What do I need to know about the PSAT?

PSAT 8/9

The PSAT 8/9 is a test that will help students, parents, and teachers figure out what students need to work on most so that they’re ready for college when they graduate from high school. It tests the same skills and knowledge as the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10 — in a way that makes sense for students’ grade level. This assessment will be given in the spring of freshman year.


The PSAT/NMSQT, junior level assessment used as the National Merit Qualifying Assessment, and the sophomore level assessment, PSAT 10, are highly relevant to students future success because they focus on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education. The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 are great ways to preview and practice for the SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT, given in the fall of the junior year, and the PSAT 10, given in the spring of the sophomore year, test the same skills and knowledge as the SAT — in a way that makes sense for your grade level.  They’ll measure:

  • What students learn in high school
  • What students need to succeed in college

The best way to prepare for the test is to:

  • Take challenging courses
  • Do your homework
  • Prepare for tests and quizzes
  • Ask and answer lots of questions

In short, take charge of your education and learn as much as you can.

Want to See What They’re Like?

Find out what kinds of questions you’ll see on the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10. Where do you want to start?

How to Access Your Scores

Students are always welcome to view their PSAT and SAT scores.

The following presentation was shared with all students. It contains directions on how to access your PSAT and SAT scores from College Board as well as directions on how to create a personalized Khan Academy account for SAT prep. This process is imperative for students in order to prepare for the SAT.

What do I need to know about the SAT?

As the nation’s most widely used college admission test, the SAT is the first step toward higher education for students of all backgrounds. It’s taken by more than two million students every year and is accepted by virtually all colleges and universities. When used in combination with high school GPA, SAT scores are shown to be the best predictors of a student’s potential to succeed in college. The SAT covers core content areas deemed essential for success in college — reading, mathematics, and writing and language. The SAT is connected to the College Board’s earlier grade college readiness assessments, which work together to provide an ongoing grade level picture of a student’s progress.

Students take the SAT in the spring of their junior year as part of the MSTEP.  This test includes a full SAT test on the first day at no cost to students. Students may register for additional SAT tests if they are unsatisfied with their scores from the State administered test day.  To register for a National Test Date, please visit the CollegeBoard for dates and registration fees. Scores can be sent to colleges of their choice.


What do I need to know about the ACT?

Juniors and seniors may also elect to take an ACT test

It is recommended that juniors also sign up for one or two ACT tests. The WOHS curriculum has been aligned to the ACT test for years. Most juniors who have been in West Ottawa have been exposed to many ACT-like assessments. Current Juniors should be highly prepared for the ACT. These additional test opportunities are on Saturdays throughout the year. Check dates and sign up at www.actstudent.org.



What should I know about Test Prep?

There are many resources available for students to use to prepare for these standardized tests. Please review the resources provided below.

ZAPS Classes at WOHS for PSAT and SAT prep

Juniors and parents of juniors will receive emails regarding the ZAPS test prep classes offered at WOHS North Building.

KHAN Academy

The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy, the world’s leading online learning resource, to provide unprecedented preparation material for SAT preparation. Each student will create a College Board account and a Khan Academy account at WOHS. Students should use their College Board to access practice SAT material. Khan Academy will then build specific remediation courses for the student based on their practice test scores.


SylvanPrep, a division of Sylvan Learning Centers,  offers students a small group or a one-on-one test prep environment to help reduce the test day jitters and develop in students the confidence they need to improve test scores with test taking strategies and focus on individual subject areas that need improvement. This paid program is available for the ACT Suite of assessments as well as the SAT Suite.  For more information about a SylvanPrep program in your area, please visit: https://www.sylvanlearning.com/locations/center-finder?postalCode=49424

Varsity Tutors

The mission of Varsity Tutors  is to improve access to education by connecting students to top instructors through a live 1:1 learning platform.  Their experienced academic directors assess every student’s unique needs and learning style, and help students identify a tutor that is the best fit.  The tutors individualize lessons and present materials and concepts in engaging, easy-to-understand ways that keep students motivated and on the road to academic success. Throughout the entire tutoring process, their academic directors are available for support and committed to facilitating the best possible experience to students and their families.  To learn more about Varsity Tutors pricing and tutor availability, please visit: https://www.varsitytutors.com/how-we-operate

To access the free, online, self-directed, test preparation resources from Varsity Tutors for the Accuplacer, ACT, ACT-Explore, ACT-Compass, ASVAB, Advanced Placement, PSAT (pre-redesign), SAT (pre-redesign), and SAT Subject Tests, go to https://www.varsitytutors.com/practice-tests#


The American College Test (ACT) is used as a measure of each student’s abilities and talents in four academic areas. Colleges and universities use this test score in combination with your high school transcript to determine your admissibility to their school.  The ACT is offered six times each year in the months of September, October, December, February, April, and June.  Students can take the ACT as many times as they choose.  The ACT contains multiple-choice tests in four areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science.  Each of these tests contains questions that offer either four or five answer choices from which you are to choose the correct, or best, answer.  The ACT provides various test preparation materials on their website.  From sample questions to an online preparation program, these materials are exclusively designed by the ACT!  Check out the official ACT prep materials here: ACTStudent



The ACCUPLACER is a test of a student’s math, reading and writing abilities.  It is frequently used as a means of enrolling students into classes at the collegiate level.

Grand Rapids Community College requires that students who score below an 18 on the math, reading or writing portion of the ACT take the ACCUPLACER prior to enrollment.  Click here for more information on GRCC’s ACCUPLACER test: GRCC – Accuplacer

Accuplacer prep



How do I request a transcript to apply for colleges?

The high school counseling office does not send transcripts to colleges. You must request your West Ottawa High School transcript to be sent to each college via Parchment.com.  

