Are Ivy League summer programs really worth it?

The short answer: In terms of giving you a leg up on Ivy and other highly selective college admissions, probably not.  The long answer: It depends. The reality is that summer high school programs effectively function as cash cows for universities. Dorms that would otherwise sit empty can be filled for profit, and thousands of dollars in tuition can be charged for courses taught primarily by low-cost adjuncts and graduate students. Administrators are well aware that parents will gladly shell out thousands of dollars for bragging rights that their...
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The beta version of my AP English Language and Composition book is now available

Somehow in all the excitement over getting my and Larry Krieger’s new SAT vocabulary book up on Amazon, I neglected to mention that the beta version of my AP English Comp guide was ready as well! The book is $14.95, and it can be ordered directly via CreateSpace.  A few additional things:  Because the AP Comp test is so similar to the old Critical Reading section of the SAT, the book is essentially a slimmed-down version of the original The Critical Reader (there are a number of concepts test on the old SAT that the AP Comp...
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The trickiest SAT/ACT transition questions

When transition questions are discussed in regard to SAT Writing/ACT English, they tend to be covered in two main forms.    The first way involves a transition placed after a comma in the middle of a sentence.  Version #1: The Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in 1519 brought the fragrant vanilla flower—and its companion, cacao—to Europe. Vanilla was cultivated in botanical gardens in France and England, but growers were unable to collect its glorious seeds.   Here, the transition but is placed halfway through a sentence and used to connect the two halves...
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“SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach” is now available on Amazon!

I’m happy to announce that SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach, my joint SAT vocabulary project with Larry Krieger, is now up and available on Amazon. Based on a thorough analysis of released redesigned SATs, the book is concise but comprehensive guide to key vocabulary for both the Writing and Language test and the Reading test. We’ve also included a bonus chapter covering the Essay.  To be clear: this book is almost certainly not what most people think of when they hear the term “SAT vocabulary book” — that is, long lists of words and...
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Everything you need to know to ace the APUSH essays

Larry Krieger has set up an APUSH Crash Course page on Facebook, and it’s a really impressive (not to mention free) resource.  In addition to posting full-length sample essays with paragraph-by-paragraph explanations of how to present key points, he’s made a number of videos walking students through the test as a whole, the long essay, and of course everyone’s favorite: the DBQ. He even explains what you need to include to obtain specific scores.  Larry is truly the APUSH guru. He knows the test inside and out, and I strongly suggest that...
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The AP English Comp terms you do and don’t need to know, condensed

I realized after posting yesterday that I had buried the most practical information in the middle of what became a much longer-than-intended meditation/diatribe, so I’m re-posting the key information here in condensed form. To sum up: since 2014, the AP English Language and Composition exam has not included questions directly testing knowledge of rhetorical figure. So you know those questions that ask you to identify whether a particular set of lines includes a metaphor, an oxymoron, antithesis, etc.? They’re gone. Most of the major test-prep publishers...
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AP English Composition: a rhetoric class without rhetoric

Note: This post is somewhat longer than I intended it to be (amazing how that always seems to happen). If you want to jump to the most practical information, you can scroll about halfway through to “All that said, let’s consider what this means in terms of the AP Comp exam,” a few paragraphs above the sample questions.  When it first crossed my mind that I might be able to rework the original version of The Critical Reader into a prep book for the AP English Language and Composition...
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New AP English Composition and Language book

Since the SAT changed last year, I’ve been trying to find ways to keep my old SAT materials relevant, and I’m happy to announce that the original version of The Critical Reader may yet live on. After doing some research, I’ve discovered that the multiple-choice reading portion of the AP English Language and Composition exam is almost identical to Critical Reading on the old SAT. It actually tests fewer concepts, but the concepts it does test are approached in virtually identical ways.  Although the AP test does...
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