How to conquer the biology/biochemistry MCAT section
Long paragraphs. Confusing graphs. Convoluted protein names. If this all sounds a bit too familiar, you’re probably thinking of the Biology/Biochemistry section on the MCAT. Even as a Biochemistry major, I still found this as one of the more difficult sections on the MCAT, so do not panic if you feel like you’re not making any progress – you are ...
How to answer a secondary about community
Essay prompts that ask questions about community are becoming increasingly common secondary prompts. They can range from questions about the communities that you are a part of, what community service means to you, and which communities you want to serve in the future (among other variations). These prompts can often feel confusing, and you may ...
How to solve (almost) any math problem
Math is all about problems -- questions for which you don’t currently know the answer -- and problems can be really frustrating. That feeling of being stuck, for me, goes from a scattered confusion to a mind-numbing blankness. It’s really easy to shut down and give up, so the first step to solving any math problem is to persist! Don’t let the ...
How to write about your goals in medicine for secondaries
Answering the question “what are your goals in medicine?” or other variants of discussing your potential future career can be daunting. After all, isn’t one of the main points of medical school to figure out where you see yourself fitting in for medicine? Many of us, including myself, went into the application cycle with a whole range of potential ...
Anything Else? How to answer this secondary prompt
Many of the medical school (and some residency) secondary applications will have this prompt, usually towards the end of the application right before the “submit” button. This may be presented in different flavors, for example: “please share anything you feel like the admission committee should know about” or “is there anything that you would like ...
Medical school re-applicants: your secondary application
Writing essays for secondary applications can take up a lot of time, especially if you’re writing each essay from scratch for each school. Still, an almost universal essay prompt for those who have applied before is: “Tell us how your application has changed since you last applied.” 
How to write about your gap year
You have just submitted your primary application and after a brief respite, the secondary essays begin to flood in. Do not fret! With a little practice and patience, you will be churning out these essays! It can be easy, however, to become overwhelmed with the task at hand. My advice is to begin writing some of the more straightforward essays to ...
Units: the hints hidden in every physics and engineering problem
In many science and engineering classes, units can be seen as an additional step that needs to be taken into consideration when completing a problem. In some problems on the Fundamental Engineering exam, mismatched units are intentionally used in an attempt to confuse students and measure their understanding of key concepts. Nonetheless, units ...
How to be a prodigy (in two very difficult steps)
You’ve probably heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  From an early age, he was known as a child genius.  Before the age of ten he could play multiple instruments, had composed many musical pieces, and had a little gift known as perfect pitch.  Perfect pitch is the ability to hear a musical pitch and be able to name it, on the spot.  It’s incredibly ...
How to write about your most meaningful medical experience
The AMCAS allows medical school applicants to select three activities as your “most meaningful” activities, and provides applicants with 1325 characters to describe why. A meaningful activity can represent something different for every applicant, but should generally encompass activities that have significantly impacted your personal development ...
Tips for a nervous 1L
I spent the entire summer before law school genuinely terrified that I was going to fail out. Despite my academic success in undergrad, I let imposter syndrome convince me that this would have no bearing on my future academic performance. Looking back at my pre-1L self, I can’t help but laugh. This is going to make me sound like a total nerd, but ...
What is a physician’s role in medicine?
The role of a physician in the medical community has changed substantially in the modern era of medicine. This secondary question is designed to gauge your experience in medicine, how you envision your future role in this field, and what you are passionate about. In this post, I will highlight how to think about the changing landscape of medicine ...
Application essays: the power of story
The blank page can be a daunting place for even the most experienced writers, and application essays can be particularly stressful. How do I encapsulate myself in something like six hundred words? What do I need to come across about myself to the reader? And how do I best convey it? It can feel like a tall order, I know. 
The key to cracking standardized tests
On May 7, 2002, a sportswriter questioned NBA superstar Allen Iverson about his dedication to his team and his alleged failure to attend team practices. The next few moments would go down in NBA history as one of the most iconic interview responses ever given, and produced the now-infamous line: “We talkin’ about practice!”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Whether it's for a secondary prompt or on the interview trail, you’ll often be asked this question in some variation, and your response can help portray you as a focused, ambitious individual. There are many ways to go about tackling this question, but it is important to consider the following elements to ...
