(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)
(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

It’s back to school time, which means it’s also time to start a brand new year of seminary. But if you have a child in seminary this year, you might have noticed things have changed since you were in high school.

Here are five changes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made to seminaries and institutes in the last decade.

1. Scripture Mastery is now Doctrinal Mastery

In the past, seminary students have memorized 25 assigned passages of scripture each year. This year, that Scripture Mastery program has been replaced with a new “Doctrinal Mastery” program, which aims to help students face the challenges of the 21st century by establishing a foundational understanding of essential doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Building on what already has been done in Scripture Mastery, this new initiative will focus on building and strengthening our students’ faith in Jesus Christ and fortifying them with increased ability to live and apply the gospel in their lives,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard in an introduction to the program. “Drawing on the scriptures and the words of the prophets, they will learn how to act with faith in Christ to acquire spiritual knowledge and understanding of His gospel. And they will have opportunities to learn how to apply the doctrine of Christ and gospel principles to the questions and challenges they hear and see every day among their peers and on social media.”

Parents can learn more about the Doctrinal Mastery program here.

2. Registration and other processes? There’s an app for that.

The mySeminary app was created to help parents and priesthood leaders engage in seminary. The app can be used to register students for seminary and to follow their progress during the year. The app also allows parents to review student attendance, excuse absences, edit contact information, view assignments and more. Priesthood leaders have access to similar information, as well as information they need about the youth in their unit, like registration status.

3. Updated manuals for all four years

Every year since 2013, a revised seminary student manual has been introduced. This year marks the release of the revised New Testament manual, the last of the four. (A new manual for the Book of Mormon was released in 2013, Church History in 2014, and Old Testament in 2015.) All of these manuals can be accessed here.

The manuals were released in conjunction with the new Youth curriculum in 2013 and aim to be more student-centered than student manuals used in the past.

Read more about the revised manuals, especially the new Church History manual, here.

4. Students are now required to take tests

Parents of today’s seminary students had two requirements for graduation: at least 75 percent attendance and an endorsement from their priesthood leaders.

Today, in addition to those two requirements, seminary students must read the assigned book of scripture for the year and pass a “learning assessment” — a test — with at least a 75 percent. This requirement went into effect in 2014. These tests are available to view and study online here, and if a student doesn’t meet the 75 percent requirement the first time, they can try again with help.

5. More required reading

Since 2014, seminary students have been required to read the assigned book of scripture for the year. This year, it’s the New Testament. Parents can support their children in meeting this requirement by reading along with them and encouraging youth to stay on pace to finish by the end of the school year.

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