I have recommended 8th grade as the year a student should make a decisions about his future. Some may consider this as being too restrictive. While I agree that it is possible to postpone the decision about field of study or career choice of the student, it should be noted that longer a student waits, less an option he will have. Below are rough sketch of where the limits likely will be if the decision is made at that time.
9th grade : It may already have become too late to go on a path of sending in some key AP Exam scores to the college when the student reaches 12th grade. The student will need to either find a path to obtain college credits or try other tests that can substitute for those AP Exam scores in the college application, or plan to take the AP during 12th grade and receive excellent recommendations from the teacher in charge of the AP subject.
10th grade : It may be too late to find a path to take the key AP subjects before graduating from High School. Alternatives must be used. If the student wants to receive some college credits in key subjects before college application, the student may need to consider receiving supplementary instructions from private instructors in order to prepare himself for the college course works.
11th grade : The choice of majors the student can pursue starts to narrow by this point. Trying for some College credits may now be too hard. The best alternatives are SAT subject tests, and some AP courses in 12th grade that can be considered as foundation AP course for that Key AP subject(s) the student no longer can reach.
12th grade : The student may no longer have much of a choice for the major to pursue if he wants to go to decent college/university . Either the student can choose a major that can maximize his chance of being accepted at a college/university reachable with his grades and scores, or have to chart a path through community college or easily accepted colleges and hope to be able to transfer out of there to better universities in order to pursue the major of his/her dream.
7th grade or below : It simply is too soon. The student may be better served seeking job or volunteer experiences at this point.
2. How hard is it to meet the 9th grade objective of “at least one AP Exam, SAT subject test, or college course relevant to the primary major” ?
It isn’t too hard. Most 9th grade student will be taking at least one science course and one history class in school . If the student pick one of them as a special focus and devote a year in studying for SAT subject test, he/she can easily ace that subject test
3. Why Two objective at the 10th grade?
This is to let you have easier time when you become 11th grade. Finishing two objectives during 10th grade will broaden your possibilities. These objectives are easily met through some AP courses or SAT subject test preparations that will help lead into the KEY AP course you will take in 11th or 12th grade. Many 10th grade students will have classes in science, math, history, literature, and foreign language at this year. They all have their own SAT subject tests, so it is best to finish these SAT subject tests here.
4. Why back to only one objective at the 11th grade?
This is to leave room to make up for some objectives student missed from 9th or 10th grade, and also to let the student concentrate on the key AP course or preparation for that important college class. Much of the student attention will be taken up by the key AP courses. Doing one more test preparation or AP in addition to all this may be hard, but is worth pursuing. Therefore, I am suggesting was at least one Subject test, AP, or college course related to the tertiary objective in addition to any AP course works needed for the Primary major of choice, and hope the student can handle the load.