Class of 2020 Newsletter

September 2018

Greetings from the College Counseling Office, and welcome back! Contained in this newsletter is a timeline of the junior year, information about the upcoming PSAT, and guidance regarding standardized testing. Subsequent monthly newsletters will offer timely information that will guide students and families through the college search and admission process. We look forward to helping you during this exciting journey. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to be in touch with any of us with questions; our contact information is located at the end of this newsletter.


Timeline of the Junior Year


In order to help you prepare for the year ahead, please review this timeline with important dates regarding programs, counseling meetings, standardized testing, and potential college visit dates:

September - November: College admission reps visit Gilman; see full schedule here

September 20: AIMS Financial Aid Program at Maryvale Preparatory School

October 10:  PSAT at Gilman

November 12: Mock ACT at Bryn Mawr (optional)

December 1: Recommended first SAT

December 8: Recommended first ACT

January: Juniors are assigned to one of the four college counselors

January 8: Junior-Parent College Night for parents of juniors

January 22: Exploring College Admission program for juniors

January - May: College counselors meet with juniors (at least twice) and with parents (at least once); an initial college list is created with your college counselor following the first meeting

February 9: ACT date

February 15 - 18: School closed (good time for college visits)

March 9: SAT date

March 16 - March 25: Spring Break (suggested time for college visits)

April: AIMS College Fair

April 13: ACT date

April 19 - April 22: School closed (potential time for college visits, though some schools may be closed)

May 4: SAT date

June - August: Continue researching and visiting colleges

June 1: SAT date (possible date for three Subject Tests, if applicable per counsel)

June 8: ACT date

July 13: ACT date

August 24: SAT date


Standardized Testing


Common Standardized Testing Timeline

Junior Year:

  • October 10: PSAT at Gilman
  • December: Take your first SAT and/or ACT
  • February - June: Take another SAT and/or ACT
  • May: AP Tests (if applicable)
  • June: Take SAT Subject Tests (if advised by your college counselor)

Senior Year:

  • July - October: Take final SAT and/or ACT



Juniors will take the PSAT on Wednesday, October 10. Gilman has already registered your son for the PSAT. Free test prep is available through Khan Academy; you can also take a practice test here. PSAT scores are not reported to colleges, are not placed on the transcript, and have no bearing on the admission process. The PSAT does, however, serve as the qualifying test for the highly selective National Merit Scholarship program. Test-takers scoring in the top half of the highest 1% in Maryland are likely to be recognized by the National Merit program. Hard copies of the test results are sent to Gilman in December, and we will mail those reports to you. Results will also be available through a College Board account your son will create.   


Optional Mock ACT

On November 12th from 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Capital Educators will administer a mock ACT at Bryn Mawr for all interested 11th graders from Bryn Mawr and Gilman. The purpose of the exam is to help students compare the experience of taking a full ACT with the experience of taking the PSAT. To register, please email Anna Follensbee.


SAT or the ACT?

We suggest that most students try both the SAT and ACT at least once to see which they might do better on. All colleges will accept both the SAT and the ACT; they have no preference for which you send. Thus, we encourage students to try both tests to give themselves the best chance to post their highest possible score.


When Should I Take My First Test?

We recommend that juniors choose December for their first SAT and/or ACT.  As juniors prepare to take their first standardized test, we hope that they will not obsess anxiously over the test but will direct their attention and energy to other equally important tasks before them - to the things that really do count in admissions and in life. Thus, juniors should also seek out appropriate academic and personal challenges, work hard to achieve and learn, and invest themselves meaningfully in the community.

How Many Tests Should I Take?

We recommend most students sit for three of any one standardized test before early applications are due in November of their senior year. Juniors should take at least two standardized tests - the SAT and/or the ACT - by the end of the 11th grade. Most seniors will sit for at least one more test in the summer or fall of the 12th grade. Students should register themselves in advance of the deadline. Registration is done online for the SAT and ACT: Register for the SAT here; register for the ACT here. Colleges consider the highest scores posted, so there is no risk in sitting for multiple tests.


