Should I be Taking AP classes?

Taking AP classes during high school can give students an opportunity to earn college credits and often fulfill core requirements before ever arriving on campus. For exceptional students, AP classes can also provide a challenge and a great fit for their abilities. AP classes can challenge students and help to prepare for the SAT by helping you to learn new ways to work through information and preparing you for college level course material and test strategies.

Make a Commitment
While taking AP courses can be a wonderful choice, you should stay honest about how many classes you can manage in your academic schedule and how much work you have time for outside of the classroom. Studying for an AP test is time consuming and it is better to score well on one or two tests than to score poorly on four tests. In most cases, you will need a minimum of a three or four in order to be eligible for college credit.

Get All Your Information
If you can, talk to the teacher of the AP class before you enroll to learn about the course load, expectations, and how your teacher will prepare you for the exam. If you have a top college or top couple colleges, you may also want to find out their policy on AP credits so that you know how well you will need to score and also what classes the credits can replace in core curriculum.

Choose Classes Wisely
Choose AP classes in subject areas that you are interested in studying. You will be devoting large amounts of time to studying this material and may become frustrated if it’s not a subject you enjoy. Chances are, your high school offers AP classes in many different subjects, from environmental science to your foreign language. Choosing the right classes will help you to make the most of going in-depth in a college-level class.

Be Prepared for a Challenge
AP tests can fulfill college credit for a reason — they are college-level work. If you have a busy schedule and struggle to keep your grades high in regular classes, you may want to think twice about AP classes. It’s important to maintain a high GPA at the same time. You can expect to do more writing, learn how to better synthesize information, and learn to think as you would in a college class. If you’re up for a challenge and willing to work hard, AP classes can be great preparation for college.

Book vs. Online: Best Way to Prep for the SAT

The SAT is a huge test for every high school student preparing for college, and many students worry about doing well enough to get into their top colleges. Preparing for the SAT can be a daunting task, but there are many different SAT test prep options available. Students should carefully consider the right method for preparing for the SAT, to ensure they do well. Many colleges expect good scores on the SAT, and take SAT scores into consideration before admitting a student into the college, so it’s very important that a high school student takes the test seriously and prepares for it well.

Traditional SAT test books are common ways that high school students get themselves ready for the big test. There are many different types of books available, and there are different options to meet different studying and learning needs. Students can use these books to study on their own, or can work in groups and cover the material together. Traditional study books offer students the freedom to study anywhere they’d like, as long as they have the book. Some students are uncomfortable using other newer methods of study, and traditional books are a good option.

Online test prep has become more and more popular with the advance of the internet. There are many different online studying options, too. Some options are free, like free vocabulary flash cards, and others cost money and may involve online books or even an online tutor or teacher that leads prep courses. Online test prep provides a wide variety of options that can help engage students fully and offer many different learning methods in order to do well. Many students enjoy studying online because it offers more variety and is easier to stay involved and engaged. However, online studying for the SAT can have its drawbacks, such as tutors that are only available at certain times, and students are limited in their studies to only when a computer is available to them.

Some students may study best with traditional SAT books, and others may do well by studying online. There are certainly benefits and drawbacks to both methods, but each has its own way of offering strong methods to prepare for the SAT. For most high school students, the best way to study isn’t necessarily to strictly stick to just traditional books or online methods, but instead to incorporate some of both methods, as suitable to the student. Spend some time looking into different types of studying methods, and students, parents, and teachers should work together deciding on a studying routine that best meets the child’s individual needs. This is the best way to pick a study method and ensure high achievement on the SATs.

Memorization Tips and Tricks

Knowing how to quickly and effectively memorize information can make life a lot easier for students. Memorization techniques can help when it comes to studying for tests, quickly processing information, and learning how to learn better for the future.

Word Games
Many students find that creating acronyms or acrostics can be a useful tool to memorize sets of information. Acronyms are words created from the first letter of a series of terms to help jog your memory. The goal is to memorize the word and be able to write it down to help you to remember the rest of the terms. Acrostics are sentences created from the first letters of a series of terms, memorize the sentence and them fill in the correct words when you need to recall information. Which works best for you is a matter of personal preference and whether or not the terms you’re memorizing lend themselves better to a single word or a memorable sentence.

