Back to school: 5 keys to success for junior year

While junior year is often when students find their groove, it can also feel overwhelming to juggle various responsibilities. Not only do you take more challenging classes and assume more responsibility within your extracurriculars, but you have to start preparing for the SAT/ACT and thinking about colleges. This is an important time to imagine the future you want for yourself and take steps toward reaching your goals. Here’s some advice on making the most of your junior year.

Believe in yourself.

This may sound cliché or corny, but believing in yourself is such an important first step. Because junior year can be challenging, it’s crucial that you go into it with the confidence that you can manage your responsibilities, achieve your goals, and grow as a student. This is especially the case when it comes to preparing for the SAT or ACT. In all likelihood, your initial score will not be as high as you would like, but you need to have faith that you can get there with hard work. We at ArborBridge have tutored students with a wide range of strengths and weaknesses. Across the board, we have found that students who have a positive attitude and remain committed to their goals see the fruits of their labor, regardless of their starting point.

Set goals.

What skills do you want to develop? What test scores and grades would you like to receive? What kind of college would you prefer to attend? And what do you need to do to reach these goals? We all know that setting goals is important, but it’s easy to forget just how helpful this practice can be. This step helps you identify a course of action and focus on the concrete steps you can take to accomplish your goals. If you want to attend a particular university, for example, you’ll need to figure out their average GPA and test scores, compare them to your own, then develop a plan to maximize your chances of getting accepted. 

Make a plan.

As a freshman or sophomore, you might have gotten away with putting things off until the last minute or taking care of your obligations as they popped into your head. As a junior, however, this likely won’t work. Not only will you have more on your plate, but you’ll have to juggle the short-term responsibilities of your classes and extracurriculars with the long-term responsibilities of test prep and college applications. Particularly with test prep, you need to think about the amount of time it might take to reach your target score and how you can break the study time down into daily or weekly blocks so that you’re not cramming right before the official exam. We recommend using a calendar or planner to stay on top of everything. Writing down your schedule will increase your productivity, reduce your stress levels, and make it easier to achieve your goals.

Start and sustain test prep.

Your SAT/ACT scores can be a deciding factor in college admissions decisions, yet many students put off test prep and hope for a good score the first time around. This is not a smart move. While the SAT and ACT are challenging exams for many students, setting aside enough time to study for them in advance can improve your scores significantly. Moreover, in the fall of your junior year, you’ll take the PSAT, a qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship. It’s important that you plan ahead to put yourself in the best possible position to achieve your goal scores. 

Remember what really matters.

Because junior year is so busy, it’s an important time to consider your priorities and strike a healthy balance between them. This means getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy food, spending time with friends, and doing the little things that make you happy. Taking care of yourself will be just as important as pushing yourself this year.


Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Preston Evers

About Preston Evers

Preston graduated cum laude from Princeton. As an undergrad, he tutored high school students in SAT/ACT prep, college essay writing, English, math, and political science. At the end of his senior year, Preston was awarded the Class of 1869 Prize for his thesis on responsibility for historic and structural injustice. When working with students, Preston recognizes that high school and the college application process can be a stressful time. In addition to seeking concrete improvements in test scores and grades, Preston hopes to be a mentor whose lessons will extend far beyond individual sessions and exams.

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