How to read legal statutes like a lawyer
Legal statutes can be a daunting task. Statutes are filled with legalese, numerical codes, and several headers that can make you feel stuck in a labyrinth of law. However, have no fear! Following these simple steps can turn that labyrinth of written statutes into a nice roadmap and summary of any legal statute. 
So you want to be an engineer...but don’t have a degree in engineering
I was getting my degree in environmental science, at a school without an engineering program, when I realized I wanted to be an engineer. Engineering first called to me in Cambodia, home to the magnificent Angkor Wat complex of temples. The Angkor people constructed a series of motes and irrigation systems at a scale that rivals that of many ...
How to crush MCAT content review
The MCAT is a monster of a test. Even talented test takers approach this exam with some degree of apprehension. Fortunately, the MCAT is all about how you prepare, and I'm here to tell you that you can absolutely hit your target score with the right preparation.
Using test day nervousness to your advantage
Aristotle argues that fortitude (or “perseverance”) is not the absence of fear or nervousness. Rather, it is the willingness and ability to complete something daunting even in the presence of tremendous fear. Fear, then, is a necessary and natural part of perseverance.
Don’t be dumb like me: use a hornbook
Imagine turning to the first page of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins for your Civil Procedure homework and seeing this first sentence: “The question for decision is whether the oft-challenged doctrine of Swift v. Tyson shall now be disapproved.” So in order to understand what’s going on in this 80-year-old case, which you thought was about someone ...
Tips for success in organic chemistry courses
Organic chemistry is historically considered a “weed-out” class for pre-medical students and often the cause of much frustration for students. After spending 3 years during college serving as a teaching assistant and tutor for organic chemistry courses at my undergraduate university, here are some tips for studying for your organic chemistry ...
How to avoid burnout and achieve work-life balance
Work-life balance is a phrase that people love to throw around, especially in medicine, but it’s often not clear what it means or how to actually achieve it. And I’ll be honest, there is no perfect work-life balance. The balance may sway toward work more often that you like and life may happen in ways that you weren’t expecting. However, after ...
How to improve at LSAT Reading Comprehension
What does it mean to be a strong reader? The Reading Comprehension section can be especially intimidating, given that we must read, analyze, and interact with four long passages. Like the other sections on the LSAT, this one requires that we process information quickly and efficiently. 
Think quickly: can you ace the world's shortest intelligence test?
Below is the world's shortest intelligence test. See how many questions you can answer!
Ask the right questions: how to know what you don't know you don't know
Have an assignment due tomorrow, and have no idea where to even start? In office hours or class and so lost that you don't even know what your question is? No matter the context of your confusion, you're not alone! 
The finals crunch: a roadmap to working smarter, not harder
It’s the end of term, and your grade comes down to just one score: the final exam. On top of that, you’ve got a whole term’s worth of material to review! Fret not — we’ve all been there. Here’s how to make the best of it!  
Reading is hard. But it doesn’t have to be.
There is no denying it. In the age of the attention economy, bright stimulating screens, and exhausting schedules it is very hard to sit down and read with focus. Whether we are talking about a novel for English class, a source for AP U.S. History, or that dense SAT Reading passage from the Federalist Papers, it is hard to truly dig in and read ...
How the humanities can inspire humanism in medicine
As a medical student with an inherent love for science and the workings of the human body, my favorite class in college was one that offered little obvious translation to my current field. “Introduction to Poetry” was an Honors class of approximately 10 students that met twice a week for an hour of intensely cerebral analysis of various poetic ...
Tips for getting a 4.0 in engineering
College is intimidating enough as is without overworking yourself in pursuit of a perfect GPA. However, if you have decided that graduating with a 4.0 is a top priority for you, here are some tips that helped me achieve a 4.0 in engineering.
What NOT to do when applying to medical school
Applying to medical school can be a grueling process. It's a very competitive process, and candidates with nearly perfect metrics can be turned down. Keep the following advice in mind to ensure that you are successful in your admissions cycle. 
How to make a logical games shorthand work for you
In this post, I will briefly introduce the importance of one fundamental skill for answering logical games with speed and accuracy: personalizing and utilizing a shorthand language for facts and rules from the stimulus. The Logical Games section of the LSAT tests our ability to understand, apply, and manipulate rules based on a set of facts. ...
What to do for college applications as a rising senior (in August)
After what was hopefully a restful and relaxing summer, you are ready to start school again this month (or next, depending on where you go to school)! You are officially a senior now. Much about your college process will come into clarity in the next few months. All of the work you have already done will be such an advantage to you in the weeks ...
If LSAT flaws were Hogwarts houses
Like the Sorting Hat, the LSAT writers probably take all year to compose their questions—the pressure is on and they have to perform a new tune to the same old professors/LSAT gurus. Like the Sorting Hat, the song/question may come in a different packaging, but the core qualities of the houses/flaw types are preserved. Let us take a look at which ...
Keys to crushing the LSAT: rehearse, revel, and relax
If you are reading this blog post, you may be at any number of places in your LSAT journey. Perhaps you have not yet started studying. Possibly you are not satisfied with your progress so far. Indeed, maybe you have already taken the LSAT and are seeking to improve your score. Regardless, this post is for you. Much like Mr. Miyagi stresses in The ...
Your college admissions reading list
Love college admissions? Want to learn more? Here are a few places to go:
Breaking down the common app personal statement
The common app personal essay can seem like a daunting task to tackle. Not only that, misconceptions abound about how to write this "all-important" essay and what to put in it. Not to worry - Cambridge Coaching is here to dispel these common misconceptions and give you some tools to start your writing on the right foot!
How to write a personal statement for doctoral/masters programs in the arts and sciences
Writing an academic personal statement for a doctoral or masters program in the arts and sciences is different than writing a college personal statement. Departments will assume that anyone interested enough to apply to graduate school (and spend, for a doctoral program, five to seven-plus years studying) is sufficiently enthusiastic about the ...
What makes a good descriptor?
Cliche is natural; originality, not so much. Pre-packaged phrases like “bring to the table,” “at the end of the day,” or “read between the lines” are overused and now lack their meaning, becoming a kind of automatic thinking, according to George Orwell. But why? Because triggering automatic thinking in a listener is helpful to a speaker if he or ...
Why and how I learned seven languages (and am learning two more!)
English and Japanese: Growing up bilingual but also investing time and effort The first two languages I learned had no reason to be learned other than geographic, structural factors — I spoke Japanese at home and English at school. Though there have been numerous studies on the inherent benefits of multilingual environments for language learning ...
The art and nuance of networking
As a species, we have been forced to adapt in many ways over the past year. Whether it be through “masking up” to venture to grocery stores, virtual happy hours with coworkers and friends, or even creating, manufacturing and distributing multiple vaccines to help turn the tide against the virus, we have shown great resilience in the face of ...
An international student’s guide to US college applications
International students (who typically require an F-1 visa to study in the United States) account for an increasing percentage of matriculated undergraduate and graduate students each year. I was an international undergraduate student myself, and I remember that the process of applying to colleges in the US seemed so intimidating and overwhelming ...
Degree or no degree, everyone should be a computer scientist
If you were to ask someone why they didn’t want to be a computer scientist, their most likely answer probably would be: “I just don’t want to spend my life coding.” While coding is certainly a component of the life of many computer scientists, there are many who do not even touch code. I would even argue that the allure of studying computer ...
The draft-drain-refine approach for personal statements (and other writing)
When I worked at Boston Consulting Group, my teams often produced 300-slide presentations within a few weeks of a client engagement. BCG had a mantra for producing detailed analysis efficiently that I find useful for all forms of writing:
Confused by logic games? It all comes down to 2 simple tasks
If you've been studying for the LSAT, you’ve probably heard a lot of big words for logic games: Process problems, hybrid setups, matching games, sequencing, distribution, selection… 
What to do over the summer as a rising senior in high school
Happy summer, rising seniors! I hope you are taking some time to enjoy yourselves. I'm here to tell you that you do not need to work on your college applications each day to have a successful college process. This is a great time to continue the slow and steady work you have already begun, but it is also important that you find time to rest and ...
Five steps to flawlessly edit your writing
There is no such thing as a perfect essay, but there certainly are imperfect ones. Botched grammar, careless typos, and ineloquent wording will be sure to raise the eyebrows of admissions committees, teachers, and professors alike. When the stakes are high, careful editing can make all the difference.
How to study for the MCAT while working full-time
Just as there is no one right path to medical school, there is no one right time to take the MCAT. And as it turns out, there’s never a perfect time to drop everything and study full-time for a six to seven-hour multiple choice examination. Studying for the MCAT is challenging even if you have all day to focus on it, let alone if you’re also ...
To succeed as a historian, question what you think you know
On an April 2021 episode of SNL, Bowen Yang appeared on Weekend Update as the iceberg hit by the Titanic. Yang’s ‘iceberg’ is ostensibly there to promote his new album, but after prodding by Weekend Update host Colin Jost, he gives in and starts talking about The Sinking.
How to organize a paragraph: the MEAL plan
Composing a clear paragraph is a foundational skill in academic writing. In high school, you may have been taught that a paragraph requires a certain number of sentences – maybe three, maybe five. But paragraphs come in different lengths, and rather than follow strict rules about word count or a requisite number of sentences, it’s important to ...
Starting a pre-medical journey: freshman year edition
You just started college. Part of you wants to follow your new friends in trying out new experiences, but then there's the "gunner" in you, thinking that you may need to start looking for things to do to help a potential "grad school" app.
Academic Success vs. Personal Wellbeing
It’s no secret that higher education has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Starting in high school (or earlier), students may begin to experience pressure to “perform”—get straight As and a perfect SAT/ACT score while juggling 37 extracurriculars to get into your dream college, make Dean’s List every semester and launch a start-up ...
Coding for kids: turning zeros and ones into something colorful
When we think of a programmer, a very black and white image often comes to mind: a 20-something year old sitting alone in a dark basement continuously staring at a black screen with white letters that to most wouldn't make any sense. Recently, a much more colorful picture has been coming to my mind: a 10 year old excitedly showing her friends the ...
How to obtain strong letters of recommendation for medical school
Like it or not, letters of recommendation (LORs) play a key role in applying to medical school. In a the increasingly competitive field of medical school applications, you want to “load the bases” and make every component of your application shine. Letters of recommendation can seem like the part over which you have the least control –after all, ...
4 essential tips for pre-meds
The journey to medicine is rewarding and exciting, but also incredibly long and challenging. For many, including myself, the path to medicine begins with college. I remember entering my undergrad with a burning desire to pursue medicine, but also a sense of uncertainty with how to make that happen. The point of this post is to share a couple of ...
How to answer "What do you do for fun" in an interview
When I prep applicants for their medical school interviews, I always giggle to myself as I ask this question because of the inevitable deer-in-the-headlight look that follows. Applicants are often woefully unprepared to talk about the things that they do just for enjoyment. And I get it: when I applied to medical school I focused so much on ...
"Why medicine?" How to answer this common MD interview question!
For many applicants, the question, “Why medicine?” is an expected, yet challenging to answer when asked in an interview setting. Fortunately, you’ve likely reflected on this question when considering whether to apply to medical school and throughout the application process, particularly when writing your personal statement. But you might not have ...
Drawing the chair conformation of a pyranose ring
Welcome back! In this blog post, we will complete the following example problem:
Achieving the MCAT body of your dreams (part II)
Welcome back! If you missed part I of this post, please check it out here. Now that you've made an MCAT study schedule, adjusted your lifestyle, and figured out the fuel your body needs, you're probably wondering...
Achieving the MCAT body of your dreams (part I)
Summer is officially upon us, and some of you may be working on your ideal summer physique. No, I’m not talking about washboard abs or a chiseled upper back (though those are great goals to have as well). If you’ve found this post on your own (or read the title), then you already know what I’m talking about: preparing your body for the MCAT! 
Approaching the question “Why MD-PhD”
The “Why MD-PhD?” question should be approached thoughtfully and well in advance in order to best explain your career aspirations and unique journey. Let’s dive into some dos and don’ts about approaching this classic interview question!
Making a first impression twice: a guide to transferring law schools
Maybe you underperformed on the LSAT. Maybe you feel you did not push yourself enough. Or maybe your resume and personal statement were not as impressive as they needed to be. For whatever reason, you did not get accepted to your dream law school. You did, however, do well enough to earn acceptance to a different law school. Rather than waiting ...
How to remember what you read
Maybe this sounds familiar: you’re sitting in class, racking your brain for the answer to a question you know you should be able to answer, but the information’s just not there. You’re frustrated. You spent hours doing the reading, yet now it’s like it evaporated from your head.
Advice for international students pursuing an MBA in the US
The application process to get into top MBA programs in the US is daunting, even more so for international students, as there is additional work required for the applicant and different acceptance conditions to navigate. 
Fetal circulation: three shunts, one rule
Hearts are pretty cool, and so are developing fetuses. Unfortunately for the student preparing for the MCAT, they’re also both pretty complicated, and fetal circulation differs from adult circulation in three main structures. In the next couple paragraphs, I’m going to break down these structures with one rule. If you’re not familiar with adult ...
Annual revenue at a Starbucks: the power of Fermi approximations
What is a Fermi approximation?  The only thing that physicists like more than dimensional analysis is a good order of magnitude estimation, also known as a Fermi problem or Fermi approximation. A classic is the piano tuner problem: “How many piano tuners are in the city of Chicago?” 
How to determine the optimal price of a product as a monopolist
In business, finding the right price for your product is crucial. Price it too high, and few people will buy; price too low and the business leaves money on the table. But how do you determine the right price? We will explore this question with a simplified example, looking at Umbrella Corp (UCorp). Note that in this simplified case, UCorp is a ...
The Immune System
The immune system has many different components that can be difficult to keep track of at times. How do we distinguish between innate and adaptive immunity? Why are there so many types of T cells? And what are these MHC molecules that people keep talking about?
MCAT Lab Techniques Part 2: SDS-PAGE is Still About Dinosaurs
Welcome to Part 2 of our foray into lab techniques! In my last post, we discussed the basic principles behind gel electrophoresis. In this post, we’ll build off the principles behind gel electrophoresis and talk about its cousin, SDS-PAGE, with a focus on how it is different from gel electrophoresis. If you need a refresher on gel electrophoresis, ...
MCAT Lab Techniques Part 1: Dinosaurs and Gel Electrophoresis
There are a lot of lab techniques tested on the MCAT. Many will be techniques you haven’t seen before in real life. They might have meaningless names like “Western blot” or “SDS-PAGE.” And the MCAT expects you to know not just what they are used for, but also how they work. Sucks, right?
How to most effectively memorize in premedical courses
As an English major in undergrad, I did not have much experience with studying for tests, as I was often writing papers with little need to memorize facts or material. When I started a postbac program to complete my premedical requirements, I realized that I needed an efficient and effective way to memorize large amounts of material. Premedical ...
The right way to use practice tests for standardized testing
Though standardized tests are often cast as objective measures of innate knowledge, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, taking standardized tests is a skill that can be taught. Additionally, how well you perform on test day is not just a function of how much you have learned or studied, but also a function of how consistently you ...
Top 5 ways medical school applicants spend their gap years
Did you know that 56.7 percent of matriculating medical students this year decided by the time they finished high school that they were already set on pursuing a career in medicine? 22.8 percent of students knew a career in medicine was right for them even before they started high school. If you tack on the students who catch the pre-med bug ...
8 tips for MCAT success
1. Take a diagnostic test The MCAT is a monster of a test, and it will very likely be the most comprehensive exam you’ve ever taken. Everything from mRNA to Sigmund Freud will be on there, and it will encompass all that you’ve learned in your college science courses...and then some. So how do you even start? Well, we all have our own strengths and ...
So what’s the deal with the virtual GMAT?
For anyone else like me who’s naturally a planner, you’ve probably found yourself particularly frustrated by all the wrenches thrown at you and your MBA decision processes during the pandemic. You may find yourself asking questions like:
What is demonstrated interest? How do I show it? Why should I care?
Colleges increasingly rely on calculations of a student’s “demonstrated interest” (or "DI") to make decisions about admission and offers for various merit scholarships. It is important that students and families have a true understanding of DI to see how it can support an application.
Overwhelmed by the graduate school application process? Here are five tips to help you get started.
Applying to graduate school can seem very overwhelming. When I decided to go back to school, I remember feeling slightly paralyzed by all of the work that I needed to do in order to submit a competitive application, and I wondered how I was going to get everything done while working full time. If you find yourself in a similar position, here are ...
Planning for Medical School Applications: Letters of Recommendation
For me, letters of recommendation were one of the most stressful parts of the application process. I had so many questions. Whom should I ask? When should I ask? Should I provide my recommenders with suggestions about what to include in their letters? Is it awkward for me to nudge letter writers about approaching deadlines? 
5 simple tips to ensure your child succeeds in online learning
Let’s face it, virtual school is difficult for even the most gifted students. Constant distractions, low motivation, and unstructured days provide a unique challenge for at-home learning. Here are 5 simple tips to ensure your child not only stays on-track, but thrives in their online learning.
Cells and Burning Stones: Robert Hooke’s Contribution to Science
The discovery of cells, and the naming of them, is most often credited to Robert Hooke, an enigmatic genius from England in the mid 1600s.  Robert Hooke was born in July of 1635 on the Isle of Wight and was, by many accounts, brilliant when it came to science, architecture, and engineering, but a little rough around the edges socially.
Tackling the AP English Language and Composition Essays: Part 3
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I covered the basics of the three AP Lang Essays (Synthesis, Rhetoric, and Argument), how to generally approach them, and the six steps of writing a successful essay on test day, focusing on the Rhetoric Essay. Now, we’ll look at the Synthesis and Argument Essays: how they differ from the Rhetoric Essay and how to ...
4 things to know about applying for an MD-PhD in the social sciences
Albert Einstein once said, “The greatest scientists are artists as well.” Many of these great scientists are “non-traditional” MD-PhDs: doctors who pursued their PhD in the social sciences or the humanities instead of the typical life sciences. If you’re interested in taking this road less traveled, start by asking yourself these four questions: 
What is deadweight loss?
If you’ve taken economics, you’ve probably heard the term “deadweight loss” thrown around as something that is generally “bad.” But what does deadweight loss even mean, and why do economists try to avoid it? Let’s find out. 
How to make an MCAT study plan
When I taught high school science in DC Public Schools, my colleague had a saying whenever he would assign lengthy class projects. “There’s only one way to eat an elephant,” he would say, “one bite at a time.” Although his advice was intended for our class of grumbling adolescents, I found it increasingly applicable to my own extra-curricular ...
How to make the most of the two weeks before your MCAT
I’ve always been someone who gets caught between cycles of procrastination and wild activity when a deadline is impending. The MCAT was no different for me; however, I really made the most out of those two weeks leading up to my exam date. With the right study execution, the final two weeks can be used to sharpen your exam-taking skills, leading ...
Tackling the AP English Language and Composition Essays: Part 2
Welcome back! In Part 1 of this series, we covered some basic information about the AP Lang essays, as well as the first two major components of the process, “Organizing Your Time” and “Reading and Annotating.” In Part 2, we’ll look at the final four components.
Tackling the AP English Language and Composition essays: part 1
More than any other test, the AP English Language and Composition Exam is dominated by essays. Three timed essays—the Synthesis Essay, Rhetoric Essay, and Argument Essay—will take up most of your time on the exam, and count for more than fifty percent of your score. In this three-part guide, I’ll walk you through the process of writing timed ...
How to accurately notate a musical rhythm after hearing it just once
If you have ever taken a music theory class, you have probably become familiar with the concept of dictation – essentially, the process of converting heard music into written, notated form. Dictation exercises are very common in these classes as a means to help students train their ears and hone their aural skills. Many students, however, dread ...
TOEFL Reading: Inference Questions
ESL
The TOEFL Reading section involves several distinct types of questions. In preparing for your test, it is important to know: what kinds of questions there are, how to identify each kind of question, and how to answer each kind of question. This lesson will teach you how to identify and answer what the TOEFL calls Inference Questions.
How to get to know a college when COVID means you can’t visit
As COVID was canceling proms and making graduations “drive-through” last spring, it was also causing a major shift in how colleges and admissions offices were introducing themselves to students and families. Students and families began to wonder, “How can I get to know if X College is right for me if I can’t visit and see it for myself?” Just ...
Making your personal statement stand out in just the first two lines
A personal statement is the best (and sometimes only) chance you have to make your application jump off the page. Even if you have outstanding test scores, those scores alone do not guarantee you admission. Which brings us to the personal statement, your chance to show your readers how engaging you are, how you are a future leader in your field, ...
Pearls of knowledge: what my older pre-med mentors taught me
As I suddenly realize that I am halfway through my gap year and that 2020 has been swallowed by the gaping maws of that-which-shall-not-be-named, I find myself with more time than usual to sit still. To be quiet and reflect on the years that have led me to the point at which I find myself. 
Managing your MCAT practice exam score expectations
You’ve done it. You’ve taken that first (or second, or third, or tenth) practice test. Maybe you’ve been studying for weeks, or perhaps this is your first step in analyzing where you are. Either way, this practice test score may not be the score you want to end up with. In fact, it may not even be close. This may send some students into a panic, ...
Mindfulness meditation for SAT success
When you take the SAT, you’re really taking two tests in one. The first is the test you know (and probably strongly dislike). The second test is an internal challenge: you have to manage your mind, stress, and emotions. You might know everything about math, reading, and writing—but if you can’t master the inner test, you won’t get that score you ...
“Tell me about your research”
If you did any research work at all before applying to medical school, you are likely to encounter this question. And if you apply to MD/PhD, you will encounter it multiple times at every institution. So it’s especially worth your while to be prepared.
“If you had to choose a career outside of medicine, what would it be?”
It’s interview season. You’ve spent at least the past six months writing, writing, writing to convince admissions committees that medicine is the only possible career for you, the one that will allow you to fulfill your personal and professional goals, the one your passions have driven you towards. So what should you make of this common interview ...
How to balance redox reactions in acidic and basic solutions
Balancing redox reactions is an essential skill for the Chemical and Physical Foundations section of the MCAT, the GRE Chemistry Subject Test, and the AP Chemistry Exam. Today, we will learn how to use the half-cell method for balancing redox reactions in acidic and basic solutions. We will first balance a redox reaction in acidic solution, then ...
Top grammar errors to avoid
Throughout the years I’ve spent reading and writing, I’ve seen my fair share of grammar errors. But few are peskier, or more pervasive, than the two I’ll discuss in this post. So common are these two grammar errors that I regularly encounter them in professional writing—sometimes even in articles by full blown professors! These two errors often ...
"How would you contribute diversity to our medical school?"
During the MD admissions process, this question is often dreaded, as applicants reminisce on the mundaneness of premed requirements and volunteer experiences. As with questions of, "What are your strengths?", "Why should we accept you?", and "What makes you unique?", applicants may fear coming off too arrogant and self-promoting. In all these ...
Four tricks to becoming a better academic reader
College professors often assign their students hundreds of pages of difficult academic reading per week. These reading-intensive assignments reflect a faulty assumption on the part of those professors: that college students arrive on campus already knowing how to make sense of dense texts and process information in huge quantities. Freshman ...
Hormones of the female reproductive system
The female reproductive system can at times feel like a difficult jumble of hormones that all seem to be related, but fluctuate in unpredictable ways. To make sense of the particularities of the female reproductive system, especially for exams like the MCAT, it is important to not only know what hormones are involved, but also to understand what ...
Gametogenesis and spermatogenesis and oogenesis, oh my!
Meiosis is one of those processes that we all learned about in high school biology as a deceptively simple concept. You take the diploid cell, divide it twice, and it becomes four haploid gametes that are each capable of participating in fertilization. Easy, right?
How to tackle multiple mini interviews
Multiple mini interviews, commonly referred to as MMIs, are a major interview component in the MD admissions process. According to the AAMC, “the MMI is designed to measure competencies like oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork that are important indicators of how an applicant will interact with patients and colleagues as ...
Implications of the Electoral College for democratic equality
In my previous posts, I’ve described the rules of the Electoral College, the origins of these rules, and some limitations that EC rules present for universal democratic rights. I talked briefly about the worry that the EC disadvantages non-swing state voters and voters in urban areas. Critics also charge, more broadly, that the EC rules ...
The origins of the Electoral College
Today, we’re taking a step back to examine the history of the Electoral College. Why do we have it, what is the logic behind its design, and what does this mean for our understanding of political representation in the US? 
The limitations of the Electoral College
In my previous post I provided a quick explainer of the Electoral College (EC from here onward). In the wake of the 2020 election, the system was once again in the spotlight and, as is the case nearly every election cycle, subject of ample criticism. In this post, I will highlight the primary critiques of the EC and the implications of these ...
Learn Spanish with podcasts!
Podcasts are a great way to learn a language. Listening to them requires aural comprehension, but they can also help you study grammar and vocabulary. 
How to simplify pronouns in Spanish
Direct and indirect object pronouns often trip up students of Spanish. But identifying objects and using pronouns can be simple, if you know how to break down a sentence. Let’s look at this through an example!
Why do you need an MD and a PhD?
Applying to MD-PhD programs is always about striking a balance.  As an aspiring physician-scientist, you are in a unique situation that is necessarily distinct from straight MD and straight PhD applicants.  Being able to tactfully and thoughtfully navigate this balance is fundamental to being a successful MD-PhD applicant, particularly during the ...
Constitutional Law: Could the 9th Amendment save us from tyranny or is it a slippery slope to tyranny itself?
Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), was a formative case for the Supreme Court jurisprudence regarding the Fourteenth Amendment. But it’s the discussion regarding the Ninth Amendment among several of the opinions that is irresistibly intriguing, spurring the imagination as to what the Amendment could do. Six justices felt moved to speak ...
Proof by contradiction: how to be so wrong you end up being right
Mathematical proofs are what make math objective: while you could find a few examples that "prove" a mathematical statement, it is often more important to write a rigorous proof that holds true in all cases. Mathematicians have a few methods in their toolkit to tackle different proofs. In this post, we will learn how to write a proof by ...