Recopying and Repeating
Two easy ways to help information stick is to recopy and repeat. Some students learn well by rewriting the important parts of their notes. Even if you generally use the computer for note taking, writing out information by hand often helps it to stick in your mind a little better. Similarly, reading through notes or sections of a textbook aloud can help to solidify the information. You may feel silly reading to yourself aloud, but you also may find it helps the information sink in better.

Pace Yourself
Spending time studying at a steady pace is typically a better way of memorizing information than trying to cram for a test the night before, or even just a couple days before. Reviewing information over time and going back over information on separate occasions can help to commit it to memory.

Work with a Friend or Group
Memorizing information with a friend, classmate, or study group can be helpful to many students memorizing information. The group can work together to come up with ways to memorize information and share their own tricks for studying and memorizing terms and information. Working as a group and then going over information alone can help students to learn information and memorize for the test.

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The Benefits of Personal Goal Setting

Setting personal goals is an important skill to develop as a student and continue to hone throughout college and your career. While everyone’s goals are different and what works for one person may not work for everyone, there are some basic tips that can help you to follow through on your personal goals.

Write Your Goals Down
Take time to think about your goals and put them down on paper. This will help you to focus and identify priorities, isolating your top personal goals for the next week, next year, and next five years. Being able to see these mapped out can help many students to focus and feel good about meeting their future personal goals.

Break Your Goals Down Into Manageable Steps
A big life goal, like being a lawyer, can seem overwhelming when you’re in high school and looking just at that end goal. When you break it down into pieces, it seems a lot more manageable. For example, you could set a goal to keep a certain GPA in high school and perform well on your SATs so you can get into your first choice college with a great pre-law program. At that point, your goal becomes doing well and studying for your LSATs so that you can get into your first choice law school. Then your goal will shift to law school and passing the bar. Broken down into steps, your goal will help you track your progress and keep your dream in sight.

Make Yourself Accountable
Sharing your goals, whether big or small, with a trusted friend, teacher, or family member is a great way to keep yourself on track. Knowing that someone else is aware of your goals and rooting for you to make them happen can provide a great dose of encouragement. When you feel that you have someone to update on your progress, it makes it more exciting as you make progress.

Continue to Adapt
While goal setting is important, it’s also a good idea to revisit your goals every so often and make sure they’re still a good fit. There’s no shame in adjusting your goals as you grow and learn more about yourself and who you want to be as a student and as a person. Changing goals is a natural part of goal setting.

How to Utilize Your High School Counselor

Many students travel through their high school years without ever making use of one of the best resources available–their high school guidance counselor. Guidance counselors can be a wonderful resource for students and it’s worth finding out early on all of the ways that they can help. By the very nature of their job, high school guidance counselors wear many different hats and can help you with a number of different things.

Information at High School
Guidance counselors can be your one-stop for information as you plan out your high school years. They can answer questions about scheduling and classes, suggest activities, and help you to manage your schedule. One of the best things you can do is make an appointment to meet with your counselor just to get to know each other. The more your guidance counselor knows about you and your interests, the better equipped he or she will be to offer you assistance and make you aware of opportunities.

College Information
Your guidance counselor can be a big help in your college search process–from the very beginning through the day your acceptance letter arrives in the mail. He or she can help you to narrow your college choices and identify top schools, contact admissions offices and arrange for visits and interviews, and provide assistance answering questions as you prepare your applications. The guidance office can also be helpful when it comes to finding financial aid opportunities. They can help to answer questions about eligibility, help prepare applications and paperwork, and suggest things you may miss. High school guidance counselors have the benefit of experience–many have helped class after class of seniors to find their perfect college. This can be a great way to quickly learn about the process and feel prepared as you move through the application process.

Counseling
Guidance counselors can also provide counseling and help you with any number of challenges during the high school years. They can help to mediate conflicts, be there for you to talk through problems at school or at home, and refer you to a psychologist or specialist outside of school if you need more assistance than they can offer. Guidance counselors are experts at the high school age group and familiar with the many challenges facing young people today. Taking advantage of this resource can help you learn coping skills, work through problems, and enjoy a healthy and happy high school career.

