From Quora: My Answer to: "As a freshman, I scored a 1080 on the PSAT. What can I do to improve my score drastically?"
I’ve answered many similar questions, so I’m just going to copy the advice from some of my other answers. Actually, this is just one, copied verbatim.
Start studying for the SAT and ACT. SAT study will also prepare you for the PSAT, which is a watered-down version of the SAT. Try the Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide, which is the 30th edition of Barron’s SAT. The 28th or 29th edition would also do. The ACT’s official study guide would work for ACT prep, as would the Manhattan Prep 5-lb Book of ACT Problems. You should also use the Khan Academy SAT prep materials SAT | Test prep | Khan Academy (they’re good, they’re free, and they’re the official SAT prep materials recommended by the College Board, the maker of the SAT), as well as the free SAT practice tests you can download from the College Board website. SAT Practice Tests
You can use my free YouTube channel for more help with SAT, ACT, and other standardized test prep: John Linneball Tutoring
I made a video about what you should do in middle school to ensure you’re on the right track to get into the best college for you:
In any event, you should take time to read many books, magazines, newspapers (or their online equivalents). It’s a good idea to start with “the classics”- the books most people have had to read for high school and college for a LONG time. You can find a list of the classics on the Cliff’s Notes website CliffsNotes Study Guides | Book Summaries, Test Preparation & Homework Help | Written by Teachers If they bothered to make a summary book for any particular book, it’s a “classic” for our purposes. Read them with a dictionary or Google (phone or PC) to look up words you don’t know. It’s good to know the actual dictionary definitions of words instead of just always guessing them from their context. It also pays to study word roots, suffixes, and prefixes, so you can figure out words you don’t know on the SAT or ACT.
Start doing extracurricular activities such as volunteer work (it shows you are community-minded), paid work (it shows you care about meeting goals, taking care of yourself, and possibly helping support your family, etc.), and things such as school sports, the school paper, yearbook, theater, etc. 8th grade, the last year of middle school, is a great time to try things like theater, a sport you haven’t played before, a new musical instrument, etc., so you have time to learn them well before college if you like them, and you haven’t wasted really crucial high school time on them if you find you don’t like them. Colleges will take your activities much more seriously if you’ve done them all through high school, and didn’t just start them right before applying to college.
Start practicing SAT and ACT math problems, not just to practice for those tests, but to stay sharp for your high school math and science courses. You’ll want the skills you need for those tests when you take harder math (algebra, trigonometry, statistics) in high school so you don’t have to learn them in college.
Seriously consider what you’d like to do for a living. Law? Politics? Medicine? Engineering? Fashion? Entertainment? Anything is possible, but it’s best to look for a career that appeals to your academic, personality, and social strengths, and which also appeal to your interests. Ask yourself what you’d do for very little money and still be happy. Then look for careers that let you do that thing. Start looking into what colleges are good places to get training for the kind of career you want.
Make sure you talk with your teachers, counselors, supervisors, coaches, etc. about your goals, and ask for advice. Really listen to what these people tell you, even if you don’t like what they say. These people have more experience than you do, so they’re probably right, but don’t be afraid to ask other adults if you don’t like what you’ve been told. The more you share with (and listen to) adults, the better your relationship with them will be, the more likely you will be to receive “the benefit of the doubt” if you’re in a sketchy situation at school, and the better recommendations you will get when it’s time to apply to college. Teachers, coaches, counselors, and supervisors are human beings - they’re going to work harder for students they see as “friends” than just run-of-the-mill, average students/athletes/volunteers/workers.
Hope this helps!
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Author: John Linneball Who did you think? ;-)
I'm the proprietor and only tutor for this business; that's why I named it after me.