve problems.
• Demonstrate facility with the specific reading demands of texts drawn from different disciplines, including history, literature, science, and mathematics.


1. Establish and refine a topic or thesis that addresses the specific task and audience.
2. Gather the information needed to build an argument, provide an explanation, or address a research question.
3. Sustain focus on a specific topic or argument.
4. Support and illustrate arguments and explanations with relevant details, examples, and evidence.
5. Create a logical progression of ideas or events, and convey the relationships among them.
6. Choose words and phrases to express ideas precisely and concisely.
7. Use varied sentence structures to engage the reader and achieve cohesion between sentences.
8. Develop and maintain a style and tone appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.
9. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard written English, including grammar, usage, and mechanics.
10. Represent and cite accurately the data, conclusions, and opinions of others, effectively incorporating them into one’s own work while avoiding plagiarism.
11. Assess the quality of one’s own writing, and, when necessary, strengthen it through revision.

12. Use technology as a tool to produce, edit, and distribute writing.
When writing to inform or explain, students must also do the following:
13. Synthesize information from multiple relevant sources, including graphics and quantitative information when appropriate, to provide an accurate picture of that information.
14. Convey complex information clearly and coherently to the audience through purposeful selection and organization of
15. Demonstrate understanding of content by reporting facts accurately and anticipating reader misconceptions.
When writing arguments, students must also do the following:
16. Establish a substantive claim, distinguishing it from alternate or opposing claims.
17. Link claims and evidence with clear reasons, and ensure that the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
18. Acknowledge competing arguments or information, defending or qualifying the initial claim as appropriate.

Speaking and Listening____________________
1. Select and use a format, organization, and style appropriate to the topic, purpose, and audience.
2. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly and concisely.
3. Make strategic use of multimedia elements and visual displays of data to gain audience attention and enhance understanding.
4. Demonstrate command of formal Standard English when appropriate to task and audience.
5. Listen to complex information, and discern the main ideas, the significant details, and the relationships among them.
6. Follow the progression of the speaker’s message, and evaluate the speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
7. Ask relevant questions to clarify points and challenge ideas.
8. Respond constructively to advance a discussion and build on the input of others.

Core Mathematical Practice
1. Attend to precision.
2. Construct viable arguments.
3. Make sense of complex problems and persevere in solving them.
4. Look for and make use of structure.,
5. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
6. Make strategic decisions about the use of technological tools.

Mathematical Core Skills
Students can:
1. Compare numbers and make sense of their magnitude.
2. Know when and how to use standard algorithms, and perform them flexibly, accurately and efficiently.
3. Use mental strategies and technology to formulate, represent and solve problems.
4. Solve multi-step problems involving fractions and percentages.
5. Use estimation and approximation to solve problems.
6. Know when and how to convert units in computations.
7. Use and interpret quantities and units correctly in algebraic formulas.
8. Use and interpret quantities and units correctly in graphs and data displays.
9. Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problem
10. See structure in expressions.
11. Manipulate simple expressions.
12. Define variables and write an expression to represent a quantity in a problem.
13. Interpret an expression that represents a quantity in terms of the context. Understand a problem and formulate an equation to solve it.
14. Solve equations in one variable using manipulations guided by the rules of arithmetic and the properties of equality.
15. Rearrange formulas to isolate a quantity of interest.
16. Solve systems of equations.
17. Solve linear inequalities in one variable and graph the solution set on a number line.
18. Graph the solution set of a linear inequality in two variables on the coordinate plane.
Recognize proportional relationships and solve problems involving rates and ratios.
19. Describe the qualitative behavior of common types of functions using graphs and tables.
20. Analyze functions using symbolic manipulation.
21. Use the families of linear and exponential functions to solve problems.
22. Find and interpret rates of change. Model numerical situations.
23. Model physical objects with geometric shapes.
24. Model situations with equations and inequalities.
25. Model situations with common functions.
26. Model situations using probability and statistics
27. Interpret the results of applying a model and compare models for a particular situation. Use multiple geometric properties to solve problems involving geometric figures.
28. Prove theorems, test conjectures and identify logical errors.
29. Construct and interpret representations of geometric objects.
30. Solve problems involving measurements.
31. Solve problems involving similar triangles and scale drawings.
32. Apply properties of right triangles and right triangle trigonometry to solve problems. Translate fluently between lines in the coordinate plane and their equations.
33. Identify the correspondence between parameters in common families of equations and the location and appearance of their graphs
34. Use coordinates to solve geometric problems. Compute theoretical probabilities by systematically counting points in the sample space.
35. Interpret probabilities of compound events using concepts of independence and conditional probability.
36. Compute probabilities of compound events.
37. Estimate probabilities empirically.
38. Identify and explain common misconceptions regarding probability.
39. Adapt probability models to solve real-world problems.
40. Formulate questions that can be addressed with data. Identify the relevant data, collect and organize it to respond to the question.
41. Use appropriate displays and summary statistics for data.
42. Interpret data displays and summaries critically; draw conclusions and develop recommendations.
43. Draw statistical conclusions involving population means or proportions using sample data.
44. Evaluate reports based on data.

Technology _________
College students must be proficient in their technology skills to participate fully in today’s electronically interactive college learning environment. Most all college students will take at least one on-line course, complete with on-line classroom interaction, each year. Almost all master’s degrees are earned via on-line course- work.
Students must be computer literate, which means have:
• The ability to send and receive email.
• The ability to organize, analyze and interpret information systems and data, electronically towards project completion.
• The ability to attach, create, modify, and save electronic documents.
• The ability to use a Web browser.
• The ability to navigate the Internet.
• The ability to upload/download a file
The ability to use Microsoft Office
• The ability to participate in e-learning groups that are often used in place of the classroom

  • Most groups are proprietary to the online school
  • Learn to navigate and post to your e-group information.

• The ability to locate and search your college’s online Library
• The ability to communicate through instant messaging
• The ability to navigating the student website

  • This is the most important aspect of your online classes
  • Familiarize yourself with the web site interface
  • Contact 24/7 support if needed

• The ability to pay your tuition online
• The ability to understand and modify their own browser settings relating to security, pop-ups, and firewall settings.
• The ability to understand appropriate and inappropriate computer usage standards.

See also:

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5 thoughts on “The Basic Academic Competencies Needed for College Students

  1. Pingback: College-Bound Basics | The Education Cafe

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