How to Prepare for College As A High School Junior

junior year

Junior year is usually thought of as the hardest year of high school and this, sadly, is true. While you are taking some of your hardest classes, you are also beginning to study and prepare for the SAT or ACT standardized tests, and this can result in a very overwhelming year! In this blog we will break down everything you need to be thinking about this year so you don’t miss anything amidst all of the chaos!

First of all, you do not need to take both the ACT and the SAT! Most colleges take either or, so there’s no point in stretching yourself thin by taking both. Do some research about each test and decide which one fits your interests and skills the best. This will ensure that you get the best score possible. With this being said, you should start studying for this test well in advance. 


While you will probably be the busiest during the spring semester, there are a few things you should start thinking about in the fall of your junior year. The most important piece of advice for your junior year is to get the best grades you possibly can! College prep is important but it will all be for nothing if you don’t have the grades to support yourself. Here are the things you need to do in the fall:

  1. Take the PSAT if you haven’t already. This test can qualify you for a National Merit Scholarship and it will also help you practice for the ACT or SAT. 
  2. Start looking at different colleges. It’s finally time to start deciding what colleges would be a good fit for you! Do a lot of online research about different schools and what kinds of programs they offer. If you already know what you want to major in, then make sure the schools you are looking at offer that major.  
  3. Begin ACT or SAT prep. Take a course designed for these tests because most of them have a guarantee of raising your score by a certain number of points. I took the ACT three different times and I got the score I wanted after going to an ACT prep class. The prep class will also help you stay motivated to study.


Take the winter to take a deep breath and get yourself organized for the rest of your junior year and senior year. Get advice from the seniors at your school or the people around you who have already been to college. Getting a first hand account of what you could be expecting might help you narrow down your college list. 

  1. Register for the ACT or SAT. Look up the test dates online and start planning for them. There are only a handful of tests each year, so make sure you are signing up for them in time! 
  2. Meet with your guidance counselor to plan out your senior class schedule. Make sure that you are going to be graduating on time and that you have taken the classes that will put you in a good position for applications. 


Your spring semester should be filled with lots of test prep! Also make sure you have any test dates and deadlines written down in a calendar or planner so you can give yourself plenty of time to prepare for them. With this being such a busy semester, it is important that you stay on top of your deadlines because you still need to be keeping your grades up. 

  1. Take the ACT or SAT. Start taking these tests now! You really have until December of your senior year to finalize your test score, but it’s best to start early so you have some time to improve your scores. 
  2. Narrow down your college list and start planning college visits for the summer and fall. It’s best to visit the schools you have in mind so you can get a feel for what campus life is like. Doing this will help you make the important decision of where to go. 
  3. Start thinking about a summer job or internship. Getting a summer job will help you save money for college and a summer internship could help you decide what you want to study in college. So type up a resume and put it out there! 
  4. Apply for scholarships. College is expensive and scholarships are sometimes difficult to get, so the earlier you can start the better chance you’ll have of landing one. 

With your senior year and college starting to sneak up on you, junior year can be very stressful. Hopefully these tips will help you in your college application journey moving forward! 

Maggie is an editorial intern at Potential magazine and a senior English major at Birmingham Southern College. She enjoys reading and writing articles and blogs and is excited to share some of her college experiences with Potential readers.

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