A Guide to the SAT

If you want to walk into the SAT feeling confident and ready to succeed, preparation is key! To help you prepare for the big day, here is a guide to everything you need to know about the SAT. 

How do I register for the SAT?

Visit the College Board website to register for the test. You’ll need to create a free online account. If you took an AP test or the PSAT, you may already have a College Board account. Register in advance to avoid late fees!

When should I take the SAT?

Plan to spend around 100 hours preparing for your first SAT, with enough time to take the test 2-4 times before submitting your college applications. Determine how much time you need to prepare for the test by working backward from your college application deadlines. 

It’s also best to take the test after you’ve completed a majority of these classes:

  • Algebra II
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Three years of science (one year of physical science)

Taking classes that cover concepts tested on the SAT can be very useful in preparing for the exam. Consider scheduling your SAT when you have a lighter course load. With seven test dates offered every school year, there are plenty of opportunities available. 

How many times should I take the SAT?

Plan to take the test at least twice. To maximize your score, consider taking it 3-4 times. The SAT offers a feature called “score choice,” which allows you to pick and choose the scores sent to colleges. Some schools still require you to send all your scores, so do your best to make every attempt count. Other schools may want your “Superscore” – your best score in each section across test dates.

How much does the SAT cost?

SAT costs change from year to year, so visit their website for updated information on pricing. Check out the fee waiver requirements to see if you qualify.

What is on the SAT?


This section tests reading comprehension and your understanding of vocabulary within context.


In this section, you will read passages with intentional grammar errors. Your job is to fix them.


The math section assesses your basic arithmetic, algebra I, algebra II, geometry, probability, and statistics knowledge.


Although this section is optional, some colleges require it. Check the requirements of the schools you wish to attend. We recommend registering for the essay section just to be safe.

What is the SAT score range?

Scores range from 400-1600. The optional essay is scored on three different dimensions, and the scores range from 2-8.

How do I prepare?

Khan Academy offers FREE SAT prep resources. For the most up-to-date SAT information, please visit College Board. 

Good luck! We’re rooting for you!

Everything You Need to Know about the PSAT and NMSQT

You’ve probably heard the acronyms PSAT or NMSQT floating around your school. If you’re not sure what they stand for or what they mean, don’t worry! We’ve got you! Here’s everything you need to know about the PSAT and the NMSQT.

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test)

The PSAT is a practice SAT exam. Even if you don’t plan on taking the SAT or ACT, consider taking the exam at least once. Standardized tests are challenging, but this test will prepare you for the SAT, ACT, and any other standardized test you may take in the future. If you plan to attend a 2-year or 4-year college after high school, you should take the PSAT or any PSAT Suite of Assessments, including PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9. 

NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) funds a scholarship that awards big money to students in their junior year of high school who score in the highest percentiles on the PSAT. Since the Selection Index’s percentile changes every year, you won’t know the cutoff for your year. Students who qualify as National Merit Finalists and Semi-finalists receive money and bragging rights on their college applications. The NMSQT is only applicable to U.S. students in grade 11 or lower.

Testing Dates

The PSAT is offered in October each year, and you should consider taking it in your junior year of high school. If you want to take it before 11th grade, you can take the PSAT 10 as a sophomore or the PSAT 8/9 as an 8th or 9th grader. Each version assesses your writing, language, and math skills.

Check the website for the official dates of the exam. If your school doesn’t offer the test, you can contact the College Board directly to see which schools offer it nearby. The whole purpose of this exam is to get some practice before taking the SAT or ACT!

Test Scores

Your scores are sent directly to your school, and your counselor will distribute them once they track them in their system. When you get your score report, create an account on College Board. If you lose the paper copy, you can access your scores online. Your sign-up code is at the bottom of the score report.

Test Length

The PSAT is a shortened version of the SAT but is still considerably longer than any tests you take in school. It will take you 2 hours and 45 minutes to finish. The test covers three subjects – math, reading, and writing/language. 

Guessing vs. Omitting 

Since you only get points for correct questions, guessing has the same outcome as omitting. In other words, guess every question! The odds are in your favor if you take a random guess because there is a chance it will be correct. 

