Zoe Balaconis

Recent Posts

Taking Essays To The Next Level: How To Write In Your Own Voice

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 8/24/18 4:59 PM

It’s not unusual to get an essay back from a teacher with the feedback, “write in your own voice,” scrawled across the top. But it’s easier said than done. Here you are, writing your own thoughts and your own opinions, all according to the directions of the assignment; how can it not be in your own voice? What your teacher is actually telling you is that your writing sounds too formulaic, too stilted, or too bland. Sure, you’ve learned how to write using proper grammar and you’ve learned how to formulate and format your thoughts into an essay, but now you need to take it to the next level. Don’t stick to the formula; write in your own voice. Here are a few tips for getting started.

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Tags: English, expository writing

7 Essential Tips for ANY Standardized Test

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 8/15/18 6:56 PM

Whether you’re applying to college, graduate school, law school, medical school, or even some jobs, standardized tests are often part of the process. They can be intimidating, long, arduous, and confusing, but with some practice, you’ll learn how to overcome any test-taking anxiety and stay focused. Here are a few tips and tricks for going into a test calm and prepared.

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Tags: study skills, LSAT, test anxiety, ACT, GMAT, SAT, MCAT, PSAT

How To Make The Most Of Your Tutoring Sessions

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 2/8/16 9:00 AM


So, you’ve just decided to get a tutor. Now what? It is so rare to get personalized, one-on-one attention during your educational career, so when it comes around, you should take full advantage of the opportunity. Whether you’re looking to improve your MCAT score, get help on an academic essay, perfect your college applications, improve your language skills, or just be more organized, these general tips will help you make the most of your tutoring sessions. Try not to wait to put them into effect! Start off on the right foot, and it will pay off.

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Tags: study skills

How To Tackle Common App Essays

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 1/1/16 10:00 AM

 Stephen King at his desk, writing away! 

While the Common App has streamlined the college application process significantly, the fact that the essays go to the majority of schools you are applying to gives them that much more importance. You don’t get another chance to refine an essay or make it better for another school, so your essays need to be strong from the start. They need to set you apart and prove to any admissions team, not just a particular one, that you would be an asset to their school. In this post I’m going to walk you through two 2015-2016 Common App essay prompts because despite wanting to be unique, there are some tips and tricks that will work across the board, no matter what message you are trying to convey in your essays.

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Tags: college admissions

Tackling the “Why Do You Want to Apply to This College” Admissions Essay

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 12/19/15 10:00 AM

The Common App has taken a huge amount of work off of your shoulders. Gone are the days of separate, specific essay questions and endlessly different applications. But, that also means that any opportunity to get more in-depth, specialized knowledge about your interests is going to be very valuable for admissions teams. It makes the “Why Do You Want To Apply To This College” essay very important.

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Tags: college admissions

Your Guide to the New SAT

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 12/4/15 9:00 AM

The new 2016 SAT is promising to be very different from the SAT we’ve come to know, but don’t worry. Since this exam is testing you more on your critical thinking skills rather than specific information, if you’ve been practicing your reading comprehension and mathematical skills steadily throughout the academic year, you’re well on your way to being very prepared. Here are a few things to know about the new SAT before delving into it:

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Tags: SAT

How to Score Perfectly on the SAT Essay

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 10/28/15 9:00 AM

Avoid doing these things on test day by learning and practicing these six steps! 

Many cite the essay section of the SAT as their least popular part, their hardest part, their most confusing part. Students have trouble with it because unlike the rest of the test, it’s open-ended. It seems vague and provides very little in the way of helpful directions. It can be hard to succeed if you don’t understand the expectations, but if you follow these six steps when you get your prompt, you can stay calm and, with practice, perfect your SAT Essay score. For this post I’ll be giving you those steps, then showing you how to use them on a specific prompt.

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Tags: SAT

3 Tips For Cracking the SAT Essay Section

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 7/3/15 9:30 AM

Let's get started! [image source

The essay section of the SAT can be a tough nut to crack. Where other sections’ scoring is relatively straightforward and predictable, the essay section can seem nebulous. What are they looking for? If you don’t know, how can you prepare? How can you improve? In this blog post, I outlined a few of the key points scorers look for, and if you work towards incorporating them into your writing, you’ll get closer to that elusive score of 6!

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Tags: SAT