Posted: Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 | Filed under: College Admissions, college prep, law school prep, Law schools | author: By Teddy Bergman
Posted: Saturday, April 14th, 2012 | Filed under: ACT | author: By catestutoring
What law school should I attend? Is there a difference?
For many people, the landscape of career opportunities after graduating from college is confusing, large, and overwhelming. Many find that they need more training and specialization even if they don’t quite know the field of work they ultimately see themselves working in. A law degree is an amazingly powerful, flexible, and rigorous choice of study that often rewards someone greatly over his or her life.
Choosing what law schools to attend is a difficult choice, and ultimately comes down to a numbers of factors. Although it may seem like each law school is alike in the course of study, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just like colleges, law schools have specialties and areas of focus. For instance, the Yale School of Law is renowned for its legal scholarship and many graduates go onto to clerk for judges and teach law themselves. New York University’s law school is known for its international approach and many graduates find themselves working overseas or on transnational legal issues.
Similarly to colleges, reputation is a big part of what makes a law school appealing. According the most recent rankings in US News, the top ten rated law schools in order are: Yale University, Stanford University, Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, New York University, UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, and University of Michigan. While these are all amazing and desirable law schools they are certainly not the only ones out there. Specifically in New York City, in addition to Columbia and NYU, Fordham, Brooklyn Law, and Cardozo all offer top- flight legal educations.
When it comes down to choosing a law school research hard, find the focus of the schools you are interested in, and then study hard for your LSATS. Reach as high as you can, but always remember that a wonderful legal education waits for you no matter what.
Posted: Saturday, April 14th, 2012 | Filed under: SAT, SAT exam, SAT prep, SAT strategy | author: By catestutoring
As the end of the school begins to approach, a lot of things start to pile up—SATs, SAT II Subject Tests, finals, papers, sports, AP tests…the list goes on. It’s a lot to juggle, as you sprint towards the finish line in June, especially when the weather gets nice, and studying inside is the last thing on your mind. We’re here to help you organize your time and get ahead of the game, and today we’re going to focus on one of the things that looms largest at the end of junior and senior year: AP tests.
Tips and Tricks
One trick to managing your schedule is figuring out where you can group tasks together, and this is especially relevant when it comes to the APs. If you’re taking an AP class, that usually means that you really know your stuff in that subject. If you really know your stuff in that subject, you have probably already considered taking the SAT II test in that subject. You’ll probably take your SAT IIs and your APs in May. So, you can take advantage of the overlap between those two tests, study for both at once (making sure you cover the areas of both tests that don’t overlap, too), and kill two birds with one stone.
Approaching the AP Test
Now, let’s get down to the brass tacks of studying for AP tests. Take a look at your syllabus. Will your class finish covering all the content before the actual test in early May? If not, you should make arrangements on your own to study all the content that your class won’t cover in time. Here’s how:
Go to the nearest bookstore, and pick up a prep book, like McGraw Hill’s 5 Steps to a 5, which is a good place to start for almost every AP test. Take a look at the table of contents. Decide what’s more important for you, at this point—to review material from earlier in the year, or learn the content that you won’t get to in class? When you decide which of those is the higher priority, plan to study those chapters first, and then move on to the other chapters.
- Factors that play into this decision probably include how well you’ve done in the class so far, how confident you feel about the content you’ve already learned, and how much content won’t be covered in class by the time of the test.
- For the material you haven’t learned yet, or for content that you feel pretty shaky on, read all of the relevant chapters in the prep book, and then use your class textbook for reinforcement (for content that you feel the prep book goes over to quickly, go to your textbook, which will go into more detail).
- For the material that you already know, and feel pretty good about, go right to the questions in the back of each chapter, and do them. If you don’t do as well as you had expected, or if you came across material that you hadn’t seen before, go back and read the relevant chapter in the prep book, and go to your textbook when you need more detailed information.
Aim to have your AP content review completed no less than two weeks (ideally three weeks or even a month) before the actual exam, so that you have time to practice and work on the next two steps.