How to learn enzyme inhibition without memorizing facts
The MCAT contains LOTS of material that can often feel quite overwhelming. With this mountain before you, it can feel like the best thing to do is to memorize as many facts as possible to simply regurgitate on test day. I’m here to tell you: this isn’t your only option!
Sentence structure tips from William Shakespeare
Good writers always plant important words in strong positions. 
Apply to med school this year? Start your journey here.
Even though the application portal isn’t open for enrollment until the end of May, it is time to start preparing for medical school admissions!
How to use root words to learn vocabulary
Retaining new English vocabulary is challenging, whether you’re learning English for the first time or studying for standardized tests like the SAT or GRE. The challenge arises, in part, from the sheer volume of words in English. English’s massive lexicon comes from words in several other languages, and learning some of these words—more often ...
Middle School Writers’ Workshop: Understanding Characterization
Have you ever read a book where you feel like you really know the characters? You understand their dreams and relate to their failures, you can see yourself making similar decisions, and maybe they even remind you of someone you know. Rich, fully-developed characters are what separate good books from great books. It is the characters who feel like ...
Solving algebraic equations with variables on both sides
If you are reading this, I can tell you’ve mastered solving simple linear equations. You’ve mastered the art of balance. You know that whatever you do to one side of the equal sign, you must do to the other. You can perform inverse operations until the cows come home, and you are a pro at isolating the variable. I bet you even check your work by ...
How to solve linear algebraic equations
Today, we are going to learn how to solve linear algebraic equations like 3y + 3 = 18 or 5x - 4 = 16. If these equations make you feel a bit queasy, have no fear! I am going to break the process down into five simple steps. 
Re-taking the LSAT: how to maximize success on the next try
A perhaps unwelcome truth of the LSAT is that it takes most people multiple attempts to crack it. These days, it’s more common for applicants to even the highest tier law schools to have taken the LSAT two or three times as opposed to just once. While this means more work and time for LSAT takers, it also means a second, or even a third, chance ...
Puzzling out ionic compounds
Although there are lots of tricks that people use to write chemical formulas for ionic compounds, the best way to do it is to really understand what’s going on – that way, you’ll never use a shortcut that doesn’t work.
A step-by-step approach to dimensional analysis
Dimensional analysis is the best way to do math in chemistry. With dimensional analysis, you don’t need to memorize formulas, and you can easily check your work for every problem. Because this skill is so important, it’s crucial to have a step-by-step method that you follow every time you do it.
Using pKa to predict protonation state
When you’ve learned about pKa previously, you’ve probably used it in acid-base calculations. However, some exams may ask you to apply a conceptual knowledge of pKa to predict whether a chemical compound is charged or uncharged.
How Sherlock helped me ace my MCAT!
If you’re a fan of BBC’s Sherlock or have devoured Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, you’re probably wishing you had the memory prowess of Holmes, and not Watson. At least I sure did when I began my MCAT journey. Sherlock’s seemingly inhuman ability to recall even the most obscure details derives from a Roman legend about the poet Simonides of ...
Three tips to make you a “prepared” medical school interviewee
Applying to medical school can be stressful, and many pre-med students worry about interview day in particular. But one of the most common interview mistakes occurs well before the questioning begins: a lack of preparation. Here are some tips to help you hone the content and message that you want to communicate on your interview day so that you ...
How to answer the 'Tell Me About Yourself' question during interviews
Whether you’re interviewing for graduate school or employment, you may fear being asked this open-ended question: “Tell me about yourself.” For many, this question invokes anxiety, as it’s too vague for there to be a “right way” to answer it. This can leave the interviewee scrambling to think of an impromptu good response. However, with some ...
How to choose the right college essay topic
Choosing the right topic for your college application essay can feel daunting. How are you supposed to make yourself stand out from the crowd? What are you supposed to do if you’re just “normal”? How can you say anything meaningful about yourself in only 650 words?
How to revise your work
Before anything else, congratulate yourself. You wrote something! That’s huge! Writing is hard. Having something is so much better than having nothing. Something can be revised. And revising can be a lot of fun, as long as you have the right support. Here are some tools to help you navigate the revision process:
Up close and personal: how to prepare for a close reading paper
Close reading? Shouldn’t we already be reading “closely” for class? Correct! But the term “close reading” also describes a very specific type of literary inquiry in which one pays careful, prolonged attention to a small chunk of text (or art object) in order to produce an argument about that text and how it works. Close reading is the ...
Three essential medical school interview tips
1. What do I talk about? Think through life experiences that have been meaningful to you; think about what emotions you felt during and after those experiences, what you learned, and how it impacted your perspective for the future.
How to “find your voice”
You will often hear writers talk about “finding their voice.” It sounds like a simple task, but honing one’s voice can take years of practice, study, and trial and error. When you are putting together your applications for college or graduate school, you are likely facing a fast-approaching deadline—so time is a luxury you don’t have.
Calculating flood risk using probability and statistics
If at some point you ever want to buy property near water, a variation of this question will undoubtedly pass through your head: what are the chances that my {insert name of your expensive piece of property close to water} floods?
How to send a cold email for research or shadowing in 5 easy steps
It can be daunting to reach out to a professor or doctor you’ve never met and ask to work with them or shadow them in a clinic. In this post, I’ve outlined how I like to approach cold-emailing research and clinical faculty, usually to great success.
Mnemonics for memory: your MCAT best friend
Anyone who has studied for the MCAT will tell you: there is A LOT to learn. At times, learning new information about your own body can feel pretty rewarding. Other times, the sheer magnitude of information you are responsible for can feel quite overwhelming. At its best, conquering content related to the MCAT should feel like an ambitious ...
Start anywhere: overcoming your fear of beginning to write
I have a friend working in journalism who keeps a Post-it stuck to his laptop that says: “START ANYWHERE.” For him, and for a lot of us who write, the scariest part of writing is staring down the blank page and blinking cursor, wondering how exactly you’re going to get to a finished product. If you’re like me, this is where you slip into ...
Want to save hundreds of dollars and precious hours? Don’t retake the MCAT.
Everything about the MCAT is stressful, from creating a study plan to fine-tuning your test strategies. And then there’s the day of reckoning when you take the exam. If that’s not enough, perhaps the most stressful day is score report day. After working so hard for so many months towards the exciting and honorable goal of attending medical school, ...
Breaking Down the Writing Process: 5 Tips
I was recently helping someone with a comparative essay they had to write for school. This person did not like writing—a common enough state of affairs. They felt that they had no talent for it. The process frustrated them. I could see that they were struggling in part because they were trying to do everything at once (come up with ideas, write ...
Answering the question: “why medicine?”
Whether it is for a personal statement, medical school interviews, or networking events, you will undoubtedly be asked: “Why medicine?” Though a seemingly simple question, coming up with a unique and comprehensive answer can be challenging. In this post, I outline how I approached this question by breaking it down into specific components. Use ...
The Intermediate Value Theorem explained by everyday life
Calculus can be tough stuff. Calc AB was the first AP class I ever took in high school, and though I love the subject now, I certainly didn’t love it when I was first struggling with limits or with the chain rule for derivatives.
Wait, what is the electoral college again??
You might be wondering, rightfully so after this presidential election, what the deal is with our Electoral College. You probably know that the candidate with 270 electoral votes wins the election, but you might be wondering: why 270 votes? And why does the candidate win via electoral votes rather than the national popular vote? This post provides ...
What I learned about the writing process from bread baking
Working from home means I can adapt myself to the capricious schedule of bread making. Dough waits for no one (and it will not rise more quickly if prodded!). I’ve loved baking since childhood, but I discovered bread more recently.
What is Anki and how it transforms your MCAT studying
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably never taken a strong liking to flashcards. Sure, I used the occasional Quizlet, but it always felt mundane and ineffective. Then I heard about an application called Anki. And let me tell you, it has completely changed the efficacy of my studying. So here’s my guide for how you can use Anki to study for ...
How to approach initial value word problems
We’ve all been there: on a homework set or in an exam, you turn to the final page and, to your dismay, it’s a wall of text. The dreaded Word Problem. Some of the words are useful, some of them are meant to distract. Let’s look at a strategy for answering initial value word problems.
Why vulnerable writing is good writing
Writing Should Be Messy Writing is hard. Believe it or not, this statement holds true for even the most experienced writers. When readers see an example of ‘good writing,’ they tend to think about the finished product in front of them instead of the process that went into making it. This engagement with writing speaks to a common, but misguided ...
Tips for crushing your MD/PhD interviews (written by an actual student interviewer!)
First, congratulations if you have received MD/PhD interview invitations! That’s huge. Be proud of yourself and get excited to visit your potential future school and colleagues. As a student interviewer of prospective applicants, here are my suggestions for acing your interviews:
5 tips for authentic interviewing
There’s something comical about reading articles that coach you on how to be yourself. If you Google “authentic interview tips,” you’ll find articles titled “How to Sound Authentic” and “How to Be Yourself,” which evoke truisms like Oscar Wilde’s “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” and Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true.” But what ...
S’more fun: simplifying limiting reactants using chocolate
Stoichiometry: it’s the bane of many chemistry students’ studies. It’s so easy to get tangled up in a jumble of numbers without any idea of what’s actually going on.
The best way to approach your college application essay
Few high school assignments are more difficult than the college application essay, especially given the immense amount of stress and pressure surrounding it. Here’s a secret about writing and stress: creativity requires freedom, and freedom requires security. Pressure makes it hard to create something great. So, the very nature of the college ...
How to crack rule substitution questions on logic games
Rule substitution questions are often the most intimidating question type for students new to logic games. These questions come at the end of the game, when time pressure is most acute, and their phrasing can be confusing. However, with the right strategy, rule substitution questions can be very manageable.
How to write the statement of purpose for humanities and social science PhD programs
Sometimes also referred to as a personal statement or statement of objectives, this 1,000-2,000-word document is a key part of your application to PhD programs. The faculty reads hundreds of these essays, so, for their benefit and yours, keep your statement clear and simple. There are three essential questions that need to be answered in this ...
Using theory to think about history
When writing a history essay, applying a theoretical lens can help you make a sophisticated argument and earn high marks. You always want to be mindful of your essay structure and the substance of any original documents, but, particularly for advanced classes and seminars, bringing in different historical theories can elevate your paper to the ...
How to tackle a writing prompt
Students are accustomed to learning and analyzing a variety of written genres—plays, poetry, novels—yet one extremely common genre is usually left for students to analyze blind. This genre is the writing prompt.
Tips for success as a third-year medical student (MS3)
Clinical clerkships can be some of the most exciting times of medical school, but they can also be some of the most frustrating. Academic medicine can be very hierarchical, making it difficult for students to advocate for their own learning. Residents are often busy and stressed. Asking questions is often disincentivized – shouldn’t you just look ...
How to approach the NBME shelf examinations
The NBME shelf examinations are certainly daunting: 110 complex questions in 165 minutes is a grueling test of your knowledge. But it’s not without significant benefits! These exams can actually be a fun challenge, allowing you to apply concepts you have mastered in novel ways. Here are some tips and tricks I used as a third-year medical student ...
Why reading is the best way to improve your SAT score
Reading is fun. I promise. Take it from me, someone who used to hate reading. I started hating reading in high school because we read so many books in class that I wasn’t interested in. But I soon learned that reading one boring book does not mean all books are boring. Find books that interest you, and do not compromise. If you read the first ...
Choosing a paper topic: 3 foolproof techniques to go from indecision to a great essay
We’ve all been there - you get an essay assignment and you’re just…not inspired. Stuck finding something to write about? I’ve got your back! First things first, read the book. I’m serious. If you’re low on time, read a thorough summary, and then actually read the important passages. Writing an essay on a text you haven’t read will only hurt your ...
Your “Wrong Answer Log:” where LSAT improvement actually happens
The LSAT is hard for everyone. Most LSAT students find some percentage of the practice questions they encounter to be pretty easy, solvable through college-level critical thinking alone. However, all LSAT students discover at some point that a significant portion of practice questions demand a level of acuity and analytical skill that transcends ...
How to make sure you don’t fall behind during distance learning
Let’s be real, it’s hard to focus on school at home. And as COVID-19 cases persist and schools remain online, it is important to not fall behind. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your work while learning from home:
How to study for standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, and SSAT
Study actively, not passively. In order for your brain to truly remember something, you must make your brain work. Reading your textbook or class notes is a good start, but studying actively will always improve your memory (and your scores). Try answering questions out loud or writing down answers as you go along to make your studying a more ...
How to think like an AP Rater/Reader on the AP English Language exam
As someone who tutors AP English Language and Composition (lovingly referred to as AP Lang) and as someone who struggled with timed writing herself, I know how daunting a task it can be to score a 5. Luckily for you, I’ve also served as an AP Rater/Reader and can offer some additional insight into what we are told to look for while scoring a ...
Start by learning how you learn…and then tackle the sciences
When I was an undergraduate, I had a wonderful research mentor in a neuroendocrinology lab, and it was this research experience that led me to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. My research mentor was deeply interested in the process of learning. In my time as his advisee, he taught me how to study efficiently, how to really remember something in the ...
How to revise anything
The most important part of writing is rewriting. Whether you’re working on a term paper, a personal statement, or a lab report, getting words on the page is just the first step. Even if you’re writing from an outline, the process of writing inevitably leads you to unexpected and interesting places. That’s part of the joy of writing, but it’s also ...
Finding Patterns in Exponent Problems on the GRE Quantitative Section
GRE
One thing about GRE quant questions and standardized test math questions more broadly: if a question seems impossible or like it will take a ridiculously long amount of time to complete… It isn’t as difficult as it seems! Let’s dive right into a practice problem to see an example. Take the following numeric entry problem:
5 Tips to make you a more successful writer!
Like many other tutors, what has been most useful for me is building myself up to writing. I use a lot of “tricks” to get around my anxiety about writing, and it often takes me several tries to get started. And with the pandemic, there are even more reasons to be distracted. Here are some tricks that have worked for me!
Choosing a research lab as a pre-medical student
So you’re a pre-med student who is trying to choose their first research laboratory. You might have done your research on how to approach mentors, why research is important for your application, but how about how to choose a lab? Well, look no further – here are three important qualities to keep in mind when considering a number of different labs:
Translator Do’s and Don’ts for Spanish Fluency
Day One of sixth grade: my first ever Spanish class. After learning a few different ways to say “hello” and “goodbye,” we were given our homework: use our newfound knowledge to fill in the blank speech bubbles in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Determined to wow my teacher, I hatched a plan to stand out from the crowd. I rushed home, opened up Google ...
Three Tips for the Final Week Before Your LSAT Test Day
You have been studying for months, day in and day out, pushing to get your goal score. Finally, in just another week you’ll be done with the LSAT. However, before you find yourself on your dream vacation to Niagara Falls, you still must get through this final week of studying and the actual LSAT test day.
Pituitary gland hormones made simple
What is the pituitary gland? Even though the pituitary gland is about the size of a pea, it plays a very important role in regulating a lot of our body’s endocrine functions. Located in an area known as the sella turcica at the base of the brain and suspended from the hypothalamus by a stalk, the pituitary gland consists of two parts: the ...
How to Study Efficiently for Hours On End (With the Help of a Tomato)
If you’re like me, the long open days of the weekend, summer vacation, or Covid-19-induced lockdown can seem to stretch forever. These days or long afternoons are great opportunities to nail down some studying. Yet, all too often I catch myself having wasted hours of my study time reading the New York Times, falling down a YouTube hole, or sending ...
A Short Guide To Using The GRE’s On-Screen Calculator
GRE
The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE is unique in that it provides a tool that sections on similar standardized exams lack: an on-screen calculator. Though this distinction may relieve those who feel intimidated by math or by standardized exams in general, it also challenges those trying to determine the best strategy for employing its ...
My experience with the “GRE at Home” remote exam
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, ETS has been offering the option to take the GRE at home (right now, through September 2020) instead of the traditional in-person format. Several months ago, I took the GRE in this format, and share some of my experience and advice below.
Beginning at the End: Strategies for (Calmly) Translating Latin
Many of us have been there. Learning a new, unfamiliar language, but feeling confident in our progress—until confronted with a solid block of text on a homework assignment or course assessment. Several things then tend to occur: first, icy terror, followed hard by an urge to start writing, leading ultimately to a wild race through the text and the ...
When are you really ready to take the LSAT? I’ll tell you…
I am a golf nut, and without a doubt the greatest golfer of modern time (perhaps ever) is Tiger Woods.
The middle school writers’ workshop: 3 steps to a great literary essay outline
Writing literary essays can be scary. Learning how to analyze texts through writing is one of the most challenging but fundamental skills that you’ll need in your academic career. Particularly for younger students, this task can be daunting. However, if you follow a few simple steps, it doesn’t have to be!
Breaking down the Texas medical school admissions process
The medical school admissions process is long, confusing, and stressful. Having just finished my own cycle in which I applied to schools on both AMCAS and TMDSAS, I’m creating this post in the hopes that it could provide useful insights to current and future medical school applicants.
Remote vs. online learning
With students unable to currently attend school in person, students, teachers, and staff are working to improve education at all levels. Some universities now find the need to articulate the difference between Remote classes and Online classes. This distinction allows us to think through some important issues in distance learning that can help us ...
How to memorize the amino acids (and not have your brain explode while doing it)
There comes a time in the life of any pre-med when they realize that, yes, they will actually have to memorize all 20 amino acids. Whether it’s for your biochemistry course or the MCAT (absolutely mandatory for the MCAT!), memorizing the amino acids can seem like an impossible task.
How To Read a Poem
You couldn’t care less about poetry, but you’ve been assigned the task of dissecting Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” or some other piece of romantic drivel. If this sounds like you, fear not! Like any skill, learning to read poetry can be mastered with practice and a bit of patience. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when reading and ...
How to write more clearly in six steps
Whether you’re writing a medical school admissions essay, a high school book report, a college research paper, or a personal statement for graduate school, clarity is key. But writing clearly is trickier than it looks. In my ten years of experience as a writing teacher and tutor, I’ve found that there are a few steps that students can take to more ...
Understanding a confusion matrix
One of the major tasks in machine learning and statistical testing is classification. In classification problems, we use a training set of labeled data to train our model to classify an unlabeled observation into one category or another. At the simplest level, this method uses observable data to make a related yes-or-no classification (like: will ...
Bloom’s Taxonomy
One of the basic tenets of my coaching philosophy is to teach a student to teach themselves. The vast majority of the learning process should take place solo. Learning the LSAT or the GMAT is more like learning a language than it is like learning a subject, and there is just no way—no matter how long you stick with it—that you’re going to learn ...
Revising - Demystified
“There is no such thing as good writing. There is only good rewriting”
Five quick and easy English words to elevate your writing
Anyone studying English will at one point or another recognize that the language is quite a hodgepodge. Centuries of outside contact – from Viking and Norman invasions to importations of Latin during the Renaissance – led to what would become the rich vocabulary of Modern English. But what should a savvy writer do with so much variation when ...
Cell component spotlight - The ribosome!
What is the ribosome? I find the parts of the cell are easier to keep straight if you get to know each one of them a little better. Don’t be scared; they’re your friends! Let’s talk about the ribosome.
How to determine if an acid is strong or weak on the DAT
As someone studying for the DAT, you’ve seen this common problem before: which molecule is the stronger acid? When assessing the strength of an acid, the most important thing to look at is not the acid itself but its conjugate base. The guiding principle is the more stable the conjugate base A- the stronger its corresponding acid HA.
Explaining 8 common Chinese idioms (“chéngyǔ”) you might hear on TV and in everyday language
“Chéngyǔ” (成语) are Chinese idioms that usually occur in groups of four characters and often originate from old fables in classical Chinese writing. As a testament to China’s long history and rich culture, chéngyǔ have persisted as a fundamental component of modern Chinese language in both formal writing and in everyday language. There are over ...
Why writing concisely is really, really, really important (really!)
“Omit needless words.” William Strunk, Jr. wrote this succinct mantra in The Elements of Style, the classic writing manual that was later amended to and published by E.B. White (it’s now commonly referred to as “Strunk and White”). He then wrote, “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same ...
Getting started in R: Writing your own functions
R is a programming software for statistical computing and graphics, and students and statisticians alike have come to rely on the software to analyze their data. The scope and power of the software is large, but for the purposes of getting started, it is important to understand the benefits of writing your own functions in R, along with how to do ...
Ways to save time and stay organized while applying to medical school
The medical school application process can be a daunting and stressful experience. Gathering your letters of recommendation, requesting transcripts, all while writing your personal statement and preparing for secondaries – undoubtedly, there are a lot of balls in the air. Staying organized while also saving time is essential to the process (and, ...
6 Ways to Brainstorm More Effectively
At its core, writing is about discovering and exploring relationships between words and ideas. Your brainstorming process can and should reflect that central goal from the very beginning of the writing process. Here are a series of investigative approaches to help you expose and explore these relationships:
Editing for parallelism: one writing lesson from the shortest literary form
When I teach my students to become their own editors, I often tell them to be on the lookout for opportunities to use parallelism. Parallelism is the repetition of the same grammatical structure in successive parts of a sentence. (Grammatical structure is just a fancy way of saying some combination of nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech.)
MCAT Prep: First Steps to a long-term study plan
A common misconception about the MCAT is that you should only start studying several months to a year before your expected exam date. In reality, some MCAT skills may benefit from a more gradual approach, over the course of months or years. Even a few minutes every day can add up over a long period of time and prepare you to ace the MCAT on test ...
How to Copy-Edit Your Own Admissions Essay or Cover Letter (or Really, Anything)
So, you’ve slaved over twelve or fifteen copies of your admissions essay or cover letter: it tells your story, and it sounds good, to boot. Big sigh of relief, crack your knuckles, a job well done. Right?
The one major difference between how high scorers and low scorers study
There are many differences between high and low scorers on the MCAT. Many of these differences are difficult to address: reading background, experience with experimental design, and test taking abilities to name a few. However, there is one consistent, notable difference in strategy. I call this strategy mistake analysis.
Embracing the Messiness of Writing This Summer
The dawn of inspiration is such a lovely, romantic concept. Someone says something or a bird chirps in a funny way; you freeze in your tracks; you slowly intone, “…say that again.” You run to the nearest laptop, and you write down your masterpiece in the matter of hours to the sound of a swelling rock anthem. Alas: if I only wrote my doctoral ...
Making use of MCAT practice tests: it’s not just about learning content!
Taking practice tests is a key step in your MCAT preparation, but many students don’t realize everything that goes into preparing to take the test and reviewing the test afterward. Reviewing the test is one of the most essential steps you can take in your MCAT prep work. After sitting through a grueling 7 hours of science and verbal comprehension, ...
Placed on the medical school waitlist. Now what?
Getting waitlisted at one of your top choice medical schools can be disheartening. After making sacrifices as an undergraduate, acing the MCAT, and putting your best foot forward at the interview, a waitlist decision may leave you feeling like you fell just short. But, it is important to recognize that a waitlist is still an open door, and what ...
Hindsight in 2020: Four things a Harvard dental student would tell his high school self to get ready for in college and beyond
1. Learn to do laundry It seems so easy, so it’s embarrassing to admit that I took fresh clothes for granted during my high school years. I was one of many students who came into college who could tell you the intricacies of the Kreb’s cycle but not the length of a washing cycle. Life skills are important - learn to do your laundry!
USMLE Step 1: common pitfalls and how to make a study plan
My vision for the most effective, and least stressful, Step 1 study strategy is centered on the principle of balancing new material as you progress through pre-clinical courses while simultaneously maintaining your knowledge of past material in a time-effective way. It sounds simple, but it’s difficult to achieve!
Practice testing around the 520s? Here’s how to boost your score into the 100 percentile!
As a person who was practice testing in the 520-521 range with 2-3 weeks left of studying, I was content with my score; however, I had an idea that I could get to the 100 percentile range if I pushed myself and studied smart for the remaining few weeks. With some slight tweaks to my study plan, I was able to comfortably score in the 100th ...
Applying to medical school as an engineering student
You've made it through differential equations and crushed software development methods while taking organic chemistry "on the side.” Now what? If you're an engineering student interested in medicine, chances are you're wondering how to translate your academic experiences into a killer AMCAS application. Here are some ideas to get started:
8 Steps Toward Writing an Effective Research Paper in Any Discipline
You have just been assigned a paper, and you don’t know what you want to write about or where to start. We’ve all been there.
Three tips to connect with your MD/PhD interviewer
So you’ve received an email inviting you for an MD/PhD interview. First of all – congratulations! You are one step closer to becoming a physician scientist.
Demystifying Stats for non-statisticians: P-Values
If you’ve ever taken a statistics course, you’ve experienced the strange, slightly opaque world of statistical jargon, where colloquial language has highly specific meanings that are easily abused. One of the most famous, most abused statistical terms is the “p-value.” In almost every field of science there’s an ongoing discussion over P-values, ...
Part 1: Recognizing that dentistry is the career for you & Key aspects of the journey to Dental School
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”: A seemingly innocent, simple question that you have probably heard from the time you were in kindergarten and every Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of enjoying sweet potatoes and stuffing. Yet, this ten-word, ten syllable inquiry might be a stress-inducing annoyance with an unfathomably complex answer ...
A Comprehensive Guide to AMCAS: Getting Started on the Primary Application
You’ve decided to apply to medical school. Congratulations- that’s a huge step! How do you organize everything you’ve done in the past few years into a couple hundred words on your primary application? My goal is for this post to serve as a comprehensive resource as you organize yourself for a writing marathon this cycle. Take a deep breath- you ...
Acing the Medical School Interview: Confessions from your Interviewer
I have interviewed many applicants for admission to the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. I absolutely love it; I’m always so impressed by the applicants and what they have accomplished as well as the energy they bring to the medical school. For most interviewers, including me, the interview is simply a chance to get ...
I just want to be a doctor, so does organic chemistry really matter?
Imagine: you’ve made it through your first semester or two of undergrad and weathered all the storms that come with this transition. And, now you find yourself facing a dreaded academic giant that has stricken fear in the hearts of scores of pre-medical students. A chemistry course unlike any other. If you are anything like most pre-medical ...