The PSAT: To Prep or Not to Prep

Colleges don’t see your PSAT scores. However, it’s a good idea to prepare because your scores could indicate how you’ll do on the SAT. Also, your PSAT score during your junior year determines whether you qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. This prestigious scholarship looks great on college applications and could earn you money to help pay for college.

Why Your GPA Matters

If you’ve ever wondered how much your high school and college GPA matters, you’re not alone. Let’s unpack why your GPA matters at all stages of your education.

Your GPA and College Admissions

While all college admissions teams look at your GPA, some colleges place a higher weight on it than others. Even though all admissions teams review your grades and test scores, many believe your GPA is a strong indicator of college success. If you are applying test-optional, your GPA will likely be a larger part of the admissions equation because you won’t have test scores to review.

Think about your unique situation. How competitive are the schools on your college list? Are they test-optional? How do you feel about your test scores and current GPA? 

How to Improve Your GPA

If you’re unhappy with your GPA and feel it isn’t an accurate reflection of you, there are ways to improve it.

Start your semester strong.

After summer vacation, your mind is fresh and rested. Use it to your advantage and work extra hard on those first assignments, projects, and tests. When you score highly in the first few months of your classes, you give yourself a buffer in case you don’t test as well later in the semester. Consider taking advanced courses that could increase your weighted GPA. 

Do the extra credit.

Usually, teachers and professors address their extra credit policies in their syllabi. Approach them with respect and let them know you are willing to put in the effort to improve your grades. Ask about extra credit questions in advance, and don’t inquire about bonus points a few days before the final exam.

Get extra help.

If you’re struggling in a class, ask your teacher or school counselor about tutoring resources. Look into after-school help, peer help, office hours, and writing centers. There are plenty of options for students in both high school and college.

Consider summer school.

If you didn’t get the grade you hoped for, consider retaking the class in summer school. Some high schools allow you to replace your current grade with an improved one! If you plan to take the course at a different school, first get approval from your high school counselor.

Your GPA in College

Companies in math and science-based industries often ask for your college GPA. However, even if you choose a math or science major, your GPA only matters for an entry-level position. As soon as you start your career, your resume will revolve around your work experience.

Graduate School

Graduate admissions teams want to know if you can handle the rigor of a graduate program. If you want to attend graduate school, a high college GPA may set you apart from other applicants, especially if you’re applying to a prestigious law school or medical school.


Many college scholarships require you to maintain a certain GPA. If you have one of these scholarships, keeping your GPA high will help you keep the scholarship and pay for your college education.

A high GPA can help you stand out in your college application and future job. Make an appointment with your high school counselor or college guidance counselor if you have questions or concerns about your GPA,

4 Tips to Help You Choose High School Classes

Choosing high school classes can be stressful, especially if you’re getting ready to start high school or wondering which classes look best on college applications. Here are a few tips to help you choose your courses with confidence so you can make the most of your time in high school.

Learn about your high school’s graduation requirements.

Each high school has specific graduation requirements or classes you must pass to graduate from high school. These requirements vary by state and by the type of school you attend. Some schools require one or two semesters of health or physical education. Some ask for a certain number of years of English and math. Visit your school counselor to find out your school’s requirements so you can choose classes that will keep you on track to graduate.

Find out which classes you need for college admission.

If you’re considering college, find out how many core classes (math, English, science, etc.) you need to complete to satisfy college admission requirements. Many colleges request four years of English, math, and world language. They also look for two years of laboratory science and at least two years of history. If you’ve started making your college list, check with the schools on your list for specific requirements. Engineering, art, music, and specialized majors often have additional prerequisites.

Understand the difference between weighted and unweighted GPA.

If your school has weighted GPAs, consider taking honors or AP classes. A B+ in an honors class often looks better than an A- in a regular-level class. Start by choosing an honor or AP class in a subject you enjoy. Once you’ve completed a course, you will better understand expectations and determine if you’re ready for another class. Challenge yourself, but don’t sign up for more than you can handle.

Explore your interests. 

Electives are a fun way to explore your interests! Use the opportunity to sign up for a class that sounds interesting. School doesn’t have to be boring! Plus, you are more likely to get a good grade in a class you love! 

