Sam Ashworth

Recent Posts

Should I Get Academic Tutoring? Consider the Opportunity Cost.

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 12/20/13 9:03 AM

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Tags: study skills, middle school, college, high school

The Writing Tutor: Should I Consider a Creative-Writing MFA?

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 11/15/13 8:01 AM

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Tags: graduate admissions, creative writing, expository writing

Should I Take the Chinese SAT II Subject Test?

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 11/1/13 9:57 AM

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Tags: chinese, language learning

Standardized Test Prep: How to Keep Test Day Stress at Bay

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 10/7/13 8:51 AM

Just like home, only the exact opposite in every way.

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Tags: test anxiety

College Admissions Guidance: What Does "Leadership" Actually Mean?

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 9/9/13 8:41 AM

Now is the time that seniors in high school should start moving into leadership positions in clubs...but what does "leadership" mean? Today Sam, one of our expert online college application consultants, explains.
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Tags: college admissions, high school

Academic Tutor: The Perks of Being an English Major (and a Drawback)

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 8/30/13 8:39 AM

Here at Cambridge Coaching (a company entirely run by former English or Comp Lit majors), we take a very dim view of the “good luck landing a job with that degree” brigade. You know who I mean: people who cannot so much as carry on a conversation with an English, History, Philosophy, or Psychology major, etc., without saying something like, “so what's it like living in a cardboard box under a bridge?” Today, I'd like to offer a retort to that (and one very significant caveat, something I wish someone had told me five or six years ago).
calvin in academia resized 600

English, Anthro, Psych, History, Philosophy, Art History, etc. I had a mathematician friend who used to group these disciplines as the “feelings majors.” It's a term my Philosophy-major-turned-International-Economist-for-the-US-Treasury fiancee and I still use, but it's, you know, our term. Of all the Feelings majors, one of the most popular, if not the most popular, is the B.A. in English, like the one held by yours truly. For that reason, it's become a shorthand for “unprofitable major.” And I won't lie to you—it's not all that easy to parlay a degree in English into a $65,000-per-year job with full benefits right out of school (unless you want to go into consulting, which is a proud recruiter of feelings majors because—believe it or not—communications skills actually count for something. But for consulting you have to be at least marginally functional in math, and have a high pain tolerance). But here's the thing:

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Tags: English, expository writing, literature SAT subject test

College Admissions Guide: The Art of Making the Reader Happy

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 8/4/13 1:18 PM

Consider the college application reader.  She might be an admissions officer, but she might also be a well-meaning, well-trained volunteer who teaches for the college.  On November 2, she is delivered a towering, wobbly stack of colored folders containing the collected dreams of hundreds of applicants.  Over the next month or two she will spend exactly 8 minutes with each one.

During the college application process, students are bombarded with information (of variable reliability) about "what the colleges want to see." 

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Tags: college admissions

The "Why DO You Want to Apply to Our College?" Admissions Essay

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 7/29/13 7:30 AM

One of the great (and few) advantages that applicants today have over their predecessors is the near-universal acceptance of the Common Application. Instead of having to grimly grind out a dozen colelge essays on a multitude of head-numbing topics, applicants can now take the time to polish their main essay to a high shine. The unacknowledged side effect of this shift, however, is the increasing importance of the never-pleasant “Why Do You Want to Go to Our College?” question.

You can trust him. He's pre-med.

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Tags: college admissions, expository writing

Cracking the SAT Essay: Breaking Down the Prompt

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 7/18/13 7:27 AM

On Test Day, the SAT essay prompt is the very first thing you see when you open up your test booklet—and a dismal sight it is. 25 minutes to answer a deliberately and often irritatingly simplistic question (“is good moral character essential for sound leadership?” What are you going to say? “Nah?”). But the secret of the SAT essay is that with a bit of preparation, and the right mindset, cranking out a high-scoring essay can become as easy and mechanical as opening a can of tomatoes.

Cambridge Coaching would like to apologize for the awfulness of this pun.

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Tags: SAT, expository writing

What's Better, a Writing Tutor or a Writing Textbook?

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 7/1/13 7:43 AM

Back when I was in high school, I was lucky enough to have an English teacher so dedicated to making sure his students would not go forth into the wild and merciless world without good grammar that, along with a colleague, he wrote an entire textbook and filled it with the most entertaining, memorable sentences he could devise. Why go to all this trouble? Because all of the other textbooks out there were dismal.

Any writing tutor will tell you that the most effective way to improve your writing is to improve your reading.  This is indisputably true.  But for some people, especially those who were never taught the rules of grammar or composition, reading is not enough, and they crave a simple, clear, instructive textbook.  For most other subjects, the competition among textbooks is ferocious (those things make money); as a result (thanks, capitalism!) there are terrific books for everything from history to animal behavior. Yet while there's a reasonably broad selection of writing guides out there, they tend to range from dull to unbearably dull. As far as I can tell, there are three reasons for this.

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Tags: English, expository writing