Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get an appointment with my counselor?

Making an appointment to see your counselor is easy. Students are encouraged to come in to our office and fill out a Request for Appointment Google Form (available on the Guidance Team webpage). Students are usually called in within a day or two unless it is a high traffic time for us. If you turn in a form and do not hear from us within a week, please come in or email us. Often times we call students out of class and they are not there or the pass is not delivered. You can also email or call to set up a guidance appointment.


How do you calculate weighted GPA?

Students should convert every letter grade they have received to grade points. A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0. For honors and AP classes, you should give yourself one additional point for every semester of an honors or AP class that you have completed with C or better grade. You would then add up all the grade points and divide by the number of classes taken. When calculating academic GPA use only the courses that are on the approved course list, which can be viewed on the University of California website.

What GPA do colleges use to evaluate my application?

UC’s and CSU’s will use all academic courses in 10th and 11th grade. Ninth grade marks will be viewed but not used for calculating GPA. They will only take a maximum of 8 semesters of honors and AP weighted work in the 10th and 11th grade. This does not mean they do not value more than 8 semesters, they just cap the weighted GPA at that point. Private and out of state school’s vary on what GPA they use for evaluating purposes. Students are encouraged to do their research when it comes to questions on private and out of state universities.

When should I take the SAT or ACT?

Students should consider taking the SAT or ACT in the second half of your junior year. Experience shows that students will do better on the tests the further along they are in high school, so it is typically not advisable to take the test much earlier. An exception to rule can be made for students who have completed the necessary math (pre-calculus) for the SAT subject test or have sufficient preparation for a language subject test. Most colleges will not require students to submit all their test scores but some will request to see all scores.


The PSAT (Preliminary SAT) is available each year in October at Monta Vista for Sophomores and Juniors to take (Freshman are not allowed to take the PSAT at Monta Vista). Students may also utilize free testing practice on Khan Academy, as well as the College Board and ACT website. Local Santa Clara County Libraries have year round events focusing on SAT and ACT practice tests. 

When should I take the SAT 2’s (subject test) and how do I know which test to take?

Some colleges do not require students to take the SAT 2’s, but please be aware of the testing requirements for the schools you may potentially want to apply. For the most part, if a student has successfully completed an AP (or sometimes honors) course, they should take the corresponding SAT 2 and AP test. If a student knows they want to major in a particular subject they should also take the corresponding SAT 2 test. Taking the subject test closest to the end of the course is advisable. UC’s no longer require subject tests for students. However, certain majors strongly encourage students to take SAT 2 tests to show strength in the subject. Also, SAT 2 scores will still be factored in to evaluation of the student’s application.

What is a “good” SAT or ACT score?

“Good” is relative. Students are encouraged to research the average scores at the schools they are interested in applying. Average scores vary widely based on the difficultly of gaining acceptance to the school. SAT/ACT scores are a good starting point of looking for “best fit” colleges. Try to avoid comparing your scores to other student’s scores. Remember, colleges look at more than just SAT/ACT scores when evaluating applications.

How many AP and honors courses do colleges want me to take?

Colleges do not require students to take AP or honors classes. Only students who have been successful in previous classes should consider taking the corresponding AP class. We believe that students should consider their past performance, overall course load, extracurricular commitments, and sanity when choosing their courses. Students should assess themselves carefully and choose an appropriate schedule based on their skills and motivation. Teacher recommendation is highly recommended for entrance into an AP course. Keep in mind that AP classes are considered college-level coursework and require good study habits and significant time commitments.

What can I do if I earn a “D” in an academic course?

A “D” will earn credit toward graduation at MV. However, if the “D” is in a required course for college admission, the student must make up the D through one of the following: retake the course at MV, retake the course through a community college, take an online course through one of the approved online resources (talk to your counselor for more info) or take a higher level course in the same subject area (in this option the “D” will still be factored into the student’s GPA but the student will remain eligible for application to a 4-year college).

How do I make up an “F”?

Receiving an “F” grade for the semester will not give you credit for the course. If the grade was earned in a course required for graduation students must make up the credit. Students have the following options to make up an “F” grade: repeat the course at MV, community college or online (see your counselor for more info) or attend adult school (see counselor). Unfortunately, summer school for our district is no longer a guarantee. We are notified in the spring if we will be offering courses and which courses will be available. Private schools may have summer school offerings that our students may attend. Registration usually begins in early spring and the student is responsible for applying and registering for courses. Please be sure to see your counselor and AP for prior approval.

How do I get my community college grades on my MV transcript?

Community college courses that are taken currently are not placed on MV’s transcript unless the student is credit deficient. However, community college classes must be reported on student’s college application and will often times be factored into a student’s college GPA.

Can I complete my 2nd or 3rd year of world language at a community college?

Taking courses at the community colleges is optional and should be done with careful consideration. Most language courses at the community college will be counted toward fulfilling college eligibility requirements. However, when colleges are evaluating your transcript, there will be a question as to why you chose to fulfill your language requirement at the community college and not at Monta Vista. Also, it is not recommended that a student take a level of a language at the community college and expect to move on to a higher level at MV the following year. A quarter’s worth of curriculum is not comparable to a full year of instruction at the high school level.

Am I required to take 3 or 4 years of science? And which should I choose?

Students fulfill their high school requirements for science with one life and one physical science. Some colleges require or recommend a 3rd or 4th year of science so please research the schools you anticipate applying to and plan your 11th and 12th grade classes accordingly. Which science class to take is up to student’s preference, desired major and ultimate goals. For example, if you are planning to major in engineering, you should plan to take physics some time during your time at Monta Vista.