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Grade Level Expectations: Fifth Grade Skills

written by: Deidra Alexander • edited by: Jonathan Wylie • updated: 10/13/2014

Need a refresher for grade level expectations? Remediate, reward, and maintain progress with these fifth-grade skills in math, science, reading, and all other major subjects. This article has beginning and end-of-year expectations for fifth graders.

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    Start of the Year

    At the beginning of fifth grade, there will soon be more challenging classes than easy classes for your average fifth grader. At this Help Students Choose age, students start to gravitate toward and specialize in their best subjects. Teachers also notice the more gifted children in a given area. A clear fork in the path is laid out for the student at this stage. So, before the year begins, make sure you know what is generally expected of a fifth grader with this skills list.


    Book reports will consume the fifth grader's nights and weekends. Required reading of higher-level books will be the foundation and purpose of these book reports. Students will even start to philosophize on their grade level. No longer will they only read fiction titles, instead they will complete tasks that require research skills. For some great tips, read Fifth Grade Reading and Writing Intervention Strategies.


    At this time, students get their first dose of note-taking, albeit small compared to the types of notes they will be expected to write at higher levels. A four-page paper may not be uncommon here. Persuasive, expressive and narrative writings are all types of papers the fifth grade students will write in preparation for the rest of their educational career. They may also be required to write oral presentations, while self-corrected papers will be the norm. Find some writing tips at the 5th Grade Writer's Workshop.


    Students have worked on division and multiplication math problems since the 3rd grade. Tasks have been simple, offering enough to learn the basics; but in fifth grade, these things change. Multiple digit problems will be done more regularly to increase the difficulty level. The order of operations is introduced in math, while more work will be done with fractions and decimals.


    Science becomes more prominent at this grade level. Teachers will expect learners to think more like a scientist, asking questions and using the scientific method in multiple settings. Life science, earth science and physical science will be covered in some depth. Bright Hub Education offers a list of science experiments for middle school students.

    Social Studies

    U.S. history and geography will be in the forefront of this subject. The three branches of government, current events and major moments in the country’s past all make up the high points at the beginning of the year.

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    End of the Year


    Biographies, mysteries, plays and poetry fill the assignment list throughout the year. Class trips to the library to learn how to perform research using reference tools may also have occurred by the end of the fifth grade.


    Producing multiple drafts of a paper with a clear introduction, body and conclusion is one of the more important skills during that year. Students need to build their prowess for longer writing and to target different audiences. They should be adept in these skills by the end of the year.


    Statistics, exponents, fractions and percents get students ready for sixth to eighth grade math before they move into algebra. They need to know how to use the metric system, measure angles, and estimate probability to solve problems if they are to succeed in a more advanced type of math environment. Try these fifth grade math activities to help practice some of these skills.


    A solar system project probably has to be turned in during the year while meteorology will also have its time in the spotlight in this grade. Genetics are raised in the life science modules, properties of matter are discussed, and plants are explored in some detail.

    Social Studies

    Using a legend on a map and making a time line of historical facts should be easy by the end of fifth grade. Books and stories that heighten the effect of the facts taught in these subjects follow fifth graders into the next grade level. Bright Hub Education offers a compendium of test prep strategies that can be useful in all subjects.

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    More Homework, More Responsibility

    Arts and health-related courses take on a new life in fifth grade as prerequisites to full-length sixth grade classes. This means that the student will have a day of compounding challenges that will likely end in homework starting after dinner and ending just before bedtime. Being organized, prepared and responsible is mostly what teachers demand of students as they move on to the next stage of adolescence. These fifth grade skills are just as important as any subject area ability because, without them, even the brightest child would struggle to do well.

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