A beginner’s guide to analyzing historical documents
Most high school and college-level history courses will require that you read, interpret, and analyze a document or set of documents from the past—otherwise known as primary sources. In this post, I will provide five basic questions that you should ask about your document(s) that will kickstart your thinking about the past and serve as a starting ...
Finding research opportunities as a premedical student
Research is a fantastic way for premedical students to learn about and explore their prospective careers, and stand out as future applicants. However, finding research opportunities can be a daunting task. I have outlined the process based on my experience, and I hope these steps help you find research that interests you.
A premed student’s perennial question: What is the point of all this?
If you are reading this post, you are probably a premed student either still in college or having already graduated. One of the biggest concerns in your life is getting into medical school, and you feel that you’ve worked too hard, sacrificed too much to not get into a good med school. At this point, you will probably do close to whatever it takes ...
GMAT Critical Reasoning questions: know your conclusion
For many people, Critical Reasoning questions are among the toughest verbal questions on the GMAT. The Critical Reasoning arguments on the GMAT can get pretty convoluted! We are presented with a series of statements and assumptions, followed by some conclusion. Then, we are asked to either strengthen the argument, weaken the argument, or consider ...
Medical School Applications: The Experience Section
Next to the GPA/MCAT numbers and the personal statement, the experience section is the third leg of the primary application stool. It allows up to 15 entries, although you can incorporate more than one activity into a single entry. This is the opportunity to round out the image of who you are to admissions committees. Here are some tips for ...
The power of prime factorization for the GMAT quantitative section
We have all encountered factor trees at some point during grade school. When I first encountered them as a kid, the whole exercise seemed unnecessary and silly. I thought to myself, “Great. I can list all the prime factors of 48. But, to what end?” It was not until much later that I realized the utility of prime factorizations. On an exam like the ...
Introductory Statistics: Are my data normal?
Statistics is fun, I promise! But before we can start having all the fun, it is important to describe the distribution of our data. We will need to handle problems differently depending on the distribution.
Gaining intuition for Taylor series
I’m writing this blog post because when I first came across Taylor series I found that a lot of my previous intuitions for mathematics were suddenly inadequate. It took time for me to build intuition not only for how these things work but why they are important. I hope this post will be illuminating for those just beginning to learn about Taylor ...
Some ways to organize your MCAT biology review of muscle tissue
There are so many concepts on the MCAT, and sometimes it can be easy to get lost in how different concepts relate to each other. Notecards, flow charts or large maps, and teachbacks are all ways to make sure you solidify these complicated topics! One strategy to study for the MCAT and consolidate information is approaching biology concepts from ...
How to tackle GMAT Sentence Correction questions
Focus on one aspect of the sentence to narrow down your options. Face it. GMAT Sentence Corrections can be a little overwhelming! And, if you are like most people, you might approach a sentence correction by carefully reading through all five responses and picking the answer that “sounds best.” You may even answer many questions correctly using ...
Work/Rate/Time problems on the GMAT
For many people studying for the GMAT, Work/Rate/Time problems prove to be a particularly sore spot on the Quantitative Reasoning section. In this lesson, we will learn an efficient and effective way to tackle these problem types algebraically.
Boosting your SAT score the second (or third) time around
It is no secret the SAT is a grueling, intimidating test. The first time taking it is an experience in itself, and a combination of nerves and mental fatigue often keeps students from performing at their very best. Luckily, students can take the SAT multiple times to achieve the score that they are aiming for. I took the SAT 3 times, with my score ...
A perspective on the CARS section from an English major
One February morning in my junior year, sitting under the harsh lights of the reference room in my college library, I decided to open ExamKrackers’ 101 Passages in MCAT. While I bemoaned the fact that this moment heralded the beginning of the dreadful MCAT study period, I was secretly confident that CARS would be a feel-good start to my MCAT ...
Working with lenses and mirrors: how to draw a ray diagram
Ray diagrams can look intimidating, but they don’t have to be! In this blog post, we will tackle five examples of ray diagrams.
Having agency over your MCAT-studying experience
Studying for the MCAT is a daunting task, and we’re likely to turn to others for strategies to make it through the experience successfully. People on online forums, students in years ahead of us, mentors, advisors, and friends can all offer meaningful advice. But, sometimes, these suggestions can get scary, especially when people’s suggestions ...
What is Collections Management?
Two of the most popular career paths after getting a graduate degree in Art History are Curatorial or Conservation. However, most undergraduates (and graduates!) don’t realize that there is so much more to the museum field beyond these two ultra-competitive career paths. Today, I’ll focus on the Collections Management department.
Three things that got me into Harvard Medical School
If you had asked me as a freshman in college where I was going to be in 4 years, I don't know what I would have said—but sitting in a medical school library (especially at Harvard) didn't even cross my mind. I was going to be a helicopter pilot. So, how did I ultimately end up in med school when everyone was saying that I had to be “perfect” in ...
Applying to medical school with a low MCAT score
Pre-meds all over the world freak about the MCAT. It’s a long, overwhelming test that functions as a predictor for how well you might perform in medical school. For some schools, it’s the metric for whether or not you are offered an interview. So, pre-meds study hard, and some do well, while others are less than pleased with their scores. Low ...
Endurance—the “hidden” metric of the medical school application process
Much of the conversation around the medical school admissions process focuses on quantitative metrics: your GPA, your MCAT score, the number of volunteer and research hours you have under your belt. But, while these metrics are certainly the foundations of a strong application, there is another critical metric which is unfortunately seldom ...
How to study for the MCAT when you're not done with science coursework
A lot of folks have asked me how to study MCAT material that they have never seen in class. It is a good and important question. Many of the topics covered on the MCAT—particularly on the Chem/Phys section—are covered in classes that students tend to take later in their college careers, such as second-semester physics (E&M). In this brief ...
How to find success on GRE Verbal Reasoning section without memorizing the dictionary
GRE
One of the most daunting parts of early GRE prep planning is realizing how many seldom-used words can appear on the test. While a comprehensive plan to comb through the dictionary memorizing each word you don’t know may sound like the best plan of action, odds are you don’t have the time, energy, or patience to do this. Even if you were to (which ...
Premed during COVID-19? How to put your time at home to good use
A common concern among undergraduate premed students these days is how COVID-19 may impact their application plans to medical school. Before offering some ideas for using this time productively, a gentle reminder: Most medical school committees are comprised of physicians, all of whom would much prefer that you practice social distancing and basic ...
How to choose the right medical school for you
The hard part is over. You got into med school! If you’re one of the lucky students who has multiple acceptances to choose from, you might be wondering how you’ll ever decide where to matriculate.
Tips for creating your medical school application school list
The process for applying to medical school is notoriously grueling and complex, and having been in medical school for six months now, I still believe the application process was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. One element of the process that can seem deceivingly simple is curating a school list. Here are some pieces of advice for how to ...
Studying for the DAT in the age of COVID-19
As many of us are finishing our fifth or sixth weeks of social distancing, the question becomes: what to do now? After getting into a more consistent at-home study schedule, I’ve realized that the key to a more productive mindset is thinking more along the lines of “what can I do with this time,” rather than “what am I missing out on with this ...
How to make the most of COVID-19 as a premedical student
We are living in a time of uncertainty. No medical school or hospital was prepared for how much this pandemic would affect our world. As a premed student, it can be difficult to prepare for an application cycle when this is uncharted territory for us all. Add on the stress and anxiety of the medical school application process and it can all feel ...
The-MCAT-subsection-that-must-not-be-named: CARS
When you’re talking about the MCAT, there’s one subsection whose name strikes fear into the hearts of science-oriented premeds: CARS. As someone who never took more than the bare minimum of required humanities classes and learned English as a second language, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.
The mamba mentality: importance of state of mind in academic success
As someone who has been studying psychology for the past decade, I know one of the key ingredients to academic success is state of mind. I started my undergraduate journey at UCLA, and am ending my residency at University of Pennsylvania – I’ve had my fair share of schooling! Over the years, I have developed a phrase for my positive state of mind; ...
How to stay focused (and off social media) while studying for the MCAT
There’s no question that studying for a test like the MCAT takes discipline—from making a study plan to reading prep materials and taking those dreaded 7-hour practice tests. When I prepared for the MCAT, I struggled to stay focused for long periods of time: after doing just a couple practice questions, I would find myself on Twitter or Facebook, ...
Statistical Mediation & Moderation in Psychological Research
One of the most commonly identified challenges in statistics for psychology is differentiating between mediation and moderation. Fully understanding these concepts can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way! All concepts that seem tricky can be broken down into simple, comprehendible steps.
Three Key Lessons from a Lifetime of Test Taking
As someone who’s spent over twenty years in school and is currently pursuing both MD and MPP degrees, I’ve taken my fair share of tests. For as long as I can remember, tests have been both milestones and gatekeepers. The first “high-stakes” tests I took were the SAT and ACT in preparation for college admissions. After many midterms and finals in ...
Tone and mood
When attempting an analysis of a text for the IBDP English course, some of the advanced features that students have to understand concern tone and mood. It is customary to associate tone with dialogue and speech, and mood with the setting of novels. However, tone and mood are not just features of fiction and can also be found in non-fictional ...
How to Methodically Crack Tough “Primeness” Questions on the GMAT
Questions that ask you to determine if a number is prime are ubiquitous on the GMAT. You can expect to come across at least a few on exam day, so knowing how to quickly determine a number’s “primeness” will be necessary if you’re looking to break the 700 ceiling.
GMAT tip: look for dangling modifiers!
Trusting your ear can get you far, but knowing some key grammar rules gets you even farther! Many people describe their approach to Sentence Corrections on the GMAT in the following way: they read through all five answer choices and simply choose the answer that sounds the best. Honestly, this is not a bad approach. Many of the wrong answers will ...
Taking a hypothesis-driven approach to cracking GRE text completion questions
GRE
When I first approached GRE text completion questions, I did what came naturally to me and what has been reinforced by years of standardized testing: I read the question, read the possible answers, and decided which answer seemed most right using the tools in my toolbelt--process of elimination, logical deduction, and the like. Maybe, if I was ...
How to answer 'Tell me about a book you’ve read recently' in a med school interview
There’s one common medical school interview question that doesn’t get nearly enough attention from prep materials: “Tell me about a good book you’ve read recently.” Answering this question well takes a little bit of thoughtful preparation, but if you’re ready for it, you’ll get to show off not just how well-read you are, but also how inquisitive, ...
The GMAT was designed with you in mind
According to the GMAC, the organization that administers the GMAT, the test is highly correlated to success in business school. Why would this be the case? Obviously, business school is going to involve little if any geometry. Timed meticulous editing of poorly-crafted run-on sentences is unlikely to come up on final exams. Obsessing over data ...
Working from home is hard.
Aside from the technical difficulties in accessing zoom lectures and online videos, it is incredibly hard to stay motivated while working from home. Home has always been the place where we come back to rest, unwind, and forget about daily troubles. Therefore, it’s easy to see how our daily moods, traditions, and routines suggest that home isn’t ...
Staying Productive During Self Quarantine
Regardless of what your living situation is like right now, these are unprecedented times in terms of practicing social distancing. Many of my peers consider this a period for unwavering focus on work, school, and milestones such as the MCAT. Even before the era of self-quarantining, locking yourself in your room for days to study was not ...
Studying at Home: How to Keep up with Work During Covid-19
By now, most of us are dealing with the reality that we cannot go to school. We may have school content posted online or packets of work to complete, but we are most likely not allowed to physically be at school with our teachers and classmates. We are now, essentially, homeschooling.
That Fine Line between Pure Algebra and Testing Numbers on the GMAT
Pure Algebra is not the most efficient way to solve every problem!
So, your MCAT's been canceled, now what?
We’ve been fielding questions from many of you about how to cope with the changing circumstances around the MCAT and this year’s medical school admissions cycle.  
Navigating Virtual Second Looks and Choosing the Right School
I’m currently an M1 in an MSTP program, which means this time last year I was sitting right where you are now. First off, congratulations if you are holding two or more acceptances! Being able to get choosy is an incredibly fortunate position to be in. However, that fortune brings its own special set of anxieties.
Traditional vs non-traditional MBA candidates
What are business schools really looking for?
The Pomodoro Technique
Maybe you have just begun studying for the GREs; maybe you’re about to write your personal statement for applications; maybe you have a set of formulas you need to memorize. Whatever it is you are setting out to begin, your relationship to that work and how it fits into your life isn't just a matter what it is you want to accomplish, but how you ...
How to fit you into your personal statement
The question “what do you like to do for fun?” has always stressed me out. As someone who preaches work-life balance and champions new experiences, I like to imagine myself as the type of person who would quickly rattle off an impressive and well-rounded list of hobbies and activities. The truth of the matter is that each time I am confronted with ...
How to tackle sentence and paragraph sequence questions on the SAT
The style questions on the writing and language section of the SAT can often be the most difficult. While you’re working to memorize your grammar and punctuation rules, it is also essential to develop strategies to tackle each type of style question.
Stellar verbal scores on standardized tests are about shifting your perspective
Many students find the verbal sections of standardized exams hard, maybe even impossible. The source of these feelings is typically one of two mindsets: either the student believes that there is an infinite and unmanageable amount of content to cover (grammar rules, vocabulary, etc.); or, my students feel like the test and test makers are “out to ...
How to join a research lab
Experience conducting research is an important criterion for admission to graduate school, medical school, and industry jobs, yet finding and obtaining a research position can be challenging for many undergraduates. Without background or experience it can be intimidating to reach out; however, by following some simple steps and tips outlined ...
How to Craft a Successful Curriculum Vitae
Like a firm handshake or a greeting, a CV can oftentimes serve as a first impression – a way for prospective employer to get a sense of you at a glance. CVs oftentimes are gatekeepers for an interview, and as such, are extremely important. It is worth it to take some time to think critically about your CV’s structure and content. Read the ...
Where do Taylor series come from and why do we learn about them?
Taylor series can often seem a bit mysterious the first time that we learn about them. The formula for the Taylor series of a function f(x) around a point x=a is given by
How do I autofill formulas in Excel?
Excel has been a through line of my academic and professional career. It is a skill that, once mastered, helped me in many spheres of my life. I've had to help a lot of people with varying levels of Excel proficiency. In this post, we’ll talk about how to autofill formulas in Excel. If you’d like to learn about additional strategies in Excel, you ...
MBA Admissions: GRE vs GMAT?
Should you take the GMAT or the GRE for MBA applications? First, let’s start with the key difference between the tests:
What is implicit differentiation and how does it work?
One topic that seemed a bit mysterious and magic to me when I first learned calculus was implicit differentiation. In this post, we’ll start by reviewing some examples of implicit differentiation and then discuss why implicit differentiation works.
Making spreadsheets “dynamic” with cell referencing in Excel
What is a cell reference? In Excel, it is when a cell derives its value based on the value of another cell. The below is a simple example of a cell reference. Note that the value in cell A3 is derived from the value in cell A1. How do you create a reference to another cell? In the cell that you want to create a cell reference, press the '=' key on ...
Grad school standardized testing: To re-test or not to re-test?
So you got your score back, and you’re not thrilled. What now?
But what is “dx” really? Calculus terms explained
The symbol “dx” comes up everywhere in calculus. For example:
Solving tough algebra problems with Excel’s Goal Seek feature
I’ve introduced many friends, colleagues, and students to the Goal Seek feature in Excel, and I usually get a similar reply. “Woah!” is a common exclamation; “how cool!” has come up from time to time. No matter the person, most everyone is surprised that they hadn’t heard of the tool before, and lament the fact that they hadn’t known about it ...
How to approach your personal statement
No genre of writing is simultaneously as fun to read and as taxing to write as is the personal statement. I say that the personal statement is fun to read because a good one gives the reader a sense that he or she has really met and come to know someone else, even (and perhaps especially) a complete stranger. I say that the personal statement is ...
Pareto efficient allocations and fairness in economics
A very important concept when it comes to thinking about markets in economics is the idea of Pareto efficiency. An allocation of resources is Pareto efficient if it is not possible to make anyone better off without making someone else worse off.
Two common grammatical mistakes to avoid in polished writing
There are no hard and fast rules in writing. But even if an experimental poet or an avant-garde novelist has dispensed with capitalization or written an entire novel without the letter E (yes, a novel like this really exists!), this does not mean that you should follow suit. Your personal statement is not the place to defy the conventions of ...
Writing: Knowing Your Audience
“Where do I even begin?” is probably the most common question students ask me about writing—and understandably so! Many writing projects can seem almost impossible to visualize, much less to get started on. So what to do when facing that blank screen?
Present Value and Interest Rates
To invest or to not invest? That is the question. Well, maybe not THE question, but it is a question that many investors and students of economics are asked each year.
Crafting a Strong Thesis Statement
There are few concepts in essay-writing more important—and confusing, to the uninitiated—than the thesis statement. Let's start out with what it's not:
The music of Mandarin: learning the five tones of the language
Learning Chinese is challenging but fun! Even the parts that require repetitive practice can be enjoyable with the right framework and point-of-view.
Three Simple Tips for De-Stressing the Admissions Process
To state the obvious: applying to school—whether it’s college or grad school—is stressful and time consuming. There’s the anxiety about whether you’ll get in to your top schools, the painstaking work of tailoring your application to each school, and the challenge of balancing your applications with existing commitments, like work, activities, ...
Learning the basics of Game Theory
Imagine that you and a friend are going to the movies. You like comedies more than action movies, while your friend likes action movies a lot more than comedies. If you go to see a movie alone, however, you’re probably not going to have as much fun, regardless of what type of movie you see. What is the optimal behavior for each person in this ...
Authentic and vulnerable reflection in your college personal statement
The personal statement is one of the most important factors in your application. But in the end, it’s your story. Here’s the secret: it doesn’t matter what you write about; what matters is how you write it. If you write astutely and creatively, and if the story is yours, your essay will be unique and unforgettable.
Confronting commas on the SAT writing and language section.
You see commas everywhere when you're reading, and you may put them everywhere when you're writing, but do you really know when to properly use this tricky punctuation mark? The SAT requires you to know exactly when a comma is either necessary or obstructive, so it is important to take the time to learn comma rules as you prepare for the writing ...
Spaced repetition and why it’s important while studying for the MCAT
Spaced repetition at its simplest is the idea that the more frequently you’re exposed to information, the better you remember it. It’s more effective to repeat something 7 times over the course of one week than over the course of a single day. Your brain needs time to process the information you’ve learned and make connections with other stuff you ...
How to tackle nerves on the ACT
So you’ve decided to take the ACT! As an experience tutor of this test, one common pattern I see in my students is a fear of taking the exam. After all, for many people, this is the first large standardized test they’ve ever encountered. Although it might seem daunting, with some hard work, the test can be manageable. Here are some tips to help ...
Becoming a good test taker
You’ve heard it over and over: “She’s just a good test taker.” The phrase clings to standardized tests, where some students have the luck of Steph Curry sinking 30-foot shots while others feel like Shaquille O’Neill at the foul line. Like shooting a basketball, we often treat test taking as innate and immutable, but any basketball coach will tell ...
Homonyms
English is one of the languages in which spelling is a big deal. Spelling bees were created in English, and the concept is not present in other languages in which words are more often pronounced just like they look. In English, we have words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings and spellings (homophones). We also have a lot of ...
Grammar: one to 1
When learning a new language, students almost always begin with the alphabet and numbers. We use letters, of course, to form words, which form sentences that express ideas of varying complexity in a form that people who read this written language can understand. Numbers designate a different kind of language, one that conveys equations and ...
The Idea of Taylor Approximation
If you type √5 into your calculator, it’ll output something like 2.2360679775. But how did your calculator find that answer? Is there any way you could have found it by hand?
Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals
Every August, my family takes a trip to Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Growing up we would use the final two days of the vacation to begin school-supplies shopping on the mainland. To this day, the third week of August still smells like freshly sharpened pencils. As we got older, the trips to Walmart and Staples were replaced with a new tradition. ...
What’s that sound? Diphthong (diptongo), hiatus (hiato), and understanding Spanish syllables
Ever wonder why when you try to imitate native Spanish speakers it just doesn’t come out right? It might have something to do with syllables!
Fun English Facts
English is weird. There is no denying it. As one of the most fluid languages in terms of its continued evolution over time, it has historically been quite a difficult language to learn. And yet, it is considered the world’s universal language. Below are 10 fun facts you may not have known about English:
CARS: Dos and Don’ts for Studying Success
Some students can feel adrift when setting out to study for CARS. These helpful Dos and Don’ts you help you get started!
When to use worlds in logic games on the LSAT
Logic games are by far the least intuitive section of the LSAT. For someone new to the LSAT, it can be the most challenging. However, with practice, and good strategy, logic games can be the easiest section to master. One strategy to consider is splitting your gameboard into multiple worlds.
Law School Admissions: Money and Law School
All of your acceptances have come in and it’s time for the fun part – deciding where to go. Though there are many variables to making this determination – like where your partner is located, your hatred of Boston winters, the reputation of the law school – for many people, money is the biggest determinant. It is important to pause and take stock ...
The key to understanding a reading comprehension passage on the LSAT
Have you ever read something, and when you get to the bottom of the page, you realize that you didn’t understand a single word in the passage? If you answered yes, you’re in good company, especially as it pertains to the LSAT. For months, I couldn’t get through a reading comprehension (RC) section without having to reread multiple paragraphs. This ...
Tackling unfamiliar problems on the SAT math sections
SAT
Let's face it: there's no way to control exactly what math questions will pop up on test day. Questions at the beginning of each section tend to be simple and straightforward--you might be asked to isolate a variable, determine the slope between two points, or solve a system of equations--but later questions can often feel like they've come out of ...
Law School Admissions: Law school interview guide
Very few law schools require interviews, or even make them optional, with some notable exceptions like Harvard and Northwestern. Interview prep is (comparatively) fun, especially stacked against the LSAT and personal statement. Too often, students spend too much time thinking about interview questions and avoid studying for the LSAT.
Two Common Stylistic Flaws of Undergrad Prose Writing
Over the course of nearly fifteen years as a full-time academic, I have edited and graded thousands of pieces of writing from undergrads and grad students alike. Over these years I have identified a range of common mistakes that I would say are typical of undergrad writing. As an instructor and editor, I have a range of stylistic rules and best ...
The Standardized Test Super Power
If I could give my students just one superpower—besides magically knowing all the right answers—it would be knowing the meaning of every word on their test. Be it the SAT, GRE or LSAT, vocabulary is perhaps one of the most underrated skills, underestimated both in its usefulness and its attainability. Anyone who claims to be a good test taker or ...
Law school admissions: does a dual degree make sense?
For some people (like me), the path to law school isn’t a straight shot. There are those who begin as premedical students, but then learn about how important malpractice law is to the medical profession. There are others who realize that develop long-term business goals that you believe an MBA will further. And finally, for people like me who ...
3 essential tips for the MCAT Psychology/Sociology section
Studying for the MCAT Psychology/Sociology section can feel daunting at first – there are so many terms to memorize, and often test-takers have never taken a formal psychology class. Though it may seem impossible to learn this on your own, there are several techniques that can make preparing for this section manageable (and even fun!).
Betwixt and between: difficult grammar rules explained
English is not the easiest language to learn. This may be because of the many exceptions to its rules or because the same combinations of letters can be pronounced in many different ways. English also has one of the largest vocabularies of any recorded language, which means English speakers can say what they mean in a lot of different ways, but ...
Law school admissions: taking the GRE or the LSAT (or both)
Increasingly, law schools are rethinking the LSAT as the best (and only) metric of law school success. Its predictive value has long been questioned, and law school deans often publicly question how useful a tool it is (and then proceed to use it, powerfully, anyways).
Is getting a PhD in science or engineering right for me?
Before you apply to graduate school in science or engineering, it’s important to take a moment to ask yourself WHY. Many people apply to STEM grad programs because they were excellent students through their undergraduate education, not realizing that graduate school is a very different beast.
What should every great coder know?
Over the last 10 years my only occupations have been coding and tutoring! I’ve still got a long way to go to improve my own programming skills but I’d like to include here my honest opinion about what makes a great coder. I’ve gone through a whole series of happy and sad coding stories, I’ve met and worked with hundreds of programmers and students ...
Law School Admissions: Picking Letter Writers
Your recommendations are crucial because they are the only component of your application that is contributed by a second-party. When choosing recommenders, consider the following:
Don’t neglect reading comprehension
Focus on weaknesses, but capitalize on strengths The GMAT has no shortage of intimidating problem types. For many test takers, Data Sufficiency and Critical Reasoning alone are enough to induce heart palpitations. Understandably, many students focus on these very intricate, complicated question types - and rightfully so! It is no easy feat to ...
Checking your answers in physics
Having worked through a long physics problem, you finally have an answer. How do you know if it’s right and all that work wasn’t for naught? In this post, I will cover a few quick strategies that can help rule out wrong answers.
Law School Admissions: Researching Law Schools Part II
It’s a funny thing – law schools are pretty much all the same, but they think of themselves so differently. All 1L students (pretty much) take the same courses: contracts, torts, civil procedure, constitutional law, property, and criminal law. Almost all law school students graduate with debt. All law schools produce a similar variety of lawyers – ...
How to survive a proof-based math class
Probably the most common challenge that I see my students struggle with is understanding and writing out mathematical proofs. Although most higher-level college math and computer science courses rely heavily on proofs, there aren’t many courses that really prepare students before they’re thrown off the deep end. I wanted to discuss some tips and ...
Logic games: worst nightmare or a dream-come-true?
Logic games are the best. If you’re reading this, chances are they’re currently the bane of your existence but hear me out.
Law School Admissions: Researching Law Schools Part I
The first step for any successful law school list is to go to this website. This tool is incredibly helpful and managed by LSAC – you input your LSAT score and GPA, and it shows you the 25/75 percentile range for various schools, and basically how you stack up. Private companies have their own tools – do not trust them! The LSAC collects all of ...
3 essential questions to nail down before an MD/PhD interview
Congrats on making it to interview season! It’s been a long journey with the pre-med courses, long hours in the lab, grueling MCAT prep, and seemingly endless AMCAS and supplemental essays. You’re almost there. I found the interview portion really fun - I traveled to places I’d never been, got wined and dined by students and faculty, and talked ...