Med school application: tips from a former Yale Med admissions committee member
What do medical school admissions committees look for? How can an applicant truly stand out? Below are tips with specific examples on how to craft a successful application from an insider’s perspective. 
How to write about responding to feedback and criticism
We have all received feedback or criticism, sometimes in a kind tone and sometimes not. In this essay, your goal is to focus less on what the criticism was, and more on how you directly implemented the feedback into your plans to improve or change your behavior. In medical school and in your future career, you will receive constant feedback on ...
3 tips on how to find your first research mentor
Are you an undergraduate or high school student looking for your first research mentor? Doing research is an incredible experience that teaches you to look at the world in a different way, work together in teams, plan out tasks for hours, days, weeks and even months in advance but, most of all, research teaches you patience. That last lesson ...
How to stand out as a medical school applicant
You’ve worked for several years to ready yourself for applying to medical school. Perhaps you’ve taken gap years to beef up your experiences or made a career change. But as you stand on the verge of applying to medical school, one question looms: will it all be enough? 
How to write about your biggest challenge or adversity
Your adversity statement, often called “the challenge essay,” has the potential to be a major contributor to your medical school application. The goal of the essay is not just to explain the adversities you faced or the challenges you experienced, but rather to demonstrate your ability to overcome them and grow from them. The specific challenge or ...
5 weird moments in European history
Some people say “reality is stranger than fiction,” and throughout the course of human history, this has definitely been true. Here are just five of those moments that were as strange – or stranger – than something you would find in books or on tv:
What will you contribute to this institution or community? A guide to this secondary question
This is not an easy prompt to answer well, and it is no wonder that applicants are often stumped by this common secondary question. However, if written strategically, this essay can really boost your application. I suggest tackling this secondary question from three main angles:  
3 things to know about research and MD admissions
“Do I need to do research to get into medical school and if so how much?” 
Going shopping: how to make your list of target PhD programs
You just won a shopping spree to your favorite clothing brand. Elated, you spend your Saturday trying on the entire store (if you hate shopping, stay with me). You try on a shirt. It looks decent. You try on another. Now that looks good on you. After trying on 100 items you like, you buy 15 you love. This is how generating your list of target PhD ...
Academic inconsistencies, interruptions, and Institutional Actions
Are you applying to medical school and have inconsistencies, interruptions, or institutional actions you need to address in your application? Well, let's start with some definitions:
How to deal with test anxiety
The LSAT was my first time dealing with real test anxiety. I’ve always been a good test taker; the SAT, ACT, AP tests, and years of in-class assessments all proved pretty painless. But the LSAT’s high stakes and new content, plus having to fit it into a college schedule, really got to me. 
5 steps to selecting your 15 activities for the AMCAS Application
When thinking of the medical school application components, we often direct our attention straight to the big personal statement that we all dread starting. From there, many students find themselves thinking about all the secondary applications they’ll have to write. However, another crucial writing component of the application is missing in that ...
Pre-health? Work as an EMT for hands-on clinical experience
Many students entering college on the pre-health track suffer from the same common struggle — getting meaningful clinical experience — especially given the time restraints at college and certification requirements. Much beyond merely trying to check the box for clinical experience for medical, physician assistant, or nursing school candidacy, ...
Why are you applying to our school? How to answer this common prompt.
Nearly every secondary application will include this question: "Why do you want to attend our school?" A unique answer can tip the scales towards acceptance, but this question can be one of the most time-consuming to answer since your response needs to be tailored to individual schools and thoughtful. The reason medical schools care so deeply ...
Secrets to acing the GRE
So, you’ve decided to apply to graduate school? Congratulations! I’d say you’re 50% of the way there. All you need to do now is fill out your applications, submit your transcripts, secure some recommendation letters, and…take the GRE. Yikes!
