Underclassmen: What do your PSAT Scores Tell You?





It’s pointless to take a test if you can’t learn and improve from your experience.  The PSAT is meant to help you do just that. Be smart by using your PSAT scores to improve your score on the “real” SAT.  Your score report explains what areas you need to review before taking the next test.  

How did you do?  

Look at your PSAT/NMSQT Score report and answer the following questions: 

  • What is your total score?  
  • What is your sample percentile?   
  • What was your Evidence based Reading/Writing Score? 
  • What was your Math score? 
  • What sample percentile are you in for your Reading/Writing and Math Scores? 

Your PSAT scores are your baseline – a starting point to improve from there.  The sample percentiles indicate how you performed compared to other students. 

College and Career Readiness Benchmarks 

Find your Reading, Writing and Language and Math test scores. They include bars that are green, yellow and red.  

Green scores indicate you have met the benchmark; yellow means you are approaching the benchmark, and red means you have work to do to meet the benchmark.  

Your Scores: Next Steps 

Review this section carefully. It gives you suggestions for ways to improve your skills.  

Take Action 

Record your PSAT scores in GuidedPath, and schedule your next SAT or PSAT test.

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Seniors: Have you heard from your Early Action or Early Decision schools?


It’s December!  Holidays, family, days off from school – and college decisions?!  That’s right, if you applied to any of the schools on your list in the first round of early action or early decision, you’ll probably be receiving decisions soon (if you haven’t already).  This month be sure to: 

  • Watch for admissions emails or letters from colleges. 
  • Decide on your next steps. 

Which type of early application did you complete?  Pick from the following list the types of early college applications you used. 

Next Steps 

As decisions start to roll in, what should you do now? 

  1. I was admitted Early Decision.  Congratulations!!  You are done!! Early decision means that you are required to attend if the school offers you admission.  This means no more applications for you! You should call any other school to which you have applied to withdraw your application.  You should also not submit any new applications. Revel in the freedom from college applications for the rest of your senior year!  
  2. I was admitted Early Action (or Restrictive Early Action or Rolling Admission).  Congratulations!!  You’ve got some thinking to do.  Early action admits have until May 1 to decide whether you want to enroll.  You’ll be spending some time over the next few months comparing schools, academic programs, and financial aid awards.  You may also want to do visits (or second visits) to the schools you’ve been admitted to before making your final decision.   
  3. I was deferred.  It’s not over yet.  The school has not made a final decision on your application.  They’ve decided they want more time to consider you. You should follow up with the college to inquire whether you can submit any additional information like senior mid-year grades, new test scores, an additional recommendation, etc.  Consider submitting additional applications so that you have some back-up options.  
  4. I was denied.  So perhaps you were not admitted to your early application school(s).  That’s ok! You might have known it was a “reach” when you applied Early Decision but it still stings when you aren’t offered admission.  Take time to process that and then refocus on your other options. Submit any applications that are still outstanding and consider submitting as an Early Decision II or Early Action II candidate.  The second-round early deadlines can still give you an edge with your new first choice school.  

Take Action  

Use GuidedPath to manage all your admissions decisions.  

  1. Record your outcomes in your GuidedPath account.  Mark admissions, deferments or non-admissions under Decisions. 
  2. Use Plans to re-organize and add round 2 applications if needed. 
  3. Use Progress to view application progress for all college applications.

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Seniors: Don’t get the Senioritus Blues


Singing the Senioritus Blues

I worked my rear off four years straight 

Taken tests over and over with my classmates 

Volunteered in every school club 

Took AP classes until my brain was numb 

Ran for office more than was my due 

Played Varsity football, soccer, and wrestling too 

Made a list of colleges with my advisor’s might and strength 

Not too long, not too short, just the right length 

Essays and applications, perfected and polished 

Are what it will take to get me into college 

Soon my answers will come back clear 

No from some, I know, and hopefully a yes from one I hold dear

Now I can party and enjoy myself December to May 

Replace homework with music on my phone to stay 

Drop Calculus and take time with friends after lunch 

No need to study, or worry about the AP test crunch 

I can go to prom and stay up until dawn 

Forget about helping my parents or mowing the lawn 

Wait!  My college friend said to beware 

Or I will be singing the senioritis blues 

In a letter from the college I will get the news 

The college does not like seeing my grades in the cellar 

They care if my record is no longer stellar 

The college can and will withdraw my acceptance for fall 

Then my face will no longer grace the freshman hall

I have learned from my friend’s story 

I don’t want senioritis to get to me. 

Or I will be singing the senioritis blues.


Keep going strong in your senior year.  Colleges can and do check your mid-year and final grades for senior year.  Every year they withdraw acceptances for students who have not maintained their academic record.  Don’t be one of those students – make the most of your senior year! 

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Underclassmen: What do I need to focus on in my second semester?



Now that your first semester is under your belt, it is tempting to take it easy during your second semester. Why does it matter if some of my grades slip this semester?  

What You Do Now Matters 

Colleges are going to ask the following questions of you: 

  1. Did you challenge yourself?  Did you take the hardest classes you could! 
  2. Did you get the best grades you could?  This includes both first and second semester. 
  3. What did you do extra in your classes?  Are you contributing to the class?  Will your teachers discuss your contributions in your recommendations? 

Finish Strong 

Keep your grades up and your enthusiasm going as you start in your spring semester.  You will be glad you did! 

Take Action 

Mark down your classes and your grades in your Course Plan in GuidedPath.

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How much I will pay for college?