Start to figure out how you’re going to approach the multiple choice and the essays/short answer responses. How many points do you need for a 5? How many of those points will you be able to earn in the multiple choice section? How about in the essay/short response section? In figuring this out, here are some things to consider:
In the multiple choice section, you need to familiarize yourself with the way that college board tests present answer choices. In the SAT writing sections, for example, you want to avoid (or at least be very cautious around) answer choices that involve –ing words, like “being.” What are the traps in the test you’re taking? Knowing the tendencies of the test and knowing which answer choices to avoid is key.
As far as the essays and short answers are concerned, well…you need to know how to write the essays! The people who score your AP essays have been given very particular things to look for, and it’s your job to learn what those things are. Check out your prep book—maybe there’s a scoring rubric in there. Ask your tutor. You don’t need to know everything about the topic to earn enough points for a 5, and you certainly don’t need to be Shakespeare.
Work on your test-taking skills.
Take mock tests. While The College Board doesn’t release the multiple choice questions, they do release the essay/short responses questions from all tests in the last 10 years (so, 20 different question sets in all), along with the answers. By combining the real AP essay questions with multiple choice questions from, for example, real college board subject tests, you can put together a decent mock test experience.
It’s really important, so we’re going to say it one more time: take mock tests! The importance of this can’t really be overstated—taking an AP test is a long and arduous experience, and when you walk into that room, you want to be confident and prepared.
Posted: Saturday, April 14th, 2012 | Filed under: College acceptance, College Admissions | author: By catestutoring
For most high school juniors, March is the first time they’ll wrangle with the SAT. When those scores come back at the end of the month, they aren’t always as high as students (and parents, and guidance counselors) might have wanted them to be. Don’t let it get you down. Instead of feeling like you started off the standardized testing process on the wrong foot, let us show you how to use that first SAT experience as a springboard to testing success.
If your scores weren’t as good as you’d hoped they would be, the most important thing to keep in mind is this: you will take the test again. Short of a perfect score, most people choose to take the test twice, or even three times. March was your first race, your first time out of the gate, so see it for what it is: the beginning of a process, rather than the end result.
The March SAT really is the starting line for many people, and as such, the information you get from your testing experience, your scores, and your score reports is truly invaluable. This info will give you insight into your strengths and weaknesses, and will help you build a test prep program that fits your needs.
Your Test Day Experience
When you walk out of the room after taking an SAT, there are some things you know right away. Maybe you ran out of time on the math sections, and learned that you need to work on timing; maybe your handwriting on the essay was so big that you ran out of space, and learned that you need to write smaller next time; maybe you were distracted during the last two sections by the rumbling of your stomach, and learned that you should have listened to your mom and ate a good breakfast.
Your Score Reports
Some crucial information, however, is less obvious, and it’s helpful to know where to look and what to look for. The College Board offers two great sources of information on the March SAT: the SAT Online Score Report, and the Student Answer Service.
The SAT Online Score Report
This report is free, and is available on the College Board website approximately a week and a half after the scores come out online. This report gives you vital information that will help you identify your immediate needs and adjust your test prep program accordingly.
- It shows you how well you did in each section in regards to content and degree of difficulty.
- It gives you insight into what kind of content you need to focus on, such as vocabulary vs. reading passages, geometry vs. algebra, sentence completions vs. identifying sentence errors, etc.
- It allows you to read your essay online, so you (and your tutor) can decide where you fell down, and where you succeeded.
- It shows you how the scoring curves worked out on this particular test, and gives you an idea of where you fall in relation to other students who took the same test in your school, your state, and in the entire country.
The Student Answer Service (SAS)
- This report is not free—it costs $13.50—and you’ll have to wait six to eight weeks after scores are released before you receive it, but it offers more specific information than the Online Score Report does.
- The SAS report gives you your answer to each question on the test along with the difficulty of each question. You don’t get the questions, only the answers, but you can see exactly where you made mistakes, and get a sense of where your head was during the test.
- For example, the Online Score Report may have told you that you missed two easy math questions, but the SAS Report will show you that you actually missed the first question of both the first and the third math sections. If you see that, you have to wonder what that’s about—were you nervous at the beginning, but found your stride? Were you rushing through the first question without checking your work, because you assumed it would be the easiest? It’s worth figuring this stuff out.
