These classes not only help you stand out from other applicants, they also are the classes that will best prepare you for the work load you will face when you actually get to Harvard or Stanford (actually, the classes there will probably be harder).If you don’t want to take all AP/IB classes, you might ask if you really want to go to one of these elite colleges in the first place, since you will essentially be signing up for four years of classes that are even harder than your high school ones.Another way grades play into college admissions is class rank.

College admissions at the nation’s most elite schools are more competitive than ever.

So, if you’re an ivy hopeful, what do you need in order to make sure you’re in that top percent that gets selected?

This new blog series, brought to you by College Compass and Test Masters, should be your definitive guide to getting that acceptance letter from your dream school.

I myself navigated these treacherous waters successfully in 2007, when I was admitted to Columbia, so I should make an excellent Virgil to your wide-eyed Dante as we descend through the circles of…elite college admissions.

This first post is dedicated to the number one item these colleges look at on your application: your grades.

There’s no getting around it, grades are the most important determinant of college acceptance anywhere, but there are many caveats that universities’ admissions officers usually don’t tell you.

When I was touring some of these Ivy League type universities during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, there would always be someone at the info session who asked, “Do I/does my child need straight As in order to get into this school?

” and the admissions officer would invariably give some nebulous response like, “We strongly prefer straight A students.” So, if you don’t have straight As, are you done for? During my time in high school, I received Bs in both semesters of pre-AP chemistry my sophomore year and in my first semester of AP Physics I, and I still got in.

So it is possible to get a few Bs here and there and still get accepted to the Ivy League; however, some Bs are better than others.

Notice that these Bs were in pre-AP and AP classes, and that the B in Physics the first semester went up to an A the second semester, showing improvement (I also managed to pull off a 5 on the AP Physics B exam, which I imagine helped “make up for” the B in the eyes of the admissions officers).

In general, you need to take as many AP (Advanced Placement) and/or IB (International Baccalaureate) classes as you can, depending on what program is offered at your school (my school offered both, so I did both AP and IB).