Mid-year Checklist


Welcome back from winter break!  Now is the time to review your MID YEAR CHECKLIST.  January is a great time to get organized and jump start your college search.  

1. Meet with your high school counselor 

  • Review your PSAT scores with counselor and parents (if you took it in the fall) 
  • Ask for recommendations for summer programs 
  • Schedule next year’s courses 
  • Schedule your standardized tests for spring 
  • Discuss any school based standardized testing (AP, IB, other) 

2. Gear up for next year 

  • Explore summer programs 
  • Prepare for spring standardized tests using PSAT test scores as a guide 
  • Ask teachers about their recommendation policies (for summer programs, scholarships, or college applications) 
  • Job shadow or intern to learn more about potential careers 
  • Plan college visits

Take Action 

  • Take or review the Course Plan Survey to verify your next year course schedule will fulfill your graduation requirements 
  • Add your Spring testing schedule to GuidedPath in order to get registration and test reminders

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PSAT scores released next week

If you took the PSAT earlier this fall, you should expect to receive your scores sometime next week.  The CollegeBoard says scores will be released to students Dec 9-11 (the exact date depends on where you live).  Your counselor can access the scores on Dec 2 through the K-12 reporting portal.  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.  

Viewing Your Scores 

The CollegeBoard has aligned the PSAT scores with the SAT scores.  You can use your PSAT test scores to learn more about how you might do on the upcoming SAT tests.  But there are a LOT of scores on the PSAT test.  Which scores should you to pay attention to? 

Here are some tips.  When viewing your score report, focus on: 

  1. Raw scores.  Look at your Reading/Writing score, your math score, and total score. 
  2. Ignore percentiles.  This is a new test- the percentiles are research based only.  Don’t worry about the percentiles. 
  3. Check your NMSC Selection Index.  Is there an asterisk (*) next to it?  Learn more about the National Merit Scholarship selection process in this guide 

College and Career Readiness Benchmarks 

Don’t spend a lot of time worrying about where you are on the benchmarks.  Make a count of how many you have in the following benchmark areas: 

  • Green (meets or exceeds benchmark) 
  • Yellow (approaching benchmark) 
  • Red (need to strengthen skills) 

Get Advice from the Experts on Benchmarks 

Talk to your counselor or advisor about recommendations to move your red and yellow benchmarks into green. 

Using Sub Scores 

Find the section of your score report, Your Scores: Next Steps.  This is a great resource for you, showing what you are already able to do.  It also includes suggestions for improving your skills.  These suggestions become the beginning of the Khan Academy personalized preparation plan.   

The scores are broken into: 

  1. Reading Test 
  2. Writing and Language Test 
  3. Math Test 

Study Smarter, not Harder 

If you use your PSAT scores for preparation for the SAT, you will be studying smarter, not harder.  Reviewing your PSAT scores will save you hours of studying for the SAT by showing you where you need to focus your preparation.  Go over your PSAT scores with parents, counselors and teachers.  Use this to create a personalized, study plan for the SAT. 

Take Action 

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

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Be ready for the PSAT/NMSQT

 Taking the PSAT/NMSQT is important as a freshman, sophomore and junior.  Why?  It is your opportunity to take a standardized test and see how you do, without having to worry that colleges or programs will see your scores (they don’t).  It’s also a great way to prepare for the regular SAT and juniors it is your opportunity to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.  Here are 5 tips to help you get ready.  

5 Steps to Prepare for the PSAT in October 

  1. REGISTER for the PSAT at your high school.  The test is offered at your school in October (this year that date is October 16 for most schools).  Check with the counseling office about the date and how to register. 
  2. GET READY.  Get a list of what to bring on test day and what to leave at home. 
  3. GET FAMILIAR with the PSAT.  Look at the College Board website for information about what the questions are like in the PSAT, how long it is, and what to expect. 
  4. PRACTICE for the PSAT.  Take a practice test on the CollegeBoard website.  Khan Academy also offers practice tests, practice questions and personalized preparation for the test. 
  5. Take a GUESS.  On the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT10, you earn points for the questions you answer correctly – there is no penalty for getting a question wrong.  Give your best answer to every question.  If you don’t know, guess (you may get it right).  There’s no advantage to leaving them blank. 