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Getting the Most Out of a College Fair

College fairs can be a wonderful opportunity to gather information, speak with admissions office staff members, and get answers to your questions all in one place. Plan to attend at least one college fair during your college search process and you will walk away with plenty of new information and resources to aid in your search.

Do your Homework
Plan to attend college fairs well in advance so you can select fairs that have many of your top choice schools in attendance. Find out which schools will be there and make a list of the schools whose tables you want to be sure to visit, as well as schools on a second tier list if you have time to check out more of the tables at the fair.

Be Prepared on College Fair Day
Dress neatly and professionally for the college fair–you don’t have to be formal, but you want to be neat. You can’t go wrong with business casual. Bring along a bag large enough to carry materials you collect at the college fair, a pen, and a notepad to write down things you find out. When you arrive at the college fair, find a map right away and plot out where you want to go first and your plan for the day. Many college fairs can be busy and hectic, so taking a moment to plan ahead will make a big difference.

Ask Good Questions
Spend some time looking at college websites before attending and prepare a list of questions that you have about each of your top choices. You want to ask good questions that you could not answer from the website or admissions materials. This will help you to gather information as you make decisions about college and also help you to stand out to potential colleges. Subjective questions can provide more interesting information than objective questions, like class size, which can often be answered from admissions booklets. Ask the people representing the school about the things that makes their college unique, their favorite traditions, and what college freshmen would say about their first year on campus.

Keep an Open Mind
While you want to be sure to get to all of your top schools, allow some time tat the college fair just to wander and see the other school’s displays. If something catches your attention, stop and ask questions. College fairs can be a great time to add schools to your list and explore options you may have not heard of in the past.

Overcoming Testing Anxiety

Testing anxiety can affect even the best students and have a strong impact on students’ abilities to perform well on tests. Finding ways to overcome testing anxiety will help you to do better in school, stay calm before exams, and perform better on big tests like the SAT too.

There are many causes of testing anxiety. Some students become anxious during the hours before a test fearing that they have not studied enough. The best way to combat this is to start studying early and not leave anything to the last minute. When you feel comfortable with the material, its easier to put the books and notes away knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prepare. When preparing for bigger tests, like the SAT. It is even more important to start early and stay calm. A solid SAT test prep schedule will help you to budget your time and know that you have done all that you can to prepare.

The more tests you take, the better you will become at keeping calm before a big exam. When preparing for the SAT, taking practice tests as part of your online test prep can be a big help to students who are anxious. Similarly, if your textbooks have practice tests or questions to check your work, go back and look at them before a test. This is a good way to anticipate potential questions and identify trouble areas. Answering questions about test material can also help you to feel confident going into the test.

If you have questions, make the time to talk with your teacher. Similarly, if you find yourself experiencing severe anxiety, it may be worthwhile to talk with a parent or guidance counselor about ways to feel better, handle your emotions, and find ways to lessen your anxiety.

The day before the test, read over summaries of the material and then put your books and prep work away. Take some time to relax and be sure to get to sleep at a decent hour the night before a test. Feeling well rested and not spending the evening cramming for the test will help you to relax. Going into the exam calm and confident counts for a lot and will help you to recall information and follow directions on the test.

If you feel yourself getting anxious, try taking deep breaths and reminding yourself of the work you put into studying. Learning how to calm yourself down before a test is a skill that will be useful throughout your academic career.

Is My SAT Score Good Enough?

Looking at your SAT scores can be puzzling for many high school students, especially the first time taking the test. It can be tough to know whether your scores are good enough for your colleges and whether you need to take the test again. What qualifies as a good score on the SAT will be different for every student and very dependent on your future goals for college.

As you go along in your college search process, you want to pay attention to the numbers that you see in college ranking and admissions materials. You’re looking for the 25-75th percentile SAT scores for each college. These will give you a good idea of where most students fall. While there will always be exceptions, both extremely high scores and students who get in on other qualifications even with lower scores, this is a good guideline. You may also inquire about perks for higher scores, such as merit-based grants or being able to test-out of required classes during your freshman year of college.