Secondaries: diving into the diversity prompt
Diversity has become an increasingly important factor in medical school admissions.  The future of medicine requires a diverse workforce with strong cross-cultural competencies; for instance, medical school curriculums have increasingly expanded testing on cultural sensitivity and communications [1].  Clinical research has shown that culturally ...
Make the most of your AMCAS Work and Activities
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been repeatedly told that your personal statement is one of the most important pieces of your American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application. It surely is important, and thus deserves much consideration and careful attention, but don’t let it overshadow the equally demanding Work and Activities ...
3 tips for more effective studying
Whether in high school, college, or graduate school, studying is an important skill. Most students do not have an abundance of free time, and even if we occasionally do, we’d probably rather spend it with friends or pursuing personal passions rather than trying to re-learn or re-study material we didn’t quite absorb the first time around. So how ...
How to study for Chinese dictation quizzes
听写 (dictations) have been used to evaluate how much effort students put into learning Chinese. Dictation often tests vocabulary memorization. How do you study/prepare for 听写 effectively? Do you spend hours of writing characters? Have you experienced cramming with flashcards, only found that you forget everything on the day of the quiz? 
How to ask good questions during information sessions
So you’ve signed up for an information session – now what? One of the only times applicants can make an impression with admissions counselors in these sessions is during the Q&A. It can be challenging to figure out just what you should ask. What will make a good impression? A bad impression? In that light, here are a few tips to help prepare ...
An introduction to phrase structure rules and word order typology
Fluent speakers of any language will have intuitions on what word order sounds "natural" or "correct", but languages differ in what order they put words in. Linguists (specifically syntacticians) are interested in figuring out what ways languages can differ in how they organize sentences, as well as how they are similar. In this blogpost I will ...
How to ethically use WolframAlpha, Mathway, and Photomath
As a middle school and high school math teacher, I’ve seen my students try to get out of doing work in all sorts of ways. If you haven’t heard of WolframAlpha, Mathway, or Photomath, you may want to stop reading this article now - the temptation may ruin your hard-work ethic.
Be a STAR: strategy for college interviews, job interviews, and more
Talking about ourselves can be hard, especially in a high-pressure situation, like a college interview. The STAR method is a strategy that will help you knock the interview out of the park!
The truth about medical school personal statements: a strategic view
What should I write about in my medical school personal statement? Well, that’s the wrong question.
Understanding the central limit theorem
The central limit theorem (CLT for short) is an enormously powerful tool that makes much of what we do in statistics possible. But if you just read the actual definition, which you can find below, it’s pretty hard to understand why this theorem is so important. This blog post will help you understand both what the CLT is and why it is important ...
Einstein’s proof of E = mc^2
In this post, we’re going to prove the most famous formula in all of science, E = mc^2! We’ll do this using a simplified version of Einstein’s original 1905 proof. In this post I will assume that you are familiar with special relativity and Lorentz transformations.
Four traits Harvard Medical School looks for in applicants
There are four main qualities that Harvard Medical School looks for in its applicants. Highlighting the following aspects in your application will help you stand out to the Admissions Committee:
The dreaded “P” word
What’s the most dreaded letter that could appear on a transcript? I’ll wager that it’s not a “B,” or, gulp, a “C”, but a “P” as in “plagiarist.” In fact, if Hester Prynne were a 21st century student, instead of the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 19th century novel The Scarlet Letter, she’d probably be less concerned about having the letter ...
Regrouping amino acids for the MCAT
In my high school and undergraduate career, I often learned about amino acids based on their chemical properties; that is, on the basis of their polarity, acidity, or basicity. Those classifications, while important, don’t capture the full story. For the MCAT, I’ve found it helpful to think about some of the different functional properties of ...
Suitcases and schedule scrapes: “packing” more punch into limited study time
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell lays out criterion that in some ways has become the anecdotal darling of pop-academic culture. You’ve likely heard of it: the 10,000-hour rule. Mastery, Gladwell purports, is a matter of numbers. Put 10,000 hours of focused practice, and you can achieve mastery of a complex set of skills. Imagine the ...
The 3 most important GMAT math formulas
To solve many of the quantitative questions on the GMAT, it is essential to understand a couple key equations. This article will clearly lay out 3 very important formulas.  
