1. Talk to the teachers in the category you're interested in. 2. Take the ACT at least twice. Most people's scores go up the second time. You MUST have a cumulative ACT score of at least 17 in order to apply. 3. Maintain a high GPA especially in the category you're interested in. 4. Look for service opportunities. Community and church activities are excellent too. 5. Look for leadership opportunities, both inside school and outside school. You don't have to be class president; you can be in the presidency of the Spanish club or NHS or Debate. Look for leadership opportunities in the community, such as student city council, or Boys' State etc. 6. Join school clubs and organizations like DECA, Honor Society, and FCCLA. 7. Attend workshops and leadership academies. 8. Enter competitions like History Fair, Science Fair, Reflections, etc. 9. Start collecting the paperwork early. Sophomore year isn't too early! Certificates, photos, programs etc. are hard to re-create. 9th--12th grade years are considered in judging.