Choosing your high school classes can be overwhelming. Remember, you don’t have to make these decisions alone. Your school’s counselor and your personal support system can help! Make an appointment with your counselor or ask your parents, guardians, or champions for advice and assistance. They will have plenty of valuable input to help you stay on track.

5 Questions to Ask Your High School Counselor

Your high school counselor is one of the most valuable resources at your school. They can help you choose classes, find school activities, prepare for college and a career, and even support your mental health. It’s easy to get so involved with your friends and schoolwork that you forget your counselor is available to help. Now is a great time to schedule a meeting with your counselor! If you’re nervous or unsure where to begin, these questions will help break the ice. 

Which classes do I need to take to graduate?

Take full advantage of your counselor’s knowledge, and remember they’re professionals in this kind of thing! When you meet up with them, ask them which classes will put you on track for graduation. It’s NEVER too early!

Can you tell me about some of the school’s extracurricular activities? 

One of the most exciting aspects of high school is having the freedom to make choices that support your interests and goals. There’s no better time to branch out and try new hobbies, discover new passions, and make new friends! 

Your counselor can tell you how to get involved in your school’s extracurricular activities and which ones look good on college applications. If something sounds fun, get all the details, and make it happen!

How do I manage stress, especially when I’m struggling in my classes?

We get it. High school is INSANELY stressful at times. Your school counselor is the perfect person to go to if you’re struggling with stress. If you’re having a hard time in your classes, your counselor may offer resources, like tutoring or office hours with a particular teacher. Don’t hesitate to confide in them about personal challenges at home unrelated to school. It doesn’t hurt to ask for help. Your school should have tools in place to help you succeed.

How do I start exploring college and career paths?

You can explore college and career paths through internships, volunteering, and extracurriculars. Your counselor will likely have information about local opportunities for students. By exploring different careers, you can see which ones interest you most.

Which AP courses would you recommend for me?

Advanced Placement (AP) classes aren’t one-size-fits-all. If your school offers AP courses, ask for more information. AP options are typically available starting your sophomore year. When you express interest in these classes, your counselor can help pick ones that make sense for you and find time in your schedule to make them work.

Establish a relationship with your school counselor as soon as possible. They are there to help you, and they will offer a listening ear!

What’s Next After High School?

The value of a college degree is a hotly debated topic. Whether you’re swiping through TikTok or talking to your school counselor, everyone has an opinion. 

While some research shows that adults with degrees are more likely to earn more and achieve high levels of career satisfaction, no path has a guaranteed outcome. It’s important to explore your options, learn what works best for you, and do what brings you the most joy. Below are some common paths students take after high school graduation.

Start Working

Some high school graduates want (or need) to start working right away. Full-time employment could include apprenticeships or simply working 35+ hours a week. 

Top Tip: If a job interests you and you don’t meet 100% of the qualifications, apply anyway! You never know who is in the applicant pool and doesn’t hurt to put yourself in the running. 

Work/Attend College 

Many employers have created programs to help keep solid employees. Employers like UPS, Starbucks, and Target offer tuition support for eligible employees at partner colleges. 

Top Tip: Make sure your schedule is balanced. It’s hard to work more than 20 hours a week and attend college full-time (4-5 classes). Pace yourself and take time for self-care. 

Go to College

If you graduate from college, you’ll have a wide variety of career options. Remember, not all colleges are created equal. From price tags and degrees offered to the social scene, each college has its own vibe. Whether you pursue a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree, pick a program and college that fits your academic, social, and financial expectations. 

Top Tip: Make a list of 3-5 top “must haves” for your college experience. Choose a college that fits your expectations. 

Military/Military + College

When you enlist in the military, you commit to four years of active duty and four years of inactive duty. Some military options combine military service with education, including the National Guard, military academies, and ROTC. If you’re interested in a military career and want to pursue life as an officer, you can earn your degree while enlisted. 

Military Top Tip: There are many jobs within the military, and many aren’t combat. You will take an aptitude test when you enlist in the military to determine your placement. To increase your placement options, take some practice tests and brush up on your English, math, and science skills.

Military + College Top Tip: Start early. ROTC programs and scholarship spots are limited. Choose a college that offers ROTC, and speak to a recruiter before your senior year about how to pursue the opportunity. 