Succeeding as a STEM major
So you’ve decided to major in STEM. Congrats! If you haven’t already, you’re probably going to hear all about how there are certain courses that are absolutely horrible in your major, whether they’re meant as weed-outs, taught by, well, let’s call them distant professors, or just plain hard. This post is meant to give you a few tips for how to ...
Good writers start as good readers
Writing is a conversation. Whether you anticipate your audience to be a friend, a panel of scientists, a room full of legislators, the owner of a pizza shop, the divine universe, or oneself, to write is to put forth one’s wish to be heard. By extension, to read is to be in the position of the listener. Just as we learn to speak and to express ...
Embracing Failure as a Premedical Student
Failure is an uncomfortable experience. Despite the knowledge that all humans are imperfect, when it inevitably happens to us, we feel shame, self-doubt, and even anger. This is especially true in premedical courses when we feel like there is so much riding on our academic performance. 
A simple approach to CARS questions
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT can be daunting for many STEM-minded examinees. While it's fair to say that CARS questions are challenging, it's unfair to say that they are unfair. With sentence structures like that last one, reading a CARS paragraph can be mind-numbing. I’m here to share one trick I used to cut ...
How algebra is like a chainsaw: or using common sense on the GMAT
A question I often like to ask my students is, “If you didn’t know how to use a chainsaw, would you play around with it?”Usually the student jokes with me and says of course, but then admits that no, they probably wouldn’t.At least not until they’ve received some training.The reason is obvious: using a tool that you don’t know how to handle is ...
How to break your LSAT score plateau
When I first started getting in the rhythm of taking LSAT practice tests, I was happy to be scoring in the high 160s and low 170s. Since I had just begun taking full-length tests, I imagined that it would only be a matter of time till I hit the mid-to high 170s, my target score range. But after a few more weeks of Sunday morning practice tests, my ...
Interview prep: how to get your dream job
It’s a few days before your interview for your dream job — you’re nervous but thrilled just thinking about the possibility. You want to be better prepared for this interview than you have been for any interview before. But where do you start?
Linkage and association mapping in genetic analysis
When geneticists want to see how closely related two genes are, they have two main ways of doing so: linkage analysis and association mapping. 
Start early: tips for medical school personal statements
There are multiple pieces to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). The one that most people dread, if you’re anything like me, is writing your personal statement. Thinking about personal statements for medical school can be stressful. You might find yourself asking: what do they want to know? 
Why medical students should care about the history of medicine
It’s undeniable that medicine and science have transformed our world. From novel therapeutics that combat various diseases, new technologies that allow us to better understand how our bodies function, to transformative surgical interventions. Yet, often, since we know that medicine and science “work”, we fail to interrogate and challenge the ...
Where ideas come from
A lot of people who sit down to write a story are worried they don’t have any ideas. They think people who do have ideas are very special, or different in some way to people who don’t. It’s for this reason that authors are so often asked where they get their ideas from. The people asking think that the author will reveal the magical secret of ...
Tips for virtual graduate school interviews
Congratulations! You successfully made it through your courses, submitted your graduate school application, got your references submitted, and completed the multitude of personal statements and the research experience essay. Time to think about one of the last and crucial stages of the graduate school application process: graduate school ...
How to tell the difference between mitosis and meiosis
If you’ve ever taken a biology class, you’ve most likely come across the concept of the cell cycle. Put simply, the cell cycle is the growth of cells, the replication of DNA, and the subsequent division of DNA, organelles, and cytoplasm that creates new cells. For eukaryotes, cell division is an essential part of both growth and reproduction. ...
How to interview for medical school when you’re not a strong interviewee
I remember the paradoxical mixture of both elation and fear when I received my first medical school interview. I was excited by the prospect of embarking on my journey to becoming a medical school student. At the same time, I balked at the idea of an interview being the barrier between where I was and where I wanted to be. At that point, I would ...
Why you should join a writing circle
Whether you’re pitching a concept over email to your boss, working on a personal statement for an application, or scribbling in a personal journal, you write on a daily basis. Often, the quality of your writing is key; it can be the make-or-break factor between your stories or thoughts being compelling and understandable. Students and peers ask me ...
