SAT Reading: Which comes first? The passage or the question?

Posted by Alex S on 6/7/19 5:48 PM

It depends. I’m sorry, but it does.

There are essentially two opposing strategies for passage-based questions: read the passage first or read the questions first and consult the passage as the questions demand.

Probably the most widely advocated strategy is to split the difference, and to read the passage first, favoring speed over retention of details. Princeton Review, for instance, encourages you to “read what you need” without “getting mired down in all the little details.”

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Tags: SAT

The ACT Reading Test: Understanding (and moving up) its Bell Curve

Posted by Lev on 6/5/19 5:32 PM

In the seven years I have been instructing the ACT and SAT, I have heard many parents express the opinion that standardized tests are not a reflection of an individual student’s intellectual or academic abilities, but are rather a reflection of his or her test-taking prowess. I think there is some validity to this perspective, especially within the context of the test-prep process. After all, that’s the whole point of standardized test preparation – boosting one’s score via test-specific tips and tricks, right?

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Tags: ACT

The Biggest Mistake Students Make on Law School Statements

Posted by Emma on 6/3/19 10:01 AM

By far the most common error I see on law school personal statements? Forgetting to tell the reader why you want to go to law school—emphasis on law! Often, students write personal statements as though they’re still applying to college. They tell a flattering anecdote about themselves but they could just as easily be applying to an MFA or business school. Many fail to tie their story back to law at all. If they do mention law, they do so in a superficial, throwaway sentence in their conclusion. This is a huge mistake! Without explaining to the reader what a legal education will specifically enable you to do, students miss the purpose of the statement. There are a million possible paths for a bright young thing like you! If the only reason you’re applying is you don’t know what else to do with your humanities degree, save yourself lots of debt and long nights squinting over a casebook. Law school is not the answer.

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Tags: law school admissions

Cracking the Medical School Application Process: Recommendation Letters

Posted by Grace N. on 5/31/19 3:16 PM

To those of you applying to medical school: props, and I’m cheering you on! It is a long journey, but you will find your path. A “customized” proverb that I have come to live by is: “Where there is heart, there is a way.” Stay true to your heart in the process—the heart that originally drew you to medicine—and it will guide you forward.

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What to Wear on Test Day (Seriously)

Posted by Alex S on 5/29/19 5:26 PM

[caption: Actually not a bad idea]

Advice for test day is easily doled out, and often hard to actually follow.

Don’t cram the night before. Sleep as much as you possibly can. Eat a real, but not heavy breakfast, with only as much caffeine as you normally have. These are your goals, at least.

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Tags: study skills, college, college admssions

Tutor Spotlight: Meet Preston, Our Amazing LSAT Tutor!

Posted by Martha C. on 5/24/19 3:31 PM


This week, we're spotlighting Preston, one of our Harvard JDs.

Preston is originally from Atlanta, and he really won't shut up about it. Nevertheless, he completed the first two years of his undergraduate degree at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and the final two years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. After one year of working at a law firm in Chicago post-graduation, Preston moved to Boston where he is currently a second-year student at Harvard Law School.

Preston's tutoring specialty is the LSAT. Specifically, he is passionate about helping students break through a plateau where their scores are stagnant. He has helped students achieve scores in the upper bounds of the 99th percentile, and embraces the challenge of taking any student with the willingness to work hard to that level, too.

In his free time, Preston enjoys participating in mock trial and moot court competitions, weight training, and watching reaction videos to the MGK/Eminem rap battles.

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Tags: Tutor Spotlights

Five Dos and Don'ts of LSAT Test Day

Posted by Caitlin on 5/20/19 8:01 PM

So LSAT test day is finally here. You’ve studied hard, you’ve taken practice tests, and now you are at the mercy of the test itself. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts (several of which I made myself!) to consider for test day:

1. DO Get enough sleep!

I’m sure everyone gives you this advice when it comes to, well, just about everything. It is just as true for test day. However, most people don’t know that sleep two days before the test can be even more important than the night before. If you’re taking a Saturday test, put down the books (and the drinks) on Thursday and get to bed early. That way, even if your anxiety kicks in Friday night and you have trouble sleeping, your adrenaline will still carry you through the test.

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Tags: LSAT

A 5 Part Plan to Studying SAT Vocabulary

Posted by Chris Schlegel on 5/17/19 4:09 PM

Hello! My name is Chris S., and I’m an SAT tutor with Cambridge Coaching. I’m also a PhD student in American poetry at Harvard. Like Mac S., who’s written about vocabulary studying, I think it’s unhelpful to worry too much about the millions of novels, essays, poems, and new words that exist—those mountains upon mountains of text. Instead, I like to de-stress vocab through the reinforcement of good habits—little fixes to the big question of improving English proficiency.

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Tags: English

How to spend the summer before your high school senior year

Posted by Mallory on 5/15/19 8:36 PM

If you’re a high-school student right now, you’ve likely got two things on the brain: passing your finals and summer vacation. Hopefully, in that order. But summer vacation is no longer all fun and games. These days, there’s the expectation to fill June, July, and August with resume-building activities. Family vacations get replaced with company outings; chasing the ice-cream truck gets replaced with pursuing the Ivy League. And, if you’re lucky, your summer plans provide an experience worthy of (cue dramatic music) … the college essay. But a summer spent solely focused on college admissions? Lana Del Rey and I would consider that some serious “Summertime Sadness”.   

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Tags: college admissions, college

How do I get started studying for the SSAT?

Posted by Graham VS on 5/13/19 9:54 PM

Studying for the SSAT, like any other standardized test, has a cadence and flow to it.  One of the most common questions parents and students often ask me about the exam is “How do we get started?” The answer to this question, simple as it is, is never the same. Every student is unique – we all are! Each of us learns, retains, and applies information in different ways. While I may learn vocabulary best by reviewing stems lists, you may appreciate a deeper application of words in context.

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Tags: SSAT