Video tutorial for creating an account in Parchment

Video tutorial for requesting transcripts in Parchment


*IF you are applying via CommonApp or Send.edu, you do NOT have to request transcripts from Parchment because your counselor will upload them for you.

What should I consider when choosing a college?

Key Things to Identify When Considering the Right College For You:

  • Proximity to Home
  • Cost
  • Size and Type of School (public/private/for-profit)
  • Admission Requirements
  • Intended Major(s)
  • Religious Affiliations
  • Athletics
  • Housing
  • Cultural, Extra-curricular, and Social opportunities

College Search Resources To Help Guide This Process:

(These are all resources counselors use when working with your student(s))

Visit a College (if you can) Before You Commit:

Begin by exploring college websites. Once the search is narrowed down, students and their families will learn much about the college campus and programs by visiting the campus. This can take place prior either before or after a student sends in an application. Contact the Office of Admissions to set up a visit.

Join a WOHS College Tour

The West Ottawa High School College Advisor schedules multiple, large group college visits every year. Listen closely to WOBN announcements and follow @GoWO_College on Twitter for information about college visits.


When will WO go on college visits?

Please review our Google Calendar to see when our next visit to a college is scheduled.

Where can I access college application information and the process?

A student interested in college should consider the following steps:

Step 1:  In the spring of your junior year, identify your top 5 schools to which you would like to apply

Step 2:  In the summer/early fall of your senior year, complete college applications online (via Commonapp, Send.edu, or the school specific online application).  Some colleges require an application fee.  If you cannot afford to pay the fee, please see your counselor for a fee waiver.  Here’s a CommonApp tutorial to walk you through the necessary steps to complete your CommonApp.

Step 3:  If you need a letter of recommendation from a teacher or your school counselor, you MUST give them at least two weeks notice and supply them with a personal resume of your academic, athletic, extra-curricular, and volunteer achievements.  One way to accomplish this is to complete your Senior Interview early in the fall of your senior year.

Step 4:  Request your West Ottawa High School transcript to be sent to each college (via Parchment).  Watch the tutorial below on how to request transcripts from Parchment.  *IF you are applying via CommonApp or Send.edu, you do NOT have to request transcripts from Parchment because your counselor will upload them for you.

Video tutorial for creating an account in Parchment

Video tutorial for requesting transcripts in Parchment

Step 5:  Request your standardized test scores (ACT or SAT) from the testing organization IF your college(s) requires official scores.

You can visit The Common Application to learn more.

What are the requirements for college in Michigan?

Listed on the Michigan College Access Network website is a list of all 84 public and private, 2-year and 4-year colleges in Michigan.


Financial Aid

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is money that the government and other organizations give you or lend you so you can pay for college. To qualify for financial aid, you have to apply.  To be eligible for each of these, parents and students MUST complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Even if the financial aid is not provided by the State or Federal Government or the college of your choice, local and regional scholarshiping organizations may require that the FAFSA is completed in order to apply.  One invaluable resource for students and families is the Affording College in Michigan Guidebook.

Please view the “Overview of the Financial Aid Process” video to learn more:


How can I afford college in Michigan?

Please review the “Affording College in Michigan: Guidebook for Students and Families” resource from the State of Michigan government.

What are the different types of financial aid?

Please view the video below to learn more about the different types of financial aid available:

What is FAFSA?

Please watch the video below to learn more about FAFSA:



What are scholarships and grants?

The Basics on Grants & Scholarships from the College Board is an easy to understand resource that will breakdown grants and scholarships into manageable pieces.  Be sure to start the grants & scholarship search and application process early and commit to completing no less than 10 scholarship applications before November of your senior year of high school.

Scholarships are awarded based on achievement, need or both. Many scholarships have other requirements — for example, they may only be offered to students who live in a certain state, are interested in a certain major or have a disability. (bigfuture.collegeboard.org)

How can I find scholarships?

Here are 7 Ways to Find Scholarships

College Specific Scholarships

  • The largest scholarships come from individual colleges themselves.
  • It is very important that you complete your college applications by November 1st to be eligible for the majority of these scholarships.
  • Please see our Michigan College Specific Scholarship list to be linked directly to the scholarship page of Michigan colleges.
  • For out of state colleges, go to the school’s home page and search “scholarships”.

West Ottawa High School Local Scholarship Site

  • Check out Local and National scholarships listed on the West Ottawa Local Scholarships site.
  • These scholarships are updated periodically throughout the school year.

West Ottawa High School Internal Scholarships

  • West Ottawa is fortunate to have many sponsors who provide scholarships for our students each year and include memorial scholarships and business scholarships.
  • The  2024 WOHS Internal Scholarship Handbook  (Scholarship application directions are found in the handbook)
  • Scholarship Application Due Date:  Thursday, March 28

Community Foundation Holland/Zeeland Scholarships

  • Find complete information and scholarship applications at the Community Foundation Holland/Zeeland Area website.
  • Be sure to plan ahead and have your most current GPA, ACT score, essay, up to two letters of recommendation and other information available to upload.

Employers and Clubs

  • Many employers offer scholarships to children of their employees or even where a student may work.
  • Also check with any clubs or organizations of which you are a member.


Earn scholarship and financial aide offers from hundreds of colleges and universities by building your personal portfolio through raise.me. This new program is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has high reviews by publications such as the Wall Street Journal and CNN as well as personal testimonials from WOHS alumni. Go to raise.me and register to get started.

Scholarship Search Websites:

When should I start searching for scholarships?

Begin researching scholarship information using the resources above at any time during high school. Scholarship applications should start during the fall of your senior year. Schedule an appointment with your counselor to discuss scholarships soon!