Much is know about the junior and senior high school years, but only a few people realize the importance of the sophomore year. The increased competition for college acceptance calls for enhanced foresight and proper planning. 

To some, the tenth grade may seem too early for a student to be thinking about college, but it can actually give you a competitive edge. There are several things that you can do during your sophomore year in high school to increase your chances of getting accepted to colleges. 

Discussed below are a few tips to ensure that you are on the right track throughout your sophomore year in high school:

The sophomore high school year is when one needs to get more serious about academics and extracurricular activities. Work towards improving your GPA and take a practice SAT or ACT in preparation for junior year PSATA. You may need to take SAT subject tests and study a foreign language as well.

1.Maximize Your GPA

Your sophomore year is when your grades really start to count, hence the need to be serious about academics. Note your academic strengths and weaknesses then reach out to your tutors or teachers for help in your areas of weakness. The grade point average (GPA) is the most important factor in college admissions decisions.

Start prioritizing your academic efforts and try to challenge yourself with the most advanced levels you can handle. As explained later in this guide, you also need to take the classes you are foot and would like to study in college. While at it, try to think ahead of next year to see whether you need to take some prerequisite classes.

For instance, you will need to take either regular or honors chemistry before you can take AP chemistry. If your freshman grades were relatively low, no need to panic. Most colleges are more interested in your progression of improvement throughout the high school years. Always try to maintain a 3.0 GPA with grades of A and B in your high school classes.

2.Take the PSAT 

If not well prepared, SAT/ACT prep can be a stress factor in your junior year. In readiness for this, it is advisable to take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) as a sophomore. Taking the practice SAT or ACT in your sophomore year gives you an idea of the subject areas that you need to work on before your junior year PSAT.

Normally, the pre-SAT test is meant for juniors, but most sophomores are known to take it as well. PSAT may not be a college admissions requirement but may qualify you for scholarship money. Schedule an appointment with your school guidance counselor to register for the PSAT. Ask the counselor to help you find practice tests.

These will help you understand the test-taking strategy, hence prepare accordingly. 

Note: PSAT scores from your sophomore year don’t count toward National Merit Scholarship eligibility. They are only meant to help you gauge your abilities and work on your weaknesses as you prepare for the junior year PSAT.

3.Consider Taking SAT Subject Tests 

Ensure that your coursework during the sophomore high school year is on track. Basically, you need to be taking the most challenging courses you can handle. Not only do Advanced Placement and/or Honors classes look great on your transcript, but will also help you be a better college candidate.

As you may be aware most colleges require their applicants to take a certain number of foundation classes—often English, science, and math. Take time to check with the specific colleges regarding their admission requirements. If you are interested in a school that requires SAT Subject Tests, you need to take the relevant exam as soon as you have completed the high school course.

SAT subject tests are available in such subjects as mathematics, chemistry, U.S. history, molecular or ecological biology, and foreign languages. Most universities and colleges do not require the extra tests, but some require scores in one to three of these subjects. 

Which Subjects Should Sophomores Take Rigorous Courses in? 

Basically, you should take challenging coursework. If your school happens to allows you to start picking electives, try to be ambitious. Rather than taking the classes you find easy, challenge yourself a little. For instance, you could take challenging classes in the subjects you are passionate about. 

It is better to get lower grades in tough subjects than higher grades in easy subjects in your sophomore year. Since colleges appreciate depth more than breadth, do not try to be good in every subject. Just focus your effort on the subjects you intend to study in college. 

For instance, sophomores planning to major in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field should exceed expectations In their science and math classes. In such a case, you do not need to take advanced courses in history and English. Even so, you still need to work towards getting solid grades in the later courses. 

Study a Foreign Language 

Most colleges today require their students to take at least four semesters of a  foreign language. To get the most out of this requirement, you need to put enough effort into learning a foreign language in high school. The sophomore year is perfect for this. 

If you would like to major in policy, government, literature, international relations, or History, you need to demonstrate a passion for foreign language. This being the case, it is highly advisable to try and study a foreign language during your sophomore high school year. 

Read More 

The sophomore high school year is a perfect period to develop your reading skills further. Reading will help improve your reading comprehension, speed, and focus. It will also help you acquire new vocabulary words and even learn standard English grammar conventions in readiness for your SAT. 

Again, reading is a part of just about any class assignment. Therefore, improved reading skills will help boost your GPA in a way. Your reading skills may have degraded over the years as a result of imposed reading limitations and deadlines. This is why you should try and better your reading skills in your Sophomore year. 

In this regard, try reading different magazines, books, and even websites until you find the genre or author you enjoy reading. With this newly-found perspective, it would be easier for you to enjoy reading almost any type of writing. 

Plan Your Summer Accordingly 

What a sophomore does over the summer matters. A good number of colleges will seek to learn how you spend your free time. This is precisely why your should start planning for your summers more wisely. Take advantage of a volunteer, academic, or professional opportunity during this period. 

Get an opportunity that allows you to showcase your positive personality traits like responsibility, initiative, and leadership. Get a job, a volunteer or internship position, or take a college course over the summer. This will help you grow personally, explore your interests, and set the stage for better extracurricular involvement in the coming years. 

You should choose a program or project your can return to during subsequent summer holidays in the coming years—preferably to a position of increased responsibility. 

Explore Extracurricular Activities

To optimize your chances of gaining admission to your preferred colleges and universities, you need to give them a clear vision of your interests. Some schools will want to get to know your personality. Such schools prefer students who make an impact in the community, actively pursue a passion, and/or demonstrate outstanding achievement.

Where possible, try to reach the highest level in your sport. Additionally, you should assume a leadership position in your club. You could even take the initiative to start your club or community program. 

If you are still not sure of your interests, you could try out several clubs, classes, and activities to find one that you find exciting. You may also consult others or read articles and boos about potential interests to get the information and inspiration you need to get started.  

Develop Relationships with Your Teachers

Ask your teachers for extra help when you need it,  work with them through club membership,  or just talk to them outside of class. Such a relationship makes it possible for the teachers to write the best, most emphatic, most descriptive recommendations. 

This is mainly because you have allowed them to interact with and know you better. Again, being able to approach professors is the most essential, yet hard-to-acquire skills you can have in college.  Students who engage with their professors invariably report improved performance in college.

Try to get comfortable approaching teachers in high school and you will not have a problem doing the same in college. 

Learn About Colleges

A considerable number of sophomores are not decided on which colleges they would like to attend. It helps to start thinking about your preferences at this stage. To begin with, you could look into colleges of different sizes, locations, and types while trying to find out which ones interest you the most. 

In this regard, you could use the leading college search sites like and College Board Big Future. Try to compile a personalized college match list based on your preferences. Thereafter, you can visit their websites for more details, and possibly schedule visits. 

Understanding which attributes you like and dislike will help you generate a more realistic list of the colleges you would like to apply to. Again, getting to know colleges more intimately is likely to rekindle your interest in a certain college or university. This will, in turn, motivate you to succeed in high school. 

Final Verdict 

For most students, the sophomore year is when they actually start playing for keeps. Overall, try to maintain a 3.0 GPA with grades of A and B in your high school classes. Taking practice SAT will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, which you can then try to improve. 

In addition to academics, you also need to take part in extracurricular activities and plan your summer holidays wisely. In addition to preparing you for college application in a few years, such things will help you build skills that will be useful throughout your academic and professional life.


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