First Steps 1

8TH Grade

  • Talk with your middle school and high school counselors to find out which courses you should take that will prepare you for college.
  • Take the EXPLORE® test.
  • Participate in summer enrichment programs.

9TH Grade

  • Chart out your 4 years of course work, summer plans, and extracurricular activities that will lead you towards college.
  • Talk to your counselors and set realistic goals of which courses you will complete during the 4 years.
  • Take a second EXPLORE® test.

10TH Grade

  • Take the PLAN® test and Practice PSAT/NMSQT® test to prepare yourself for college entrance exams.
  • Look online at the College Board guide to colleges to pick out the schools that interest you. Then request college catalogs, brochures, and financial aid information.
  • Prepare for the SAT® test and/or the ACT® test by taking after-school prep courses.

11TH Grade

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT® test in the Fall for National Merit Scholarship qualification.
  • Prepare for the SAT® test and/or the ACT® test by taking after-school prep courses.
  • Visit local college fairs and attend sessions with any colleges that visit your campus.
  • Review your resume and your transcript with your counselor.
  • Take the SAT® test and/or the ACT® test in the Spring.
  • Review your score and revise your school choices, and prepare to take the SAT® test and/or the ACT® test again if necessary.
First Steps 2

12th Grade

  • Retake the SAT® test and/or the ACT® test if necessary, remember to submit scores to the colleges you are applying for.
  • Finalize your choices for college, using the college’s acceptance data to choose some schools that may be a reach for you, some schools that you are on target for, and some schools that you should be able to get in for sure.
  • Choose at least 5 schools to apply to.
  • Check for early application dates, such as Early Action or Early Decision Programs.
  • Write application essays and review them with peers, teachers, and your high school counselor.
  • Submit application well before the deadline, remembering to send High School transcripts to the colleges that your applied for.
  • Arrange campus visits early in the year.
  • Research and apply for scholarships.
  • Submit your financial aid information through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Apply for the Cambridge "Bright Stars" Foundation Program Scholarship!
  • Fulfill your graduation requirements and graduate!

SAT® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, Cambridge Educational Services’ products or website.

PSAT/NMSQT® is a registered trademark of the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which were not involved in the production of, and do not endorse, Cambridge Educational Services’ products or website.

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Cambridge Educational Services, Inc. offers and scores tests from ACT, Inc., The College Board, and other testing companies. These are retired tests, intended for practice purposes only and not for official administration, and are based on high school curriculum as of the copyright dates of the tests. Cambridges products and services, including its score reports, are not approved or endorsed by ACT, Inc., The College Board, or the other companies that develop the tests, and Cambridge has no affiliation with any of those entities.