The Secret Ingredient For Improving Your SAT and ACT Scores

The Secret Ingredient For Improving Your SAT and ACT Scores

Want to know your chances? Find out here. I have a secret. The SAT and ACT is not a test of natural born intelligence. It is just a test, like any other test, that anyone can ace with enough practice. And yes, that includes you. It doesn’t matter if English isn’t your first language. It doesn’t matter if you only have a few weeks before you have to take the test. It doesn’t matter if you scored hundreds of points below your target score. You can do it. How, you ask? Practice. I know that sounds too good to be true, but it is. Think about it. When you have a math test at school, what do you do? You study. You go through all the practice problems you can get your hands on. And then you do it again and again and again until it becomes second nature. The SAT and ACT are long tests, but the same principles apply. Like a math test in school, they are testing for specific types of knowledge and thinking, and they rely on the same types of questions and techniques over and over and over again. What You Need to Do If you want to ace one of these tests, the secret is to know them inside and out. And the best way to do that is to take as many practice tests as you can. There are hundreds of them out there. Sit down at home with a timer and take the entire thing, just like you would on the day of the real test. Give yourself the same amount...
High School Juniors: Don’t Take the Old SAT

High School Juniors: Don’t Take the Old SAT

The SAT is changing. Lots of high school juniors are nervous. Should I take the old SAT now and get it out of the way? How will I be able to study for a test that hasn’t yet been administered? Is this new test going to hurt my chance of admission? I’ve been getting a lot of these questions from high school juniors. And I get it. It is scary to be the transition class. But here is my advice: don’t worry about it. Take the new SAT or the ACT, but don’t feel as if you have to cram in the old SAT and get your dream score before the test switches over. Putting that pressure on yourself is unnecessary and counterproductive. I graduated from high school in 2006. I too was in the transition class when during the second half of my junior year in 2005, the College Board first introduced the test they are now getting rid of. It was a scary time then, I remember. We didn’t know what to expect. People were afraid that college wouldn’t know how to interpret the new scores or that we would all test poorly because it would be difficult to study for an unknown test. But honestly, things worked out fine, and in retrospect, the panic was overblown. Here’s what happened to my friends who tried to take the “old SAT” before the test switched over: 1.     They were very stressed out studying during the middle of junior year. 2.     They were almost all dissatisfied with their scores. 3.     They decided to take the test again when the...
316 Colleges with Non-Binding Early Action Plans

316 Colleges with Non-Binding Early Action Plans

What Major Best Fits Your Personality? Find out here. Want to know where you are going to college by December? So do a lot of students, which is why Early Decision (ED) programs are so popular. Watch out though. ED plans have their pitfalls. What if you realize you’d actually prefer to attend another school? What if you change your mind? Too bad. What if the financial aid package isn’t so great? Sorry. You’re stuck. You have very limited negotiating power when you can’t show a college any competing offers. Early Decision is limiting, and while for some students that admissions advantage makes it a worthwhile choice, in general, I’d recommend Early Action (EA) plans instead. EA plans will give you your decision just as early as ED plans but without the downsides. You are not required to attend a school you are admitted to through an EA program, and you can apply to more schools in the regular round so that you can compare aid offers. In many cases, you can even apply to multiple schools through EA so that you can have multiple offers by December. Sure, the admissions advantage of EA may be smaller than for ED, but for many schools, early applicant pools still have slightly higher admissions rates than in the regular pool. Below, you’ll find of list of colleges that offer EA programs (data thanks to College Lists). With the exception of the few schools on this list marked as “single choice,” apply to as many of these colleges as you want early and get your decision before regular applications at most colleges...
Stuck on a Wait List? Find out How to Get Off.

Stuck on a Wait List? Find out How to Get Off.

Waitlisted. It is an awful feeling being stuck in limbo all summer not knowing exactly where you’ll end up in the fall. But if you’ve been waitlisted at your dream school, the wait might be worth it. Don’t get your hopes up too high. Most schools today waitlist hundreds or thousands of students only to end up accepting a few dozen and in some cases, none at all. But every year, there are many students around the country who get into colleges off the wait list, and you could be one of them. Here’s what you need to do: 1)      Don’t just wait It is not really a “wait” list. It is an action list. Don’t sit around and wait to see if a college will take you. If you accept your spot on the wait list and sit back and relax, you aren’t going to get in. Unlike wait lists for soccer camp that usually take people off on a first come, first served basis, college wait lists are typically pretty disorganized. Colleges don’t have some preset order that tells them who to take off the wait list should space become available. The students who are the forefront of the admissions officers’ minds are the ones who get accepted. Be memorable. Staying active in the process is the best way to do that. 2)      Write a letter of interest Is attending the school where you were waitlisted your dream? Have you done tons of research about the clubs you would join and the classes you would take? If so, you’d best share this information directly with your regional...
College Admissions: There is a Light at the End of the Tunnel

College Admissions: There is a Light at the End of the Tunnel

  Want to know your chances? Find out here.   This is my favorite time of year as a college counselor. The acceptance letters are rolling in, and my inbox is flooded with messages like: WOOHOO!!! They said YES! CANNOT BELIEVE THIS! THEY SAID YES! I got in!!!!!!!! I love seeing the hard work pay off and so many dreams coming true. It is what makes the whole struggle worth it. Back in December there were many late nights, both for the students I work with and for me. There were dozens of essays to go through and strict deadlines to meet. It was a hustle, and it is every year. It’s the nature of this process. It’s a lot of stress, trying to sum up one’s life into a few pieces of paper and send it off for evaluation. It feels like the results will make or break your future. I’ve been with my students when they’ve started to scream or cry, too scared to move forward. But in 100% of cases, somehow, we’ve made it through, and there is an excited email I get at this time of year confirming that everything worked out. Every year, I tell my students not to stress out too much – it will be okay. And every year they get stressed out anyway. But stress melts away as fast as it came, and come the spring and acceptance letters, they forget. If you’re a junior right now, take these words to heart: you will get through this too. Next spring, you will be the one sending me an excited email saying...
The Shocking Truth About College Interviews

The Shocking Truth About College Interviews

Want to know your chances? Find out here.     I get it; interviews are scary. It is an hour in front of someone judging you, and I can understand being nervous. As a former Harvard interviewer, though, I’d tell you to relax. Interviews are not nearly as terrifying as they sound, and if you follow a few basic tips, you’ll do great. Interviews are conversations The best interviews don’t feel like interviews; they are conversations. You want to ask just as many questions of your interviewer are they do of you and just let the conversation flow. Remember that most interviewers are alumni volunteers, and they volunteer to do this because they loved their experience at their school and want to encourage other people to make the same choice. If you give them the opportunity to talk about their experience, they will love that (and by extension think more favorably about you). What to ask The more questions you have prepared, the easier it will be to stay in a conversation. Use your questions as a springboard to get your interviewer to tell you more about the college you are applying to and to talk about their experience and reflections. I highly recommend asking questions like: Why did you choose your school? How did you choose your major? What was most surprising to you when you got to college? What was your favorite class? Did you build close relationships with your professors? Did you make lifelong friends in college? Did you live on-campus or off-campus, and what was that like? Did you feel the student body was diverse?...