Preview copies of my and Larry Krieger’s SAT vocab book will soon be available

Update: As it turns out, Larry and I are making much faster progress than expected on our new SAT vocabulary book. In fact, we’re hoping to have a full draft completed by the end of this week. We were originally aiming to make the book available in time for the May SAT, but we’re far enough along to be able to offer a beta version for March. (I think this is the first writing project I’ve ever been involved with that finished ahead of schedule!)  If you’re signed up for...
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When is a GMAT idiom question not an idiom question?

When it comes to the GMAT, idiom questions seem to cause a disproportionate amount of anxiety. To some extent, this is understandable. English is filled with idioms: fixed phrases that, by definition, are what they are for no other reason than that the language evolved a particular way. There is no logical reason that insist on is correct while insist at is not. And for ESL students, the sheer number of these phrases can seem overwhelming.  The reality, however, is that “pure” idioms are simply not that much of...
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Coming Attractions

I realize that my 2017 blogging record hasn’t exactly been stellar so far, but I’ve been hard at work on a number of projects.  First, I’m excited to announce that I am collaborating with Larry Krieger (of the original Direct Hits and APUSH Crash Course fame) on a vocabulary book for the new SAT. But, you say, didn’t the College Board get rid of all those (not really) obscure words? Isn’t vocabulary kind of…passé? As it turns out, vocabulary is still quite relevant. Both the Reading and Writing sections still include...
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Why a vocab app isn’t enough if you want to ace GRE verbal

A couple of times in the past few months, I’ve had chance conversations with people who were either preparing for the GRE or had recently taken it.  Inevitably, the subject turned to preparation for the verbal section, and both times, the GRE-taker in question lit up when they mentioned using an app to study vocabulary. As one of them enthused, “it’s like a game! You get to compete against other users and everything.”  I admit that my familiarity with GRE vocab apps is limited, but when I had...
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How to write those pesky “why this college” essays

Ah, Christmas break… A whole week to sleep late, hang out with your friends, and stuff yourself with leftovers. Unless, of course, you’re a senior trying desperately to finish your college applications. Even if your main essay is done, you might still have a bunch of supplements waiting to be done. And if that’s the case, then chances are some of those supplements include the perennial “why this college?” question. In some cases, you may not be able to answer entirely truthfully (I needed another...
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The new administration, Common Core, and the new SAT

Reuters’ Renée Dudley has come out with yet another exposé about the continuing mess at the College Board. (Hint: Coleman’s “beautiful vision” isn’t turning out to be all that attractive.) This time around: what will happen to the new supposedly Common Core-aligned SAT if Common Core disappears under the incoming, purportedly anti-Core presidential administration?  As Dudley writes: The Core’s English Language Arts standards call on students to grapple with important readings, including hallowed U.S. documents such as the Declaration of Independence and works of American literature....
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Why you shouldn’t always trust college essay books (just say no to community service trip essays)

If you’re a senior still in the throes of writing your college essay, or if you’re a younger student/parent of a younger student trying to get a jumpstart on the college admissions process, you may be in possession of book entitled something like 100 College Essays that Worked, or 50 Successful Harvard Essays. In general, I have no particular bone to pick with such compilations. I think they often provide a helpful glimpse at a variety of topics, styles, and structures that successful applicants have used...
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