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15 Tips & Tricks to Survive Your Junior Year of High School

Tips & Tricks to Survive Your Junior Year

Are you hunting for the best tips to survive your junior year of high school? You have arrived at the right place. Junior year is the time when colleges decide whether you are ready for their classes. Keeping its importance in mind, we have written useful tips and a checklist to help you prepare for a smooth transition to the college phase. 

Let’s dive in!

Tips to Succeed in Your Junior Year

1. Take advanced classes

On average, if you wish to apply to selective colleges, keep a goal of 4 to 8 AP classes. It is normal for junior-year students to have questions about the ideal number of AP classes to take in high school. You can ask your high school guidance counselor or teachers to reach a realistic course load.

It is a must for junior-year students to take advantage of AP classes provided by your high school. You should definitely take the classes that interest you. Have multiple advanced classes. Keep in mind that your grades should not be compromised, so ask your teachers as many questions as possible about your courses.

2. Concentrate on your grades

As stated earlier, junior year grades matter the most. Colleges are on the hunt for your talents and abilities in this time period. College admissions will be easier if you gain excellent grades, particularly in advanced classes. 

Tip: If you are serious about joining a good college, invest plenty of time and energy in your high school GPA.

3. Keep an eye out for leadership opportunities

Colleges are also impressed with your engagement in extracurricular activities, such as any leadership responsibilities and roles. You can actually join your favorite colleges by showing leadership skills in your junior year.

No matter what your interests are, there is something for everyone in high school. You can talk to your high school guidance counselor to know what extracurricular activities are available, like drama performances, Model UN, or sports tournaments. 

Tip: Colleges appreciate students who take part in volunteer opportunities. 

How to Implement Leadership Opportunities

High schools present loads of extracurricular activities that are suited for expressive and athletic students. Reach out to your admissions office to know their leadership opportunities. You can also engage in community service.

4. Do your research on colleges

Since the junior year is the prep time for college, students start their research and make decisions. This is the perfect time to learn about the best colleges and make plans for college tours in the summer. 

Tip: Again, take advice from your high school guidance counselor about which colleges will be most suitable for you.

5. Prepare for standardized tests

Junior year isn’t only tough due to college prep and grades, but standardized tests shine in this year, too. Many students take multiple AP exams, ACT, PSAT, SAT, IELTS, and SAT subject tests. All of these are difficult.

First, let’s discuss AP tests. These are advanced exams that will pave the way for college if you perform well. Similar to how one prepares for the SAT, students make a separate study schedule for AP exams. Both the AP courses and tests are difficult. 

Now, it’s time to talk about PSAT. This is a practice test for the SAT and is a productive way to be ready for the SAT. Most students are unaware that once they take the SAT test, it will automatically make them eligible to gain the National Merit Scholarship.

And let’s not forget the ACT/SAT test, which should be scheduled at the earliest. 

Tip: Note down the upcoming test dates to prepare well before time and develop a solid SAT study schedule. 

6. Always be organized

The indication of a good student is how well they prioritize everything and stay up to all deadlines. Have an agenda book and note down all upcoming assignments as well as their due dates. Realize that next year, you will have to be updated on plenty of deadlines and college application resources. 

This is why it’s good to adopt organizational skills in advance before college starts.

7. Keep a good balance between your social and academic life

Junior year will be harder if you don’t keep a good balance between your academic and social life. This is the golden time to prove that you are prepared for practical life and are worthy of entering a college. Although this responsibility comes with a lot of pressure, don’t forget your social life altogether.

No matter how hard the studies get, have some personal time. Community service and extracurriculars also demand non-study time. But enjoying some fun time while planning about the future can get overwhelming. So make sure that you are not compromising on your rest. As the high school year proceeds, remember to take a breather and rest.

8. Practice good study habits

If 10th-grade students need just one piece of advice to enter the 11th grade, it will be don’t procrastinate. Never delay completing your homework or research. This will give you confidence in the high school year. Slacking on deadlines will only build a procrastination problem.

9. Start financial planning for college

Colleges demand a lot of money. It is a full financial commitment that requires advance planning. Discuss with your parents how you will face the harsh financial reality of college life. 

Tip: It is advised to start financial planning at the earliest and learn FAFSA. This will make you aware of how to write a compelling essay for scholarships and what you can expect from your financial aid.

