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Getting Ready for College

Taking the SAT or ACT

SAT/ACT Schedule for 2023-2024
We recommend that you take both the SAT and the ACT to see how you do.


For more information, contact your school counselors:


Test Registration and Information

2023-2024 ACT & SAT Test Dates for HEB ISD (printable flyer)

Preparing for the test


Applying for College

Get to Know the Language

PDSA: Plan-Do-Study-Act

GPA: grade point average

College entrance exams: Colleges use the scores from these exams, the SAT and ACT, to help decide whom to admit. Scholarships may also use these scores in their decision-making process.

IB: International Baccalaureate, an internationally known program that encompasses 1th and 12th grades

AP: Advanced Placement, courses offered by the College Board that offer the opportunity for a student to earn college credit for test scores

FAFSA: the financial aid form that allows colleges to offer aid, including work-study programs

College Planning

8th grade

  • Meet with your junior high counselor to plan your high school courses. It’s important to know that colleges prefer respectable grades in challenging classes over high grades in easy classes. Stretch yourself to see what you can handle.
  • Study the results of your 8th grade course work and use that information to plan for 9th grade.

9th grade

  • Use PDSA and review your plan for high school courses.
  • Take ninth grade very seriously! Although you are going to a junior high school, you are a high school student earning credits toward your grade point average, or GPA. Colleges and scholarships take your GPA into consideration, so you want to earn the highest GPA you can.
  • Spend some time thinking about what you want to do after high school and do some research into careers. Some resources include the World-of-Work Map on the ACT website and Road Trip Nation.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities, like clubs, sports, the arts, volunteering, and so on and find out what really interests you.
  • Do your best on your End of Course exams. By the end of ninth grade, you should have passed Algebra, Biology, and English I.
  • Don’t get lazy over the summer! Read books, complete your summer reading assignment(s), sign up for the IB Summer Academy if you plan to apply for IB, and take a PSAT prep course. Try to earn some money and start saving for college. It’s not too early!

10th Grade

  • Now that you are on your high school campus, meet your counselor and make sure you are enrolled in the right courses. Sign up for the counseling office’s social media alerts.
  • HEB ISD provides the opportunity for all sophomores to take the PSAT in October. Do your best on this assessment; the Superintendent’s Merit Scholars are selected based on this score and are offered free SAT preparation.
  • Based on the results of your PSAT test, Khan Academy will allow you to identify and work on your weaker areas. Take advantage of this free resource!
  • Attend the HEB College Fair.
  • This is the year you decide if you are going to apply for IB. Learn all you can about the program to decide if it is right for you.
  • You will take the English II EOC this year. Be sure to do your best on this graduation requirement.
  • With your family, start researching how to pay for college.
  • Again, use your summer well! A part-time job looks great on your resume. Summer is also a great time to take a prep course that won’t conflict with your studies during the school year.

11th Grade

  • Check in with your counselor and make sure your schedule matches your plan for coursework.
  • Remain active in organizations that are meaningful to you. It’s better to be heavily involved in a couple of organizations than to have token membership in many organizations.
  • Attend the HEB College Fair and speak to representatives from the colleges that interest you.
  • Register for and take the PSATNMSQT in October. This administration is the one from which National Merit Scholars are determined.
  • Do your best on the U.S. History EOC, which is the last EOC graduation requirement.
  • Get familiar with the SAT and ACT. If you haven’t already taken a prep class for the entrance exams, do that this year. HEB offers prep for both SAT and ACT. You should register and take both entrance exams to see which aligns with your strengths.
  • Over the summer, visit colleges to get a sense of the type of schools where you might want to apply. Look online for questions to ask and etiquette to follow.
  • Create a resume. College applications will ask for much of the same information that a resume includes.
  • Work and save your money!

12th Grade

  • Although it’s exciting that your senior year is finally here, resist the temptation to take easy courses and to neglect your assignments. Colleges do pay attention to grades, even in second semester.
  • The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) becomes available on October 1. Complete the form as early as you can.
  • Narrow your list of colleges down and schedule visits with your top choices.
  • Take the SAT or ACT one more time if you are not satisfied with your score. Be sure you have your scores sent to the colleges you’re considering.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation from teachers or counselors who know you. You’ll need to give them your resume or a list of your activities and accomplishments.
  • Begin searching for scholarships and completing their applications.
  • You will likely need to write essays for your college applications. Give yourself enough time to draft, revise, and edit these essays.
  • Visit your final college choice before you accept.
  • Go to study sessions and do your best on all AP and IB exams.
  • Work with your counselor and with the college on all admissions and financial aid questions.
  • Ask your high school to send your final transcript to your college.
  • Participate in graduation activities and make wonderful memories.