For example, Harvard University’s 25-75th percentile scores are 2100 – 2380 and Stanford University’s 25-75th percentile scores are 2000-2310. University of California San Diego‘s 25-75th percentile scores are 1700 – 2030. Identifying these numbers before you have to decipher your scores will help you to understand where you need to be to attend your top choice schools. If you have goals in mind, it will be easier to decide if your SAT scores are good enough to be your final scores, or if you need to take the test a second or a third time and try to improve.

If your scores fall right in the average for your top choice schools, you may still wish to improve them in order to increase your chances of acceptance. If you’re well above the scores you need, you may feel comfortable with your current scores and choose to be done taking the SAT.

It’s also worth paying attention to the breakdown between subject areas. Colleges generally want to see people with balanced scores, not extremely high scores in one section and significantly lower scores in another. Some variation between the scores is normal, especially if you have a much stronger interest and talent in one area. If the scores are too lopsided, however, you may want to spend some time studying for your weaker subject and take the test again to improve your scores.

Team Sports and Learning Life Skills

Being part of a team in high school can be a good way to learn many skills that will be applicable down the road in college and in your career. Team sports provide a great way to stay active and be social at the same time, giving teams a built-in social circle that can be extremely helpful to high school freshmen and provide a great way to meet people throughout the four years.

Team sports offer leadership opportunities and give high school students the chance to take charge and be responsible for their own group. Serving as a captain or co-caption teaches planning, cooperation, and the skills necessary to be a fair and skilled leader.

Participating in sports also give high school students experience planning out their own schedules and making time for multiple commitments. Learning to balance extracurricular activities with academic work is a skill that will be critical to your success in college. College students must create schedules that allow for plenty of study time, along with extracurriculars, part-time jobs, and other responsibilities. Having a busy schedule in high school can be the start of a lifetime of involvement in things that you enjoy.

Even the closest and most compatible teams will have occasional conflicts. Teammates may disagree about something on or off the field and need to work through a difference of opinions for the good of the group. This is a valuable learning experience that is applicable in many areas of life. Friendships, study groups, and relationships are all built on the ability to disagree amicably and solve problems as a group to move past conflicts.

Teams experience wonderful wins and disappointing losses together. No matter which side is most common for your team, you’ll learn a lot in the process and develop skills to help you celebrate in the good times and handle losses with dignity. These skills will be valuable far beyond high school and help you to become a mature and adaptable person.

Sports not exactly your thing? There are plenty of teams out there for you. Consider joining an academic-based team like debate or the school paper. School musical organizations also provide a similar setting that teaches cooperation, leadership, and commitment to participants. There’s a team out there for everyone to match each individual’s interests and preferred time commitment.

Being part of a team in high school is a valuable experience that will stick with you throughout your life. There are many options to choose from and many ways to get involved and enjoy being part of something special.

The Value of the SAT

Everyone knows that the SAT is important, but in recent years, its value has only increased. Close to 1.6 million students graduating from high school in 2010 took the SAT, this is a higher percentage of graduates than ever before. Minority participation in the SAT is also up compared to past years. The SAT is increasingly becoming an assumed part of the high school to college transition and can be a valuable resource for college admissions.

Studies have revealed that performance on the SAT is an excellent predictor of college readiness. High school grade point average and SAT scores are of equal value in predicting students’ first year college grade point average. By looking at the combination of the two, colleges can get a fairly accurate reading of how prepared a student is for college coursework.

While having a strong knowledge base from high school classes is certainly part of good SAT scores and being prepared for the college, the SAT tests a lot more than that. By taking time to study for the SAT through SAT prep and online classes, students can demonstrate their ability to prepare for a big test and retain information. These are skills that will continue to serve students well in college and contribute to better grades and a higher likelihood that they will finish college.

SAT scores matter, now more than ever, and college admissions offices will be looking at them for a glimpse into how well a student will handle college-level work and how well students can budget their time, follow directions, and prepare material for a test.

In 2010, 80.8% of the students graduating who took the SAT also took the PSAT. The PSAT can provide an opportunity for students to see how the test day will work so that they feel comfortable for the SAT. PSAT scores are also a good way to get a better idea of which areas of the test will need the most work during SAT prep.

The College Board anticipates that upcoming studies will reveal the impact that SAT scores have on college performance after the first year and college retention for all four years. This is valuable information that can be gleamed from test performance early in student’s academic careers.


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