Building on existing reading skills to improve your MCAT CARS score
As an MCAT tutor and former test taker, I have often encountered a subset of students who struggle with the Critical Analysis and Reasoning section (CARS) of the test. It can become a significant source of frustration during studying, and there are many students who may even have to re-take as a result of a poor CARS performance.
Law school admissions: drafting the personal statement
The personal statement – that famous, infamous even, stress-inducing 500-750 words. What separates you from the law school of your dreams. Pages of scribbled down notes and back of the napkin insights into who you really are. Here are a few pieces of advice to help get you through it.
MCAT score plateaus: why they happen, and what to do about them
One of the most common frustrations that I’ve seen students run into during their MCAT studying is the dreaded score plateau. A student’s studying is going well, they are improving on their practice exam scores and feel confident in their content mastery, but then several exams in a row show the same score. It can feel demoralizing, but remember, ...
Law School Admissions: Deciding whether to retake the LSAT
Ah, the LSAT. That dreaded rite of passage. The most important piece in the law school puzzle. And those Logic Games! Who cares if Train C pulled in at 1pm before Train D! But, alas, it is the kicker for securing top law school admissions, so it must be taken seriously. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to retake:
Top 5 pitfalls to avoid when writing the supplemental “Why College X?” essay
Many colleges require students to write school-specific supplemental essays. These are usually some variation of what I call the “Why Us?” prompt. For instance, Yale asks, “What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?” and Columbia requires 300 words on, “Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.”
Preparing for the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
Here are some helpful tips that can make you stand out from other interviewing applicants:
Deciding on the diversity statement for law school admissions
Law school applicants typically see an opportunity for more – another essay, another letter of recommendation, a supplemental report – and jump at it. The more the better, right? Another opportunity to show off writing skill, or have a professor brag about your Greek mythology paper from junior year.
4 ways to beat writing anxiety
Writing is a daunting task. To transform your nebulous thoughts into a linear string of words requires a special kind of concentration. And when it comes to writing personal essays, like those required for most undergraduate and graduate applications, you are asked to not only concentrate but also be introspective. It’s no wonder that many of us ...
5 ways to improve your MCAT studying without studying for the MCAT
OK, let’s state the obvious – the MCAT is daunting. Just take a look at the MCAT topic list PDF provided by the AAMC. It is one-hundred and twenty-five pages of topics alone. And while there is no substitute for good old-fashioned content studying, there are strategies to improve your studying that have nothing to do with studying itself.
How to maximize your chances of an excellent law school recommendation letter
So you’ve asked your professors and supervisors to write you a letter of recommendation for law school. Your work is done, right? Not quite!
Don’t forget: the LSAT is a performance-driven test
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’ve already begun studying for the LSAT or at the very least you’re thinking hard about it. For those of you in the first category, this post is for you. For those in the second, congratulations! You’re about to be let in on a very open secret about the LSAT that will set you up for success right ...
Is Law School Right for Me?
Perhaps the most common question I am asked these days is, “Is law school right for me?” While I would love to be able to provide an earnest yes or a definitive no to all those who ask, the reality is that there is seldom a quick or easy answer. But, above all, it is a question to which each of us has to come to our own answer. What I and other ...
5 questions pre-meds should ask before committing to medicine
So, you want to be a doctor. Maybe you remember playing with your plastic doctor’s kit when you were little, examining all your stuffed animals’ fuzzy ears. Maybe someone in your family works in a healthcare profession, and you always admired what they could do. Or, maybe in school, you realized that you excelled at science and enjoyed learning ...
An application of calculus: finding optimal road networks
Suppose that we have many towns spread across the country and we are trying to connect them with a network of roads. If we would like to do so by laying as little road as possible, how do we do it? In this blog post, we will use Calculus to tackle a special case of this optimization problem.
One tutor’s guide to MCAT study materials
One of the very first questions a student asks about a standardized exam is invariably, “Which study resources should I use?”. For the MCAT, the answer is far from simple. With the multitude of test prep publishers out there, each claiming to guarantee students the best possible score, it can often be difficult to find sources that are truly ...
The LSAT, Context-Dependent Learning, and Jeopardy!
I'll get to the LSAT in a minute, but first I want to talk about Alex Trebek.
Understanding elasticity of demand in economics
You may have heard in your econ class about a good’s elasticity of demand, or about “elastic” or “inelastic” goods. Consumers’ elasticity of demand is just a fancy way economists talk about how sensitive people are to changes in a good’s price.
Which is bigger?: Set cardinality, injective functions, and bijections
Comparing finite set sizes, or cardinalities, is one of the first things we learn how to do in math. From a young age, we can answer questions like “Do you see more dogs or cats?” Your reasoning might sound like this: There are four dogs and two cats, and four is more than two, so there are more dogs than cats. In other words, the set of dogs is ...
3 tips for your law school application
The law school admissions process might seem pretty straightforward—submit LSAT scores and write a killer personal statement. Easy enough, right? Well, in many ways, it is actually that simple. But there are actually numerous “behind-the-scenes” factors to consider in formulating the basic requirements of an application.
Maximizing the gap years between college and medical school
If you’re a college student planning to wait 1-3 years after graduating before attending medical school, I was very recently like you. Yay, we were the same! Although you or the people around you may have doubts about prolonging your training or entering the nebula of a life unstructured, I think the time you spend during your gap years can have a ...
Letter of recommendation: 2 great books to help you in your college search
Thank you for checking in to the final post in my 3-part series on resources for creating your college list! So far, I have written about my top podcast and website suggestions that can help you on your college search . If this is your first time coming across my blog, you may want to go back and read up on those suggestions, as each resource is ...
Don't fear the Splice! Mastering ACT English's "gotcha" questions
ACT
Comma Splices: The word “splice” connotes something almost foreign. First off, we don’t see it very often. And when we do, it’s usually in the context of a horror movie, or an English class. Same difference, right? Well, actually comma splices aren’t that tricky. They’re one of the most basic and frequent errors that a writer can make—and, ...
Five strategies to improve your writing
Writing is at the center of our daily lives. From coursework to communicating with colleagues or loved ones, writing is how we share our voice. Here are five simple strategies to improve the quality of your writing:
High school chemistry: What is it? Can I learn it? Can I be any good at it?
The word “chemistry” inspires so many emotions. To some, it brings about the excitement of mixing together a few glowing liquids and crafting the perfect radioactive potion that, when consumed, will make you a green giant and about 9000 times stronger. Next thing you know, Captain America is looking to recruit you as the newest Avenger. To others, ...
Letter of recommendation: best websites for college research
Welcome back! If you are keeping up with my series on finding your perfect college fit, you’ll remember that my last post covered my favorite podcasts on this topic. If you are just now tuning in, I highly recommend that you check out the previous post, especially if you are app savvy. The podcasts I mentioned are great for the whole family to ...
What physics equation sheets can do for you, and what they  can’t
In your time taking physics courses, you will likely run into one that deals with equation sheets. These can be note cards or an entire sheet of paper, and anything that can fit on it is fair game and can be brought into a test. The natural reaction might be to try to cram and squeeze an entire textbook on those sheets using really, really tiny ...
A comprehensive guide to MCAT resources
The purpose of this post is to update a previous I had written about MCAT practice tests. Since that post, my recommendation for practice tests has remained the same. AAMC tests (sample test, practice 1-3, in total 4 tests, practice 1-3 are scored) are still your best resource. After that, the next best thing would be the Examkracker tests for the ...
Word Problems on the SAT Math: A 7-Step Game Plan
SAT
Word-based math problems can be challenging, but they don’t have to be. Here is a 7-Step game plan to help you remain composed when you sit for the SAT math section.
The grad school recommendations roadmap: everything you need to know
This blog post outlines key strategies, tips, and suggestions for ensuring you get a recommendation for graduate school that sets you apart. Before the Ask Plan Ahead Start thinking of whom you might want to ask to write your recommendations as far in advance as you can – at least six months, but preferably more. This timeline will give you plenty ...
Letter of recommendation: two podcasts to help you find your best fit college
Following up on my previous post, I'm going to post a 3-part series on what resources you can use to help find your perfect college fit. Are you ready? Get excited. And, if you are not excited, go back to my first post and remind yourself to stop stressing and breathe. Go back in time and remember when you were a tiny human, eyeballing the toys at ...
Politics and patient care: how to translate an interest in activism and civic engagement into your medical school application
“Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.” Rudolph Virchow, the father of modern pathology, devoted an equally large portion of his life (when he wasn’t classifying thrombosis risk factors into a triad) to social medicine. Medical history is filled with countless examples of physicians serving as ...
So, what is chemical engineering for, anyway?
Chemical engineering is a comprehensive and vast field of study with far-reaching impact. I have been a practicing chemical engineer in the biotechnology industry for the last 5 years, and prior to that, I earned my doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Over the last 10 years, I have seen the evolution and ...
Mastering the SAT Reading Section
For many, the reading section of the SAT is daunting—sure, you’ve read plenty of books over the years and your vocabulary isn’t half bad, but the prospect of analyzing four long and two shorter passages over the course of only 65 minutes can feel like an impossible task. Luckily, as with most of the SAT, solid strategies can make the process feel ...
4 Excel Quick Tips to Navigate Data Faster
"Give it to me in Excel." There's a high probability that you've heard this phrase in school, at work, or from someone that needs data. Excel has made it tremendously easy to sift through data and make it more interpretable. The vast majority of users in the business world use Excel, so it pays to be well-versed in this powerful tool. During my ...
Four ways to become a (better) writer
The title of this post might seem presumptuous to you. Surely you don’t become a writer: you’re born one. That’s a common assumption about artists. We believe that people who write or sculpt or sing are born with an innate ability for their craft, that perhaps their education had less influence on their artistic success than the capabilities ...
Test like a champion: game day tips for keeping your energy up during an MCAT exam.
Waking up on the day of your exam, hopefully 99% of the work is already done. You’ve studied and all you have to do now is take the test! Treating your test prep like a marathon and planning for every possibility is a way to succeed. Let’s talk about strategies that will help you be ready to rock on “game day.”
Tips for studying effectively for the SAT and ACT
It can be overwhelming to think about studying for the SAT or ACT. Where do you even start? In this post, I’ll outline a few key strategies to guide you through your test preparation.
Two common mistakes students make about the MCAT, or how to reset your mind for MCAT success
    The MCAT is well-written test. It is thorough, consistent and serves a valuable purpose, which is to assess how qualified you are to begin a career in medicine. It requires that you: Sort through a large volume of information Endure (the test is 8 hours, takes months to study for, and many people have to retake it) Keep calm
How to Pick a College for the First (or Second) Time: Advice on Selecting a School for First-Time Applicants or Transfers
Well-meaning parents and older friends will probably tell you that college will be “the time of your life.” “You will find your people,” they might say. As a rising high school senior, I found this exciting and disconcerting: Would my peak be in college? And, how would I find my people anyway? I remember feeling both thrilled to graduate high ...
Applying to law school this fall? Here’s your summer task list.
The law school admissions application cycle doesn’t really start until October, but now is the time to start the process in earnest. Whether you’re applying to a T14 or otherwise, summer is truly the best time to hit the ground running.
5 tips to improve your writing
I was recently helping someone with a comparative essay they had to write for school. This person did not like writing—a common enough state of affairs. They felt that they had no talent for it. The process frustrated them. I could see that they were struggling in part because they were trying to do everything at once (come up with ideas, write ...
5 books to keep your reluctant middle schoolers reading all summer long
It can be hard to keep your child reading after the school year end. These are five of my favorite books to recommend for any reluctant middle school reader. These stories will keep them engaged and excited to read all summer long!
Our top 10 summer study spaces in NYC
Whether you’ve got summer classes or are looking to get a jump on course reading for the fall semester, NYC offers some incredible spots for all your studying needs. Here are our top 10 summer study spaces in NYC:
Summer is the time to start your college application process
In between junior and senior year? Here’s what you need to focus on. Junior year of high school can be very demanding. Not only are your grades and GPA incredibly important to the college admissions process, but you’re also balancing AP classes, SAT and ACT tests, extracurriculars, a social life, and (for many) part-time jobs. It’s a lot. So ...
How to build a smart, non-crazy-making college list
The college application process can seem totally daunting. No surprises there. The standardized test date that looms in the distance as you study into the nights, combing the recesses of your mind trying to remember the difference between a conjunctive adverb and a subordinating conjunction from that one grammar lecture in third grade. The deep ...
Medical school secondary prompts are here. What now?
  For some, early July is the season for poolside relaxation. For medical school applicants, it's the season of secondaries, or supplemental essays required by medical schools for admission. Secondaries roll in very fast, and applicants are expected to turn them around quickly, as admissions are rolling. What's more, each school has a slightly ...
Planning Your Premedical Career: Gardeners and Architects
Competition for coveted medical school seats increases every year and with it the pressure on aspiring physicians to meet the ever-rising expectations of admissions committees. Whether you knew you wanted to become a physician since you could want anything at all or are planning on making a career change into medicine, it can be overwhelming to ...
Cambridge Coaching Spotlight: Meet Chris, Our New Operations Manager
This week, we're spotlighting Chris, our new Operations Manager!  Chris is a graduate of CUNY Hunter College, where he completed two bachelor's degrees, one in Economics and one in Computer Science.  He has previously worked in the finance department at Eataly, in QA at startup Zola, and in IT at J. Crew.  His diverse academic and professional ...
Five Tips to Survive Law School Application Season
For many, fall means cozy sweaters, hot apple cider, and watching the leaves turn brilliant hues. Unfortunately, for some fall can also signify the beginning of application season, which means anxiety and re-writing essays are more likely than pumpkin spice lattes. Here are some tips on how to survive the application cycle, specifically geared ...
Behind the Scenes of Harvard Medical School: Part II
MD
This week, we interview Logan for another look at Harvard Medical School.  Logan grew up on a horse ranch in Issaquah, Washington. His love for swimming and for the outdoors brought him to Dartmouth College, where he captained his varsity swim team and led Dartmouth’s hunting and fishing club. His research on sleep disorders and hypertension named ...
How to Apply to American Medical Schools While Travelling Abroad (no matter how remote!)
Applying to medical school while abroad can be a wonderful and challenging experience, and will take careful planning to be completed correctly. There are many important factors, but two of the most important factors will be successfully filling out your AMCAS application and navigating interviews. Outlined below are some important features to ...
Part 3 of your law school guide: tips on the application
Do not apply to law schools that you do not actually want to attend. It is particularly important for you to have non-reach schools that you are excited about. Sometimes students get so focused on their dream school that they don’t give enough thought to the schools to which they will probably be admitted. Relatedly, students should ideally go ...
Part 2 of your law school guide: the application process
The LSAT and GPA The LSAT, along with the GPA, are by far the most important elements of your profile. The good news (and bad news) about the GPA is that it’s usually outside of your control – you got the grades you got, and now you have to calibrate your admissions process based on those grades. Of course, if you’re still in college, make sure to ...
Part 1 of your law school guide: before even beginning to study...
Applying to law school is scary – there’s no way around it. The process is arduous, the LSAT is a behemoth, and the end-game is expensive and rigorous. But law school is wonderful – challenging, meaningful, and exciting. Reminding yourself of why you are applying, what is motivating you to apply, can help you get through the year(s)-long process. ...
SAT Reading: Which comes first? The passage or the question?
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 ...
The ACT Reading Test: Understanding (and moving up) its Bell Curve
ACT
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 Biggest Mistake Students Make on Law School Statements
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 ...
Cracking the Medical School Application Process: Recommendation Letters
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.
What to wear on test day (seriously)
Advice for test day is easily doled out, and often hard to actually follow.
Five dos and don'ts of LSAT test day
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 dos and don’ts (several of which I made myself!) to consider for test day:
A 5 Part Plan to Studying SAT Vocabulary
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 ...
How to spend the summer before your high school senior year
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 ...
How do I get started studying for the SSAT?
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 ...
Necessary and sufficient conditions on the LSAT
If you’ve ever been told to “mind your Ps and Qs”, you know that the expression equates to being instructed to mind your manners. That is, of course, unless you’re studying for the LSAT, where Ps and Qs have nothing to do with being polite. In fact, seeing Ps and Qs may inspire some LSAT takers to feel particularly impolite: they generally signify ...
Step By Step GRE Practice Problems
GRE
I taught GRE and LSAT for several years at Pagoda Academy in Seoul, one of the largest test-prep companies in South Korea and during that time. I helped many Korean students who spoke English as a Second Language achieve significant improvements in scores thanks to shortcuts and techniques I developed (after 4 years of studying for the LSAT) to ...
How to write with clarity and brevity
1. Harshly criticize everything you write as you write it Ask yourself: is this sentence necessary? Could it be five words instead of ten without losing meaning? Is it a digression into something you find interesting useful, or a distraction?
What Exactly is a Law School Outline?
Pretty soon after you’ve arrived at law school, you’ll probably start hearing about “outlines” and “outlining.” Fellow students will ask when you’re going to start outlining for Torts or Contracts. The bar prep representatives will start trying to sell you outlines for your courses. High-quality outlines prepared by students in years past will ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Paul, Amazing Harvard PhD!
This week, we're spotlighting Paul, one of our Harvard PhDs. Paul was born in Evanston, IL and grew up dreaming of being a cowboy. When he was informed the industry wasn’t what it used to be, he decided to change gears and pursue his other love: reading and writing. Paul attended Vassar College where he majored in Political Science and Africana ...
Essential GRE Verbal Strategies with Examples
Some people may think that the LSAT and GRE have nothing in common.  In actuality, there are many strategies from the LSAT that can be transferred to the GRE verbal.  As someone who has not only taught the LSAT and the GRE for years, but speak English as a second language, I have a unique perspective on verbal test taking strategies.  You may ...
Dear LSAT taker: if you are hurting, read this
One morning in November 2016, I sat on a 36 Broadway bus heading southbound towards the downtown loop. It was a cold morning in Chicago, sometime around 4:45 a.m. The bus was empty, save the bus driver and me. I was three months into LSAT preparation, a process (for reasons unknown to God and Man) I took on while working a full-time job at a law ...
How to reason through LSAT problems as an ESL learner
Let me begin this introduction by admitting to something that I think no other student newly admitted to Harvard Law School’s JD Program would admit to: I find English incredibly hard.
Behind the Scenes of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
MD
This month, we interview Graham, who gives us a brief tour of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Graham is an MD MBA student at Vanderbilt University and Harvard University. He graduated from Harvard Business School in May 2018 and will be applying for a medical Residency this fall. Prior to his postgraduate studies, Graham graduated from ...
5 Important Things to Remember When Applying to Medical School
Almost every day during the medical school application process, I thought to myself ‘I wish I had considered X earlier’ or ‘It would have been nice if someone had told me to do Y beforehand’. The process can be long, exhausting, and can seem like a daunting prospect to future applicants. Below, I have listed 5 things that I believe can enhance and ...
An Insider's Scoop on the Top 5 Law Schools of 2019
 No two ways about it: getting into one of the top 5 law schools in the United States is extremely challenging.  Your candidacy is a culmination of the hard work you put forward for academics (aka GPA), the hours you dedicated to preparing for the LSAT, and the most salient experiences that pushed you to want to be a lawyer. Though the top 5 law ...
What is Going on in NY Specialized High Schools? The SHSAT Explained
You may have read in recent news that the stakes for the New York City specialized high school admissions are very high.  At the center of this heated discussion is a little known test named the SHSAT -- a standardized test that is designed to assess middle school curriculum content mastery for students entering these high schools.  Being local to ...
FAQs on the Medical School Admissions Process
So: you’ve decided to apply to medical school.  You’ve completed all of your premedical requirements, prepared for the MCAT, and have slogged back and forth from your research gig.  The application should be easy by comparison, right?
3 Ways to Empathize with the Writers of Standardized Tests for Exam Day Success
Hey everyone -- I'm Zack, an experienced GMAT and SAT tutor at Cambridge Coaching.  I'm excited to use it to share some key tips with you about making the most of your standardized testing experience. Here are 3 key tips that I have for you that apply for almost any standardized exam, whether it's SAT, GMAT, or whatever else you might be studying. 
So, You’ve Declared Yourself a Pre-Med Student…
Whether you knew you wanted to be a doctor since you were born, or you just sort of fell into medicine by chance, you have declared yourself a pre-med student. Welcome. You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. These next few years as a pre-med student will only be the beginning. The beginning of the road to becoming. Now that you’ve ...
How to Get Letters of Recommendation for Medical School
Letters of recommendation are an integral component of the medical school application. Anybody can speak highly of themselves, filling pages on why they’d make a great doctor. What makes letters of recommendation so valuable is that each one represents someone else who believes that you have what it takes to pursue a career in healthcare. Each one ...
An Insider's Tip to Prepping for the SAT Math Section: Plug in Numbers
Preparing for both mathematics sections on the SAT can be a bit intimidating. You can’t expect yourself to know every topic that might come up, and the time limit adds to the stress. Much more efficient than trying to learn everything you might come across is to start with what you have already learned in high school and use examples to apply it ...
Cracking the College Admissions Process, Part II: Stats, Scores, and Paperwork, Oh My!
Tackling the College Application Beast You already know that applying to college involves a bunch of moving parts, and it can be a scary process to undertake (let alone hit “submit” on!). To make it feel a bit more attainable, let’s go through it piece by piece. In this post I’ll provide an overview of decision timelines, the logistics of ...
Things to Consider on The Medical School Interview Trail
Whether you’ve dreamed of being a doctor since you were three years old or this doctor thing only recently started seeming like a good idea, your days of being “pre-med” are almost over. You dodged getting weeded out by Organic Chemistry, you got through the MCAT. You shadowed doctors, you maybe even worked in a research lab. You carefully crafted ...
Imposter syndrome in medical school: recognizing and overcoming it
I don’t deserve to be here. These people are actually smart.  If they really knew me, they’d know that I have no right to be here. One of these days, people will realize that I’m a fraud. The admissions committee must have made a mistake.  If you’ve had any of these thoughts since matriculating into medical school, congratulations. You are a ...
How to Choose a Medical School Personal Statement Topic
Unfortunately there is no easy answer on how to do this because it is an extremely personal answer that differs for everyone. Ultimately though, your personal statement must answer two essential questions:  Why you? Why medicine? 
Growth mindset: things to remember on your clinical rotations
It’s finally that time of your medical school career. The moment you’ve been anticipating since you matriculated. Upwards and onwards. The wards. Up until this point, you have been incubating in your safe and familiar classroom building, only dibbling and dabbling at patient care every now and again. Now you’ll be going through a year, the year, ...
The Number 1 Strategy When Approaching ACT Science Section
ACT
The Science section of the ACT is often the section that kids find the most frustrating before they prep.  It always comes down to one simple issue. How can you read 6-7 studies, analyze their respective graphs, and answer 40 questions all in just 40 minutes?
10 Essential Tips to Being a Superstar in Medical School (without losing your mind!)
These are some of the things that I have found super useful in helping me excel in medical school. I hope you find them helpful in whatever area of life or field you are in right now.
How to bounce back from a bad grade during 1L spring
Dealing with a disappointing performance and mark from 1L fall is difficult especially as the 1L summer internship application process progresses and your email is inundated with discussions regarding OCI in the summer. Just remember a couple of things: (1) getting a bad grade does not mean that you won’t be a good lawyer (or more importantly, get ...
Cracking the College Admissions Process, Part I: The Search and the Setup
Everyone and their mother seems to have advice about college… ...but well-meaning uncles and even teachers sometimes forget how much work it is to apply to college. People talk about how exciting it is and how you’ll be taking the next step towards your future, but they don’t always mention that the process is stressful, too. Not only do you have ...
How to ace the MCAT in 3 steps!
The MCAT is not a memorization test. Let me be more specific: it’s much more about recall than it is about recognition. When you’re prepping for the Psych/Soc section of the MCAT, you’ll learn about different types of memory—sensory, working, procedural, episodic—how memory is stored, and how it’s retrieved. You can retrieve stored memories ...
How to Write A Résumé In High School
This may be the first time you're writing your own résumé, and the task can feel daunting.  You may be asking questions like: how do I write about myself?  How do I highlight my very little experience?  What is the format of a résumé?
Behind the Scenes of NYU School of Medicine
MD
This month, we interview Jide, who lifts the curtain a little on NYU medical school.  Babajide, or Jide as his friends call him, was born in Nigeria then raised Georgia. Jide earned his Bachelors of Science in Microbiology from the University of Georgia (UGA) in 2011 with high honors. He was introduced to scientific research through the CURO ...
How to write a successful personal statement
The personal statement is an integral part of a job or school application because it showcases the applicant’s personality in an intimate way. The resume is a list of objective accomplishments and successes that the applicant has earned, but the personal statement highlights passion and aspirations that cannot be listed in simple bullet points. ...
How to Draft an Essay in College in 4 Easy Steps
Making the switch to college-level writing can be tough, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Aside from the fact that papers in college are often long (although the short ones with strict word limits can be tricky, too!), the subject matter is often complicated and requires a good deal of analysis. Professors often expect that you already have a ...
Your Medical School Timeline Checklist - Planning Ahead
So you've decided to apply to medical school this June -- congratulations!  You should take a moment and pat yourself on the back for getting this far.  It's no small feat to find yourself in the applicant pool this year!
SAT or ACT? An Opinion Article From a Standardized Test Prep Expert
One of the questions I am asked most is why do I recommend prepping for the ACT over the SAT (particularly when the baseline scores for the SAT seem stronger)?  Simply put: ACT questions are easier and the format is as well.
How to study for the LSAT without burning out
I, like many aspiring law students, knew I was on a law school trajectory quite a while before I applied. I knew that a good LSAT score would make a huge difference in my life. I wanted to set myself up for success, but I definitely didn’t want to start studying LSAT textbooks. Instead, I loosely “studied” for the LSAT for about a year by doing ...
The key to mastering mathematics? Quit memorizing.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the subject of mathematics.  One of the most common myths I encounter is related to the way one approaches learning math. 
