Onward and upward!

Sophomore checklist

You’re steadily climbing that high school status ladder, so why not prep for what’s coming after? Follow our guide to get yourself a couple of rungs above the rest!


Yeah, big sophomore!

You’ve made it through freshman year, and now you aren’t the newbie. Nice work. Shmoop knows what sophomore year is all about: learner’s permits, feeling cool because you’re in classes with juniors (go you, taking harder classes), and not having to use a map to find your classes on the first day.

While reveling in your newfound wisdom, make sure you’re moving in the right direction for college: what can you do during your sophomore year (besides begging your parents to take the minivan out for a spin)?

Sophomore year at school

Challenge yourself with demanding courses. Go for Honors classes. Take AP Classes if you've met all the prerequisites and if they are available. Remember, a B in AP Physics will be more impressive than an A+ in Beginner Noodle Making. Unless you are applying to Santa Barbara Noodle College.

Push yourself for good grades, they are important. How important are good grades? Short answer: super important. Struggling? Let Shmoop help with some handy Study Guides. If you need additional help, try reaching out to your teachers and being more active in class.

Sophomore year is a great time to think about your interests and skills. If you didn’t quite find an activity you love during freshman year, try a new sport or club.  There’s no better time than now to explore your interests and acquire new skills. Try entering in some competitions. Interested in science? Try the Intel Science and Engineering Fair. Interested in Politics? Try joining a local Model United Nations Group. Take a look at Tasty Bits: Competitions for more ideas.

Build Your Brag Sheet. This sheet will eventually be filled with all the wonderful things you have done, so get started now. Join some clubs, go the extra mile in class, get to know your teachers well. As a sophomore, you may be able to take on some leadership positions. Take on the challenge. When the time comes and you need letters of rec, you want to give teachers every reason to write about how amazing you are.

Standardized testing

Take the PSAT in the Spring. Wait, there’s a PSAT? Yes. The PSAT is a great chance for you to test out your standardized test chops before the arrival of the big, bad SAT and ACT. And who knows? You might just rock it and qualify for a National Merit Scholarship.

Consider an SAT Subject Test at the end of the school year. Did you rock the mitochondria in Biology? Is your Spanish excelente? What do you have to lose? You just might kill it. Check to see if the colleges you’re applying to require certain ones too. If you’re super ahead of the game, maybe even consider taking the SAT or ACT at the end of the school year. You can spend some of your summer studying for the exams if you don’t do as well as you hope.

Get ready to apply to college

 Visit colleges. Take a formal tour. No need to set up an interview with an admissions representative, but go ahead and ask them any questions you might have. Talk to some students and get a feel for a couple of different types of colleges and campuses.

If you haven’t done this yet, get to know your school counselor. They will help you navigate the maze of college applications. Here’s the reality of your school counselor: the vast majority of them are ludicrously overloaded. Some may have to deal with up to a thousand people just like you. Take this into consideration and be ready to drive your quest for college with the following steps.

Summer break

Do something constructive with summer break. Go to camp. Get an internship. Study something you don't have time to do during the school year. If you're in love with science, try conducting your own experiment. If you're passionate about a charity cause, spend the summer volunteering at the local charity organization. The point is to look back on your summer and be proud of what you accomplished.

Extra! Extra!

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