(3) For High School Juniors (11th grade)

Eleventh grade is arguably the most important year of your high school career because it is typically the last full year of grades that colleges will see on your college application.

Continue to take challenging classes and achieve good grades. Step up and take AP and IB classes to show that you are willing to challenge yourself by taking these college-level classes. However, don’t overload on AP classes if doing so means that you will receive poor grades. Also, if you struggled in your classes in ninth or tenth grade, you now have a chance to reverse the trend by showing improvement in your grades in eleventh grade.

Take the SAT and Subject Tests by the end of the school year. Many colleges want applicants to submit two or more scores from the SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT Reasoning Test score. You should consider taking Subject Tests in the subjects that you studied at the honors or AP level.

Make a good impression on your teachers and counselor. Most private colleges and some public universities ask students to submit letters of recommendation as a part of their college application. Teachers respond well to students who participate in classroom discussions and express interest in what they are learning.

Focus on a few extracurricular activities that you are good at and care about. Distinguish yourself by stepping up to leadership roles.


 On the School Front

 On the Testing Front

On the Extracurricular and
College Admissions Front 


Enroll in challenging classes. However, be sure not to overload on AP classes if you are not confident that you will be able to achieve good grades in each of your classes.

Register and prepare to take the SAT Reasoning Test during the October test administration if you are ready to achieve a score to make you competitive for you target colleges.

Sign up to take the PSAT at your school. While the PSAT has little bearing on your college admissions (colleges use the SAT to select students for admission), getting a high score on the PSAT may qualify you for scholarships.

Explore your interests by joining extracurricular activites at school and in the community. Narrow your participation to a few activities that truly interest you and allow you to participate in a meaningful way.

Try to run for an officer position in the school government or in a school club. Colleges like to see a demonstration of leadership skills.


Take your SAT Reasoning Test. You should consider taking the SAT Reasoning Test again in November if you believe that you could have achieved a higher score. (Remember that Language Subject Tests with Listening, like Chinese and Korean, are offered once per year in November and you will not be able to take both the SAT Reasoning Test and a Subject Test on the same test date.)

Take the PSAT. If you score high enough on the PSAT to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, you will be contacted at the beginning of your senior year to submit an application.

Continue your participation in your extracurricular activities throughout the school year. Colleges like to see a demonstration of genuine interest and commitment. However, be sure to keep your grades up.


Continue to do well in your classes. Junior year grades arguably are the most important for college admissions because students are typically starting to take AP classes in 11th grade. Doing well in these college-level courses in high school tends to show colleges that the student is prepared to undertake advanced level coursework in college.

Take your SAT Reasoning Test or Subject Test. Language Subject Tests with Listening, like Chinese and Korean, are offered once per year in November.



Study for your midterms and finals.



Ace your midterms and finals.

Register and prepare to take the SAT Reasoning Test during the March test administration.




Evaluate colleges and majors; plan to visit colleges and join college tours during spring break.


Take your SAT Reasoning Test. It is common for high school students to take the SAT Reasoning Test 2 or 3 times. High school juniors typically take the SAT in March and again in October of the senior year.

Plan your summer activity. Use the last summer before your senior year to strengthen your extra-curricular profile. Join a summer program or camp. Participate in a research project or internship opportunity. Volunteer at a community organization.


Start preparing for your AP exams. Review your notes and takes practice exams.

Register and prepare to take your SAT Subject Tests during the May and/or June test administrations. Take practice tests and review the test questions thoroughly.

Continue to plan your summer activity. Note the registration deadlines for the summer programs that you are interested in and apply early.


Take your AP exams at your high school during the first two weeks of May. 

Take your SAT Subject Tests. You can take up to 3 Subject Tests on the same test day.



Finish your year stong by acing your finals.

Take your SAT Subject Tests. You can take up to 3 Subject Tests on the same test day. 



Prepare for your SAT Reasoning Test if you plan to take the SAT again in the fall of your senior year.

If you have time to do so, take a class at a community college to deepen your knowledge of a subject that you are intersted in studying or to explore a new area of knowledge that you are curious about.





For more recommended reading materials, search our Recommended Reading List for High School Students.