An independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, DC

Grades 9- 12

Students and parents often want to know if they are “on track” in the college admissions process. If you’re wondering that very thing, use this year-by-year guide as a reality check.

Grade 9

  • Do as well as you can in school.
  • Participate actively in a few interests outside of the classroom without overloading yourself.
  • Do something productive in the summer - pursue an interest, learn something new.

Grade 10

  • Continue doing as well as you can in school.
  • Keep participating in extracurriculars.
  • Take the PSAT in October and the PLAN in April as practice for future SAT and ACT exams. The tests will be given at Potomac, and you are automatically registered for them.
  • Be active in the summer - a job may be an option. Read good books!
  • It’s too soon to visit colleges; however, driving by a college because you happen to be in the area is fine. It may, though, be too early to get out of the car for a formal campus tour.

Grade 11

  • Continue putting your best efforts into your class work.
  • Keep participating outside of class.
  • Take the PSAT in October. The test will be given at Potomac, and you are automatically registered for it.
  • Meet and plan with your college counselor in the winter and spring.
  • Take the SAT in March, May, or June.
  • Take the ACT in April or June.
  • Take two or three Subject Tests in May or June.
  • It may be helpful to visit a few campuses over spring break.
  • Attend your almost-weekly College Counseling Seminars during the spring semester to learn the nitty-gritty about various aspects of your college search and future application process.
  • If you are thinking about SAT/ACT prep, take the course either in the spring leading to the March date, or in the summer after your junior year in preparation for the September (ACT) or October (SAT) test date.
  • Set up interviews at colleges and visit over the summer.
  • Keep being active in other ways during the summer: get a job, participate in a summer academic program, and read more great books.

Grade 12

  • Attend the day-long College Application Workshop prior to the start of classes.
  • Do as well as you can in class… for the entire year.
  • Keep participating in activities outside of class.
  • Retake the SAT, Subject Tests, or the ACT in the fall if needed.
  • Submit college applications.
  • Pay attention to your college counselor's advice.

Throughout Upper School, you should pursue the five major subject areas (English, math, science, foreign language, and history) for as long as possible and to the highest level appropriate for you. It is detrimental, however, to over-challenge yourself; taking an Advanced Placement (AP) or honors course, struggling and earning a low grade is not helpful either to your learning or to your chances of admission at colleges. Colleges want students to take the toughest courses that they can handle and in which they can do well. Students do themselves a great disservice by accelerating or taking an AP course when it is inappropriate to do so.