How to choose for your child: SSAT or ISEE
Applying to a private high school is similar in many ways to applying to a college, especially with college preparatory schools.  One thing is for sure: the process can be extremely daunting. The high school admissions process includes the application form, recommendation letters, a transcript, a tour of the school, an interview, a day of classes, ...
21st Century Spanish-Language Films You Can Stream Right Now
We all know that one of the most important aspects to learning a language is exposure.  However, if you're not living in a country that speaks the language you're trying to learn natively, exposing yourself to native speakers can be incredibly tricky! Luckily, in the age of Netflix and Amazon, you can immerse yourself in language through movies, ...
Complex Solution Composition Problems: Knowing Where to Start
Thanksgiving dinner conversations can be uncomfortable… But solution composition problems don’t have to be. Recall that a solution is a homogenous mixture of two or more substances. Chemists have come up with many ways to describe the composition of a solution. Some ways are more appropriate than others depending on the situation. 
The Importance of Strategic Flexibility when Tackling Difficult GMAT Quant Problems
In preparing for the quantitative section of the GMAT, students need to become proficient in a number of different math topics ranging from algebra to geometry.  In addition to understanding how to approach these topics in a straightforward manner, students also benefit from developing an arsenal of strategies that can be applied to a variety of ...
What is a thesis statement?
Every paper you write in college should have it. Sometimes professors call this a “thesis statement,” sometimes a “claim,” and sometimes they don’t really specify what it is. But it’s essential — and sometime elusive. But it shouldn’t be! 
A guide to limiting reactant problems... using sandwiches
An everyday limiting reactant problem You’re expecting company and totally forgot to go grocery shopping. What on earth will you feed your guests? Sandwiches! You have some ingredients to whip up some sandwiches. So, let’s assume you are going to go through with making these sandwiches. You need 2 slices of bread, 3 slices of meat (can’t be ...
College interviews: dos, don'ts, and common questions
Remember that the college interview is as much an opportunity for the school to learn about you as if is for you to learn about the school.  There is no right answer during an interview (it should be thought of more as a conversation); though there are some helpful things to remember when you step into your first interview.
Study Guides: How to Craft the Best Test-Prep Tool
Does this sound familiar? The final exam date has been announced, and you learn what’s going to be on the test: everything. Frozen with dread at the thought of starting on such a huge task, you focus your attention first on some final projects or essays for another class. Those are due sooner, and with weeks to go before the final, you still have ...
Dimensional analysis: why the factor-label method is a lifesaver
Ever lost points on a test because you forgot to write the units? Rightfully so! Numbers have no meaning without their units of measurement. Two can be greater than 12. Three can equal one. This is all dependent on the unit of measurement being used. In your general chemistry class, you will encounter measurements of all sorts. These measurements ...
Electron configurations: a must know hack
Imagine this...you’re taking your general chemistry midterm and you’ve decided to shuffle through the exam and complete all the hard things first. You’ve totally underestimated how much time those problems were going to take you and now you have three minutes left to write the electron configuration of 10 elements. Untimed, this would be easy to ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Jon, American Historian!
This week, we're spotlighting Jon, one of our American historians! Since starring as “Congressional Delegate #4” in his high school’s production of 1776, Jon has been passionate about all things American history. After hiding in the library for four years to avoid Montreal winters, Jon graduated with a First-Class Honors Degree in History from ...
Formal charge: what they didn’t tell you in your chemistry class
Formal charge is the charge that a bonded atom would have if its bonding electrons were shared equally. Note:
Data Analytics And Other Topics To Review For The GRE
GRE
Basic Data Analysis Topics Do not underestimate the data analysis section of the GRE. It covers a lot of material, one of which is probability (which is an advanced topic) and that isn't taught very well in school. But probability is also a very small percentage of the test, so think hard about whether or not you want to spend time on it if you ...
An Inside Look Into Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Today, we'll be exploring behind the scenes at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with one of our incredible MD coaches, Dan. Dan is currently a first-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Bachelor of ...
7 Test Day Tips for the SAT
SAT
You've been studying for months, and now the day is finally here.  The day of your SAT.  Instead of switching to panic, just remember these 7 essential tips to keep your head cool and be successful.
Why Understanding Statistics Matters More Than Ever
We see numbers all around us. Whether it’s on TV, online, or in the newspaper, our society has been flooded with random numbers and math-facts trying to prove a narrative. On any given TV channel, the commentators throw facts that try and catch your attention. “In games where Tom Brady has thrown 4 or more Touchdowns, the patriots have a worse ...
Three Things I Wish I Knew Before I Delayed My First LSAT Exam
My LSAT journey should have been fast and easy. Instead, I dragged it out for 4 years, and it became a bit of a monstrosity. Here are three things I wish I knew before I opted to wait to take my first LSAT exam.
Tips for writing an exam essay in 80 minutes
We've all been there.  The teacher is at the front of the classroom with a pile of blue books.  She begins handing them out.  You scrawl the name and date on the front and wait for her to start the timer.  As you open the first page, an overwhelming white page stares back at you.  And you panic. Luckily, there are ways to prepare for essay exams ...
How to Begin Writing: The Art of Imitation
The blank page can be scary, terrifying even.  It represents the unknown.  And who isn’t afraid of what they don’t know? I, for one, feel intense insecurity and fear when confronted with an empty word document, the clicker blinking insistently at me as if impatient with my lack of progress.  And I’m a writer! I’ve been writing and teaching writing ...
Why Active Reading Matters When Studying for the GRE
GRE
We all read so much these days -- texts, lists, ads, articles, more ads, email.  But really what we’re doing here (for the most part) is skimming.  We’re looking for the information we want, not caring much about what falls by the wayside, and moving on.   In this blog I want to teach you a tactic -- we call it “active reading” -- that will help ...
An Inside Look Into Harvard Medical School
We'll be taking a peek behind the curtain at Harvard Medical School with Morgan, one of our incredible medical school admissions coaches.  Morgan is originally from Southern New Jersey, spent the past four years in Williamsburg, VA studying at the College of William & Mary, and is now in Boston as a first year medical student at Harvard. As ...
5 Middle School Books for Reluctant Readers
Do you have an 8 to 12-year-old who says that hate reading? These are fun, quirky and quick stories that will make them fall in love with reading! Don't miss out on these middle school book recommendations: 
8 Essential Tips for the GRE Mathematics Section
GRE
I want to give you a few more GRE quant power tips. There are 8. (8 also happens to be my favorite number.  I like that it is so symmetric.  I like that when I push it over, it is the infinity sign or a pair of glasses or the two wheels of my bike).   Anyways…
The Top 3 Medical Schools in the US for Research
So you're beginning work on your MD applications, and you're trying to bucket your school list.  If you have competitive numbers, you've probably set your sights on the top three medical schools for research (according to US News).  If you're wondering about what it entails to commit to one of these institutions, read this 2018 at-a-glance guide.
6 Young Adult Books Everyone Should Read
It doesn’t matter how old you are, I firmly believe that everyone can enjoy a young adult book. While they are typically targeted at teenagers since the main characters range from 14-19 years old, these stories can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their age.  The following books are impactful and important stories that I firmly believe ...
Crucial Habits for Success on GRE Verbal
GRE
I'm Andrew Jungclaus -- I've been a GRE tutor at Cambridge Coaching since 2012, and have tutored over 1000 hours, working with dozens of students to improve their scores. By day, I'm also a Ph.D. candidate in American religious history at Columbia University, so I am intimately familiar with putting in long hours to complete a major goal.  I ...
Logical Reasoning: A Brief Introduction to Question Types
The following are some of the question types you will see on the LSAT Logical Reasoning Section. Again, there are often questions that appear that are not standard in the exam; however, the following types are the most common questions asked. They are (roughly) listed in order of frequency. 
How to get started on the GRE Math section
  How do you feel about math? Let’s take a minute to think about math and how we feel about it. Good memories or bad? Or both? If I were to draw an analogy about math and anything else, it would be a foreign language. You can’t forget what you learned in arithmetic and expect to do well in algebra, just like you can’t forget how to conjugate ...
A Quick Introduction to Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Programs
In the competitive world of medicine and medical schools, you should know that there are two types of medicine: allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO). Fundamentally, the two tracks are the same. Both MD and DO students will take the same medical classes, they'll undergo the same training, and their exams will cover the same information. At the end ...
Writing a thesis and topic sentences in your personal statement
Every applicant who needs to write a personal statement struggles with structuring their personal statement.  It is hard enough to muster the courage to brainstorm your most salient life experiences on paper; now, the most important part is structuring your personal statement with your thesis and topic sentences.
The importance of keeping it simple: clear and concise writing
When I was a high school AP Biology student, my teacher used to walk by my desk during multiple choice exams and whisper, “You didn’t really mean to circle B there, did you? Keep it simple.” He knew I was an overthinker. Instead of circling the simplest and most obvious answer—which I often knew to be the right one—I would overthink the question, ...
How To Multiply Matrices Quickly and Correctly in Six Easy Steps
Step 0 – Make Sure the product makes sense! Say we’re given two matrices A and B, where
How to Simplify the Process of Selecting Your Medical Speciality
When it comes to choosing a medical specialty, there is no magical sorting hat. Making this decision can involve a lot of soul-searching about the type of career you want.  Here are a few reasons why I think this decision can be challenging:
Structuring and Strategizing your MCAT Studying: Phase 6
Welcome to the very last article in this series! You’ve managed to read about MCAT strategies for 5 articles without having your head explode, so well done. In this last article, I want to leave you with a few more tips that I have yet to mention. These tips are just as helpful as the ones I have already talked about, so definitely give them a ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Héctor, MIT Postdoctoral Fellow
This week, we're spotlighting Héctor, one of our incredible postdoctoral fellows at MIT. Héctor pursued a bachelor’s degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology at the University of Puerto Rico where he was honored with the best undergraduate researcher award in biology for his research in a neuroscience lab. For his graduate studies, Héctor’s ...
Three Ways to Build Good Vocab Habits for Standardized Tests
When taking standardized tests, especially the SAT or GRE, people often struggle with memorizing enough words for the (often tricky) vocabulary sections. When it comes to vocabulary, unlike other parts of the test, you either know the word or you don’t. So how can you ensure you improve your vocabulary memory for the test? It’s all about building ...
How To Decide If You Should Pursue A Gap Year Before Graduate School
It is hard to imagine remaining a student after graduating from college, yet it is increasingly popular these days as the working field becomes more selective and applicants more experienced. Although most students are confident in their decision to pursue graduate school, there is uncertainty when deciding whether to pursue a gap year. As a ...
3 Ways to Better Analyze Poetry
“Cikgu Tess!” “Pagi.” “Miss. Look lah.” “Alyaa—why?” “Girl’s bathroom,” she says. “Cikgu, you touch?” Our state has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the region. “Is it poisonous?” I mime the action of being bitten (by my hand) and then dying. “Mm, don’t know.” In 2017, I taught ESL, literature, and political science at a rural ...
7 essential tips for ANY standardized test
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 ...
Things I Wish I Knew During My First Year in College: Four Tips To Follow As A Freshman
The transition from high school to college was inevitably one of the most challenging changes I have encountered, both intellectually and emotionally. I was two parts excited and one part anxious to experience an unfamiliar landscape and pursue whatever route I found most fitting for me. By the time I was a senior in high school, school was easy ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: phase 5
Pssst... this is part of a series.  Be sure to read Cole's other posts on the MCAT by going to his profile here. We’re almost there!! Fair warning, this article is word-heavy, but bear with me. At this point, you are probably splitting your time between practice passages and content review (with a heavier emphasis on the former). Depending on ...
How Does the Brain Work Anyway? A Look Back on the Study of Neuroscience
The brain continues to fascinate scientists and non-scientists alike because it takes up so much real estate in our body and controls virtually everything we do from talking to breathing, thinking and moving. It is probably not surprising that reports about the nervous system (made up of our brain, spinal cord, and nerves spanning our whole body) ...
What No One Told Me About Grad School: Setbacks Aren't Always Bad
I tell this story because it seems to be the most encouraging thing I tell aspiring or freshly minted graduate students. The summer before my senior year of undergrad, I was accepted to the MIT Summer Research Program. I had an amazing experience, met incredible people, and gained a lot of confidence in my abilities. But in the midst of the ...
Structuring and Strategizing your MCAT Studying: Phase 4
pssst...this is part of a series.  Read the first and the second post! Now that you have made your super study guide (applause all around), we want to review it but also begin to focus more heavily on practice passages. Just to reiterate, at this point we are in the Period B of studying (see Phase 1 article if confused). We have reviewed all of ...
How to Address Your Weaknesses in a High Stakes Interview
The interview for any job or graduate school can be the gateway to success. Employers want to see potential in their applicants, and how we respond to interview questions reveals a lot about our creativity and ability to think on our feet. Common questions ask us to talk about ourselves, explain why we are pursuing our respective fields and ...
Breaking down sufficient assumption questions on the LSAT
Many students find Sufficient Assumption questions to be among the most difficult on the LSAT. Students should expect 2-4 per exam. While they are not the most frequent question type, they tend to eat up a large amount of students’ time. However, with the right strategies, they become much easier to solve. Here are three examples, all from LSAT 70.
A Brief History of Neuroscience and the Field Today
The discoveries about the brain over the past hundred years have only spurred more questions about how the brain works. These questions have captivated scientists, the public and policymakers alike. In the past 30 years, two Presidents of the United States have introduced large scale initiatives to study the brain. In 1990, President Bush declared ...
What no one told me about grad school: long-distance means far away
To say that I underestimated moving across the United States is an understatement. I grew up in a small-ish town in Southern California and went to college a short 50-minute drive away. I thought this meant that I had “moved out,” like a real adult. But I would soon learn that going to your childhood home every other weekend to do laundry doesn’t ...
The Changing Landscape of the SAT
SAT
This week, our SAT prep tutor Katherine writes on her opinions of the changing landscape of the SAT.  In the past week, I have been forwarded articles regarding the University of Chicago’s decision to no longer require standardized test scores for admission. The accompanying messages ranged from “Have you seen this? Thoughts?!” to “What are YOU ...
How To Strengthen Your Writing In One Easy Step
Very few rules of good writing are without exceptions, and this one is no exception, but I think it might be close:  You can always — or nearly always — make your writing stronger, clearer, and sharper if you follow the word “this” with a noun.*
Structuring and Strategizing your MCAT Studying: Phase 3
You made it to Phase 3 and you are still alive, so congratulations! At this point, we are now in ‘Period B’ studying (if that makes no sense, refer back to the Phase 1 article). By now we have successfully reviewed all of the content in our books and have taken a few MCAT practice exams. Things should be starting to feel a little more comfortable, ...
How to write a diversity essay for law school
In addition to a personal statement, many law schools also encourage applicants to submit a supplementary “diversity” statement. Applicants are often confused about how to approach a diversity essay, as law schools provide significantly more leeway and less guidelines in terms of the type of content they are looking for. Often, applicants forgo ...
How to Choose DAT Study Resources
The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is a standardized examination required for admission into dental school comprised of four sections: survey of the natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning. Although it can be a daunting test to master, choosing the appropriate resources to maximize efficiency and ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: Phase 2
  Phase 2: Reviewing Content While Staying Sane Welcome back! Having learned about Period A and Period B from the Phase 1 article (see link), we will delve deeper into the structure of Period A. As mentioned, the major focus of Period A is content review (fun!). While the structure offered by online prep courses can help (again, I took the ...
Staying Ahead of the Curve: Secondary Essay Pre-Writing Strategies
MD
Let’s be frank: completing the primary application component of the AMCAS or the AACOMAS requires a big initial push. While everyone deserves a moment to breathe and collect themselves after this first major hurdle, it would be a mistake to let the impending flood of secondaries surprise you. In fact, there is no reason not to be prepared for the ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: phase 1
Phase 1 - Introduction & Scheduling the MCAT; Tips for Timing Introduction Right now, you might feel that even hearing the word “MCAT” may induce a full-blown panic attack. I get it, not too long ago that word (acronym, technically speaking I guess?) was the bane of my existence. It’s an exam that requires painstaking diligence, long hours, ...
How does the brain work anyway? A short overview on the future of neuroscience
If the ultimate goal of neuroscience is to understand how the brain works, how will scientists know when that goal has been reached? Is it by our ability to build artificial intelligence matching human capabilities? Our ability to treat or completely prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, or mental disorders like schizophrenia? ...
How to Effectively Leverage the Five-Paragraph Model in the MD or DO Personal Statement
MD
We tend to recall the five-paragraph essay model from our middle school years with a certain degree of disdain. Why should a basic model easily championed by third-graders be applicable to a statement so important that it may determine the outcome of my entire career? Yet, as one moves on to more complex educational and pre-professional stages of ...
How to Begin Planning for Secondaries Now
MD
So you submitted your primary application at the beginning of the month, and you’re now stuck waiting for June 30th to begin the task of answering secondary prompts.  Though you should give yourself a big round of applause for submitting your AMCAS on time (hooray!), the work on your MD applications is far from over.  You should be using this down ...
How Test Prep Works (and doesn’t work): A primer for mainland Chinese parents and students
The American education system and the Chinese education systems are structured in very different ways, and the standardized tests which are used to evaluate college applicants reflect those differences. If the Gaokao is a test (of memorized knowledge), then tests like the SAT and ACT are best labeled evaluations (of broad fundamental abilities).  ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Latoya, New York MD
This week, we're spotlighting Latoya, one of our incredible MDs from Columbia.
Surviving the MD admissions process as a student-athlete
For those of us who are pre-med collegiate athletes, or those considering this route, there is one inescapable and terrifying truth: the day consists of only 24 hours. While I was playing NCAA ice hockey at Wesleyan University, 5 hours each day were devoted to athletics. Additionally, most weekends were spent traveling for games and sleeping in ...
Ants Go Marching: Fun Facts About How Ants Navigate
Desert ants don’t need to emulate Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs to get out of the forest; they can just count their steps! Ants who live in dense forests create scented trails home by squeezing glands covering their bodies on the floor. But the intense heat of the Sahara destroys these scents and there are few environmental markers to help the ...
Behind the Scenes of Harvard Medical School
MD
This week, we interview Morgan for a backstage pass to Harvard Medical School.  Morgan is originally from Southern New Jersey, spent the past four years in Williamsburg, VA studying at the College of William & Mary, and is now in Boston as a first year medical student at Harvard. As an undergraduate, Morgan majored in Hispanic Studies and ...
A Brief History of Darwin and His Pigeons
In biology class you’re told ad naseum that the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.  Darwin is credited as first publishing the cohesive argument in On the Origin of Species in 1859 and it was his love of pigeons that greatly informed his research. You heard that right. Pigeons, not finches. As a wealthy man living in ...
The top strategy for the math section of the SAT and ACT
Complicated algebra is the last thing many students want to deal with on a high-stakes test like the SAT or ACT. Yet it seems like there is no way around it, with the alphabet soup of variables scattered throughout the exam. Thankfully, there is a strategy for those problems where your algebraic manipulations are leading nowhere. It’s called ...
Behind the scenes at Columbia Medical School
This month, we interview Jonathan for a peek behind the curtain of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Born and raised in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, Jon considers himself more of a New Yorker after living in the Big Apple for the past five years. He graduated from Columbia University in 2016, where he double majored in ...
An introduction to supply and demand
What is supply and demand? In economics, supply and demand is the relationship between the quantity of a commodity that producers wish to sell at various prices and the quantity that consumers wish to buy.  Though it is a seemingly straightforward relationship, in practical application it can become quite complicated.  In this blog, we will use an ...
The physics of martial arts
As a practicing biomedical engineer and martial artist, I belong to two communities that, at a glance, seem to conflict with one another; engineering requires rigorous thought and thorough validation of proposed innovations, while martial arts focuses on sensing subtle body motions and quickly reacting to one’s environment. When I first became ...
How to Ace the SAT Math Section
SAT
Whether you have struggled in your math classes or have excelled so far, to ace the new SAT math section will require putting in additional work.  You will need to set aside time to practice for it. Time is a major factor in the math section, so obtaining the highest score will require more than simply being able to figure out a way to get to the ...
What I Learned When I Retook the ACT and SAT
My blog posts usually focus on the content of the ACT and SAT: what information is on the tests, how to think strategically about taking the tests, and how to maximize your score. This month, I decided to take a step back from the details and look at the bigger picture, so I sat down and took practice ACT and SAT tests, back to back. I realized a ...
How to Study for a Math Test: 4 Essential  Tips
It’s a Tuesday night, and you’ve just remembered that you have a huge algebra 2 test tomorrow. Panic starts to sweep over you as you think back on all you’ve learned this semester. How will you ever succeed? You call up your friend to ask how you can study, and he calmly tells you he has just spent about an hour reviewing the main concepts from ...
How Majoring In Math Will Change The Way You See The World
There is a humorous, misguided stigma associated with math. Just the mere utterance of the word “math” conjures up, for many, the image of intimidating, arcane equations strewn about blackboards and calculators gone on the fritz. For many, math was a painful experience in grade school (and beyond) -- myself included! In fact, I did not become ...
How to Have Success as a Student Athlete: Tips from an Insider
Ah, the student-athlete. In today’s landscape of college admissions and college scholarships, many of us recognize the importance and opportunity given to the student-athlete. In performing well and playing on a school’s team, you earn both a spot in the classroom at that institution and a “quote-unquote salary” for attracting revenue to the ...
What Missy Elliott Can Teach You About Conditionals & Contrapositives
Rapper Missy Elliott’s hit 2002 song ‘Work It’ - parental advisory warning required - was my go to LSAT study prep song. This was not due to my deep affinity for Elliott’s music (I’m more of a Childish Gambino type of girl), but because the lyrics of ‘Work It’ contain a hidden key to mastering contrapositive statements. In our last post, we ...
How to Make Introductory Physics Exciting (When You're Bored Out of Your Mind)
Why do many students find physics so boring?  College-level introductory physics courses on Newtonian mechanics can feel quite...mechanical and dry for most students. On the other hand, cutting edge physics research asks and addresses amazingly deep questions like “what is all the stuff in the Universe fundamentally made of?” and “where did all ...
Improve Your Writing By Getting Back to Basics: Why Grammar Matters
Why Bother? Good grammar is a lost art. Even many English teachers give it short shrift these days, and it’s possible to sail through years of schooling without addressing bad habits. But your mistakes add up. Weak writing can lead to lower grades, make a bad first impression with employers, and hold you back from being an effective communicator, ...
A quick list of ACT literary devices
Welcome back to my SAT/ACT reading section blog. The topic for today: literary devices. These terms come up infrequently but often enough that it’s worth giving them a look over before the test to be sure that you have them down. If they come up, you can get another question right, and if they don’t, you can save what you learned for a future SAT ...
Preparing for the tough questions in your med school interview
Last time we discussed the general approach to preparing for a medical school interview and went over a couple big picture questions. The ultimate goals are to, one, let the interviewer know how you are different than every other person they spoke to and, two, why you would be a good fit for this program. You want to convey these points in a ...
Preparing for Your Medical School Interview: General Approach and Big Picture Questions
First things first - congratulations on getting a medical school interview.  It is no small accomplishment and you should take a moment to appreciate all the hard work that has gotten you to this point.  There is still much hard work ahead, but let the “wins” fuel you moving forward. 
Tips for getting a perfect score on a standardized math test
SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, GRE. What do these acronyms all have in common? Well, they’re all standardized tests, but more importantly, they all have multiple-choice math test sections. Despite whether or not they’re accurate indicators of student performance in the classroom, lab, or office, they are all essential for entry into some educational career ...
A 6-month Plan to Study for the LSAT, Inspired by Miracle 
The September LSAT is less than 6 months away, and I just watched Miracle for the first time. That happy confluence of events produced this: a roughly 6-month study plan for the LSAT that mirrors the approach Team USA took in preparing to face the reigning 4-time Olympic hockey champions. I want you to study smarter—adopting only the best ...
The power of anecdote: creative strategies for academic writing
Many of the freshmen I instruct at CUNY enter the first few sessions of my Expository Writing class wearing metaphorical top hats and monocles, armed with—and comforted by—the five-paragraph essay structure and other basic compositional building blocks. College-level essay writing, in their understanding, requires a stuffy, exacting formality—a ...
To write a memorable college essay, tell a story
Essays Without Concrete Information Are Quickly Forgotten As I regularly tell students in my AP English classes, essays full of generalizations aren’t worth the paper they are written on.  An essay that fails to include concrete examples of the concept under discussion is forgotten the moment the reader reaches the end—if, indeed, the reader gets ...
Best practices for market sizing for case interviews: part 3
So far in our series of Casing 101 blogs, we have reviewed structuring the problem via an initial framework and navigating case math. In this edition, we will cover another problem-solving exercise that is common in case interviews: market sizing. At first, market sizing may seem daunting – how can we possibly estimate the number of televisions ...
An introduction to choice theory: are humans really 'rational actors?'
If you are a student of economics, one of the first axioms you are instructed to adapt is that everyone should be considered a “rational actor.” What this means is that all people who take part in economic decisions and transactions are informed by self-interest and do so in a manner that maximizes their potential self-benefit.  This is essential ...
A guide to the best Step 1 study resources
Studying for Step 1 can easily become all-consuming.  A seductive pitfall is to see every moment not spent studying as time wasted.  The purpose of this post, however, is to hopefully convince you that the opposite is, in fact, true.  Time spent away from overt Step 1 studying actually enhances one’s ability to efficiently prepare for this ...
How to Become a GMAT Natural
I've heard it all before.  GMAT test takers tell a variety of lies to themselves: “I’m just a bad test taker.” “You’re either good at these tests, or you’re not.” False and false. “Easy for you to say! My roommate barely did any practice tests and she got a 750!” You guessed it, false. None of us came into this world knowing critical reasoning and ...
How to Practice Reading for the SAT and ACT
SAT
Many students either don’t get the scores that they are hoping for on the reading section or feel like they aren’t reading accurately enough or quickly enough. But how do you improve your reading? Let’s go through some strategies that can help you improve your reading speed and accuracy.