10. Use School Breaks to Rest

Ambitious high school junior-year students are known to use every free minute to study and complete their assignments. But they don’t realize that saying no to mini breaks will cause serious burnout. This does not mean that you should chill all day. 

When school announces a break, learn to take it with an open mind. All hardworking students deserve relaxation in spring and winter breaks and long weekends. This will only bring positive effects. You will be more productive, focused, and refreshed afterwards.

Also Read: 14 Complete List of Students Rights in School

11. Depend On Your Classmates

Yes, a high school guidance counselor is a great resource. But you should and totally can depend on your peers as well. You aren’t the only student in the junior year classes, so do not isolate yourself.

Depend On Your Classmates

For instance, you and your friends can give each other feedback and tips based on distinct weak areas, share class notes, and make a study circle. Try researching colleges, making a study circle, or setting a weekly self-care night with some friends. Going on a road trip to visit the nearest colleges is also a good idea. 

Whatever plans you make, your surrounding peers are the biggest support system for surviving your junior year of high school.

12. Consume Your Media Wisely

Junior year is the worst time to start binge-watching the hottest TV series. It is advised to minimize your media consumption at this crucial time. Be very wise about when and how much TV to watch. 

For example, if your self-care routine only includes watching Netflix for a bit, don’t drop it. In other words, be strategic about movies and TV shows. Save the rest of the media after your standardized or AP exams.

13. Ditch Your Phone

It is normal for almost all high school junior-year students to have an intimate bond with their mobile phones. While this device is very useful, it is also a notorious enemy of your focus.

So, if you want to get rid of your procrastination problem, tuck your mobile far away from your study zone. Learn how to turn on the airplane or do not disturb modes on your mobile. Only touch your phone once you have almost done the tasks for the day.

14. Prioritize your sleep

Hardworking students often sacrifice their sleep to squeeze in more study hours. But this is hardly a good idea. Make sleep one of your highest priorities if you want optimal brain functioning. This will also help with focus and confidence. 

Trust us, you do not want to be dizzy or sleepy while taking your SAT or AP. Ideally, you should be having 8 hours of sleep every day. 

15. Make memorable summer plans

We have discussed a lot about junior-year academics, but what about the summertime? Most students are confused about what they should be doing the summer before college starts. You can create a high school passion project or attend a pre-college summer program.

The latter provides countless opportunities in many subjects. Whatever your summer plans are, try to make it meaningful.

Now that we have gone over all helpful tips to make the best out of your junior year of high school, see the checklist below to learn more.

Checklist for Junior Year of High School

Sophomore or freshman years were preparing you for the progress of your last years in high school. But senior year is meant to be comparatively stress-free. High school students need to ponder on how their college time will turn out. This includes using a checklist of all the things that have to be completed in the junior year.

In order to gear up for your first college year, complete the checklist ahead:

  • Study for the SAT test with the help of MTS tutors or simply take the PSAT.
  • Get a letter of recommendation.
  • Visit colleges in your winter and summer breaks.
  • Apply for all the colleges you wish to enroll in.
  • Prepare and take standardized tests.
  • Apply for a merit scholarship.
  • Talk to your high school guidance counselor regarding extracurricular activities.
  • Complete all your AP courses.
  • Apply for financial aid for college expenses.

Why is junior year the hardest in high school?

It is normal for students to ask whether the junior year is hard and what they should do to prepare for it. It’s common knowledge that junior year grades hold the most importance, which also means it's the busiest year of your high school. In simple words, junior year is the time all students are focused on preparing for college. 

Wrapping it Up

To conclude, if you wish to experience a productive junior year in your high school, it is a must to stay organized. You will also have to stay ahead of all deadlines and assignments while engaging in as many leadership roles and extracurricular activities as possible. 

Study hard, but also enjoy these last moments in your high school. Securing a place in college is important, so make your studies prove that you are worthy of it. And whenever you are stuck, reach out to your peers, high school guidance counselors, and parents.

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With over 3 years of experience in teaching, Chloe is very deeply connected with the topics that talk about the educational and general aspects of a student's life. Her writing has been very helpful for students to gain a better understanding of their academics and personal well-being. I’m also open to any suggestions that you might have! Please reach out to me at chloedaniel402 [at]