Interpreting these score reports is incredibly important. Through them, you can gain clarity about where you are in the SAT process, and where you still need to go. Based on the information they provide, you may decide to take the test again in May, if you only have a few things to tweak, or you may decide to take it in June, if you have a fair amount of content to learn across all three sections of the test.
Regardless of your decision, The March SAT is your foundation; it will shape the way you approach the test over the next year. The score reports are your tools for building a test prep program that will allow you to reach your goals, and hit your target scores.
Posted: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 | Filed under: SAT, SAT exam, SAT grading, SAT scoring | author: By Teddy Bergman
You worked on your standardized test scores, got your grades up, got awesome recommendations, and sent in your applications. You bit your fingernails, paced back and forth, and waited until the day when the envelope came in the mail from the college of your dreams. You opened it eagerly, and read the letter inside, which let you know that you had been…put on the waitlist.
Being waitlisted is always disappointing, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t the same as being rejected, even if it might feel like it at first. All colleges end up going to their waitlists, and whether they let in eight people off of that list or eighty, you have a shot, and it’s up to you to do everything you can to tip the odds in your favor.
The LAST thing you should do is throw up your hands and think, “well, I did all I can, and now I should just forget about it.” We’re here to tell you that there ARE active steps you can take to make your case for acceptance to the school of your choice. Here’s what you can (and definitely should) do:
Write an Appeal Letter
- Do this as soon as you receive the letter notifying you that you have been waitlisted. In the letter, you need to do a few things:
- Tell them how disappointed you were that you were waitlisted, but let them know that their school remains your top choice, and that you accept their invitation to be added to the waitlist.
- Make absolutely sure to mention any new developments in your application profile that have taken place since you submitted your application materials. This might be new (and better) grades, academic or extracurricular awards, test scores, projects inside or outside of school, accomplishments—anything that you’re proud of, really. You want to let them know that you’re still committed to your passion and vision, and are working hard to achieve your goals; that you’re the kind of person they should want on their campus.
Work on Your Relationships
- Are there people in your corner who could put in a good word for you at the college? If so, this is the time to ask them (very nicely) for a favor.
- Ask you college counselor at school to call the admissions directors to advocate on your behalf.
- Reach out to family and family friends who have high-level relationships at the university, and see if there’s a way for them to reinforce your excitement and commitment to the school.
- As we said before, every school goes to its waitlist. A recent student of ours was waitlisted at his dream school, Princeton, and was planning on going to Northwestern instead. He put down his deposit at Northwestern, but he played the process out properly at Princeton—sending them a letter, getting people to advocate on his behalf—and one day he got the call from Princeton that he was waiting for. To say he was ecstatic would be…an understatement.
It can happen. There’s no telling how many students might be admitted off the waitlist, but it does happen, and if you play your cards right, it could happen to you.
What is Score Choice? What is Super Scoring? What’s the difference?
When you are taking the SAT exam many hours go into studying and preparing for the exam. You take mocktests, work on practice problems, and formulate your perfect strategy to beat the test. Then you take the SAT test and, for many people, the work ends here. Don’t be one of these people. You still have a couple strategies you can consider.
One of them is Score Choice. The College Board, the company that creates and administers the SAT, allows you to implement Score Choice if you so choose. Essentially, Score choice allows you to elect which SAT score you can submit to colleges. If you take the SAT multiple times, Score Choice enables you to select your best score and submit that score, and that score alone, to colleges. There are some schools that require you to submit all your test results and your college counselor will know which ones, but Score Choice allows you, whenever possible, to put your best foot forward.
Another tool at your disposal to help you along with your SAT process is Super Scoring. Super scoring allows you to select the best sub scores from different tests and amalgamate them into a single Super Score. That is, if your best score in math occurred the first time you took the SAT Exam and you received at 700, your best writing score occurred the second time you took the SAT Exam and you received a 650, and your best reading score occurred the third time you took the SAT exam and you received at 730, you could combine these three scores to get a combined result of 2080 through the magic of super scoring. Not every admissions office accepts super scoring, so you should check with your College Counselor, but, like Score Choice, Super Scoring is a valuable resource to be aware of.