For 11th Graders

So you just got done with your IGCSE.  Congratulations! You probably deserve a few days unwinding on a beach or reading at home. But don’t take too long to relax. This is the most opportune time to get cracking on making realistic college application decisions and timelines to get you there. The is also the summer you need to get a hold on what the next six years of your life will look like. This is when you climb to the top of your game.

Come college application season, you can’t afford to be unsure about what colleges you would like to apply to, and what you want to choose as your major, as well as be working on application essays (you should be expecting to write anything between ten and fifteen individual essays) alongside keeping up your IB predicted scores, your IB extended essays, your Extra curricular activities and Lord-knows-what-else.

Sounds intense? Well, it may sound overwhelming right now, but suffice to know that every single international college student there is, has also undergone the exact same application process and has survived it. The trick is to plan right. Set realistic and period goals, and always, always, stick to the plan.

Here’s how to start:


1) The SATs: If heading US-wards is on the cards after graduating from high school, a good place to start is by registering for the SATs. Create a College Board and a Common Application account. Register to take the SAT within the next two months. Set realistic goals for your SAT.

Don’t target a score. A 2300 might be far too unrealistic for some. Nor is it a ticket to Stanford. A 1700 isn’t the end of the world either. You can always retake the SAT, as well as work on your essays, recommendations and school grades to compensate. 

Take a practice test in an examination environment. Test your score. That should be your base score.

Every week, practice more writing tests, more essays, while simultaneously cramming on the vocabulary section. Frequently study the math material that you will be tested on as well.

At the end of every week take another practice SAT. See if there is an incremental change from your base score.  If not, you probably need to work some more on learning the grammar and math behind the test. Work some more on the theory, less on practicing the test. Study for a couple of weeks before taking the next test.

If there has been an improvement from your base score, then hey! The studying is working! Keep at it. Keep studying SAT material and test yourself at regular intervals.

In the immediate run up to the test, cut down dramatically on the studying itself; focus more intently on practicing test taking. The practice tests in most books are a surprisingly accurate gauge of your eventual scores. So set yourself realistic goals based on those scores. Don’t aim too high or too low.

A good SAT score is definitely going to boost an applicant’s profile, but it no way is going to determine his/her eventual college acceptances. There are a host of other factors that contribute to a university’s decision making. So don’t be disheartened if it isn’t as high as you’d like. Don’t be complacent if it is. You’re only just getting started.


2) The IB:

Sure the IB examinations are very far away. Sure, and we agree with you here, you need a break from worrying about examinations and grades.

But remember this: how you perform in your periodic school exams will determine your predicted IB scores. Since your predicted scores are going to be crucial to your college applications, we highly recommend that you ensure that it is sustained at its very highest through the entire course of your two years preparing for the IB examinations. There is very little room afforded to those who believe they can take a break for academia for just a few months.

Additionally, the intensity of workload jumps exponentially from the tenth to the eleventh grade. This rather dramatic change in schoolwork traditionally causes some grief among students, who have trouble keeping up initially. It is better to give yourself a head start on IB material well before you have to encounter it in school. Use your summers to do this.

Thirdly, your IGCSE examinations should give you a rather honest and objective idea of what subjects you need to be working most on. Say, for example, you believe you could have performed a little bit better at Math. Use the summer to play catch up on your math skills. You will find yourself rendered incapable of competing at the IB examinations unless you have your basics and foundation chapters down pat. Take extra lessons, whatever it is that you believe you need some fine-tuning with. This is the only opportunity you’ll get.

The IB examinations are rather intense, and designed to train you for college-life ahead. It is designed to be challenging.


3) Choosing your Major:

Now is a good time to start assessing your strengths and thinking about what you really want to study. What are your career goals? What do you enjoy studying? What are you specific skills?

Talk to your teachers, your counselors, even us, for honest and objective feedback. Speak to seniors from your school about what Majors they chose, what mistakes they made, and what they did right. Peruse college websites to get a glimpse of the vast spectrum of majors the universities have to offer.

Shortlist a few, but keep your shortlist flexible. For more look up How To Choose Your Major Part 1.


4) Choosing Universities

Start speaking to your parents about the logistics of college financing. How much can they afford? How much do universities cost? How much do private schools cost? How much do public schools cost?

Based on that and your major of choice, zoom in on potential schools. Plan a visit if you can afford one. Sign up for college tours.

Do you want to live in a big city or in a small close-knit rural college community? Do you have an appetite for extreme weather conditions, or are you more built for sunny California? Would you be happier in a more liberal, left wing environment, or would you like your peers to be well-dressed conservatives?

Some schools produce more Doctorates than others. Some have a higher return on investment. What factors are most important to you?

There is a wealth of information available online, and deserves patient and diligent perusing. Now is the time to get started.

Should you need help with any of this at all – with IB, the SATs or even help with choosing your major and schools, feel free to get in touch with us. We have programs designed to ensure that the transition to college is as stress free as it can possibly be. 

Best of luck, and have a Happy Summer!

Note for Parents, Students, Counsellors: The information above was to the best of our knowledge at the time that this article was published. With every application cycle, or sometimes even during it, Colleges and Universities may change dates, policies, available majors and other relevant information. These updates will be reflected on the College and University websites themselves.

Please refer to the official college websites in addition to reading these articles. These articles are written only to provide general guidelines to students, not as a substitute for individual college websites.