Being an upperclassman has its perks, but there is also a lot of stress involved. The SAT/ACT, AP classes, and college decisions are all parts of being an upper class student that you must think about.
My first piece of advice would be to really think about the classes you sign up for, especially your junior year. Take classes that not only interest you, but will challenge you. Something else to think about is to make sure you are taking classes that will prepare you for your future or your major in college. Try to narrow down what you want to do in college and take classes that will show colleges you are interested in that topic or AP classes that pertain to your major and might help you graduate early.
For example, look at my plan. I am planning on majoring in Biology in college. Last year, I took AP biology and this year, I am taking AP Statistics and AP Physics (all of which will give me college credits, which I need for my major). Along with AP Physics I and AP Stat, I also took APUSH and AP Lang this year. However, taking four APs is a lot especially with clubs, sports, and jobs.
Before signing up for a lot of hard classes, consider the workload and all of the activities you do after school. Talk to juniors or seniors about their experience with certain classes. In my experience, history AP classes (AP World, APUSH, etc.) tend to have a lot of homework and a heavy workload. On the other hand, classes like AP Lang and AP Physics I are challenging, but have fairly low amounts of homework. It becomes challenging when you are taking a class you don’t like, and don’t have a lot of motivation to study or do homework for that class. Talk to your counselors and discuss AP classes, dual enrollment, and online classes.
As far as the SAT/ACT, I would recommend taking it one time without any studying or preparing and just see how you do. For the SAT, there is an option when you’re registering where you can opt to receive all the questions you got right and wrong once your score comes out. I did this, and it was very helpful for when I studied for the next time I took the test. It is very helpful to get a tutor to improve your SAT/ACT score, but there are many cheaper options like Khan Academy or practice books. Do some research on what the average SAT/ACT score is for colleges you are looking at, and try to get a score around what they are looking for.
One of the best things I did for my junior year was to have one or two low-stress classes. Especially if you are taking a lot of AP/honors classes, take a fun elective or a class with a low workload. It’s important not to burn yourself out, so having a class or two to catch up on homework, study, or do fun activities is very helpful.
There is a lot of negativity around junior year, however if you develop good time management skills, take classes you enjoy, and try to have fun, it should be a good year.