Can you “hear” the Fourier Series on a guitar?
As a musician, I had always wondered why different instruments sound dis tinct from one another, despite being in-tune and playing the same note. Why is it so easy to distinguish someone singing a C major scale versus someone playing the same scale on the piano? Timbre, tone color, or tone quality of a sound are those characteristics separate from ...
Looking for life on Titan with NASA Dragonfly
Hi everyone! It's your friendly neighborhood astrophysicist here to tell you a little bit about my work with the NASA Dragonfly Mission.
How to write an effective transfer application essay
After completing a semester or more at one university, you’ve decided to apply elsewhere as a transfer student. Maybe you earned an associate’s degree at a community college, and now you’re ready for more. Or maybe the university you chose for your freshman year didn’t live up to your expectations. Regardless of your motivations, you’ll probably ...
Writing a personal statement for dental schools
Is what I’m writing too personal or not personal enough? Should I be writing more about teeth?  How do I shorten my personal statement without omitting important details? Am I even answering the prompt!?
To ask or not to ask? That should NEVER be the question
My family often refers to me as “the questionnaire” because I am constantly peppering people with questions during all of our conversations. What can I say? I spent four years as both an English literature student at Bates College and a reporter/editor for my college newspaper. I simply always have questions to ask of myself and those around me. ...
Navigating medical school as a first-generation college student
After starting medical school, I’ve realized that being a first-generation college student is one of my greatest assets. Growing up in an immigrant family, my parents’ sacrifices motivated me to excel, and the challenge of paving my own path through academia shaped me into the person I am today. Nonetheless, navigating medial school as a ...
7 tips to nail Zoom medical school interviews
Congratulations - you’ve been selected for a medical school interview! The school already thinks you’re qualified because of your GPA, MCAT, extracurriculars, and essays. Now, it’s time to prove that your personality meshes well with that school.
How to study when you need a study break
There is a viral video of a little boy pretending to scoop the information from a book in front of him and place it in his head. Believe me, there were many instances where I wished this feat was possible. However, after taking the countless tests in school and standardized tests for the past 17 + years, I've realized that studying doesn’t always ...
The one thing you need to know about Harvard School of Dental Medicine
If you are planning on applying to dental school, you should be aware of how different schools structure their program. It wasn’t until I got to the interview process that I realized how little I knew about the variations in dental curriculum across schools. I was surprised to find out that Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) is one of the ...
Pseudocode: a must-use tool for Computer Science
My number one piece of advice for someone entering college and studying computer science is the following sentence: write pseudocode before writing your actual code. If you follow this piece of advice, you will save yourself hundreds of hours over the next four years of your life.
How to apply to business school with a non-traditional background
Applying for business school as a non-traditional candidate can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when the top schools are constantly advertising their placement in consulting, investment banking and tech companies.  But there is a reason business schools are not 100% filled with students from those backgrounds, as business school is ...
Why I chose neurology
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) database, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 future neurologists looking to specialize in neurology each year. So what exactly does a neurologist do? How do you become one, and why should you consider becoming one?
How to tackle dental interviews
So you got a dental school interview...now what?
How to use an outline to your advantage when you’re writing
How often do you start writing an essay with a great idea in mind, only to lose steam—or worse, lose track of your argument—well before you meet the length requirement? Have you ever reread a paper draft only to realize what you’re arguing on the first page isn’t quite the same thing you’re arguing on the last one? These sorts of problems are ...
How architecture tells a story
When we look at building, we are often not told how to look at a building, or what exactly to look at. Oftentimes, we’re given to notice certain things: the shape of the roof, the presence of wood or glass or concrete, its size, its ease of access, but we often stop there. Rarely, if ever, are we asked to think of why a building has particular ...
Introduction to Functions
You’ve made it through algebra: now it is time to start talking about functions. While functions are often used to make upper-level mathematics easier to understand, they can be confusing at first. So – what is a function? How do functions relate to the algebraic equations we have used before? And how do they help us with mathematics and computer ...
