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If you are an eighth grader, read this for college preparation

Quite often we receive questions from students who are in 11th or 12th grades asking “I am applying to college soon, what should I prepare?” It’s a right question to ask, and the student is in good standing in school. However, college nowadays are asking for more than just good grades. If you wait till 11th or 12th grades to prepare for college, it is a little bit late. It is a shame if you don’t get in your dream school simply because you don’t have the needed info.

We are here to help by providing step-by-step guidelines about how to prepare for getting into your dream college starting at 8th or 9th grades in this article. We’ll cover higher grades in the following weeks. College preparation is just like a race. The earlier you start, the better chance you will be successful and reach your goal.

Starting from summer of the 8th grade, or even earlier, before you get into the 9th grade, you should start preparing for college.

If you plan to go to top colleges or Ivy League, at the minimum, you should plan for 3-4 APs and 3 SAT II subject tests, in addition to the SAT I test, before you apply for colleges. On average, 5-6 APs and 3-4 SAT IIs will give you a better chance. Pick the subjects related to your interested major if you have one, e.g. engineering, science, business etc., plus others that are not directly related to your major, e.g. History, English. Timing is important. The best time to take the SAT II subject test is in June when finishing up the school work or AP course/test. More of this area will continue in articles to follow.

Foreign Languages

Four year throughout (preferably the same language)


Four years, Algebra I & II, Geometry, & advanced Math, such as Calculus


Biology, Chemistry, Physics at AP or Honors level

Social Science

History, Government, Politics, etc.

at AP or Honors level.

Extracurricular Activities

Sustained One or Two Activities throughout the hour years that demonstrate your growth via changes and advancement in roles over time.

Participate in Community Service Work for causes you feel passionate about

Summer Experience like employment and volunteer works

Participating Academic Enrichment Programs to

broaden your areas of interest

identifying the major you may be interested in.

research colleges and start to visit some of them

The above items just give you an outline. More details will continue in articles to come.

Author of this article, Dr. Lin, is founder of Marlboro Learning Center 13 years ago, and ex-associated professor of Chiao Tung University.

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