The Importance of Ninth Grade

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Students who are entering ninth grade do not realize the importance of the critical decisions they will be making during the next four to five years. The junior year of high school, ninth grade, is something students look forward to in some ways and dread in others.

The first year of high school should be ranked as one of the highest in importance. Decisions will be made that will have a great and lasting impact on a student’s life. It is a time of narrowing their career path and the list of colleges they plan to apply to. However, there’s a ray of light at the end of the tunnel, so don’t despair. All of the critical decisions that ninth grade students must make to enhance their chance of being successful through college and into a career fit neatly into five categories.

Courses and Test Scores

It is imperative that students make wise choices when choosing courses. It’s critical that student’s grades are impressive. This is the last full year of grades that will be looked at by college administrators when accepting people to their school. Ninth grade students should choose advanced or honor courses as well as college preparatory classes. Students should make an impression on teachers this year, as they will depend on them for letters of recommendation during their senior year. These letters are crucial when applying to colleges for admittance. Be sure your student gets to know several of his ninth grade teachers personally. This will ensure the letters of recommendation that he will solicit from them.


The entire year of ninth grade is full of standardized testing. Within the first few weeks, grade nine students are required to take both the National Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) and the Preliminary SAT. The NMSQT focuses on mathematic problem solving and critical reading and writing skills. Three reasons for students to ace this test include:

• A high score can allow students to be included as candidates for a special group of merit scholarships.

• The test prepares students for the SAT1 test that they will write at the end of ninth grade.

• The test allows students to request information about courses from colleges across the country.

If taking advanced courses, students will write the AP Placement Tests, which determines knowledge of subjects at a college level. Colleges and universities throughout the US accept these exam scores for entry into the educational systems.

Late in ninth grade, usually in May or June, students should schedule their ACT and SAT1 standardized tests. These are used by colleges and universities as admission criteria. Some post secondary schools also require five subject SATll tests. If students don’t schedule the SATll testing in the spring of ninth grade, it must be written early in their senior year.

Planning for College

Students in ninth grade need to become organized. A hoard of information will be received from various colleges by means of mail and email. College fairs will be held in their high school. Students need to access and read college information and make a list of schools that they are interested in. By the end of ninth grade the list should include at least a dozen colleges.

Students can find out more about colleges they are interested in by checking out hundreds of online and print publications as well as visiting the school’s websites. They should also attend college fairs and speak to representatives from numerous colleges. By doing this students will obtain important information about:

• Majors and minors.

• Financial assistance.

• Accreditation.

• Graduate placement rates.

• Costs

The ninth grade is also a great time to ask role models and mentors where they attended college.

When students receive pamphlets and brochures from colleges, they should be filed in an organized fashion to allow easy access to the information they desire. There’s nothing worse than needing something and having to search through hundreds of items that have been thrown in a box.


Ninth grade students should research career choices. The career chosen will have a profound impact on the colleges they consider. Students should write a career assessment test, talk to guidance counselors, parents and teachers and evaluate the things they enjoy and take an interest in. Though a career choice doesn’t have to be made immediately, the research will be valuable in their senior year.


It’s never too early for students to begin documenting their accomplishments, experience and education. They should point out their leadership skills, where they’ve worked, volunteer experience and community service work. A work resume, letters of recommendation from both employers and teachers, samples of quality work and a list of references should also be included. A student’s portfolio shows the type of student they are, as well as their work ethic.

If possible students should plan the year of ninth grade in a monthly planner and try their best to stay on schedule. The more that is accomplished in the first year of high school will ease the burden on them in senior year.

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