A Thanksgiving Thought 

 Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.  Brian Tracy   

Keep this thought in mind during the Thanksgiving season. Strive to find a lesson in each of life’s experiences – good and bad – to make you a better and stronger person. 

Happy Thanksgiving from the GuidedPath team


And now for our regularly scheduled post –

How much will I pay for college? 

Paying for college is often compared to paying for airline tickets. No two people pay the same price.  What will your costs be at college? How much you pay for college depends on many factors. Knowing what those factors are, and how college will look at your family’s financial situation, will help you know what the price of your “college” ticket will be. Knowing how it will differ from one college to another will help you compare one college to another. 

Am I eligible for financial aid? 

What do colleges look at to determine how much you pay for college? The FAFSA or the CSS Profile forms are used to determine how much your family can contribute to your college education.  The forms include questions about: 

  • Your parents’ income 
  • Your income (if any) – even babysitting counts 
  • Your parents’ savings or investments 
  • Savings or investments in your name 

What is an “Expected Family Contribution”? 

The data from your FAFSA is used to calculate your “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC).  This is the number is the amount (according to the federal government) that your family should be able to afford to pay for one year of college.  Colleges use this number to determine how much (if any) need-based financial aid you will receive.  

What else is considered? 

Besides income and assets, these factors are also considered: 

  • Your parents’ age. The older they are, the more savings they should set aside to retire. 
  • Size of your family.  Large families need more money to live than small families. 
  • The number of children in college at one time.  If more than one child is enrolled in college simultaneously, the EFC for each child will be less.  Unfortunately, parents enrolled in college don’t count.  

When do I file my financial aid forms? 

Timing is everything when it comes to financial aid. Watch for details about when colleges require the FAFSA or the CSS Profile form to be filed.  Plan to file the FAFSA as early as possible (You can begin to complete your FAFSA as early as October 1). This is the form needed to qualify for financial grants, work-study or student loans from the federal government.  The CSS Profile (a financial aid application by the College Board) may also be required by the college (or a scholarship program). This is the form colleges use to help know who needs money from the college itself. It is their way of distributing their own funds to the students with the most need.  Deadlines for the CSS Profile vary college by college. Check GuidedPath and check college websites for deadlines. 

Take Action   

Financial Aid Updates 

The formula for calculating financial aid is updated every year.  GuidedPath uses the latest tables available in the EFC Calculator.  Use the EFC Calculator to get an estimate of your financial aid eligibility.  Your parents will be glad to know ahead of time what to expect. 

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SAT Subject Tests

SAT Subject tests are based on curriculum you have in class.  It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of a particular subject. According to the College Board, 

“The SAT Subject Tests offer you an additional opportunity to show colleges what you know and what you know you can do. Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take.” 

Only a handful of colleges require SAT subject tests from students, but many will use SAT Subject test scores as a part of your admissions profile or for placement purposes (especially in foreign language). 

What subject tests can I take? 

There are 20 subject tests to choose from.  A majority of the tests are in foreign languages, with English, History, Math and Science thrown in too. The subject tests are broken down as follows:

Are the subject tests the same as the AP tests? 

No. There are more AP tests than there are subject tests.  For example, there are five Arts AP tests, and no Arts Subject tests. 

What about the ACT? 

The ACT does not offer Subject tests. They are only offered by the SAT/College Board. 

When should I take the Subject tests? 

The best time to take a subject test is right after you finish the class. It is also good to take the subject test at the same time you are taking an AP or other subject exam.  Schedule subject tests in May of your sophomore or junior year, and November of your senior year. 

How long is a subject test? 

Most subject tests are 1 hour in length. 

How many Subject tests can I take at a time? 

You can schedule and take up to 3 tests in one sitting.  Most colleges will use your best two scores. Some colleges will use 3 subject tests for admissions.  Check college website for testing requirements. 

When are the subject tests offered? 

They are offered 6 times each year: August, October, November, December, May and June.  Subject tests are NOT offered in March. Only the SAT is offered then.  

Are all subject tests offered six times a year? 

No.  Not every subject test is offered six times a year.  Plan carefully when you want to take any of the following tests: 

Which tests can I take on any date? 

The following seven tests are offered every time a Subject test is offered.

Can I see my scores before I send them to a college? 

Yes. You can use score choice to see your scores and decide which scores to send to colleges.  Remember to check college policies. Some colleges require you to send ALL your test scores. 

What is the latest date I can take the subject scores in my senior year? 

The latest you should schedule subject tests in your senior year is December.  If you are applying to any of your colleges early (Early Action or Early Decision) you should schedule them for October or November. 

Do all colleges require the SAT Subject tests? 

No. Many colleges do not consider Subject tests for admission purposes. Check the college website carefully for each college’s policy on Subject tests. 

Do I need to take specific Subject tests for my major? 

Sometimes.  Many colleges have specific subject test requirements for specific majors.  Engineering, science and math majors often require or highly recommend subject tests.  This is particularly true if you are applying to any of the University of California campuses. UC’s can’t require a subject test, but if it is highly recommended for your major, you will be more competitive if you take the recommended subject test. 

How can I prepare to take the SAT Subject tests? 

You can prepare for the subject tests in many ways. The CollegeBoard website has subject test prep.  Check for local SAT Test Preparation options. Check online. Check with friends and create your own subject study groups. 

Take Action 
Update your Testing schedule in GuidedPath with all your tests: ACT, SAT and SAT Subjects. Include PSAT, AP, or other tests you are planning to take. 

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