SAT Test Prep at Gilman

Capital Educators will offer an SAT prep class at Gilman in early October; the schedule is online here. The course is scheduled so that it will conclude in time for the December SAT and ACT dates, the time we advise juniors to sit for their first standardized test(s). For more details and to register, please contact Capital Educators at (410) 532-9400 or visit their site at the link provided above. If your family receives financial aid from Gilman, Capital Educators will provide the same percentage discount to their fee. Inform the staff when you register, and we will coordinate financial aid information with their office.

Free Standardized Test Prep

The College Board offers free, online SAT test prep through Khan Academy, a non-profit online education organization. Students can link their College Board and Khan Academy accounts to get automatic, personalized recommendations based on their PSAT performance, watch video and text explanations regarding skills covered on the test, and take full-length practice exams. The ACT likewise offers free, personalized online test prep through ACT Academy. We advise all students to engage in meaningful test preparation. These free, online platforms can help prepare you to do your very best on standardized tests.

SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams

SAT Subject Tests attempt to measure a student's accomplishment in particular subject areas. Students seeking admission to especially selective colleges should plan on taking three of these tests. We recommend that SAT Subject Tests be taken, if they are taken at all, on the May or June SAT dates. As the time approaches we will advise students and families regarding the appropriate SAT Subject Tests. For a more detailed take on Subject Tests and a comprehensive list of schools that require or recommend them, please click hereAP exams, given only in May, can play a similar role, though are not required in the admission process. Form Meeting announcements and future newsletters will provide more specific guidance as we near the spring.


Beyond Testing


Grades Matter: Primacy of the Transcript

Although standardized tests provide important data to the colleges for evaluating potential for college-level work, they are but one component of an admissions application. The quality of a student's academic record (both grades and the rigor of the curriculum) continues to be the primary factor in the admission process. Colleges typically take particular note of your junior year performance, so we encourage you to put in your very best effort towards your schoolwork this year.

AIMS College Financial Aid Night

Please mark your calendars: this year's college financial aid night will be held on Thursday, September 20, at 6:00 p.m. at Maryvale Preparatory School. This comprehensive financial aid program, led by Davidson College's Chad Spencer, is strongly recommended for those planning on applying for college financial aid.


Junior-Parent College Night

On January 8, 2019, Gilman's College Counseling Office will host an evening for parents of the junior class. We have invited three Deans of Admission to join us in providing their insight and experience with college admissions. Our panel will include Deans from Yale University, Franklin & Marshall College, and Providence College. Parents, please mark your calendars and plan on attending this very important and informative event.

Exploring College Admission Program

Sensitive to the number of evening programs juniors must attend throughout the school year, the College Counseling Office will hold an "Exploring College Admission" program for juniors during the school day on January 22, 2019. Our guests for the program will include Deans of Admission from George Washington University, Lafayette College, and St. Lawrence University.

Visiting Admission Representatives

Each year, over 100 college admission representatives visit Gilman to discuss their institutions with interested students. These visits occur at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily throughout the fall. We will also be hosting three mini-college fairs during afternoons in the fall. Juniors are welcome and encouraged to attend individual visits or any of the mini-fairs, as long as they are not missing academic obligations. An updated schedule for these meetings is posted on the CCO website, in the CCO, and on the US bulletin boards.


Form Meetings and Email

The college counselors will make extensive use of Form Meetings throughout the year in order to convey information about college admission, testing, and course selection. Email is also a primary source of communication. Juniors should check their school email account frequently or arrange for messages to be forwarded to the account they use most often. Many colleges also rely primarily on email to relay information to prospective students.


The CCO Website and Facebook

Please visit the College Counseling Office page on the Gilman website. A significant amount of college preparation and planning information is located at this helpful site. The Gilman CCO also maintains a Facebook page (College Counseling Office - Gilman School) which posts timely articles and essays about the admission process.


Contact the CCO

Sarah Ross

410-323-3800 ext. 226

Matt Herman

410-323-3800 ext. 748

Anna Follensbee

410-323-3800 ext. 307

Justin Baker

410-323-3800 ext. 741


5407 Roland Avenue / Baltimore, Maryland 21210 / 410.323.3800

College Counseling Website

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