The clock is ticking and you are a new high school senior (or parent of one!). The summer flew by without even a thought about what to write about for your college essays. Were you too busy with SAT prep? Driver’s ed? Hanging out with friends? Working? Procrastinating? Don’t worry, because help has arrived. Follow these dozen tips below and (hopefully) your juices will be flowing. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of Writing Successful College Applications and start reading and getting inspired. But for now, here is your “Cliff’s Notes” version of what you can do to get started: More…
Your college application writing is not just about writing one personal statement. There are often several shorter essays, supplemental questions, and short answers required by schools, too. This top ten list will quickly prepare you for all of the writing required on your college applications. Heed this advice and you will be able to start your process “in the know.” More…
Last month, I had the exciting opportunity to ask an Internet celebrity some questions about writing and grammar. Mignon Fogarty, or as most of you probably know her, Grammar Girl, is the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Media Entrepreneurship in the School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is also the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips, one of the oldest and largest podcasting networks; a veteran of Silicon Valley startups; and best known online for her work as the New York Times bestselling author Grammar Girl.
Read on for a transcript of my Q&A session with Grammar Girl, and be sure to check out her website, podcast, and newsletter for more helpful writing tips. More…
When it comes to SAT prep, homeschooled children have a unique advantage. Most students are used to lecture-based classroom learning, an ineffective model that doesn’t get to the core of each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and individual learning style. Because your child is used to independent study, he or she can tackle the SAT the right way from the onset, without any adjustment in his or her approach to the proper material.
If there’s one section of the ACT that initially terrifies all my students (and their parents), it’s the ACT “science” section. On top of all the comprehension, math, and grammar tricks you need to know for this test, you’re expected to know science, too!?
Fortunately for you, the ACT science section has absolutely nothing to do with science — and once you realize the key approach to beat it, it’s an absolute breeze. This article will show you a basic approach that’ll cut your ACT science time in half and double your accuracy in less than two rounds of practice. More…
About four years from now, you may find yourself sweating through reading passages that make SAT passages read like a comic strip, and tripping over words that seem beyond the scope of the Oxford Dictionary. The test is called the GRE, and in many regards it’s similar to the SAT. More…
If you’ve been following any news about higher education lately, you’ve probably heard about Starbucks’s new initiative to pay for the college educations of its students. You can find plenty of good summaries and informational articles out there, including this one from Inside Higher Ed, this one from the Washington Post, and this one from the Seattle Times. Here’s a simple version:
1. A partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University Online is going to pay for employees’ tuition entirely for their junior and senior years of online education.
2. The same partnership will provide financial assistance in the form of a scholarship for the first two years of college.
3. This is not a loan, and is based entirely upon employees’ continued work at Starbucks (there is a certain minimum number of hours students must work to qualify for all this) and attendance to the Arizona State University Online program specifically.
Sounds great, right? Well, it’s maybe a bit more complicated than it at first might seem.
When it comes to the SAT, there are thousands of tips, tricks and strategies that can improve your scores. However, not all of these tips are created equal. With that in mind, I’ve put together a quick “crash course” of the five most high-impact, easy-to-implement SAT tricks in my arsenal – tricks that you can use today to improve your score by hundreds of points.
1. Skim passages – don’t devour them.
If you want great SAT reading scores, here’s the golden rule:
You should NEVER answer a question before looking back at the passage and finding concrete evidence. With the exception of “main idea” problems, there’s not a single SAT reading problem that should be answered based on memory – instead, you should be able to point at the evidence required to answer each question.
With that in mind, the first time that you read through, don’t read SAT passages for absolute comprehension – just get the main idea and build a mental “table of contents.” You don’t need to remember every detail – in fact, you won’t need 95% of what you read. Just get the main idea, the tone, and a basic map of where different elements of the passage are located.
You’ll be looking back for evidence anyway, so cut your reading time in half. Just skim the passage, get the main idea, and move on – you’ll save tons of time, and you won’t lose any essential information.
2. Answer every question before you look at the answers.
The SAT is incredible at coming up with tempting answer choices. Alongside the right answer choice, you’ll see four extremely credible, seemingly legitimate answers. The problem, of course, is that all four of them are wrong.
So how do you guard yourself against the sneaky, incorrect answer choices provided by the SAT? Come up with your own answer BEFORE you ever look at the answer choices provided!
Read the question, do the research, and then answer the question in your own words. Express the concept verbally, and make it real in your head. Then, and only then, should you look at the answer choices.
If you do this, you’ll suddenly find that the correct answer is nearly identical to what you said, and the four wrong answers are silly and ridiculous. If you don’t answer the question in your own words first, you’ll try to justify each wrong answer, which is exactly what the test is designed to trick you into doing.
3. Use the answers.
On 44/54 SAT math problems, the correct answer is sitting right in front of you, just waiting to be selected. Unlike on the Reading Test questions, ignoring the answer choices on these questions is one of the least efficient things you can do.
On every single multiple choice math problem, ask yourself this: could you plug in the answer choices, rather than doing any actual figuring? Could you use the answer choices to gain insight into how to solve the problem? Could you just test the available options, rather than doing tough algebra or setting up some sort of complicated system?
See if you can use the answers before you do any real thinking. This isn’t a strategy to use after you get stumped – it’s the strategy you should use before you do ANYTHING else.
4. Drop your pencil.
There’s a big difference between an SAT math prompt and an SAT math question. The prompt is the problem itself, including all the information provided by the test, graphs, figures, etc. The question is the final sentence at the end which you need to answer. Before you answer any SAT math problem, drop your pencil and re-read the question.
If you’ve spent 60 seconds finding the radius of a circle, make sure that the question isn’t:
“What’s the diameter of the circle?”
If you’ve spent two minutes solving for X, make sure the question isn’t:
The SAT is amazing at getting you to solve for some hard-to-discover variable or figure, only to ask a question that requires a different number or answer. And you better believe that they’ll have the wrong answer waiting for you – the value of “r” and “X” will definitely be in the available choices.
5. Don’t pick answer choices – kill them.
Here’s the funny thing about grammar: it’s practically impossible to prove a sentence right, but it’s very simple to prove a sentence wrong.
From now on, don’t spend time figuring out which answer choice is good – spend your time finding errors in the answer choices and systematically eliminating them.
Run through all the answer choices and slash anything that’s obviously wrong. Then, take the remaining answers and compare them to each other two at a time, paying attention only to their differences. Whichever difference is wrong should be eliminated.
Continue this process until you’ve killed all four wrong answers. This method saves time, eliminates indecision, and leads to much more accurate, less confusing choices.
Now get to it!
All of these strategies will make a huge difference in your overall score – but only if you put them to use. Grab some SAT practice material and try using all the tips above right away – you’ll be happy that you did!
About the Author
Anthony-James Green is regarded as one of the best SAT and ACT tutors in America. After working with over 370 students one-on-one, he’s achieved an average score improvement of over 430 points on the SAT, and 7.1 points on the ACT – higher than any other tutor, class, or course in the country. Anthony is the creator of the highly regarded online SAT prep program, The Green SAT System, and founder of Test Prep Authority, a free, online resource center for test prep and college admissions. In addition to writing for Test Prep Authority, Anthony-James Green also writes for Petersons and EssayEdge.