An Overview of the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
Now that you have taken most of the prerequisite courses for dental school, it is important to start thinking about taking the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). In this blog, I will be giving you some objective, important details about the test and also my own personal experience taking the DAT.
How to Face Rejection: Reframing Failure to Help You Succeed
Rejection hurts. In fact, experiences of rejection and physical pain provoke a similar physiological response. Some studies even suggest that acetaminophen eases the pain of rejection, just like physical pain. So, if not getting into your top school felt like a punch in the gut, now you know why. 
4 best practices for case interview math: part 2
When we last left off in this series of Casing 101 blogs, we had structured a detailed framework that broke the problem into its unit-level variables and presented it to the interviewer (see link here). But this is just the beginning. From here the interview will move into a series of problem-solving exercises including math problems, ...
How athletes can strengthen their candidacy in med school applications
Whether you are a high school senior trying to decide whether to play sports in college, or a collegiate athlete beginning to fill out your medical school application, this post is for you.  When it comes down to it, admissions committees make their selections based off traits that they recognize tend to help students thrive through school and ...
An Introduction To Enumeration Using Generating Functions
In the year 1202, Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci published Liber Abaci (Book of Calculations). Though its most significant contribution was to bring to Europe the Hindu-Arabic number system that we all use today, it also contained a curious thought experiment about the reproductive patterns of rabbits, which gave rise to one of the most ...
My essential strategy checklist on standardized tests
The way I teach standardized tests has been changed by a book I recently read: “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. Ask any of my students over the past three months and they will be quick to tell you of my incessant and often repeated reminders of System 1 and System 2. So much so, that I’ve decided to write about it.
Use these 3 steps to ace Reading Comprehension on the LSAT
So you're thinking about taking the LSAT, but you're scared of reading comprehension.  There's been a lot of talk about RC on the LSAT:
What I Told My Sister About Studying for the GRE
GRE
As many older siblings can tell you, sometimes your younger siblings would rather go hiking in Antarctica before they ask for the tiniest bit of help or advice. So you can imagine my surprise when I got this message from my youngest sister a few months ago:  Sis : i’m finally kinda trying to maybe somewhat get more serious about gre prep Sis : ...
How To Keep Your Middle Schooler's Backpack Organized In 8 Easy Steps
Have you ever opened a middle schooler’s backpack to find a mess of papers, crushed pencils, and uneaten snacks? That emoji-themed folder that your child was so excited to pick out in the beginning of the year torn to shreds? The ‘Math’ section mysteriously also being the go-to folder for notices about PTA potlucks, field trip reminders, and ...
How to prepare for case interviews: part 1
After all your preparation, it’s all come down to this moment. For months you have networked, practiced your “fit” stories, and done countless mock case interviews with friends. You sit down at the table with your interviewer and exchange introductions. Before you know it she says “let’s start the case” and proceeds to read you the interview ...
How to prep for the MCAT as a full time student
The hardest part of studying for the MCAT isn’t the studying itself. Given enough time, most people could study enough to do reasonably well. The problem is, most of us don’t have all that time: the majority of MCAT-preppers are in college or work full time jobs. Both of these commitments are enough on their own, so trying to stack studying for ...
How to Strengthen Your Reading Sections on the SAT and ACT Test
Welcome back to another blog post about the SAT and ACT tests! This post continues on my earlier posts on practicing reading and ACT and SAT reading questions. If you haven’t read them, be sure to circle back and check them out. 
3 surprising reasons why Social Science prepares you for medicine
One morning during winter break, as I was sitting on my couch with a mug of coffee in hand, I remember reveling to my mom: “It’s incredible how much majoring in anthropology kept on proving itself useful in medical school.  Who would have known?” In college, I chose to major in a social science, anthropology—surely the less traditional route for ...
3 Essential Steps to Success when Studying for the GRE
It’s time: you’ve committed to taking the GRE. You’ve gotten your hands on 10 pounds’ worth of test prep books, thousands of practice problems, and a dozen full-length tests. Oh, and you’ve got eight weeks to learn it all. Where should you begin? Before you crack open any books, start by making a game plan. Set some ground rules for yourself about ...
Introduction to physics: the language of the universe
 In elementary and middle school, we learn mathematics for the sake of mathematics, we are never told what mathematics can ultimately be used for or why mathematics is useful other than the fact that it can help us make change and do our taxes one day. What they should be telling you is that the laws of the universe are written in a language that ...
Types of Reading Questions on the SAT and ACT Exams
Welcome back to my blog series on reading for the SAT and ACT exams! New here? Loop back to the beginning and check out my post How to Read for the SAT and ACT. In this post, I will be looking at the different types of reading questions that you can expect to find on the two exams.
Four Tips to Ace Your Next History Term Paper
If you’re taking a history class this semester, then its almost guaranteed that you’ll have to write a history term paper. You may already be a top-notch writer, but your professor might not tell you that history papers are a unique type of essay. The expectations for a history essays are different from most other classes, and professors and ...
How to Begin Brainstorming For Your Admissions Essays: Start With Narrative
Humans gravitate towards narrative. We can’t help it—being attuned to changes and working out a theory of what caused them is a pretty good evolutionary trick. But you can use this predilection to your advantage when applying to college or graduate programs—in a sea of expository personal statements, the one with elements of plot will stand out. ...
An introduction to proofs: the structure of induction
  Induction.  It's a mathematical concept that is no doubt familiar to any student taking an introductory proof class.  It is also a concept that can bring complex feelings---the excitement of learning a new cool proof technique, the fear of being asked to prove something "obvious", or the confusion of where to start.  
Mindfulness and the MCAT: 3 steps for avoiding burnout
Pre-Med students are no strangers to stress. From Physics midterms, to O-Chem lab reports, to the inevitable march into finals week, you have plenty of experience juggling assignments and managing that cortical response of your brain saying, Yeah, this is a little too much. Stress itself isn’t the problem. In fact, after a certain point it shows ...
How to write a killer essay in 3 easy steps
We’ve all been there: staring at a blank document, practically able to feel the creeping imminence of our paper’s deadline. For so many of us, it’s really hard to sit down and actually channel our thoughts into a coherent form, let alone one that’s structured and based on an argument worthy of praise.
The Familiar Key Step at the Heart Of (Almost) All Alcohol Oxidation Reactions
When I was learning organic chemistry, I remember the reagents for oxidation reactions completely driving me bonkers!
My Strategy for a Perfect Score: ACT Reading and MCAT CARS
If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re looking to improve your reading score on either the ACT or the MCAT and ideally, you’re in one of two boats: 1) You are consistently a few points shy of that 36 on the ACT Reading or 132 on MCAT CARS and are looking to bridge that last gap 2) Are struggling with the reading section in general, and are ...
New Year’s Resolution: Get More Sleep
If you’re in college or grad school and your New Year’s resolutions include plans like “earn higher grades,” “complete more work on time,” or even just “be more productive,” there’s one more resolution you should add to your list: get more sleep. It might sound counterintuitive—how do you get more done by making a resolution to spend more time ...
Five elements of a killer graduate school essay
So you’ve taken the GRE/GMAT/TOEFL, got your recommendations lined up, and picked your list of top schools. Now comes the part some people get really nervous about: translating your story into a really powerful application essay that convinces the admissions committee that they just have to have you. Below are five key elements of a strong ...
Three Reasons Why You Should Consider A Philosophy Degree
In my senior year as a business undergraduate, I stumbled on philosophy. At a used bookstore I’d been going to for years I picked up a philosophy text instead of my usual fiction. The book was Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents, in which he argues that a fundamental source of unhappiness is the tension between innate human desires and ...
What to talk about in your college admissions alumni interview
In my last post, I laid out four reasons why you should schedule that “optional” alumni interview advertised on universities’ pages for prospective students. In today’s post, I’ll describe how to hold a conversation that is valuable for you, and for your alumni interviewer, as they draft their report for the admissions committee.
Why you should opt-in to the (optional) alumni interview
You’ve labored over the first draft of your personal statement, requested letters of recommendation, and taken the SAT one last time— and, finally, winter break arrives. With it comes ample free time to commit to the “optional” elements of the college admissions process, such as college visits and what I’ll discuss today: the voluntary “alumni ...
How to prepare for dental school: prerequisites & the DAT
Congratulations! You have successfully identified that you want to join the exciting field of dentistry and begin preparing for dental school. You will be joining a community of healthcare professionals that care about their community’s oral health and general well-being. It’s truly a rewarding career that will offer your many opportunities to ...
3 things you should do if you bombed the LSAT
You spent months preparing. You did every logic game available. You were hitting your target score in your LSAT practice tests. You were ready for the LSAT -- or so you thought. Then test day came and everything you practiced went out the window. At least that’s what it felt like when the proctor handed out the flimsy booklet and you realized your ...
The (Potential) Impact of the New Tax Bill on Graduate Students
Dear Reader, I'm Lucas, a graduate student in the Math Department at MIT and a tutor with Cambridge Coaching. Like most graduate students, I have intently followed the discussions about the new tax bill, thinking how it would affect my finances. As of this writing, only the House of Representatives’ version eliminates a provision that would ...
How to ace interview weekend for PhD Biomedical Science programs
If you read my previous post, “What to expect during interview weekend for PhD Biomedical programs” you know exactly what you are in for during interview weekend. Now the question is, how do you prepare? You have two goals during interview weekend: 1) Convince the graduate students and faculty members that you would be an excellent fit for their ...
What are lymphocytes? A guide to your immune system
The immune system is designed to prevent disease and fight infection and is critical for human survival. It specializes in the ability to attack foreign microorganisms, but what stops your immune system from eating you alive? Given that cells of the immune system can essentially eat microorganisms, you may be wondering what mechanisms are in place ...
How long does it take to study for the MCAT Test?
I am going to estimate how long a student might take to study for the MCAT test using the books I recommend for my students under the premise that someone is studying full time. This is an estimate, but I think it paints a decent picturse of what a fulltime MCAT student can expect. For part time students, they would spread this over a longer ...
7 Ways to Get the Most out of your Practice Tests
We all know there is no shortage of SAT practice materials out there. I don’t know about you, but rather than taking every single practice test out there, I’d rather be efficient. Since each SAT practice exam takes about 3-4 hours, it’s not easy to make time to do a full practice every single week. Here are some strategies I developed to get the ...
Have You Finished Your College Application Essay? (Part Two)
If you’ve already read Part One of this post, you’ll have ensured that your college application essay has a consistent main point, that its ideas flow in a logical order, and that it represents your own writerly voice. In Part Two, we’ll address more local concerns: although the questions below might seem limited to “smaller” editing or ...
Have You Finished Your College Application Essay? (Part One)
One of the toughest parts of applying to college is actually hitting that “Submit” button at the end of the application and sending it off to admissions readers. Even if you want to be done, application nerves can make it difficult to commit to being done. In this two-part post, I’ll give you a list of things to look for in your college ...
How to Hold on to a New Language After a Long Break
Ever find yourself at the beginning of another school year, in the language classroom, and unable to utter a word? It’s common to all second- (and third-, etc.) language learners, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips on how to keep up a new language during a long break from study.
How to Read for the SAT and ACT: Three Methods
One of the hardest sections to prepare for on the SAT and ACT is the reading section. For the other sections, like math and English, there is particular content to learn. For the reading section, however, the exam is testing how well you understand and interpret what you read. Most importantly in this section, you need to manage your time well. ...
What to expect during interview weekend for PhD Biomedical programs
Congratulations! If you have been selected to interview at a Biomedical PhD program (e.g. Biology, Neuroscience, Biophysics) that means you were selected from a pile of hundreds of applicants. The program is willing to fly you in for interview weekend and take the time to show off its program and city. Let that act as a confidence booster, but you ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Madeline, Boston MCAT Tutor
This week, we're spotlighting Madeline, one of our incredible MCAT tutors in Boston Madeline is from the coastal town of Brunswick Maine and considers herself a “mainer” through and through.  She attended Middlebury College, majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and graduating magna cum laude. During her time at Middlebury she worked in a ...
Solving the “I’m not good at math” problem
You’ve heard it before. Or you’ve said it. I’m not good at math. I hear it from seventh graders struggling with fractions, high school students preparing to take the SAT, friends at a restaurant when splitting a check, and even from parents assuring me that their child’s own difficulties are in fact genetic. And while I’ve heard it countless ...
How to Study Smart for the New MCAT Natural Science Sections
A little about me—I took the new MCAT exam in Spring 2016, when it had just recently started being offered in place of the old MCAT exam. I spent a lot of time wondering: how do I prepare for this exam, when so little preparation material is out there specifically for the new exam? At times I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, trying to ...
The 5 Most Important Strategies when Planning Your MCAT Study Schedule
Choosing when to take the MCAT was a decision I wrestled with for months and months, but strangely enough I don’t remember exactly when I chose my test date. What I do remember clearly though is sitting down at the mahogany wood desk in my room at home over Thanksgiving break, opening up my laptop, and having no idea where to begin my planning for ...
Orgo 2 Strategies: “Taking Home” Carboxylic Acid Derivatives
I’ve already covered how to easily manage carboxylic acid derivative formation and manipulation using the Reactivity Hill. Say we’re tired of whatever derivative we just created and want to bring the derivative back to its parent acid (the particular acid the derivative came from). There are two ways to “take home” any acid-derivative. We can ...
Organic Chemistry: This Subject Gives You Alkynes of Trouble!
Although some people genuinely enjoy it, organic chemistry is stigmatized as the bane of every science major's curriculum. Before you actually take one or two courses in this subject, the horror stories that you've heard from those who have already taken these courses fill you with anxiety and leave you fearing the unknown. I'm not going to sugar ...
How to draft a college personal statement in 4 easy steps
There is no use beating around the bush: drafting your personal statement is one of the most challenging components of the college application.  Even the most confident writers struggle to distill their identity within the bounds of a word count. The personal statement requires serious introspection about your life and long-term goals, and thus ...
Golden rules to nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) analysis: part 1
Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or NMR, is a fundamental analytical technique used by chemists to determine the structure of organic compounds. Unlike other analytical techniques, such as infrared spectroscopy or mass spectroscopy, NMR allows for the complete interpretation of molecular structure and can be quantitative.
Five reasons you shouldn’t stress about LSAT logic games
I still remember the exact order of the sections in my first LSAT diagnostic. First was critical reading; great, something that was familiar from the SAT. Then came two logical reasoning sections; hard, but at least I had a general idea of what to do.
The Best Age to Apply to Law School
If you’ve already thought about why you want to go to law school, you’ve probably also wondered when to go. According to the Law School Admission Council, 22-24 year olds constitute about half of all applicants. [1] I went to law school straight out of college, and so did many of my peers, but this decision may not be right for everyone.
CARS: proven strategies for the MCAT’s strangest section
  As a premed student, you’re likely comfortable with science questions. Even if you don’t know all the material, you’ve had plenty of practice answering experimental and knowledge-based questions, and generally know how to approach them. That experience will serve you well in the bulk of the MCAT.
4 types of MMI questions and how to ace them
  The days of traditional interviewing with 30-minute conversations about your favorite restaurants in Harvard Square are over. With more and more medical schools moving towards the multiple mini interview (MMI) format, it’s important to know what types of questions to expect and how to navigate each one.
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Dan, our New York mathematics tutor
This week, we're spotlighting Dan, one of our incredible mathematics tutor in New York. Dan’s first science experiment involved a blow dryer, a basin of water, and a heat lamp. He was eight years old and thought he could build a miniature storm cloud after learning in school about how the water cycle worked. Though the experiment was not exactly a ...
Orgo 2 Strategies: Carboxylic Acid Derivatives and the Reactivity Hill
A lot of students get overwhelmed with all the manipulations we can do with carboxylic acids and their derivatives. Outside of being able to deprotonate carboxylic acids if we so desire, we can also directly derivatize them. For example, we can transform them into acid chlorides. Acid anhydrides. Esters. Amides. We can also transform acid ...
The top 3 reasons you should study Latin
There comes a moment in the careers of most middle- and high-schoolers learning Latin, and also among some college students considering it as a possibility when picking classes; a moment when they ask themselves (or their parents, or their teachers), “Why do I need to study this?”  After all, Latin is a dead language; unless you plan to become a ...
6 Ways to Manage Your Time During your Senior Year
Applying to college in the fall of your senior year of high school is like adding on an extra class: between the Common App, secondary applications, and any remaining test prep, your college application doesn’t just reflect your academic abilities—it requires you to really show them off. However, along with demonstrating your writing and ...
Orgo 1 + 2 Strategies: Four Confusing Group Abbreviations
As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, accurate bookkeeping of your carbon-count is seemingly petty but actually important: an error in bookkeeping can lead you to an incorrect answer even if your logic is correct.  With this in mind I thought it’d be helpful to share four common abbreviations that fluster many students.
Getting to 1600 - Working Toward a Perfect SAT
Where you are You're used to finding success in your academic life. You may not be the absolute best student in your school, but you're definitely right there at the top. So, obviously, you want to see that same level of success on the SAT to help you get into your first choice college. You did pretty well on the PSAT, National Merit material for ...
What is graduate level economics like?
  Is graduate level economics very different from undergraduate level economics? To many extents, undergraduate and graduate economics is similar, to many others very different. Their similarities reside in the fact that the core ideas and ways of approaching problems are the same. That is, because knowledge builds in layers, they share a common ...
College Admissions: How Important Are My Grades?
There’s almost nothing that creates more anxiety in the admissions process (and the whole high school and college experience) than grades. For better or worse, we’ve come to think of them as the major metric on which a student’s performance is judged, and that has created an entire culture of worry and pressure around them at every step of the ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Caroline, Standardized Test Extraordinaire!
This week, we're spotlighting Caroline, one of our wonderful test preparation tutors! Caroline grew up in London and moved to Connecticut for high school. Although she’s lived in the US for close to 14 years now, people still question her unique transatlantic accent. Caroline attended Washington University in St. Louis and graduated Magna Cum ...
Orgo 1 Strategies: Understanding Hybridization
Your professor gives you the below molecule. Can you quickly determine the hybridization of every atom? Determining and understanding hybridization in Orgo 1 isn’t a futile practice. It’s an idea key to understanding mechanism and reactivity all the way through Orgo 2. Thankfully, the rules of thumb used to determine an atom’s hybridization are ...
How to solve kinematics problems: a guide to vectors
This article is the third chapter in a series on how to understand and approach kinematics problems. The first chapter covered position, velocity, and acceleration. The second chapter covered solving kinematics in one dimension Now we are going to take a quick detour into vectorland so that we’re ready to approach kinematics in two (and even ...
How do I use Punctuation on the ACT and SAT Exams? Part II
College entrance tests require that you know the rules of punctuation. There’s no way around it, so let’s get right to it.
Two ways to determine equilibrium position in organic chemistry
A common exam question that comes up in both Orgo 1 and Orgo 2 requires students to determine a reaction’s equilibrium position. The question usually looks something like this: 
The Key to Selecting the Right Answer on the SAT & ACT: Part 2
Welcome to part 2 of my blog on English strategies. If you didn’t read part 1, you can check it out here. Picture it now: you’re breezing through the ACT English or SAT Writing and Language section. Every question come easily to you, as you follow what your ear tells you is right. You didn’t need to learn grammar after all! And then on one ...
The Key to Selecting the Right Answer on the SAT & ACT: Part 1
Here I bring you a two-part series about methods for the English/Writing and Language sections of the ACT and SAT. Many students approach the English sections of the ACT and SAT with the mindset that they will go with whatever answer sounds right. Everyone who is taking college entrance exams already has a high aptitude in English. Isn’t this ...
Fake News: How To Make Sure Your Research Papers Are Fact, Not Fiction
I’m going to tell you something embarrassing: I… sometimes… get my news from Facebook! I know, I know, I’m supposed to be better than this. I’m a tutor! I should be waking up three hours early to read every single paper from around the world while looking through a reference dictionary. I’m not perfect.
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Henry, New York MCAT Tutor
This week, we're spotlighting Henry, one of our wonderful test preparation tutors! Henry grew up in Portland, Oregon playing, soccer, baseball, and basketball before defecting to performing arts and becoming a professional classical ballet dancer. He danced in both Pennsylvania and Utah before leaving the dance world to attend college at Columbia ...
How do I use punctuation on the ACT and SAT exams?
  Punctuation usually comes up in questions that ask you to choose from among a collection of different pieces of punctuation. Think about the use of each punctuation mark, and find which one has the use that is needed for the particular sentence. Pro tip! Don’t forget to read the entire sentence, not just the underlined part. You need to know the ...
Orgo 1 Strategies: Finding and Comparing Alkene Hydration Products
We all know Orgo 1 professors love stereoisomers. Consider the question A + B = C. Most professors expect you to fill in the question mark with all possible products and then indicate the major product(s), while other professors may provide you a potential C and then ask you if the statement is True or False.
How to get oriented to organic chemistry: 7 pillars of the course
Organic Chemistry (OChem or Orgo) seems like a scary course. But it should not be if you know what to expect. This road map is your guide to orientate yourself to Orgo1. It teaches you about the main topics covered in Orgo1 in the typical order they are taught in class. So, take a breath and sit back as you read, skim, or view the images that ...
The Best Standardized Test Tip? Comparitive Process of Elimination
Last month I wrote a post on how I initially teach my students to look at multiple choice problems. If you have not read it, I would recommend doing that first before reading on. As I wrote, I initially give my students two dimensions on which to assess an answer choice: truth and relevance. I start with these two for a few reasons. Firstly, ...
Speech is Silver, Silence is Golden: How Pausing in Conversation can Transform the Way you Communicate
Many people probably recognize the second part of that proverb as an oft-quoted adage to dictate the importance of quiet in our busy, noisy lives. The full version, as written above, originates in English thanks to Thomas Carlyle, who translated it from part of a larger German work in 1831 (which can be found on phrases.org/uk). The translated ...
How do enzymes work? Catalytic strategies and models of substrate fit
In this post, we are going to do a brief Q and A to review what enzymes do and how they work. This post will be slightly beyond a basic introduction so it is probably most appropriate for a student who already has a sense of what enzymes are.
Where Else Could you Go to College? Your Top Four Choices Beyond the Ivies
When high school juniors and seniors are putting their lists of schools together for college applications, they sometimes run into a paradox: on the one hand, there are so many colleges and universities they could apply to. On the other hand, everyone seems to be talking about just eight of them—the Ivy League (or maybe a few more if they’re ...
Statistics; for people #toobusysavinglives to deal with nonsense
For the vast majority of humans I’ve met during my time on Earth, statistics is a scary topic, relegated to the brains of nerds. But avoiding this subject altogether may leave you vulnerable to exploitation by the spin doctors who understand how to manipulate a fact into an opinion! Let’s explore simple concepts that can help foster an awareness ...
Top 6 GRE Verbal Pro-Tips to Study Smarter, Not Harder
GRE
I get it, endlessly drilling vocabulary, parsing paragraphs, and reading about complex astrophysics is not the most fun way to spend sunny Saturday afternoons. After all, Saturdays are for the Boys or perusing Thought Catalog on what kind of Saturday is the best Saturday. With a little strategy, you can study in a way that is efficient for your ...
Orgo 1 Strategies: The Power of Bromine in Synthesis
Whether you’re trying to accomplish a substitution or elimination in your synthetic scheme, there’s no getting around that a good leaving group must be involved. You’ll have a host of ways to introduce leaving groups by your final exam. Some reagents will invert chiral centers (e.g. SOCl2/pyridine, PBr3) in the process, and others won’t. 
Orgo 1 Strategies: Two Red Flags to Guide Your Synthesis
So your professor says your Orgo 1 final will have a few synthesis problems. The good news: you’ve only learned a handful of reactions. Namely, you’ve learned how to manipulate alkenes and alkynes, and you know a little about radicals, substitution versus elimination, and the chemistry of alcohols, thiols, ethers, and epoxides. The bad news: ...
Orgo 1 strategies: protocol for acid-base problems
  Determining which of two molecules is more acidic is tricky if you haven’t yet organized those factors that influence acidity. The protocol is a method I learned from my mastermind Orgo 2 professor to keep these ideas in order when they come into conflict. Namely: Size is more important than Electronegativity, which is more important than ...
What is CRISPR-Cas9?
In this blog post, we will be covering one of the most important developments in the field of biology in my lifetime, CRISPR-Cas9. You may or may not cover CRISPR in an intro biology course, but you likely will cover it in upper level courses. Regardless, this topic is important enough that any new biologist should understand the very basics even ...
Planning Ahead: How to Prepare for your MD Interviews
MD
After all of the essays, tests, and letter requests, one of the most exciting parts of the medical school application journey is the interview. This is your chance to show who you are as a person, as well as get the measure of each particular school. I’ve written before about how to prepare yourself for the interview, but I think it’s equally ...
ACT testing tip: how to identify main and subordinate clauses
For the ACT English exam, it is essential that you can identify and, if necessary, fix problems with main and subordinate clauses. Why? Because many grammar and punctuation rules require you to recognize your main subject and main verb.
The value of the good tutor for students of all ages
Selling the product instead of teaching the test I’ve been wanted to write a post about why individualized tutoring matters, why simply taking a class or picking a book off the store shelf can lead students away from the learning they need in order to improve their score.
What is the phospholipid bilayer and what determines its fluidity?
All cells are surrounded by a cell membrane that forms a barrier between the cell and its surroundings. This membrane is often referred to as the phospholipid bilayer. As you can probably tell from the name, a phospholipid bilayer is made up of two layers of lipids. The fluidity of this membrane must be maintained within a certain range for the ...
Which Standardized Test Materials Work (And Which Ones Don't)
  There’s nothing like studying with the right materials to scaffold your learning; conversely, there is nothing like studying with wrong materials to leave you without the payoff you expect. Here is some hard-earned insight into which materials to use -- and which to avoid. 
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Jimmy, Cambridge LSAT Tutor
This week, we're spotlighting Jimmy, one of our wonderful test preparation and admissions coaches! Jimmy Biblarz is a doctoral student in Sociology & Social Policy at Harvard University. Originally from Los Angeles, Jimmy is a 2014 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College (Social Studies and English) and the resident LGBTQ tutor in Eliot ...
