ACT & SAT Prep and College Admissions Blog

Tips to Boost Your ACT Score

Posted by Suzanne Pearman on Wed, May 13, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

Since the ACT Writing test is optional, many students question whether schools even care about it. With the ACT clocking in at almost three hours, it can be tempting to skip the essay instead of spending an additional 30 minutes on the test. However, many schools require you to take the ACT with Writing - and even if it is not mandatory at the schools you are applying to, taking it anyway may show initiative and make you a more attractive candidate. 

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Topics: ACT test

SAT Math: Solving Impossible Math Problems

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 11:47 AM


The SAT sometimes approaches math a bit differently than we’re used to in math class.  One of these differences in approach is in the way some SAT math problems ask us to solve for relationships between variables, rather than the value of one particular variable.  These problems can seem very challenging, or even downright impossible, at first glance, because they often give us multiple variables but only one equation.  

One thing we learn in math class when studying systems of equations is that in order to solve for 2 variables, we usually need 2 separate equations; to solve for 3 variables, we need 3 separate equations; and so on.   Certain SAT math problems will appear to violate that general rule and ask us to do something that’s supposed to be impossible, like solving for 2 variables with only 1 equation.  When we look more closely at such problems, though, we realize that the SAT is not really asking for the value of each individual variable involved.  Instead, we’re asked to find the value of the sum, product, or some other relationship involving 2 or more variables.  

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Topics: SAT, math skills

Should I mention religion in my college essay?

Posted by Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 @ 02:39 PM

The short answer is this: it’s okay to discuss religion in your essay as long as the take-away (or values) promoted in the essay are universal. Here’s what I mean:

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How Do I Write the “Why Us?” Essay?

Posted by Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy on Thu, Dec 04, 2014 @ 12:34 PM

1. Don’t write about the school's size, location, reputation or the weather.

Why? Because that's what half of America is writing about. Take a hint from Emory University, whose “Why us” essay used to read:

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How to Self-Study for an AP Exam

Posted by Luke Liu on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 11:47 AM

Unfortunately, not all high school AP programs are created equal. Even though colleges put your AP exams in the context of how many were offered at your school, there are major tuition savings to be had from doing well on more AP exams. If you find yourself wanting to take an AP exam that your school does not offer, here is how you can ace the exams on your own:

Pick Your Textbook

This is an important decision as it will form the basis of your self-study journey, especially for exams that have recently gotten a facelift from the CollegeBoard. For such exams, like AP Biology in the 2012-2013 school year, you will want to Google “SUBJECT NAME textbook correlations”.

For most redesigned exam, the CollegeBoard collects correlation assessments from textbook publishers to ensure that their books align with the exam frameworks.  This is usually the ideal way to pick the best textbook.

If a comprehensive correlations document is not available, then you can look for the “SUBJECT NAME example textbook list”, which is more commonly available. Get the latest edition whenever possible and if you can’t decide, just go with whichever one you think has the most reputable publisher behind it.

Either way, do not spend too much time obsessing over the textbook you use – the important thing is how you will use it. 

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What Students Can Learn from the 2016 SAT Re-Design

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 @ 11:05 AM

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Topics: sat tutoring, SAT redesign, SAT study tips, SAT classes

10 Tips for Presenting Your Best Self To Colleges – Part 2

Posted by Susanna Cerasuolo on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 @ 11:26 AM

In part one of this two-part post, I referenced five ways to differentiate yourself in preparation for applying to college

The first five tips were:

  1. Do what you love
  2. Distinguish yourself at school
  3. Distinguish yourself in your community
  4. Get a job or an internship
  5. Do some independent research
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10 Tips for Presenting Your Best Self To Colleges – Part 1

Posted by Susanna Cerasuolo on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

As it gets more and more difficult to be accepted to college, students everywhere are keen to stand out.  The good news is that with just a little thought, and some planning, you can.  Here's a handy-dandy “top ten” list of sure-fire ways to distinguish yourself when applying to college.  In part 1, I’ll share my first five tips, and in part two (to come in a few weeks) I’ll round out my top ten.

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Writing a Great First Sentence On College Application Essays

Posted by Melissa Baumgart on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 @ 06:15 AM

Every time a reader picks up a new application, he or she must wonder: "Is this going to be another generic snooze-fest of an essay or the dynamic proclamation of an individual thinker?" Guess into which category you want to fall?

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How to Write Effective Supplemental Essays

Posted by Melissa Baumgart on Fri, Dec 06, 2013 @ 11:46 AM

I recently spoke with a former college admissions officer who mentioned that a lot of applicants fail to give supplemental essays their proper attention. Instead, these students focus all of their energy on the main essay. While it’s obviously important to have a knockout personal statement, overlooking the supplemental essays could be a fatal error in judgment. Every individual piece of your application matters. Here’s how to maximize the positive impact of your college application supplemental essays.

FILL IN THE BLANKS

The personal statement isn’t your life story – it’s one story, hopefully with a lot of character and detail, but still – just one story. The supplements allow you to mine from other stories in your life – various skills, interests, or challenges you’ve overcome. Use your quirks, your passions, and your unique life experiences to give your application greater depth. It’s an opportunity to share another side of yourself – something that wouldn’t necessarily be on your resume. Doing so will give the admissions committee a fuller picture of who you are. Your supplemental essays should help illustrate the many facets of your personality, and you’ll leave the impression of a real person instead of just grades on a page.

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