A quick way to tell if your college essay works

A few years back, a student with whom I had done a handful of SAT tutoring sessions asked me to help him with his college essay.  He was applying to a number of very selective schools, and while he was a solid, highly motivated candidate with excellent grades and recommendations, his scores were strong but not amazing. He did have a hook, but he was by no means a shoo-in. And since he wanted to go to medical school eventually, financial aid was also a consideration. The essay could be...
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Yes, you can delete ACT scores; no, you shouldn’t just keep taking the test

After my recent post discussing why it’s not a good idea to treat real SATs or ACTs like practice runs, a tutor wrote to ask me to weigh in on the ACT’s score-deletion option and its effect on the test-prep process. In truth, I probably should have covered it in my earlier post, but since I didn’t (mea culpa!), I’m going to discuss it here.  So first, for those of you who aren’t familiar with ACT scoring policy, the ACT takes the concept of score choice to a level beyond that of...
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Starting SAT/ACT prep? Ask yourself these three key questions

1) Where am I?  This does not just mean “what is your score on your first-ever practice test?” It means considering why you’re starting where you’re starting, and what that reveals about your strengths and weaknesses — factors that will in turn affect what type of prep is best for you. If your overall score isn’t where you want it to be, where are the problem spots? Are your math and verbal score/skills comparable, or do you have a big gap between them? If the latter, a class...
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When guidance counselors give bad advice

A few years ago, I was contacted by the mother of a former student who wanted me to tutor her younger son, a rising junior, for the ACT. I’d been pulled in to work with his older brother very late, after he’d already taken the test a ridiculous number of times (five, if I recall correctly), and by the time I got to him, he was convinced that he would fail yet again and never wanted to look at another ACT again in his life. This time, his mother...
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Seven deadly types of tutoring

As I’ve written about before, a number of students I worked with came to me after finding themselves unable to make sufficient progress with other tutors. When I first met with one of these “second-round” students, the conversation usually went something like this: Me: Ok, so tell me about what you did with your other tutor. I just want to get an idea where we should start. Student: Ummm…. (S)he, like, gave me tests to do, and then we went over them. Me: Did you...
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My top ACT English strategy tip

I realize that announced in my previous post that I was planning to focus on general issues involving tutoring and test prep for a little while, but given that the first ACT of the school year is two days away and that I’ve somehow managed to overlook posting this particular tidbit, I think this is a more urgent.  Just to be clear, this is a post about strategy — if you don’t know the actual grammar, or you have difficulty understanding when to use different types of transitions, it...
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The one thing an SAT/ACT English tutor should never say

It’s back to school time… which is right about when high school juniors and their parents often start to think about prep options for the SAT or ACT. In recognition of that fact, I’m planning to devote the next few posts to issues involving tutoring and classes: what to know, what to ask, and how to decide which option is right for you. While there are many factors to consider when choosing a tutor, there are a handful of warning signs that should cause you to...
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The Complete GMAT Sentence Correction Guide is now available on Amazon!

The Complete GMAT Sentence Correction Guide offers a thorough review of every major grammar concept tested on the GMAT as well as extensive practice sets and strategies for identifying correct and incorrect answers more quickly and easily. To help students apply their skills to the test, the book also features 150 GMAT-style multiple choice questions accompanied by thorough explanations. The book can be found on Amazon here, or on The Critical Reader Books page.  For a preview, click here. (And for a really condensed preview, check out the Complete GMAT Sentence...
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