Take Action 

Add the PSAT to your test schedule in GuidedPath. Select the “Schedule Test by Type” option under the “Tests” menu and then use the green “Add a new test” button to add the PSAT. Check with your counselor for registration and test dates.   Watch a video on how to add a test within GuidedPath. 


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When is the PSAT not a practice test?

psat - original

Do you know the entire name of the PSAT test?  It is officially the PSAT/ NMSQT test. “NMSQT” stands for “National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test”. The only time you can be considered for the National Merit Scholarship is during your junior year.  Taking the PSAT is the only way to be considered. 

Taking the PSAT by grade level 

  • Freshman year– It is your first opportunity to take a college prep standardized test. Check to see if your school allows freshmen to take the PSAT/NMSQT.  The school may want you to take the new PSAT 9 in the fall or the spring. 
  • Sophomore year– Take it more seriously- this is the last time you can take this test and not have it sent to the colleges. You may be taking the new PSAT 10 in fall or spring. 
  • Junior year– Game time!  Prepare just as you have for the SAT test.  Do your best on this PSAT/NMSQT test. You will have colleges knocking at your door if you do! 

Take Action 

Update your testing schedule in GuidedPath with the PSAT for the fall. Select the green “Add a Test Not Found in the Table” button and find PSAT. Check with your counselor for registration and test dates. 

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Should I take an SAT or ACT test this fall?

fall test signup - cropped

If you are a junior, you should plan to take the PSAT test in October.  It’s offered at your school and you should check with your school counselor for the exact date, cost, and registration process.  For juniors, the PSAT is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT).  More to come on the NMSQT in a later email.   

Sophomores may also take the PSAT.  You will have to take the PSAT again as a junior to be considered for the National Merit Scholarship.  However, it’s not bad to practice more than once in a low-stakes setting.  Just know that the PSAT will not be used by colleges for admission purposes.   

You might consider taking the actual SAT or ACT this fall.  Taking the tests does cost time and money so discuss whether you want to take a test in the fall or wait.  You’ll do better on the math section of either test if you’ve already completed Geometry and most of Algebra II.  If you decide to take the test in the fall, it’s not too early to register for SAT or ACT test.  

Take Action 

Don’t stress!  Keep ahead of the game by adding your tests to GuidedPath Testing schedule.  GuidedPath also has all the ACT and SAT test dates, including subject test dates, for you to choose from.  Test requirements, such as SAT subject tests, are listed as part of the College Information. 

You will receive automatic reminders of registration dates and upcoming tests.  Your parents can be included in the automatic reminders too – so they know you are on staying on top of registration dates and test dates. 

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When am I taking what test?


There are lots of tests and test dates to keep track of.  Knowing what tests are offered when, and the months for registration deadlines are important for scheduling. 

Planning Your College Entrance Tests 

  1. Plan your test schedule for taking the ACT, PSAT, SAT and SAT Subjects.
  2. Schedule tests with time in between to get your scores back.  This way you know what sections need work.
  3. Register early for your test.
  4. Allow 45-60 minutes to register. There are lots of questions!
  5. Upload a picture for your ACT or SAT / SAT Subject Test Registration.
  6. Optin to the Student Search Service when registering for the SAT or PSAT, or the ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS) when registering for the ACT to receive emails or mailings from colleges 

Take Action 

Use GuidedPath to easily schedule your tests.  You will get reminders for registration deadlines and test dates! 

  • Pick the tests you want to take.   
  • Once you pick a test to take, GuidedPath will send you email reminders before the regular registration date. 
  • If you miss the regular registration date, you’ll get a reminder for late registration. 
  • Once you register for a test, check the “Registered” box in GuidedPath. 
  • Be better prepared with reminder emails that come about upcoming tests. 

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