A Four-Step Guide to Writing a Great College Admissions Essay: Part II

Contributed by: Jake Rosen

Welcome back. In last month’s newsletter, I laid out the first and second steps in this four-step guide to writing a great college admissions essay. Before reading on, I’d go back and read (or re-read) Part I, which includes Step One: Don’t Panic and Step Two: Guided Brainstorm.

Ready for more? Let’s get to it.

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Posted in College Admissions, Writing Skills

Saving for College in 2018: An Update on Tax Treatment of 529 Plans

a-plus-test-prep-tutoring-529-plans-2018.jpgWhat is a 529 plan, and how can it help you and your college-bound student?

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Posted in Paying for College, Cost of College, Financial Aid

Cracking the Word Problem, Part 3: Keywords in Action


One of the best-kept secrets to mastering math word problems can be summed up in three words: do the opposite.

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Posted in Test Prep- Math

The Four-Step Guide to Writing a Great College Admissions Essay: Part I

Contributed by: Jake Rosen

No element of the college application process, aside from taking the SAT or ACT, causes students more stress than the college admissions essay/personal statement. Whole books have been written with the goal of explaining what makes for a good admissions essay, and yet, every year, countless high school students find themselves staring at a blank computer screen, wondering how and where to begin. In their Common App admissions essay, they are asked to explain who they are and, ultimately, to provide a reason why they should be selected over thousands of other applicants (without coming off as boastful or repeating the accomplishments delineated in their application) and at the same time, to demonstrate good writing skills, with a hard limit of 650 words. No wonder students are stressed out!

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Posted in College Admissions

Cracking the Word Problem, Part 2: Real-World Logic

57466134_6114dac660_z.jpgMath can be an esoteric discipline. It is used by physicists and astronomers (and mathematicians, of course) to describe conditions and realities foreign to our everyday experiences.

Word problems, on the other hand, do the exact opposite.

The popularity of word problems among test-makers, if not test-takers, is in part because these problems test reality-based reasoning skills. A good word problem demonstrates the answer to that classic question, “Of what use is math in real life?”

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Financial Aid Impact of Early Decision and Early Action

Originally posted by: Blaine Blontz, Founder & Lead Consultant, Financial Aid Coach 

Early Decision and Early Action are two admissions tools more widely used to help boost chances of getting into first-choice colleges or ‘dream’ schools. While they clearly impact a student’s chance at admission, they also carry financial aid implications. 

Families should be aware of all implications as they decide whether or not to pursue Early Decision and Early Action.

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Cracking the Word Problem, Part 1: The Elusive Keyword

Ask any student what type of math problem he or she finds most challenging and the answer is invariably the same: a groan, followed by “Word problems!” (You may have had this reaction yourself!)

Rarely, if ever, does a student leap to his or her feet declaring that life would be bleak without these mini-mysteries.

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Posted in Test Prep- Math

Should I Write the Optional SAT or ACT Essay?—Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we discussed the value of opting to write the optional SAT or ACT essay. Part 2 delves into the essay itself. Once you make the decision to write, how can you do your best?

The good news is that anything your English teachers have taught you along the way is likely to work here. So let’s take a lightning tour of what features go into a well-written essay.

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Posted in Test Prep

Should I Write the Optional SAT or ACT Essay?

(Part 1 of this two-part series addresses whether it benefits a student to complete the essay portion of his or her standardized test.)

To write or not to write? That is the question that plagues college applicants in between band practices, soccer games, algebra quizzes, and proctored practice SAT tests. Should I elect to write the optional SAT or ACT essay? Should I spend even more time taking an already tiring test? Is it worth it?

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Posted in Test Prep

Effective Executive Function Skills—Organization Tips for Busy Students (and Parents!)

Several times during the run of the hit TV series Sherlock, the title character (Sherlock Holmes) uses a memory technique called a “mind palace” to call up information stored in his brain. TV plots being what they are, the attempt nearly always yields spectacular results.

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Posted in Executive Function

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