Junior year survival tips

Junior year can be a balancing act of AP/IB courses, college planning, SAT/ACT prep, end-of-year exams, and more. Whether you’re a junior in the thick of it now or a sophomore looking ahead, it's good to have a plan for surviving 11th grade.

Wondering how you can finish junior year in one piece—without getting too overwhelmed along the way? Here are 7 tips and tricks.

1. Pace yourself.

Juniors often feel more pressure than ever to perform well both inside and outside of school. But if you want to finish the year strong, you don't want to push yourself too hard and burn out partway through the year.

Pace yourself from the get-go by making sure your goals are realistic. When making a study plan, think about how much time you really have in a day. Don't forget to set aside enough time for sleeping, eating, socializing, and relaxing—all of which are important ways to clear your head and keep yourself energized and motivated. If possible, try to take at least one day off from studying each week so that you can recharge.

2. Plan ahead ... way, way ahead.

The key to staying afloat during junior year is to plan ahead. By spacing out tasks and exams throughout the school year and summer break, you can check off items from your to-do list without cramming. Look ahead at your major deadlines so that you can avoid scheduling conflicts. For example, perhaps you'd prefer to dedicate the end of the school year to your finals and AP/IB exams, meaning you'll want to focus on the SAT or ACT in the summer or fall.

Check out our other tips for planning ahead for AP exams and figuring out your SAT/ACT testing timeline, then reach out to one of our experts for personalized recommendations.

3. Keep yourself organized.

Good organizational habits can go a long way when there's a lot on your plate. Stay on top of your coursework and other tasks by setting up a dedicated study space where you can focus, building a simple routine you can follow at the start and end of each day, and thinking about which organizational tools and apps work best for you.

4. Prioritize sleep.

When you're juggling a lot of responsibilities, it can be easy (and very tempting!) to push sleep to the bottom of your to-do list. However, sleeping is actually one of the best ways to improve your academic performance. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night—on a consistent basis—in order to learn and retain information as effectively as possible. Find out how to improve your sleep habits here.

5. Check in with your college counselor.

Your college counselor can be a great resource as you juggle college-related tasks, including developing a college list, finalizing your testing plans, and getting a head start on preparing for college applications. Frequent communication with your college counselor will help you stay on the same page and keep you on track throughout the year.

6. Lean on your friends and family.

A support system of trusted friends and family members can help get you through the busiest times of the year. Your classmates are likely experiencing the same excitements, pressures, and worries as you are, and it can be helpful to study with your friends, talk to each other about what you're going through, and schedule fun activities to decompress. Family members can also serve as sounding boards and cheer you on when you need support.

7. Know how to manage stress.

Stress is normal and, at times, inevitable—especially when you're in 11th grade and it can seem like high-stakes tests and projects are popping up left and right. Understanding how to manage and reduce the effects of stress is a lifelong skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life. The tips above are a great starting point that should help you keep your stress levels low, and you can go a step further by planning when and how you'll take meaningful breaks, recognizing how your body reacts to stress, and learning how to deal with testing anxiety.

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.

Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

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