How to Start Getting Ready for College in 9th and 10th Grade

Effective Early College Prep Courses for New High School Students

Find the right college for you.

Read Every Day.

People who read more know more. Read at least 30 minutes every day in addition to studying and doing homework. This habit will pay off when you take tests with timed reading sections, such as AP Exams and college admission tests.

Get Involved.

Getting ready for college isn't all work. Find something you really like doing, and then dive into it. You might be drawn to sports, student council, music, or art. Join your fellow high school students in an after-school group or club.

Volunteer your time to help others at a local charity. Follow your passion with an apprenticeship or summer job. You'll develop skills and show colleges you can make a commitment and stick with it.

Involve Your Family in College Prep.

If your family members haven't been to college themselves, they may think they can't help you with college planning. That's not true. They know you well and can help you make good choices. Have your family members work with your teachers and school counselors to get you on the path to college. Ask for their advice when choosing a college preparatory class. Working with family members is one way to take the guesswork out of how to start preparing for college.

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Find a Mentor for Secondary Education.

Look for adults who can support you and help you reach your goals. If you're interested in a particular AP course or activity, let a like-minded teacher or school counselor know about it. Find someone you trust to talk to about your goals.

If a Problem Arises, Ask for Help.

If you have a problem that's getting in the way of schoolwork, ask someone you trust and respect for help. That person may be a friend, family member, coach, doctor, or clergyperson. If you’re struggling academically, ask your adviser what type of tutoring or other assistance is available. Get the help you need sooner rather than later because problems tend to grow.

Take Advanced College Prep Courses.

College prep courses provide you with a firm basis for success in your future university studies. Take available advanced courses, too. Colleges look at your grades, but they also pay attention to how tough your courses are. They’re looking for well-prepared potential college students who aren’t afraid to challenge themselves. Also, if you take college-level courses, such as Advanced Placement® classes, you may be able to get university credit.

Get Ready for the SAT.

Taking the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, or PSAT 8/9 is a perfect way to practice for the SAT. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior can help you qualify for scholarships. Ask your school counselor if you can take it at your school. Remember to sign up for Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy® to get free, personalized study tools to help you prepare.

Start to Develop Your Student Network.

Find out about college admission, academics, and campus life by asking people who have experienced it, such as students from your high school who are now in college. Ask your school counselors and teachers about their college experience. Learn from them. Talk to a college professor or administrator to get more information.

Next Steps to Take as a High School First-Year Student or Sophomore

Want to know why you should be thinking of college? Visit College: What It's All About and Why It Matters.

Sign up for Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy at

Thinking about your future? Read 5 Ways to Find Career Ideas.


Which high school grade is the most important?

Most college admissions committees consider your 11th-grade transcript to be the most important. Because students typically apply during senior year, it’s the last full year of records colleges will see, although many colleges also ask for a transcript of your first-semester senior year courses. Admissions officers will look at your grades from every high school quarter and semester that has been completed.

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What year of high school do colleges look at the most?

Your first year and sophomore year affect your cumulative GPA, which is important to most colleges. However, a solid academic record in your junior year is likely to carry more importance with an admissions committee. Your transcript from the end of your junior year is typically used during the application process, and many colleges ask to see a transcript with fall senior year courses and grades as well. 

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How do you prepare for 9th grade over the summer?

It’s a great idea to prepare for your first year of high school over the summer. That way, you can start building a strong college foundation from day one. Use a reading list from your upcoming English class to get a jump-start on the year. Practice your math and other skills so you’re ready to learn more. 

Remember, from the day you start high school, you’re building a bridge to college.

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