Some colleges require you to take one to three SAT Subject Tests (usually including math). These one-hour tests are also offered in other subjects including biology, chemistry, physics, and many foreign languages. It's a good idea to take some of the Subject Tests (for example, the sciences) immediately after you've taken the subject in school. Plus, you'll get the test out of the way. Enhance the skills you need to maintain a high GPA and maximize your SAT or ACT scores by preparing now. To learn more, visit PrincetonReview.com/college/testprep.
STATE TESTS SPEEDWAY
You might have to take a state assessment test while you are in high school. Some high schools require that you pass this test in order to graduate or move to the next grade. Ask your guidance counselor if you have to take one. If you're nervous about this test, The Princeton Review will most likely have a book that can help you prepare.
Your family's most recent tax return will form the basis of your financial aid profile. Today, more than 70 percent of students receive some form of financial aid. Start investigating your options for grants and scholarships now by using the online scholarship search at PrincetonReview.com/college/finance.
NATIONAL MERIT MALL
High PSAT scores in your junior year will qulaify you for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. To become a finalist, you need great grades, high PSAT scores, and a recommendation from your school.
GOOD GRADE GROVE
Now is the time to use a fun, interactive tool you'll find on PrincetonReview.com, known as Counselor-O-Matic. Enter information about yourself and your preferences in a good school to find your "good match" schools. Then, opt-in to let these schools get in touch with you via e-mail. By using PrincetonReview.com, it's easy to make a connection with the best school for you.
Make sure your grades are high this year. When colleges look at your transcripts, they put a heavy emphasis on junior year grades, so put in the extra time. Grades already high? Keep them that way!
Searching for a typewriter is not something you should waste your time doing. Fill out your applications online, then print them out and mail them in, or submit them electronically (the way many colleges now prefer). Go to PrincetonReview.com/college/apply to view and access hundreds of online applications.
Many colleges require the SAT for admissions or to award scholarships. Plan to spend 3-12 weeks preparing for the test. The amount of time needed varies based on your starting scores and the average SAT scores of the colleges you want to attend. Not sure where you're starting? Register for a free practice test at PrincetonReview.com.
Talk to your counselors, teachers, and mentors who you trust. The better they know you, the more they can help you find the right college and give you good recommendations for getting admitted. Start learning about your school's sources of college information, and start thinking about the various aspects of a college that might be important to you (like location, size, curriculum, campus life, special programs).
If you have SAT Subject Tests to take, plan now. You can't take the SAT and SAT Subject Tests on the same day.
Many students take trips (family vacations or something different, like archaeological digs, backpacking, and bicycling tours) during the summer. Our book, The 500 Best Ways for Teens to Spend the Summer, is filled with ideas.
The ACT is an alternative to the SAT for virtually every college in the U.S. Some schools even prefer it to the SAT. The number of students taking the ACT grows by leaps and bounds every year. Even if it's not required for you, consider taking it at least once simply to see how you do. You might find that your ACT score is good enough to get you accepted to your first-choice school.
SUMMER JOB JETTY
Start looking for a job. Colleges love to see work that involves real thinking, like internships advertising, journalism, law, medicine or government. You might want to pick up a copy of The Internship Bible published by The Princeton Review. It's nice to get a job that pays well, but the experience you get through an internship can be invaluable. Be careful of how summer earnings may affect your financial aid status.
SUMMER SCHOOL ISLAND
Several universities have excellent summer programs. These programs are a fun way to meet lots new people, get a taste of college life, and pick up some credits that could be valuable later on. Visit PrincetonReview.com/AcademicPrograms to learn about summer opportunities.