5 tips to make the most of your MCAT study time
John Wooden, the famous UCLA men’s basketball coach who won ten NCAA championships during his career, defined success as “peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” Maintaining this perspective can be invaluable as we set, plan, and work towards ...
How to succeed in college-level history courses
Success in college-level history courses requires that students develop a specific set of habits and practices, few of which are ever clearly spelled out by history instructors. While this is not an exhaustive list, the following paragraphs offer a few tips to help you get the most out of your history courses and excel while you are at it.
How to land that job in investment banking
Investment bankers in real-life are very far removed from population depictions in media such as The Wolf of Wall Street. Instead, the day-to-day life of an investment banker is pretty similar to many other finance jobs consisting of meetings, emails, building financial models in Excel and creating presentations—just with the dial turned up to 11. ...
It’s time to rethink your note-taking strategy
During your time in school, you may have encountered the following scenario. After a long day of in-class learning, you have to muster the energy to complete homework assignments. With darkness falling, you have to prioritize these assignments, beginning with the most pressing. Once you’ve gotten through that punishing problem set and polished ...
GMAT Sentence Correction
Out of the types of questions asked on the GMAT Verbal section, Sentence Correction questions may strike native English speakers as the easiest. After all, you usually know whether a sentence sounds grammatically correct or not. However, it is for this exact reason that Sentence Correction questions can be among the trickiest to solve if you are ...
How knowing units can help you remember equations tested on the MCAT
The chemistry and physics section of the MCAT is notoriously daunting. However, while questions may seem perplexing with complicated equations and challenging calculations, one can answer questions in this part of the exam quickly by knowing units of variables commonly encountered in chemistry and physics. 
How to choose the best college for you
The college admissions process can be really stressful—there are exams to take, essays to write, recommendations to request... our to-do lists seem never-ending. But the vast majority of our concerns with this process circle around the same question: What do I need to do to get into this school? This is, of course, an important question—and there ...
The beauty of a reverse outline
Are you having trouble organizing your thoughts for an essay in your Humanities class or for an application? Have you tried outlining before writing only to feel defeated before you even get started? Do you struggle with editing a paper you’re sick of looking at, one that you know has some gaps that need to be addressed? Look no further than your ...
How to break into the tech industry without a technical background
An increasing portion of MBA graduates are seeking out tech jobs over traditional consulting or investment banking career paths. Why? Tech jobs come with desirable perks: above average salary, stock options, flexible work schedules, strong professional development opportunities and free food! As the tech industry continues to grow, so do its ...
Artificial Intelligence: breaking ground or repeating the past's mistakes?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become embedded in nearly every aspect of our lives. The purchases we make, the people we virtually connect with, even the mechanisms to unlock our phones (if the phone was made in the last four years) are all influenced by AI. That said, should there be a limit to what parts of our lives AI touches? Moreover, how ...
Investments to curb climate change are rising. Here’s what to know.
ESG assets are on a path to exceed $53 trillion globally by 2025, which would represent more than a third of the expected $141 trillion of global assets under management. Although the EU and US are starting to develop and adopt regulations, they are still years away until robust ESG standards and policies are enforced in the financial sector. ...
Data science in risk management: value-at-risk and expected shortfall
Have you just started your investment journey and wondered how much to invest? Did you follow promising strategies but still see your account in red? Are you worried about the risk that you cannot foresee in your holdings? If you are nodding along these questions, know that you are not alone. In fact, these are what professionals like quants, ...
How to identify and avoid dangling modifiers
One of the most common grammatical pitfalls students encounter when writing essays and personal statements is the dangling modifier.
A brief primer on the secretory pathway
The secretory pathway is arguably one of the most important pathways in the body. It deemed ‘Secretory’ primarily because it’s the pathway that controls how the cell secretes proteins int extracellular environment.
Dealing with the deluge of secondary applications
They come slowly at first. A trickle, maybe just one for a time. But then it grows into a stream, and finally a surge. This accurately describes many phenomena, such as the first spring thaw in New England or medical students arriving at free food events. But I’m talking about medical school secondary applications. After you complete a universal ...
