Update: top new SAT and GRE vocabulary lists now available (online and PDF)

Over 500 must-know GRE words, arranged in groups of synonyms, both online and as a PDF.  And for a preview of the forthcoming GRE Vocabulary Workbook, click here.  For the SAT, pairs of commonly confused words tested on the Writing section, plus over 100 key vocabulary words for passage comprehension (compiled from released College Board exams). View online or as a PDF.

Preview copies of the GRE Vocabulary Workbook are now available!

My next foray into the realm of graduate test-prep is nearing completion! If you or someone you know is studying for the GRE and wants lots (and lots and lots) of vocabulary practice, beta-version copies of my GRE Vocabulary Workbook are now available.  But, you say, there are many GRE vocabulary books on the market — what’s the big deal about this one?  Well, for starters, it’s a vocabulary workbook, emphasis on the work part. The book does offer plenty of vocabulary, including a list of top words by...
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The hidden costs of “full-tuition” scholarships

The New York Times Education Life section has published a very important article about some of the hidden costs of college. It focuses on the fees that schools tack on for everything from orientation to “student excellence,” and that families paying for college may not even be aware of until they get the bill. Apparently, many of these charges used to be covered by tuition but in recent years have been increasingly shifted to the “fees” category, where they can no longer be covered by scholarship money. The part of the...
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Why students need experienced teachers

As a tutor, I observed a striking phenomenon: despite the pressure to boost students’ confidence levels, I noticed that the amount of confidence my students exhibited often had an inverse relationship to their amount of knowledge. My highest scorers were moderately confident but also very aware of their weaknesses, whereas my persistently low scorers tended to overestimate their abilities, sometimes dramatically so. (True story: the only student who ever told me he was going to answer every question right on the SAT was scoring in the high...
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The SAT and zombies

The New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman often talks about zombie ideas – ideas that are unsupported by any evidence but that continue to linger on in the mainstream, where they are kept alive by Very Serious People who should really know better, but who collectively choose to bury their heads in the sands because it suits their needs to do so. As far as the SAT is concerned, I would like to nominate two myths in particular for zombie status: 1) Arcane vocabulary...
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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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