Take a Gap Year

Some students take a gap year after high school to travel or volunteer. Gap years can be formal, planned overseas experiences, while others are less structured or self/student-directed experiences. The best way to structure a gap year is to have a goal in mind and a set end date. 

Top Tip: Apply to college first and then defer your admission for a year. You’ll have to file FAFSA again, but you’ll have the support of your high school team/counselor before you leave to pursue your year of experiential learning. 

10 Study Hacks

Ready to step up your study game? We’ve got 10 study hacks that will help you study smarter, not harder! 

1. Use voice-to-text to take notes.

Use the voice-to-text feature on your phone as a study tool! Instead of typing notes as you read, summarize your thoughts in your own words, and let your phone do all the typing. This feature is a huge time saver when you have tons of reading to do.

2. Try Kahoot and Quizlet.

Kahoot and Quizlet are two apps that can help you quiz yourself and your friends in a productive and fun way! If you don’t love these apps, there are many other quizzing apps to try!

3. Grammarly and Hemingway Editor.

These websites help you keep your writing clear and concise. The Hemingway Editor focuses on limiting adverb use, passive voice, and unnecessary words. Grammarly corrects grammar, suggests synonyms, and strengthens your language skills.

4. Take a walk before your exam.

According to this study, students who exercise before their exams perform better than those who don’t exercise. Test this study hack by planning a workout before your next exam or presentation!

5. Change your study conditions.

Try switching up your study location, what you’re studying, and who you’re studying with. Your sense of smell is a powerful tool for triggering memory. Try spraying an unfamiliar scent the next time you study a specific subject. When you’re ready to take the test, spray that scent again to help you remember the material you studied.

6. Draw.

If you use lots of colors and visualize your study materials, you’ll have an easier time recalling information. Drawing also gives you an excuse to take out the crayons and doodle!

7. Switch your fonts

If you need to read material fast, switch the font on your study guides. Your brain processes serif fonts faster than Times New Roman, Palatino, Georgia, Courier, and Garamond fonts.

8. Use apps to block distracting sites.

If you’re a self-proclaimed procrastinator, limit your distractions to get work done. If you can’t block the entire internet, consider blocking your favorite social media and gaming sites.

9. Watch a documentary on the topic.

If you’re a visual learner or want to see information in a different form, consider watching documentaries and videos on the subject. Watching relevant videos is another way to help prepare you for tests.

10. Listen to study music.

Music affects your mood and maximizes concentration. Soothing instrumental music may even reduce stress while studying. Have you made your study playlist yet?

These small tips can make a huge difference in your study game. Give them a try! You may find studying can be productive and fun!

The Best Way to Build Your High School Resume

It’s never too early to start building your resume. A resume can be used for college applications, internships, and volunteer work. Creating a resume may sound intimidating, but it only takes a few simple steps. Start with the basics, and add to the resume as you gain more school and job experience. Here are some tips to help you get started. 

Find a resume template.

Websites like Canva.com or even the template gallery on Google Docs have lots of free resume templates and ideas. 

Add the basics.

Start with your name, contact information, and education.

Create an “About Me” section.

Write a few sentences that highlight your goals and why you’re applying. 

Add work experience.

If you’ve already had a formal job, add your job title, dates of employment, and a short description of what you did. Add informal jobs too! Jobs like babysitting, yard work, cleaning, or painting show you’re committed, responsible, and a hard worker.   

List your extracurricular activities.

Make a list of your activities and community involvement. Also include any clubs you joined, especially if you are in a leadership position. Highlight experiences where you show discipline, time management, and commitment. 

Customize each resume.

Start by creating a generic resume. Depending on where you’re applying, review the job/internship posting. Customize your resume by first making a list of keywords from the posting. Include those words within each section of your resume.

Keep the resume to one page.

Resumes should be simple, clear, and concise. Since this is your first resume, it shouldn’t exceed one page. If you have extra space, consider adding references to the bottom. Include the person’s name, phone number, or email, and a short sentence about how they know you. References should be adults who know you well and can talk about your strengths and character. A reference shouldn’t be related to you.  

Resumes will grow and evolve over time. As you gain more experience, add it to your resume. It won’t be long before you have a solid list of experiences and accomplishments! Good luck!