The First Step to Mastering the Test? Knowing How to Self-Assess
Part of standardized test preparation is not only knowing the content of the exam, but also being able to self-assess why you're getting a question incorrect.  In this blog post, one of our most experienced standardized test preparation tutors reviews how he buckets content knowledge when teaching standardized tests, and how it will help you ...
A guide to your teacher's feedback: common abbreviations defined
If you are a student, you have probably seen a fair share of markings on your papers to indicate errors or ideas for improvement. If you are a teacher, you have made many of these markings and know how important it is to streamline the correcting process. While individual teachers or editors may have their own systems of signaling suggestions in ...
How to Address Weak Areas of your College Application
Although it may feel like you have to have the perfect application to get into college, with acceptance rates at one top-tier school dropping below five percent, there is no perfect formula for being accepted to college. Your goal instead should be to present any “problem areas”—a dip in your GPA, lower test scores than you wanted, or other high ...
An introduction to blood types: genotype, phenotype, inheritance, transfusion, and more!
What determines blood type? Contained within their cell membranes, some red blood cells have special glycolipids called A and B glycolipids. People with blood type A have the A glycolipid in their cell membranes, people with blood type B have the B glycolipid in their cell membranes, and people with blood type AB, have both glycolipids in their ...
How to Understand Matrix Factorization
Don’t let the word “matrix” scare you off! Even if your only experience with them is from the movie The Matrix, you know enough to learn about how they can be used to recommend you movies you might like, including, if you haven’t seen it already, The Matrix.  Today, we'll go over matrix factorization by taking a look at Netflix!
How to take a systematic approach to problems on the MCAT 
Before I went to college, I was professional ballet dancer and I loved to practice pirouettes—turning around on the tiptoes of one foot.  One of the first things I learned about pirouettes is that if I tried something completely different in my technique every time I practiced, I wouldn’t improve. Occasionally I would get lucky and do a few more ...
Why does English borrow so many words from other languages?
The Canadian blogger and free-lance reviewer James Nicoll created the following epigram on the English language: "English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."
How to sketch any graph by eye
Equations in math are useful but they’re also kind of inefficient – for each x value, you have to do a separate calculation to figure out what y is. Graphs take that equation and turn it into a visual, something you can look at and immediately see what happens at different values of x, how the function changes, and more!
An Insider's Look at an MBA at Wharton
This past weekend, I ventured back to Philadelphia. A lot was going on: the Wharton MBA reunion; the Wharton Class of 2017 graduation; and a much needed trip back to the Penn Museum. Walking through campus, seeing the familiar and iconic pit stops - Claes Oldenburg’s button, the Benjamin Franklin statue nearby, and our beloved Huntsman Hall (where ...
Ten simple rules for giving an effective presentation
Everyone has to give presentations at some point. Whether pitching a new product, presenting at a lab meeting, or giving a talk at a conference, the ability to give an effective, engaging, and persuasive talk cannot be understated. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely taught formally in school. I’ll present ten simple rules that will help reduce ...
How do we classify mutations in biology?
In the previous post, we discussed some of the built in mechanisms that help to prevent mutations. Sometimes, however, mutations occur in spite of these systems. There are a few different ways that mutations are typically classified in an intro biology course and there are often overlaps between these categories. Here is a brief review of some of ...
4 Key Tricks for Brainstorming Your College List
If you’re a rising high school senior looking toward college application season, one of your most important first steps is putting together a list of colleges you want to apply to. This list will help you plan college visits and make a schedule of application deadlines; it’s also an important time to check in about which schools’ admissions ...
What is moment and how do you calculate it?
When I tutor my physics students, I want them to understand the fundamentals of the concept, not just how to plug in numbers into an equation. I wished when I was learning physics, my teachers drew upon real life applications more, things we already understand about the world to help us really get it.
How to create an initial list of medical school applications
Somehow, it is May again. In Boston, this means more sun, Swan Boats, and my personal favorite: the turning on of the water fountains along all of the Charles River running routes. To those of you interested in medical school, it also brings the time to work on your primary applications and initial school list. For more information about how to ...
How to use probability trees to evaluate conditional probability
  If you’re majoring in economics, you will likely also need to take a statistics course.  One of the trickiest concepts is dealing with conditional probabilities.  In most classes, they teach you a fairly complicated equation known as Bayes’ Theorem. While this isn’t a hard formula to plug values into, it doesn’t give an intuitive understanding ...
5 key differences between American and British spelling conventions
Before America became a nation, the colonists who arrived to establish the country spoke English. From England. As there was not yet an authoritative source for how to spell words correctly in English, the colonists spoke English they were used to back home and wrote much the same way, using the way language was written in English literature as a ...
How to make great flashcards
There are many different ways to learn information, but among my colleagues in medical school, flashcards are one of the most common ways to study. While making flashcards may seem simple straight forward, I have learned over time that the exact opposite is the case.
How to write an excellent history paper
I love the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and I've seen it more times than I can count. It is about two teenagers on the brink of failing high school, unless they ace their final history exam. The Hollywood twist? The protagonists acquire a time machine that allows them to travel through different eras of history. Throughout the film, ...
Four mathematicians you should know
Math has changed a lot over the years. When most people think of math, they likely think of someone sitting quietly at a desk with a book or some paper. It’s an unmoving image. When we think of people who are good at math, we conjure up people who blaze through problems quickly and alone. They follow the rules in math and in life. But this is a ...
Frequently Asked Questions about Law School Recommendations
In this blog post, Jimmy (one of our Harvard JDs) answers four frequently asked questions about the process for acquiring your letters of recommendation for a JD application. 
The 3 Essential Steps to Finding the Right Graduate School
I always knew I wanted to get a graduate degree. At first, I thought I might want to be a lawyer. I studied for the LSAT, applied to Law schools, and got in. After some thinking, I decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer. Then, I thought I might want to be an academic. This was a deeper desire, one I had always considered throughout college. I ...
Preventing and repairing DNA mistakes during the cell cycle
If you are currently studying biology, you have probably learned that mistakes in DNA can create very big problems, including cancer. These DNA errors often (but not always) occur during replication. Whenever they occur, it is very important for the cell to have a set of systems in place to both prevent and repair these errors. In this blog post, ...
Graduate School: How to Get the Best Financial Aid Package Possible
We’ve all been there. After months of anticipation, we get the letter, either digitally or via “snail mail”, that will dictate the course of our lives for the next 1,2, 4 or in some cases (e.g. doctoral programs) 10 years. Sure, getting through all the applications, soliciting letters of recommendation, and polishing our statements of purpose like ...
Equations Guide for the MCAT: Your Key to Success
Equations are a MCAT test taker’s best friend, yet many students are afraid of them. They are powerful tools because they encapsulate a huge amount of information in a tiny package that you can easily memorize. They’re not everything—you still need to learn loads of conceptual information and facts to do well, but understanding how to use them is ...
What is Spectral Geometry?
All shapes, from strings to bridges to carrots, resonate You’re having breakfast in the kitchen when you start to hear a series of slow and repetitive thuds – someone is coming down the stairs. Without having to ask or look up, you can instinctively guess who it is. That’s because the cadence and volume of one’s footsteps is unique from person to ...
An MCAT Tutor's Steps to Verbal Success
All the way back in high school, I got a perfect score on the critical reading portion of the SAT. In college, I got a perfect score on the verbal section of the old MCAT. The point is that what is tested on the verbal section of the MCAT is the quintessential “test-taker” skill that has to be developed at some point through practice and ...
Tips for interpreting pedigree charts and understanding inheritance patterns!
Different traits are inherited in different ways. Many intro biology classes will expect you to be able to identify different patterns of inheritance and parental genotypes based on either a pedigree or the rates of a given phenotype in the offspring. It is helpful to be familiar with the phenotype ratios, pedigree charts, and the specifics of the ...
The 7 best places to study in Cambridge, MA
If you’ve spent a school year (or ten) in the Boston area, you know that New England winters aren’t always fun. On a 10 degree day in February, it takes a lot of motivation for me to venture outside. After several years of school, I know that I study more efficiently when I’m not at my house; when I’m home, it’s too easy to succumb to the ...
No butter? No bother! How context impacts meaning when speaking a language
A friend and I recently traveled to Dublin, where we were struck by how accessible the history and beauty of the city seemed, in a way that was easy to get to know. The people we encountered were friendly and eager to strike up a conversation, and they often did – with what we considered wonderfully melodic Irish accents. Notwithstanding the fact ...
A Quick Review Of Early Decision Schools And How To Plan For Them
Many sophomores and juniors—along with their parents—are thinking about college right now.  Though so many have whittled down a balanced list of schools, many applicants and their families have difficulty deciding when to apply.
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Max, Biology and MCAT Tutor!
This week, we're spotlighting Max, one of our exceptional biology and MCAT tutors! Max was born down the street from the National Institutes of Health, outside of Washington, D.C., and has been a lab rat ever since. He graduated from Yale Phi Beta Kappa with both a B.S. and M.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry while announcing hockey ...
What is a Limit, Anyways? Mathematical Concepts Explained
Let’s talk about a concept that can be confusing when you’re first studying calculus: limits. When you’re first introduced to limits, you’ll often hear your professor say things like, “What is the limit of f(x) =  as x approaches 5?” When worded like that, limits don’t sound very natural or intuitive – but in today’s post, I’m going to convince ...
How to Get Involved in a G.O.P Healthcare System
Two months ago, I wrote a blog post on the importance of pre-health students getting involved in political advocacy and offered several different ideas for how pre-health organizations could generate momentum around campus, whether through phone banking, op-eds, or a town hall. Now, an alternative to the Affordable Care Act (called the American ...
How to solve kinematics problems, part 2
This article is the second chapter in a series on how to understand and approach kinematics problems. The first chapter covered position, velocity, and acceleration. Now that we understand these quantities, we are going to use them to solve problems in one dimension. 
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Lucas, Mathematics Tutor
This week, we're spotlighting Lucas, one of our incredible mathematics tutors! Lucas attended MIT as an undergraduate, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and Physics, and a minor in Management Science. He decided to remain at MIT to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics, where he is currently in his fourth year.
How to Choose an MBA Program Once You've Been Admitted
You’ve spent months preparing for the GMAT and writing countless essay drafts. The interviews were stressful - but only another step in a series of MBA application obstacles. At work, you check your email and phone constantly, hoping that an acceptance (and not a rejection) will arrive at any moment. It comes. You’ve been accepted to Wharton. A ...
Essential tips for learning the anterior pituitary hormones
Learning the anterior pituitary hormones for your biology class or the MCAT can be a little overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in the weeds and struggle to see how it all connects. One thing that helped me when I was learning the anterior pituitary hormones was to visualize the connections between the most important structures. This both helped ...
Don't actually 'break a leg': common English idioms explained
One of the recent lessons I gave to my English Language Learners involved English idioms and their origins. An idiom is a saying that does not mean what the words literally express, but rather it has some representative meaning behind the words. Often, the reasons for the meanings of idioms are obscure; in this post, I will try to bring to light a ...
Breaking down nephron functioning into six easy steps!
The nephron is the kidney’s smallest functional unit. It works to ensure that the urine you excrete leaves your body in the correct volume and concentration. This is a complicated process, but once you master it, it is exciting to understand this important function of the human body!
Your College Admissions Timeline
Looking ahead to the college application process, it is imperative to have a roadmap to follow.  The most successful applicants begin to plan for their college application during the sophomore year of high school. By beginning to plan for the college admissions process early, applicants can better position themselves and significantly reduce the ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Caroline, Economics and GMAT Tutor
This week, we're spotlighting Caroline, one of our exceptional economics tutors! Caroline graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Economics and Public Policy. While at Brown, she was involved in club field hockey, Women in Business, and Kappa Alpha Theta. She also interned in investment banking at Goldman Sachs in 2011, and in the United ...
A Development Approach to Test Prep for Students of Different Ages
Giving Choices to Younger Students Students in grades 4-10 tend to face very different challenges when preparing for their tests. The youngest students are unfamiliar with such a prescribed set of learning goals, so distinct from the kind of open-ended and holistic kind of learning common across public and private elementary schools. For these ...
What is kinematics? Physics answers made simple
How to use this guide This blog post is the first in a series on how to understand and approach kinematics problems. It is meant to supplement your class and textbook. I will focus on practical applications, how to solve problems, and common mistakes that students make. If you want to learn the basics of kinematics, I recommend a textbook, but if ...
Cracking an AP Bio biotechnology question
The AP Biology exam for 2017 is set for the morning of Monday May 8th. So it’s that time of the year again to begin reviewing past concepts and doing practice exams.
Marginal Rate of Substitution (MRS), Marginal Utility (MU), and how they relate
In this post, I start off by explaining the Marginal Rate of Substitution (Sections II-IV). Then, I cover the concept of Marginal Utility (Sections V-VII). In both cases, I start with a story explanation, then give a formal definition, and finally provide some other useful information about the concept. After that, I connect the two concepts ...
Back to the basics: past, present, and future tenses in English
As an English teacher and literature major in college, I am passionate about the English language. I am a self-identified stickler for grammar, and I will correct a text to a friend if I notice it lacks an apostrophe or contains an erroneous punctuation mark.
3 ways to implement teacher feedback to improve your work
Most of us know what it feels like to put significant effort into an assignment, and to have it returned with a barrage of red comments cascading down the pages, recommending innumerable changes for improvement. It can feel disheartening and frustrating – and sometimes dampens your motivation to want to try at all to work on a revision!
A Time of Despair or a Time of Action? Future Health Care Professionals as Political Advocates
“I’m asking you to believe--not in my ability to create change, but in yours.” ~Barack Obama, Farewell Address, January 11, 2017 In the wake of Trump’s election and serious threats to the Affordable Care Act, many health professionals are working to organize and advocate for equitable access to health care, women’s reproductive rights, and more. ...
Verbified nouns: Engaging with cultural cliché[é?]s through language study
  A Confounding Caption While meandering through a shopping mall last week, waiting for my husband to emerge from the battlefield that is the men’s dressing room, I stumbled upon a most curiously named store. To avoid incurring undue amounts of commercial ire and for the sheer purpose of explaining the flurry of ensuing reflections, let’s simply ...
Tips and mnemonics for memorizing amino acid structures
Learning amino acid structures is a challenging part of biology and biochemistry coursework. Many students feel totally overwhelmed by the task. The best way to master this skill is lots of repetition (here is a link to a Sporcle quiz that may help you with the repetition part) but it can be helpful to have tricks and mnemonics to get you started. ...
When should I guess on the GMAT?
If you’re thinking about taking the GMAT and going to business school, chances are you’ve already taken hundreds of written tests throughout your career. Some of them were probably standardized tests like the SAT or ACT, and others might have been in your high school and college classes. Most likely, those tests involved sitting down and answering ...
7 Key Strategies to Boost your Score on the GRE from a Master
GRE
There are many opportunities to make mistakes on the GRE, and our Master tutor Greg has witnessed all of them.  With over 500 hours of experience teaching with Cambridge Coaching, he is one of the most well-qualified GRE tutors out there.  What are the most common problems he addresses?  Some of the answers may surprise you.  Greg shares his ...
How to Help Your Child with Math Homework: 5 Easy Questions You Can Ask
If you’re the parent of a teenager, chances are good that a few years have passed since you had to graph a polynomial or find a derivative. Since high school math covers topics that people working outside of STEM don’t come across very often, many parents don’t feel like they can give much help to their teenage children with their math homework. ...
Revolving curves to make solids
Have you ever wondered where the formulas for volumes that you studied way back in geometry come from?
Total Justification: the best question strategy for the MCAT
What is Total Justification? Most students pick the correct answer on a multiple-choice practice problem, and think they have gotten the most they can out of the problem; they are wrong. Answering a question on the MCAT is essentially the task of appraising answer choices to see if they fit certain criteria, such as being factually correct or ...
The  Five Most Essential Tips for AP Chemistry Review, Ranked by an AP Teacher
You really want to ace your AP Chemistry final, so you are planning this month’s study sessions closely. Here are 5 Tips -- you can begin right now!
How do I Succeed as an ESL International Student? 8 Essential Solutions
The Problem You find yourself entering your first semester as a graduate student in New York City. For all the hard work reading, writing, and taking entrance exams, you still feel anxious and alienated from your native English speaking peers. Social mixers loom large. Prospects for networking with faculty appear out of reach. It’s as if you ...
What is the subjunctive tense in English?
One grammar category that seems to be widely untaught is the names and functions of various verb tenses. For those who have studied a foreign language, the existence of these constructions is not so foreign, but native English speakers rarely learn what the subjunctive – in English – even is, let alone how to use it correctly. The same goes for ...
Who struggles with GRE quant? (Hint: Pretty Much Everyone)
GRE
We might expect that the only students who avoided math for years will struggle with the quant section, which deals mostly with topics from a middle school/high school Algebra I class. In fact, students of all stripes encounter a range of challenges. Most students experience a unique combination of strengths and “growing edges,” but here are some ...
How Should I Time Myself on the MCAT? 5 Essential Tips
High on many students’ list of MCAT worries is running out of time. While time-management is an essential skill that you will need to master by exam day, it doesn’t need to be a big source of anxiety. Here are some tips for finishing your MCAT exam with time to spare!
Turn back the clock on that grade! How to revise a bad college paper
After you receive your grade and read your professor’s comments, you might have a lot of those “if only” thoughts. “If only I had looked up that concept.” “If only I had taken extra time to proofread that.” “If only I had read the assignment more carefully.” “If only I had started earlier and done more research.” “If only I had realized I was ...
A list of common homophones and their differences
What is a Homophone? There are many more words in the English language than one might expect, given how similar their pronunciation and spelling can be. They're usually nouns and adjectives, except for those that function as conjunctions or contractions. Once you accept that English contains many pairs or groups of deceptively similar words with ...
What is the Most Important Strategy to Use on the Step 1 Exam?
When I was practicing for my Step I exam, I often found myself frustrated. I would take what seemed like a simple case, find some minute detail, and then pick some crazy complex answer. Eventually, I found a strategy that helped me get over that: treating the patient in the question like a real one.
What's the Difference Between the Old SAT and New SAT? 5 Major Changes on the Reading Section
SAT
What does the reading section look like on the new SAT? In short, it’s a lot more predictable and straightforward than its predecessor, but there are some changes that could prove tricky. Let’s look at these changes in detail.
Step by step instructions on how to solve LSAT grouping games (part II)
This post picks up where part I left off– in that post, I covered setting up diagrams and rules for grouping games in the LSAT Analytical Reasoning section.
Step by step instructions on how to solve LSAT grouping games (part I)
LSAT grouping games, where we’re given a set of variables and asked to sort them into different groups, can be some of the toughest questions on the LSAT’s Analytical Reasoning section. The Recycling Centers game from the June 2007 test (Section 1, Qs 18-23) is no exception.
Is An Online Course Right for Me?
Why should I take an online course? 1. It can be a graduation saver Taking an online course can be a graduation-saver. Having an illness, a family crisis, an unexpected failure in a course or a mistake made counting credits with one or two courses to go can create a situation where being able to take those last few credits without having to be on ...
How to decode word problems on the SAT
Mathematical applications on the SAT  The College Board emphasizes that the Mathematics section on the new SAT is intended to test especially the mathematical knowledge that will be relevant for a broad range of careers—not only the mathy professions like accounting, statistics, or chemistry—as well as for the needs of daily life. Mathematics for ...
Biology on the MCAT: How to Simplify Complex Problems
Many problems on the MCAT seem quite complex upon first inspection but can actually be reframed to be more simple. This allows a test-taker to serve time as well as avoid the errors that come with repeated detailed analysis. To demonstrate this tactic, see the example below.
Essential Components to the Personal Statement: How to Tell Your Story
Sharing your story in a clear, compelling way is an important skill that will come in handy for the rest of your life, from writing personal statements to presenting yourself in interviews. It’s also a skill that’s not often emphasized in high school and college English classes, where literary analysis is highly prized. How can you hone this skill?
Tips and Challenges for Reading and Responding to GRE Passages
GRE
Map to Remember GRE passages can be dense and academic like the kind of materials you may encounter in graduate school. These passages place you in the middle of a scholarly conversation, and your role is get your bearings quickly, without getting distracted by details you don’t need to fully grasp. In most passages, the beginning typically ...
Medical School Applications: Three Things to Do In November
By this point, most of you are up and running in the application process, and either have already had an interview or have some lined up. Sometimes, though, the scariest part of this process can come after the interview. At that point, all there is left to do is wait. The interview typically is the last part of this journey that is “in your hands” ...
4 Key Tips on How to Study for the LSAT
Everyone seems to have a story about how long they studied for the LSAT. The test has a reputation for being tough, and for the most part that reputation holds true; it is definitely one of the hardest standardized tests ever created. But preparing for the LSAT doesn’t have to be as daunting as it’s made out to be. There are a few tips and tricks ...
Five Different Careers You Can Land as an Electrical Engineer
If you think that electrical engineers just work with complicated machinery with wires, look again. A major in electrical engineering is a gateway to jobs spanning the medical profession, the financial industry, the computer and smartphone industry, security industry, and telecommunications industry, to name a few. Let’s find out how this ...
One for all and all for none? Grammatical rules for one, neither, and each!
  In this blog post, our resident grammar girl reviews the impossibly confusing rules for singular subjects that refer to plural groups; subject-verb agreements involving"each", "all", and "none"; and last (but not least!) "neither", "neither", and "nor" and how they relate to your verb choice.
Four tips for applying to economics graduate school
  So you’ve decided to get an advanced degree in economics. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to obtaining one of the most challenging and worthwhile degrees the world has to offer. While economics graduate programs are known for their mathematical rigor, you will be rewarded for your efforts with better job security, autonomy, and ...
How to solve a 6 grid-in question on the AP Biology exam
On the AP Bio exam, there will be 6 grid-in questions that will require you to do some math. Yes, math. These questions will require you to do some simple calculations and thus you are only allowed a four-function calculator to do addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. That being said I’ll break down an example grid-in question to ...
The Universal Standardized Test Taking Strategy: Know the Policy
This week, one of our Master level tutors shares the most commonly forgotten test taking strategy: know the testing policy. Greg's anecdote sheds light on the responsibility of the student and the tutor to learn the policies of the test, and understand what motivates test policy changes.
Tips to Rock the College Admissions Interview
source: Randy Glasbergen You’ve picked the college, started to submit materials, and began writing draft #239 of your personal statement. Then you get the invitation to interview. Having now been on both sides of the table, I can say that being the interviewee can be really stressful, and I sympathize with you. Here are a few tips for rocking it:
4 tricks for solving any physics problem
Physics can be intimidating—all those pulleys and protons and projectile motion. If you approach it with the right mindset, however, even the hardest problems are usually easier than you think. When you come up against a tough question, don’t panic. Instead, start with these short, easy tricks to help you work through the problem. 
A Guide to Midterms: 3 Steps to Getting You Back on Track
As the weather turns cooler it can happen that college life is not all apple picking and pumpkin spice flavor. Around this time, especially if you are taking classes where the professor had to teach you some skills and content before it was fair to give you assignments or exams that tested your knowledge, you may be looking at some papers or exams ...
Do colleges consider campus visits in their admissions decision?
In this blog post, we ask four of our New York and Cambridge college admissions coaches a simple question:
The Most Essential Study Habits for USMLE Step I Exam
In this blog post, I’ll be talking about some of the study habits that I used both during the year and during my intensive study period (the time that BU had designated for exclusive Step I preparation). The most important piece of advice I could have for someone preparing for the step exam is to start early. Also, every week or so, designate some ...
The most common English prefixes and their meanings
The English language comprises a plethora of words that can change meanings with the addition of a prefix or a suffix. For example, the prefix re signifies that the base word to which it attaches is happening again, as in "do" and "redo". In theory, one could add re an infinite number of times to the front of a word, and the effect would continue ...
New SAT Writing and Language: Methods for Composition and Style
SAT
In the first of this series of posts on the SAT’s Writing and Language section, I distinguished between two broad types of questions: 1) grammar and punctuation and 2) composition and style. Although the test will not explicitly flag questions as belonging to one or the other type, it is useful to be aware of the distinction in order to understand ...
Medical School Interviews: One-on-ones, Panels, MMIs
As we come into October of the medical school app cycle, several of you will have likely gone on your first interview, or at least have one scheduled coming up. In last month’s blog post, I mentioned a few tips to get your head in the interview game. This month, I’ll delve more deeply into the different types of medical school interviews and how ...
Tips for Managing Stress at School: Start with Self Care
We've covered a wide range of territory in the past 4 months, from developing skills in mindfulness-based stress reduction to fine-tuning our routines, diets, and athletic activities for optimal academic success. What results from this potpourri of advice and ideals can be, paradoxically, a sense of pressure to strike the perfect balance in our ...
The Benefits of Studying Another Language
Broadening Your Horizons One of the biggest obstacles to foreign language learning, in my opinion, is a frustrating sort of double bind that many amateurs encounter. On the one hand, new students are encouraged to expose themselves to a healthy dose of that language’s culture (its customs, traditions, singularities, etc.) And as fugacious a task ...
The Tools for Success on the USMLE Step I Exam
In this blog post, I’ll be covering an extremely important part of your USMLE step I preparation: Materials. In thinking back to my Step I preparation, I realized that I needed four specific tools: Primary sources, a tool to retain information, questions, and a tool for self-evaluation. The specific implementation of this doesn’t matter very much, ...
Thinking Harder Not Smarter: The Three Key Components of Memory
Debunking the Myth of Cramming AP U.S. History was a nightmare for me. When did Abraham Lincoln pass the Emancipation Proclamation Act? Did the Alien and Sedition Acts happen under the Adams or Jefferson administration? My problem spilled over into other disciplines: did magnesium sulfate dissolve in water? Did government subsidies affect supply ...
Possessive plurals and plurals' possessives
Within the realm of punctuation, apostrophes on plurals and possessives can also lead to questions. There are patterns for forming plurals, though, and so that you do not have to wonder about when and where to put an apostrophe.
