How to succeed in 10th grade

Sophomore year provides the opportunity for students to address any lingering concerns from freshman year and to continue to work towards the rigorous classes and summative assessments that will be a significant component of the college application process.

Academics in 10th grade are essential for all students. Students that did not perform to their academic potential as freshmen have limited time to build their Grade Point Average, as only grades through the end of junior year will appear on a student’s high school academic transcript at the time of college application. It is thus essential for these students to start the year strong and continue strong through the spring.
Students need to get used to standardized testing during their sophomore year.
Take the PSAT
for valuable insight.

While 10th grade students are not eligible for National Merit Scholarship recognition, students should take the exam seriously as it provides important experience regarding the endurance needed to excel on a multi-hour exam and valuable data that can be used when preparing for the SAT and the following year’s PSAT.

Enroll in AP classes,
if possible.

Students who can demonstrate high, consistent academic achievement will open themselves to the opportunity to take Advanced Placement classes, which colleges weight heavily when assessing academic transcripts.

Take SAT Subject tests while the material is still fresh.

SAT Subject Tests are required at many of the most selective colleges and, if ready, students should be aiming to take at least one SAT Subject Test by the end of this year. Focus on subjects the student is excelling in.

Read more about AP test prep

AP Test Prep

Tenth grade is the perfect time to maintain a high GPA and become involved in clubs and community activities to strengthen college applications.

All sophomores should be taking classes in the following areas:

English, math, science, social science, and foreign language. Most students will take Algebra 2 or Geometry for math, Biology or Chemistry for science, and World or United States History as their social science. The increased academic rigor in subject matter for all students makes the need for developing effective study habits and time management skills essential.

Sophomore year also provides a continued opportunity for students to participate in extracurricular activities.

An important aspect of college and career success is for students to identify and align their talents and their interests, and exposure to different extracurriculars is an essential part of this process. It is not too late for 10th graders that did not participate in extracurricular activities the year prior to explore opportunities both inside and outside of school to become involved. Not only will this help to identify passions and interests, but it will also improve a student’s resume when the time comes to apply to college. For students that did discover extracurricular interests as freshmen, this is the time to begin to take the types of leadership roles that will allow them to serve in management capacities later in high school. These responsibilities will not just help their resume stand out from the crowd, but it will build the types of social and leadership skills that portend future success.

Time management will continue to be crucial.

Between academics, out of school work, clubs, sports, and recreation, there is a lot more going on starting in 9th grade. Students have to be smart about their choices or they’ll end up overwhelmed and exhausted. During this time, students will have the opportunity to start/continue to explore their interests and passions, which will ultimately inform decisions about college and career.
Opportunities for Growth

A Students

Sophomores that have demonstrated content mastery to this point in time must continue to solidify their academic performance while considering the wider array of skills that will be necessary for later high school and collegiate success.

As sophomores receiving top marks are quickly trending towards the most-rigorous possible courses later in high school, such as Advanced Placement classes, it is important now to develop the types of study habits and time management skills that will allow for a smoother transition to the increased workload. It is essential to increase the quality of one’s study time before the quantity of work increases. It is also important for these students to enrich their college applications beyond academics. Involvement in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, student government, and/or volunteering will allow high-achieving academic students to stand out from the many other high-performing students that apply to the most competitive colleges.

B Students

Sophomores who have demonstrated the content knowledge to receive B grades, but not A’s, must work to identify and develop areas of skill weakness that are separating them from the extra points needed to receive top marks.

This is particularly essential at this point in a student’s academic career as, in most cases, students who receive A’s during 10th grade will position themselves to either take Advanced Placement classes as juniors, or to take the classes that will funnel them into Advanced Placement as seniors. Receiving the highest possible grades in the most competitive courses is the best argument students can make for why a college should accept them.

A significant part of this push to the top of the grade scale will be developing a growth mindset – the student’s belief in his or her own ability to overcome whatever challenges are holding him or her back from becoming an “A student.”

C or Below Students

Sophomores who are receiving predominantly C grades or below still have time to build the skill mastery and content knowledge to improve their academic performance and to significantly improve their Grade Point Average by the time they apply to college. In fact, many colleges will consider an upward trend in a student’s grades during high school when evaluating transcripts.

Not only will this skill building allow for higher grades and the potential to take more rigorous classes later in high school, but it will also prepare students for the standardized assessments that they will soon take. The most difficult content on the ACT and SAT generally aligns with 10th grade math, writing, and reading skills, so developing this knowledge now will have benefits on the exams. Furthermore, if a student has been struggling academically, these assessments are weighed heavily enough in the college application process to atone for some academic shortcomings.

It is also necessary that students at this grade level develop a mindset that allows them to believe they can achieve academically. Many students begin to identify their status as a “C student” as a permanent condition, and not one that can be changed with the appropriate individualized support.

Call for a free
10th grade planning session

Our Academic Advisors understand how schoolwork, testing, college applications, and other learning goals come together. Take advantage of our expertise and call us for a free academic planning session.

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(877) 738-7737