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Countdown to the SAT

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News From Our Blog:

Higher Grades or Harder Courses: Which is Better for College?

Whether they hope to go to a prestigious private college or a highly selective public university, students are often GPA-obsessed. Many realize, of course, that grades and test scores only account for a part of what admissions committees consider, but that doesn’t stop them from wondering which is better: A’s in easy classes or B’s in AP, IB, dual credit, or honors courses. Which is better: A’s in easy classes or B’s in challenging classes? The answer? Honest efforts made in challenging courses trump good grades in blow-off classes every time. The admissions committee is not foolish. Hoping to enter into a selective business program or a top-tier engineering program? Those programs (all programs in college, in fact) will challenge you far beyond the limits of an easy course in high school. If you’re not taking challenging coursework in high school, why should the admissions committee expect you to swim against the current of the raging river that is college-level coursework? “But I’m afraid I’ll get a B in AP Chemistry!” you may protest. “Or worse: a C.” As long as you’re doing your best, you needn’t worry. College admissions officers will take note that you chose to challenge yourself, and they’ll respect a valiant effort. Teachers in their recommendation letters will note how diligent and persistent a worker you are. And in your personal essay, you can be certain to telegraph these qualities. When it comes to gaining admission to even the most selective colleges, perfect grades are no guarantee. Many an anecdote has been told about a valedictorian being rejected by Harvard only to see someone ranked... read more

Revising the College Application Essay

Because the college application essay is your main opportunity to show prospective colleges who you are–beyond just grades and scores–it’s important to perfect it. This likely means writing more than one draft, as well as revising each draft thoughtfully. In this article, I’ll share some tips for college application essay revision. After you’ve written the first draft Reread your first draft after giving yourself some time to distance yourself from it. Does it feel like you’ve chosen the right topic? If not, go back to the drawing board. Remember: colleges are trying to find the answers to two questions: 1) Who are you? and 2) Can you write? Does your first draft offer a glimpse of who you are as a person? Is it about you, or about something or somebody else? When you read it, does it sound like you, or does it sound like somebody else? Consider why this essay topic matters to you. Remind yourself of what you learned over the course of the events of the essay. Have the events you’ve written about changed you, and if so, how? Are those changes shown in the essay? What were you feeling in each moment? Are those feelings telegraphed to a reader with no prior knowledge of the events described in your essay? Rewrite this draft. Examine your essay’s structure Does the essay have a beginning, middle, and end? Should the beginning be the beginning? Should the end be the end? Does the beginning hook the reader? Remember, the people reading your essay will be reading hundreds–if not thousands–of essays. You want yours to stand out immediately.... read more

How to Hack Test Day: 9 Tips to Help You Actually Enjoy Taking Tests!

People sure do seem to hate tests! Whether it’s the SAT, the ACT, or just a regular ol’ exam, tests are a constant source of terror to students of all races, genders, and levels of preparedness. But this need not be the case! Contrary to nearly-ubiquitous belief, a test—even a really hard one—can be a fun, exhilarating, and even memorable experience for a student with the right mindset and preparation! Over the years, I’ve come to look forward to tests, and I’ve accumulated a certain set of patterns that make the process enjoyable, patterns that I’ve organized here into those which much take place before, during, and after the test itself.   Before Prepare Adequately This ought to go without saying! This article is written under the assumption that you have spent time studying the material and otherwise preparing for the test in various ways. If you want advice on that, there are tons of other articles on this very site! For example, here is an article about 5 deadly mistakes you must avoid while studying, while over here are some great ideas for snacks! But now you’ve done all that, and it’s time for the big day itself:   Have a Morning Routine: Sleep, Eat, Jam Out, Get Hype! My sophomore year of college, I had two very difficult 8am classes with equally difficult exams. In order to help myself succeed, I developed a highly-specific pre-test routine. First, I made sure to get a full night’s sleep the night before, even if I thought I needed a bit more studying! Second, I woke up with plenty of time before the test.... read more

How to Make a Long-List of Colleges

For many students, choosing which colleges to apply to can be a daunting task—but it doesn’t have to be! In this article, I’ll share my recommendations on generating a long-list of schools, which can then be whittled down into a short-list. What is a long-list of colleges? A long-list is a list of 15 to 20 colleges and universities that spark your interest. You can compile the long-list intuitively and go with your gut when you put it together—afterward, you’ll flesh out your list with details on each college’s selectivity, cost, student body profile, location, academic and extracurricular programs, and so on. After you’ve done your research (and perhaps visited some schools), you’ll be able to pare the list down into a short-list of 8 to 10 schools to which you’ll actually apply. The goal of a long-list is to get you thinking broadly about the kinds of colleges and universities you’d like to attend, with the ultimate goal being the creation of a short-list that includes schools you can imagine yourself happily attending. How to begin generating a long-list of colleges Chances are you’ve heard of a few colleges already—whether from friends or relatives who’ve attended certain schools or from sports, TV, or movies. Do any of the colleges you know about strike you as a good fit? Ask your friends and family about their experiences and add the colleges you’re already considering to your list! Guidebooks can help you The Fiske Guide to Colleges is great, as is the Princeton Review’s best colleges book. In addition, Loren Pope’s Looking Beyond the Ivy League and Colleges That Change... read more

What We Do

Our job is to increase scores on the SAT, plain and simple. We love to work with motivated students and see their scores shoot up to new heights.

We use a variety of effective test prep methods and we keep students on their toes, which also keeps boredom at bay!

In one tutoring session, we might review twenty SAT vocabulary words, isolate and practice three common types of SAT math problems that your student finds difficult, discuss and improve a practice essay, and study SAT Critical Reading strategies.

Our instructional methods emphasize strategy, practice, pacing, confidence, humor, and a personal and personable relationship with each of our students.

Also, because we hate being bored (with a passion!), we do everything in our power to keep this often-dry SAT prep material from becoming boring to our students.

“Wow, that last hour just flew by!” is one of our favorite compliments to get from students!

Most importantly, we’ll get results. If you’re feeling on the fence, please contact us for free advice on the SAT.


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With fun and friendly tutoring lessons, SAT prep classes, a centrally-located office, and more, we think it’s safe to say…

“If your student is getting ready to take the SAT in Austin, you have come to the right place!”

Lesson times fill quickly during testing season (which is pretty much year-round these days)!

Contact us today to get started!

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Together, we’ll beat the SAT and ACT to help your student get into the college of their dreams!

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The SAT Word of the Day is “WATERSHED”: an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 marked a tragic and unforgettable watershed moment in American history. ... See MoreSee Less

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