Real AP Biology exam solutions
The AP Biology Exam date has been set for Monday, May 8, 2017. Beginning at 8 am that morning, everything you learned over the course of the year will be tested with 63 multiple choice, 6 grid-in, and 8 free-response questions. Although the AP exam seems far off, it’s a good idea to master the basics now and set a good foundation off which to ...
The Key to Undergraduate Success: Unlocking Your Course Syllabus
One of the differences between high school and college can (depending on your particular experience) be how much you know about what you are going to be reading and when, and what days your exams and papers will be. Professors may have different levels of detail but generally speaking the syllabus is supposed to tell you what you’ll be reading, ...
Sleep, Social Media, and Routines: Challenges of Time Management
One of the greatest challenges of our generation is the nearly constant distraction and temptation that technology affords us, from opening a new tab on our web browser to surfing apps on our phone. How do we harness all of the positive connectivity that these tools offer us, without feeling that our lives are dominated by them?
The four most essential MCAT resources, ranked by an expert
Are you ready for the four most essential MCAT resources, ranked by our expert MCAT tutor Weike?  Read on to get the essential list!
Semi-colons, colons, and commas: how and when to use them
One advisory that students hear a lot, especially in earlier years of English class, is "avoid a comma splice." A comma splice is an excessive use of commas without the proper elements of a complete sentence to justify the commas. When to use a comma versus a semi-colon depends on the type of sentence you have. Below are the sentence types that ...
Tools to Cut Through the Quantitative Section of the GRE
GRE
The right tools will allow you to cut through just about any problem on the GRE quantitative section. Many topics but a few key strategies Probably the biggest challenge that students face when approaching the quantitative section on the GRE is the sheer range of topics, which cover numerous concepts up through early high school math. The upside ...
An Introduction to the New SAT Writing and Language: Part II
SAT
Grammar on the SAT In my last post, I discussed several types of punctuation that you might meet on the Writing and Language section of the SAT. But incorrect usage of punctuation is not the only thing you will need to look out for when assessing whether there may be an error in a passage: you also need to ask yourself whether everything ...
MD Interview Preparations - 4 Essential Points to Remember
If you have been following along with our monthly series of medical school application guides, now that September has rolled around you are likely already finished or close to finishing your secondary applications. Some of you may already have received interview invitations! The interview, as you might imagine, is a crucial component of the ...
5 books so good you won’t notice they’re helping you study for the SAT
The SAT is a very important test, but it can be hard to set aside the time to study for it amidst all your other school work and activities. When you already have problem sets to do and papers to write, another set of practice drills on reading comprehension can seem overwhelming. That’s why sometimes the best studying happens when you don’t ...
Three reasons why you should pledge to study without technology
For teachers and students, there’s a way in which September 1 is our January 1, as far as resolutions and new starts go. And once you get back to class, whether it’s college or high school you won’t have time to think about resolutions. So think about this over the last week of summer: How about making a pledge to study without electronic ...
Why the Step I Exam Should Matter to You 
STEP I There’s a reason I wrote it all in capital letters: because it’s the greatest fear of all kinds of medical students. This test engenders a huge amount of anxiety, because of its importance for residency. To get to medical school, you’ve overcome a huge number of academic challenges -- the USMLE exam is no different. As a tutor, ...
Three essential things to remember when citing parenthetically
For a lot of students, parenthetical citations may seem like the bane of their existence. You've just written a ten-page essay, you're happy with your argument and the conclusion you thought of in the middle of the night before it was due to submit, but you still have to check all the quotes. Especially in today's digital age, in which reading and ...
Brainfood: Optimal Nutrition for Thinking & Test-Taking
How should we fuel our bodies? What’s the best thing to eat before track practice? What’s the best thing to eat before the SAT? These and other questions are the subject of much debate in the public sphere, where fad diets like ketogenic or paleo come and go with the wind. My goal in this post is not to give you rules on eating healthy, but to ...
Solving a mystery: a new way to think about writing a research paper
Research papers are a staple of many high school and college history classes, and indeed are miniature versions of the work real historians do. If you’re a history nerd like me, nothing excites quite like historical research.
MD Admissions Timeline: Secondary Applications!
If you’ve been following along with the last few MD Admissions Timeline blogs, August likely brings you to the next step of applying to medical schools - your secondary applications. Last month, I talked about some of the ways to prepare yourself for the barrage of secondaries that will come your way, and this month I’ll talk more specifically ...
The 7 best places to read and study in NYC
Here are suggestions of places to read or study when you’re itching to leave your home, or are faced with too many distractions (i.e. your roommate has decided it is the best day to vacuum the entire apartment). Picking the right spot can lead to a really fruitful day. It’s also a great way to discover the city!
How to use logic to beat the vocab section of the GRE
When logic beats vocab While a college vocabulary is certainly larger than a high school vocabulary, particularly for students of the humanities and social studies, there are still a precious few of us who regularly use or even see words like “tyro” or “contumacious.” The majority of text completion (TC) and sentence equivalence (SE) questions do ...
The New SAT: How to Avoid Punctuation Problems
SAT
The questions on the new SAT Writing and Language section can be sorted into roughly one of two categories: 1) grammar and punctuation, and 2) composition and style. In a series of three blog posts, we will work through each of these categories and get a sense for what kind of knowledge they test. In this post, we will take a closer look at the ...
Why you're picking the wrong answer on the MCAT
While many students blame incorrect answers on a lack of knowledge or careless mistakes, these explanations don’t account for the many ways an MCAT test writer can mess with a poor unsuspecting test-takers brain. If the MCAT were a simple matter of knowledge and diligence, the studying process would be far easier. Knowledge is easily acquired ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Mac, Test Preparation Tutor
This week we're spotlighting Mac, a Boston University MD candidate who is one of  our most experienced test praparation tutors! Mac started teaching while he was a student at Middlebury, taught volunteer swim lessons and tutored friends in a variety of subjects. Since he began at Cambridge Coaching, Mac has tutored students in the SAT, the GRE, ...
LSAT LR: Solving the June 2007 exam, Section 3 Question 24
In this blog post, I’m going to be giving a brief introduction to the Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT. While this lesson is geared toward the LSAT, the logic skills are useful in math, classical rhetoric and philosophy, and debate. Today we’ll start with a little myth busting and a brief overview of the test. Then we’ll do a sample question: ...
How to Use Your ACT Scores to Bucket Your College List
Yes, you can apply to 50+ schools and every year, there are students that do. However, if you build a strong college list there is no need to exhaust yourself by applying to too many schools. I always recommend students prepare a list of nine to twelve schools. Personally, I think nine is plenty but I understand the security that comes with ...
USMLE Step I Exam: Introduction
Reader,  Over the years that I’ve tutored for Cambridge Coaching, I’ve loved working with SAT, MCAT, and GRE students. Each test has different challenges and subtleties and tailoring each student’s preparation for maximizing success is always an interesting challenge. I’ve taken each of these tests, and use my experiences in helping students ...
Avoiding Decision Fatigue – 3 Habits to Free up Mental Stamina
People often assume that decision-making is an activity that requires effort but not stamina. This is a very common misconception – mental effort is as taxing on the brain as physical workouts are on the body, and our mental resources are much more limited than we think. In psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of ...
Punctuate Your Point, Correctly: How to Punctuate Dialogue
They may seem small, but punctuation marks can make all the difference in how we read and understand the English language. The title of what has become an iconic little book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, exemplifies the level of ambiguity that can result from the presence or absence of a comma. This chapter focuses on several oft-mistaken categories ...
A guide to 4 medical school secondary application question types
If you’re applying to medical school this cycle and were able to get your primary application in by the end of June, July puts you in the first (of many) waiting game. As you are refreshing the AMCAS page to check the status of your primary application, you can make use of the downtime to prepare yourself for secondaries. Depending on how many ...
3 Essential Steps to Breaking Down the New SAT Essay
SAT
There are many differences between the old and the new SAT. One of Cambridge Coaching's seasoned SAT tutors will walk you through the updates (and how they impact your test taking strategies!), while giving you step-by-step instructions on how to prepare for the new version of the test.
5 Essential Tips for Managing Your Time as a Pre-Medical Student
College as a premed can be a grind. Between classes, labs, research, and activities, it can seem like four uninterrupted years of delayed gratification, all building up to that shining moment when you get into the medical school of your dreams (which, as your friends who are wage-earning college graduates will be happy to remind you, involves at ...
4 Essential Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Undergraduate Courses
One of the startling things about college can be how little time you spend in class. Two or three times a week for a total of three or four hours per class may seem very strange when you compare it to your high school schedule. Amazing: you can sometimes manage to schedule days without classes! This is because in college you are expected to take ...
GRE Vocabulary: Two Key Strategies to Boost Your Score
GRE
Cultivating Your Vocabulary Students often feel like vocabulary is one of the biggest hurdles to preparing for the GRE. While vocabulary on the old GRE, pre-2011 played a very outsized role in comprising the verbal score, it’s still important today, although it’s more tied to context, use, and logical thinking. if you have more than a few weeks to ...
Statement of purpose vs. personal statement: knowing the difference
If you’re applying to graduate school, then you might remember the headaches of that application process that you encountered many years ago. Maybe you struggled to decide on a topic for the personal statement, maybe you debated which extracurriculars were worth listing, or maybe you were torn between taking the ACT or SAT. But for all the ...
How to solve an AP Chemistry question that stumped most test-takers
On average students scored 3.88/10 points on this question while only 1% of students got a perfect score. In this question, students are expected to know how to analyze the experimental data that is given and show an understanding of thermodynamics.
How Exercise Impacts Academic Performance
It can be daunting to balance a sport (not to mention other extracurriculars) with a full course load of Honors and AP classes. Getting outside to exercise is often the first thing to go when we are time-crunched to finish an essay or study an exam, even though paradoxically, getting that exercise will often help us study more efficiently and ...
Team Spotlight: Meet Martha, Director of Client Management
This week we're spotlighting Martha, a Rutgers graduate who came aboard the Cambridge Coaching team back in April.  After getting her Masters in Education, Martha worked for Success Academy in Harlem.  She then moved on to a nonprofit in New Brunswick teaching adult re-entry populations basic literacy, math, and life skills.  She is now thrilled ...
The #1 Pitfall for Pre-Medical Extracurriculars
So you’re a member of ethics, debate, and math teams? Captain of the volleyball, soccer, and swimming intramural teams? A violinist and pianist in the state orchestra? Chances are, you won’t be attending Harvard.
MD admissions timeline: 4 crucial things to remember in June
  As most of you who are applying to medical school this cycle are aware, the AMCAS opens during the first week of June. Typically, you are allowed to begin filling it out sometime in mid-May, but can't officially complete it until it opens in June. This is when you can submit the first part of your application - the personal statement, activities ...
Extracurriculars for Pre-Meds: The Dos and Don'ts
Thinking about applying to medical school but not sure what you’re going to need to get in?  Desperately searching for lab opportunities but not psyched about spending the summer inside?  Frustrated by the constant inunundation of opposing messages and requirements? You’re not alone! Here are some key dos and don’ts that I learned along the ...
Your GRE argument analysis essay checklist
The argument analysis task presents you with a hypothetical situation and draws conclusions based on very weak evidence. Your job is to identify flaws in the argument, in this movement from evidence to conclusion.
The Three Essential Factors that Contribute to GMAT Success
The GMAT: Why Test Strategy Matters Test day is the culmination of your efforts, where you reap the rewards of all the nights and weekends you spent studying. Finally, you can put the GMAT exam behind you and focus on your essays knowing that you have positioned yourself to succeed. Unfortunately for some, everything doesn’t always go as planned, ...
Living Peacefully with Stress
Where does stress come from? As sure as the sun rises each day, we all face times of stress. What gives us stress varies from person to person, and our stress triggers may evolve and change over the course of our lives, from feeling hungry as a baby to being excluded from a friend group to getting into a dream college or financing a house later in ...
How video games enhance learning
In this article, I will provide a philosophical argument of why playing video games helps us learn. I will argue that video games are an enjoyable workout for the mind, and that they are valuable for their ability to improve our general cognitive learning capacities.
Three GMAT Study Tips from a Master
The GMAT can be a hard test to conquer.  One of the main reasons for this is that the GMAT math is probably the most challenging out of all the standardized tests.  Lucky for you, the GMAT test writers are nice.  They provide students with an abundance of materials.  If you don't believe me, go onto the official website and see.  There are ...
Did I Read The Same Text Everyone Else Did?!
This has happened to all of us in high school, in college, even in graduate school. You did the reading but then the questions the instructor asks don’t make sense to you or you can’t answer questions about details she seems to think you should know.
Two Study Habits That Will Boost Your MCAT Score
Reflection is not what spectators see during a basketball game; spending hours watching game tapes and discussing strategic nuances with a coach does not make the high light reel on Sports Center, but it is essential to continued improvement and success. After every game, athletes and coaches discuss what happened: what went well, what went badly, ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Liz, Economics and Finance Tutor
This week we're spotlighting Liz, a New York-based MIT graduate who loves teaching economics, mathematics, and finance! Since graduating from MIT, Liz is following her dream of working in art as a co-founder and the CEO of a start-up based in NYC called limeSHIFT, which uses a co-creative art process to build culture and community, instigate and ...
Score Choice, Superscore, and All Scores: Why You Should Care About the Difference
SAT
As you’re gearing up to submit your college applications, you’ll inevitably have to consider the ways your standardized test scores impact the strength of your overall standing.  Different schools review your test scores in different ways, so it’s imperative to familiarize yourself with the distinctions between each method, and strategically frame ...
5 Habits for Improving (and Maintaining) Reading and Writing Skills
The first few months after my college graduation, I began my 9-5 job and was disappointed by how much less time I had to read.  After majoring in English and becoming accustomed to finishing multiple novels a week during the semester, I wished that I could dedicate more time to that hobby.  Furthermore, after a few months of working 40-hour weeks, ...
3 Critical Pieces of Advice for Prospective Engineers
While your college courses can help you with the theory of a subject, they can’t help you much with the practical pieces of a career--especially when you're becoming a software engineer.  Because of the computing power we have at our fingertips in this day and age, the practical side of engineering isn’t building things with your hands; it really ...
How to Select Your MCAT Test Prep Resources
Image sourced from the New York Times Picking MCAT test prep resources can feel a little bit like trying to pick one ice cream flavor at Coldstone (although perhaps significantly less fun…) – there are so many options, all of them seem to work, and you don’t want to miss out by picking the wrong ones.  Unfortunately, MCAT students too often try to ...
The new SAT Reading section in focus: “Evidence Questions”
The Old When I tutored the old SAT, I heard a lot of complaints from my students about the reading sections. One recurring subject was the passage-based reading questions. These questions seemed “subjective,” students told me: the answers did not depend on concrete facts or skills, as for the writing (grammar) or mathematics sections, but instead ...
The Best Ways to Prepare for an Essay Exam
College students are often intimidated by essay exams, a common final exam format for courses in the humanities and social sciences. Because the exam itself provides so little structure for your answers, it can feel impossible to get all of your thoughts on paper in an organized way without running out of time. As someone who has graded a lot of ...
Straight from the Source: Tips on How to Read Primary Research Articles
Primary research articles are crucial to how science is shared and pushed forward. Familiarizing yourself with this type of literature is especially important for those interested in pursuing life science research. These articles detail the results of an original research study conducted by the authors and are almost always published in a ...
Data Science and Intuitive Mathematics
Sitting at the cross-roads of mathematics, statistics, and computer science, the emerging field of data science (ranked by many as the top career in the US) seems daunting to those still developing strong technical skills. At the same time, a host of dynamic and highly-efficient libraries give coders the power to treat complex areas like machine ...
Five Key Strategies: GMAT and GRE
Whether you're deciding to take the GMAT or the GRE, or you're merely weeks away from your test day, it is easy to get caught up in the tedious bits of advice that every blog, manual, and friend has to offer.  These five key strategies will help ground your long-term testing goals:
A Comprehensive Guide to GMAT Preparation
If you want to ace the GMAT to crown your MBA applications, you'll need to put in some serious time and preparation.  In this blog post, read about ways Weike--one of our Master tutors and admissions coaches--prepares her students to slam the exam.
Tips on How to Spend the Summer Before College to have a Successful First Year
The transition from high school to college can bring about a complexity of emotions, from excitement to uncertainty. There will be students from a variety of different backgrounds who are all taking a big step toward independence, growth, and exploration with you. Colleges will help you with this transition by giving you information during ...
How to Find a Good Tutor: What They Offer and How to Decide
The tutoring industry is a mess. You have individuals and companies offering tutoring anywhere from $20 an hour to thousands of dollars per hour. How can you determine who to trust? How can you even determine your budget? In this article, I’ll explain what to look for in a good tutor, and how to decide whether the price is right.
How to close read a passage of text
Whether you are an incoming freshman in your first expository writing class, studying for the SAT, or simply a lover of literature, close reading a passage of text is one of the most essential skills a critical reader can master.  Close reading requires us to read beyond the immediate or superficial meaning of the text by forcing us to interpret ...
Physics: learn, don’t memorize!
Intro to Physics Blues    As a high school student, I took physics my junior year and struggled to stay afloat in the class. While I was interested in understanding and applying the theories I learned, it was difficult to make sense of them in my head. As a result, I began my first collegiate physics course with a lot of excitement, yet some ...
Time management tips for a typical student’s daily schedule
Ever wonder where all your time went? Interested in liberating up to 50 hours each week that you never realized you had? Want a productive schedule that guarantees you a large chunk of time every day for fun and entertainment?
Using Recall as a Study Strategy
As I am entering into medical school, I have begun to spend more time thinking about the process of learning. As I reflected on my prior study habits, I recognized that I often relied on cramming massive amounts of review before exams in college regardless of my comfort with the material. These study sessions may have helped me regurgitate answers ...
Planning Your MCAT Study Schedule
  One of the most daunting things about the MCAT is the sheer amount of material that is on the exam. At minimum, it covers the first year of intro classes for all of the sciences (Physics, Biology, Chemistry), some advanced level coursework (Organic Chemistry - and many students now say they would like to take Biochemistry and Genetics as well), ...
Some Extremely Common (And Easy to Fix) Mistakes Made by Non-Native English Speakers
ESL
It’s normal for students of English to make mistakes (from beginner to advanced!). Hey, whenever I'm learning a new language, I make a ton of mistakes, too.
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Law School
Harry Campell, New York Times Eliana is a student at New York University School of Law.  She holds a B.A. with high honors in Sociology from Wesleyan University, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Before law school, Eliana worked for several years at a national women’s rights impact litigation organization. She recently co-authored a chapter in ...
Taking time for the how of learning, not the what
 It’s easy to get caught up in the content of learning: memorizing a formula, distinguishing eukaryotic from prokaryotic cells, and understanding the events leading up to the French Revolution. Most of the time we’re so absorbed in taking in new information as students that we don’t notice the behind-the-scenes work of how we take in that ...
SAT & AP Tutoring Approaches with Eric
Eric is a doctoral candidate in the Urban Planning program at Columbia University.  Prior to enrolling at Columbia, he earned a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from NYU and a Bachelor’s degree in history from Bowdoin College.  Learn about different strategies Eric uses to approach SAT & AP Exam preparation! 
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Troy, Test Preparation Tutor
This week we're spotlighting Troy, one of our Cambridge-based test preparation tutors! Troy is currently working at an education technology start up, and previously attended Yale for his B.A. and Harvard Law School for his J.D.  Interested in working with Troy, either in Boston or online? Then feel free to check out his tutor profile here!
Brain hacks for studying: memorization and the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve
How do I actually remember the stuff I learn? How do I memorize my notes, my textbook, and everything covered in class? How much studying do I actually have to do?
The case for being a “non-traditional” medical school applicant
Applying for medical school can be a very intimidating process. There’s no hiding the fact that it is an incredibly competitive process. Your professors and advisors likely have strong feelings about exactly what your CV should look like, exactly what courses you should take and in what order, and what your MCAT score should be.
Odor perception on the AP Biology exam
 Last year, AP Biology students did a great job applying their math skills to the test. On average, 55% of math related question were answered correctly compared to 35% in 2013! That’s great news but there were still many questions that students struggled with such as free response Question 7 about odor perception.  This question gave students a ...
How to Succeed in Pre-Med Lab Classes
Nearly all of the science pre-med requirements (intro bio, intro chem, org, physics, sometimes biochem) come with an associated lab class that counts either for a significant portion of your class grade or for an entirely separate grade listed on your transcript. Regardless, it is just as important to succeed in these sections as it is in the exam ...
Why you should take the MCAT CARS seriously
 In my opening email to students, where I introduce myself as their tutor, I will frequently ask about their reading comprehension ability.  My exact words are “Think back to your SAT, ACT days and how you did on the verbal sections”.  The reason I do this is because verbal (or CARS, as the MCAT calls it, which stands for critical analysis and ...
How to use logarithms to simplify Arrhenius temperature dependence
  Learning about logarithms is one of those times in math class where you wonder if this will ever be useful in any way. I see lots of students struggle with topics like logs, since they can seem abstract and they aren’t obviously useful. But I’m here to explain why they are actually incredibly important and describe so much of the world we live ...
Acing the GRE essay Part III: A strategy for practicing
GRE
Of the two essays on the analytical writing section, most students find the issue essay to be the hardest. It requires creative use of existing knowledge to deliver an original, nuanced, and detailed perspective on a new topic in just half an hour. To prepare, students need a clear order of operations and concrete tools for organizing their own ...
Acing the GRE Part III - A strategy for practicing
GRE
 Of the two essays on the analytical writing section, most students find the issue essay to be the hardest. It requires creative use of existing knowledge to deliver an original, nuanced, and detailed perspective on a new topic in just half an hour. To prepare, students need a clear order of operations and concrete tools for organizing their own ...
A basic guide to the AP Chemistry Exam
   pic The AP Chemistry exam is on May 2nd, leaving less than two months to prepare!  You might still be struggling with where to begin, and that’s how this blog post can help. In 2014, the exam was revised to focus on six big ideas in chemistry. The new format is intended to test your understanding of big picture concepts and apply them to the ...
When should you take the MCAT?
As all pre-med students know, the MCAT is one of the biggest (and sometimes scariest!) hurdles on the way to medical school. It is also steeped in uncertainty -- how do you study? What score should I be aiming towards? When will I be ready to take it? 
Acing the GRE essay Part II - How to use the scoring scale wisely
GRE
Many students don’t know how to use the scoring scale strategically. First, they read the sample essays on the GRE website and find these examples unattainable. Second, they allocate too much time aiming for a top score of 5 or 6. Third, they’re confused if their sample essays don’t match the typical profiles for each scoring category. Here is ...
How to study for AP Biology
When I was in high school, it was actually my AP Calculus teacher who gave me this AP Bio study tip. I used it with great success that year in AP Bio, and it continued to serve me well throughout college as I majored in molecular biology.
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Weike Wang, Grandmaster MCAT Tutor
This week we're spotlighting Weike, a member of our MCAT tutor team! She earned her BA in Chemistry and English at Harvard College and graduated cum laude. Currently, Weike is completing her doctorate in cancer epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health as well as her MFA in creative writing at BU. Weike tutors for the SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE ...
Acing the GRE essay Part I - Ingredients of a Great GRE Issue Essay
GRE
  GRE Students often approach the issue essay wondering, “I know what good writing was in college, but what does the GRE want from me?” The short answer is that ETS sums up scoring criteria in rubric form and shares sample essays that show exactly what they want. The better answer is that they want to test you on certain key elements of a ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Jason, GMAT Tutor
This week we're spotlighting Jason, a member of our GMAT tutor team! Jason graduated from Cornell University summa cum laude with a BS in civil engineering and an MEng in structural engineering, and is currently in his second year of obtaining his MBA at MIT. He is currently a teaching assistant at Cornell and MIT, mentoring underprivileged ...
MCAT Tutoring Approaches with Max
  This week we're spotlighting Max, a member of our MCAT tutor team. Max graduated from Yale Phi Beta Kappa with both a B.S. and M.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He is an author on multiple scientific papers and is currently pursuing a M.D. and a Ph.D. through the combined Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) ...
Choosing a Social/Natural Science PhD Program That’s Right for You
image If you’re starting to think about applying for a PhD in a social or natural science, you’re probably worried about getting accepted into highly competitive programs. But let’s take a step back! Before you can focus on impressing selection committees, you need to have a clear sense of what YOU want. Outside of the doctoral program bubble, it ...
Manoah Finston – CC Tutor Spotlight
This week we're spotlighting Manoah, a member of our French tutor team! Manoah graduated from the University of Chicago with honors in both English and French language and literature, and attended NYU's doctoral program in French literature. He is currently an adjunet instructor at New York University, and specializes in SAT and SAT-II prep, as ...
A comprehensive guide to MCAT practice tests
The MCAT is a daunting test. I think I have said this to every one of my students. These students then ask me what is the best way to study and my answer to that really varies student by student. Some students need more structure, a day-to-day agenda. Some students like more flexibility. But what has not varied from student to student is taking ...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Peter, LSAT tutor
This week we're spotlighting Peter, a member of our LSAT tutor team! Peter graduated from Columbia University as a history major, and attended the Washington and Lee Univesity School of Law. He specializes in LSAT tutoring, teaching legal writing and citation skills, and helping stuents prepare for finals and the bar exam. Interested in working ...
GMAT Tutoring Approaches with Graham, GMAT tutor
Meet Graham Van Schaik! This week we're spotlighting Graham, a member of our GMAT tutor team. Graham graduated from MIT in 2012 with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering. Graham completed multiple internships with boutique investment banking firms, spent a year developing the curriculum of his own Math and Science Camp in his home state ...
How To Make The Most Of Your Tutoring Sessions
image 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 ...
Enzyme inhibition and Lineweaver-Burk plots: MCAT test prep
We’ve already covered a little bit about the basics of enzyme kinetics,  so now let’s move on to discuss an important application of enzyme kinetics in the body (and in medicine)...
Tutor Spotlight: Meet Adrienne, College Admissions Coach
This week we're spotlighting Boston-based admission coach, Adrienne! Adrienne is currently an English Ph.D. candidate at Harvard, and previously attended Iowa W