College Readiness for 10th Graders

Welcome to the second segment of a 4-part Veritas Prep College Readiness Series! Each segment will cover what students can do to prepare for college. Today’s blog post will give high school sophomores advice on what they can do now to make sure they have a stellar college application.

Dear 10th Graders:

Although you’re still in the bottom half of seniority at your high school, at least you’re no longer a clueless freshman. By now, you should know the ropes better than you did last year. Here are a few tips to keep you on track:

(1) Begin SAT Preparation

Although most high school students don’t start SAT preparation until 11th grade, there is no reason you shouldn’t start earlier. In fact, starting SAT preparation in the 11th grade might be considered too late if you are trying to become a National Merit Scholar. This is because the PSAT, which is taken in October of your Junior year, is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). The PSAT is a similar, but easier exam than the SAT. The PSAT consists of only five sections (2 hours and 10 minutes total), rather than ten like the SAT (3 hours and 45 minutes total). There is also no essay or algebra II on the PSAT. Essentially, if you prepare for the SAT, you will be overly prepared for the PSAT!

In order to qualify for National Merit, you must score well on the PSAT. How well you need to score depends on where you reside because the PSAT qualifying score for National Merit recognition varies by state (qualifying scores usually range from 202 – 223 depending on how well other students in your state do on the PSAT).

Note: If you took the PSAT this year, it was only a practice PSAT. You will take the one that counts for National Merit next year as a junior.

(2) Learn SAT Vocabulary

One tangible way you can begin your SAT preparation is to start learning vocabulary words. Many students find that vocabulary is the most difficult part of the SAT. In order to avoid having to memorize hundreds of words at the last minute, start learning a few words a day now.

Not only will this gradual vocabulary studying help you on the SAT, but it will also help you on your high school and college essays. Using more sophisticated diction will result in higher grades and chances of acceptance. Start learning SAT vocabulary today using the free Veritas Prep SAT 2400 iPhone application.

(3) Leadership & Community Service

Leadership positions and community service hours are staples of every competitive college application. Now that you’ve had a year to get acclimated to the high school environment, it’s time to sink your teeth in and really get involved. If you can establish leadership positions and do community service hours early on in your high school career, college admissions officers will be impressed. They are looking for students who are dedicated to their passions, which means that how long you participate in activities matters.

(4) Enjoy High School

Freshmen year was probably a little scary. You were meeting new people, trying to figure out your way around the halls, and learning how to balance high school classes with everything else. By now, it’s likely that you have established a core group of close friends. Don’t let your ambition to attend an elite university cause you to neglect them! High school is where a lot of lifelong friends are made. Make sure you make time to enjoy your high school years with your friends.

Shaan Patel, who scored a perfect 2400 on the SAT, is the Director of SAT programs at Veritas Prep and author of McGraw-Hill’s bestselling book SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps