Skip To Main Content

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is my counselor?

Students are assigned counselors by the alphabet. 

What are my options for contacting my counselor?

You can email or phone to schedule an appointment. You can also use the QR code to request an appointment. 

If I get a D or fail a class, how can I replace the grade or retrieve credit?

Although a D is passing for high school credit, colleges and universities will see a D as a deficiency and want it replaced with a stronger grade. Contact your counselor to discuss options.  You must receive approval before taking any course off campus.

What is the difference between regular, Honors and AP classes? Why should I take them and how many?

  • Please review the distinctions between the different programs offered at Cactus Shadows High School.
  • Regular classes are scored on a 4.0 scale. There is no summer work expected.
  • Honors classes are scored on a weighted 5.0 scale. The course is harder. It is geared for the better student who wants to delve further into the subject. Summer work is expected.  Usually, there is a test within the first week of the semester on the summer work.
  • AP (Advanced Placement) classes are the college level version of the course, taught at the HS, by a HS teacher. There is summer work expected prior to the start of the course. In May of the course, students across the country are all tested on the AP exam, a nationally standardized test.  The test is scored 1-5.  A score of 3 is considered to be passing, 4 and 5 are better scores and typically can earn college credit.  When the student is accepted to a college or university, that school looks at the transcript, SATs, ACTs, and AP scores. If the student did well enough on the AP test, the college may waive the student from an entry level course and/or may award college credits.  One benefit is it can save the family money. You do not have to pay for the college credit; you merely have to pay for the AP exam, which is less than $100.
  • The more weighted courses, the higher the GPA. The weighted GPA determines the class rank. The current senior class has a top GPA of over 4.8. The student who only takes regular classes will aspire to a 4.0.  The honors, AP, and IB students will be aspiring to get closer to a 5.0.
  • If you are a very strong student, try some honors classes. Take the classes that are of most interest to you. Taking an advanced class in a subject you do not enjoy will make the year seem very long. We do not limit the number of advanced courses taken as that is an individual decision.

What is the IB Diploma Program?

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is an amazing opportunity for the strongest of students.   It is a challenging, well-balanced college preparatory program highly recognized and respected in-state and worldwide by selective universities.  It is the most challenging and well-balanced academic program offered at CSHS.  The IB Diploma Program is for juniors and seniors and all IB courses are weighted on a 5.0 scale.  Pre-Diploma students take a college prep curriculum consisting of honors and ap classes.  Students take IB exams in May of their jr/sr years, and can earn college credit, advanced standing and/or merit scholarships.   Research shows that IB students are more likely to be admitted into many of our most selective colleges.  Smaller class sizes and strong peer camaraderie are a few of many benefits.  Taught by highly trained  and motivated CSHS teachers, IB offers academic breadth and depth, and incorporates critical thinking, writing and speaking skills.   IB exam fees are comparable to both dual enrollment fees and AP exam fees.  Please visit our course catalogue and/or our IB website on our CSHS website under Specialty Programs “International Baccalaureate Diploma Program” for more detailed information and an application.   Ms. Angela Thomas, IB coordinator.

What is ECAP?

ECAP is the Education, Career, Action Plan required by the State of Arizona for all high school graduates. 

How do I request a transcript? 

For transcript requests, please email Ena Muhammad: 

Follow up with the school registrar or counseling with additional questions or concerns.

How do I register for the SAT and ACT? 

Registration may only be completed online for the SAT and ACT.  To register for the SAT, please visit  To register for the ACT, please visit  The process will take about 20-30 minutes.  If you have any questions, please contact the College Board or ACT directly.

My child would like to play to be a college athlete.  What do I need to do? 

If you have a junior or senior student who plans on being an athlete at the college level, he/she must register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.  The registration website can be found at:  Students/Parents should be very careful when reviewing this website, as there are many details that the students must adhere to in order to be eligible.

Where can I find scholarships for my child? 

WARNING:  Students and parents should NEVER pay for scholarship searches or financial aid services.  Most money will come from the schools our students are applying to.  You can also look on,, are some of the more popular sites.  Once admitted to a University, that university will have a scholarship portal with available scholarships.

What is a FAFSA?    

Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. Students and their families are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet the requirements to be eligible for student aid.  Please make sure you go to