by Karyn Brodsky
• Create a high school plan.
Familiarize yourself with which high school courses are required by colleges and be sure to enroll in the applicable courses starting this year. Know the levels of courses offered by your school.
• Take challenging classes.
• Take at least five solid academic classes every semester. These usually include classes in English (language arts), Math, Science, Social Studies, Foreign Languages, and the Arts. Challenge yourself with honors and other higher-level courses.
• Learn about the SAT Subject Tests.
• Read and write as much as possible.
• Go beyond reading and writing assignments in school. Read books and magazines, keep a journal or write a blog. All of these can help improve writing skills, reading comprehension and vocabulary.
• Explore the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®).
• Try college-level courses and, with the right grades, maybe even receive college credit. More than 3,000 higher education institutions award credit based on AP Exam grades.
• Ask if the PSAT/NMSQT® is offered to 10th-graders. While typically administered in the 11th grade, the PSAT/NMSQT is also often offered in the 10th grade. Taking it this year allows for practice and a score report to help improve performance on next year’s exams.
• Think about taking the SAT Subject Tests. If enrolled in any courses that are related to an SAT Subject Test, it’s best to take those exams at the end of the year, while the material is still top of mind.
• Maintain participation in school activities or volunteer efforts.
• Maintain (or discover) extracurricular activities that help develop time-management skills, expand horizons, and reveal your passions.
• Sign up and take the PSAT/NMSQT test, which is administered in October. Taking the test is the best way to get ready for the SAT.
• Plan for spring tests. You can take either the SAT or up to three SAT Subject Tests on one test day. Plan your testing schedule carefully if you want to take both types of tests.
• Get ready for the SAT:
• Visit the SAT Practice section to answer free practice questions and a free full-length official practice test.
• Be sure to sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day for daily practice.
• Use the access code on your PSAT/NMSQT score report to sign into My College Quickstart. This personalized planning kit helps in the preparation of the SAT using a study plan based on an individual’s PSAT/NMSQT results.
• Get ready for the SAT Subject Tests. Visit the SAT Subject Tests Practice section to get free practice questions and answer explanations for all 20 tests.
• Take the SAT.
• Send scores to colleges and scholarship programs.
If you’ve identified which schools you’d like to receive scores, consider sending them in the spring of junior year. Colleges see this as a sign of interest and may use scores to qualify you for special campus visits programs, information sessions in your hometown or for scholarships.
• If you plan on taking the SAT again, the beginning of senior year is the best time. Research shows that students who take the SAT a second time usually improve their score.
Here are some other ways to improve your performance:
• Use My SAT Online Score Report to review your strengths and areas for improvement.
• Visit SAT Skills Insight to understand the skills needed to take you to the next level.
• Visit the SAT Practice section and be sure to sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day @SAT Question on Twitter for daily practice.
• Take SAT Subject Tests™.
•Send scores to colleges and scholarship programs. Many colleges and universities have application deadlines in December or January of senior year. If you haven’t sent your scores to any institutions or if you would like to send more score reports, now is the time.