GMAT Verbal time and resource management
There are two fundamental rules if you want to do well on the GMAT:
How to do more with less time: the 3 P’s
As a medical student, I often feel as though there is more work in the day than there are hours to do it. To succeed in medical school, I’ve had to learn how to effectively balance clinical rotations with board exam review, research duties, extracurricular activities, and personal relationships. I’ve also seen younger siblings and students ...
5 MCAT tips from a 520+ scorer
The MCAT is hard, and the MCAT is important. It’s likely that at this stage of your academic journey, the MCAT will be the longest exam you’ve ever taken, and your preparation will need to reflect that. But whether your goal score is a 500, 510, or 520, there are a number of tips you can follow to feel confident come test day without burning out ...
Computer science buzzwords explained
Computer science can be intimidating! Especially when people use lingo you aren’t familiar with. The goal of this blog post is to help you start understanding some of the computer science buzzwords.
Chromatography: purifying your understanding
Maybe you were studying for the MCAT or just in your college chemistry lab when it dawned on you: why are there so many different types of chromatography? What do they have in common and what are their differences? 
How to communicate better: unlocking language’s hidden meanings
We all know that language is a powerful tool for communication. Sometimes it can be surprising how much meaning is conveyed in the shortest of sentences. Language is composed not only of the direct meaning of the words used, but also of many additional layers of meaning that arise through prior knowledge, background information, word choice, and ...
Utility-based data marketplaces
In "Computer Mediated Transactions" by Hal Varian, Varian offers an insightful look at how and why innovation has accelerated so rapidly within the realm of the internet. The piece offers some interesting insight regarding the historical development of the internet starting in the 1990’s, but it also makes some prescient predictions about the ...
A guide to FlexMed
FlexMed is the early assurance program offered by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Any undergraduate sophomore is eligible to apply, and it does not have any requirements for what major you are pursuing. The beauty of the program is the freedom that it affords undergraduates after acceptance. While my peers were studying for the MCAT, ...
CARS misconceptions
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section (CARS) is both the best and the worst section of the MCAT. The reason you must love it is that you aren’t required to store an inordinate number of CARS-related facts and figures in your head as you walk through those doors on test day. The downside of this fact is that you don’t get any free answers for ...
5 easy steps to good writing
Great chefs don’t cook wonderful meals on the first try. They’ve been in the kitchen for many sessions trying things out before they put a dish on the table. Writers need to do this too. Plan, practice, and prepare for the writing project you have in front of you. Break it into manageable chunks of about 2-3 hours each. These chunks need to be ...
Slide rules, logarithms, and analog computers
Growing up, one of my favorite films was Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises—an animated historical drama about a 20th-century Japanese engineer named Jiro Horikoshi. Each time I rewatched it, I was always intrigued by a device that Jiro used for performing calculations. It consisted of two wooden rulers, with the top one able to slide freely. Somehow, ...
5 tips for taking the MCAT in college
I knew going into college that I wanted to go to medical school and that I did not want to take a gap year. It’s important to keep an open mind and be flexible about these decisions, but if you know exactly what you want, then you should make a plan and go for it. As such, I ended up taking the MCAT two weeks after the end of my junior year.
Some quick dos and don'ts for premeds
As an MD-PhD Candidate, I’ve spent a lot of time working with premed students on their journeys into medicine. Here are some dos and don'ts that I’ve gathered along the way - please note that this list isn’t all-inclusive! 
Why I love teaching English
“I’m not good at writing.” “I don’t really like reading.” “I don’t think of myself as a writer.” “Why do I need to learn how to write? I’m going to study engineering!” 
Why I love teaching Spanish
In the spring of 2020, when we were all locked down due to the pandemic and feeling cooped up and anxious, I got an email that lifted my spirits. It was from a former student who wrote to thank me for writing him a letter of recommendation for an internship with his local congresswoman that led to a job after graduation. He revealed something that ...
What I love about psychology
I have always been fascinated by human emotions and behaviors, as well as the unique ways in which we interact with ourselves, others, and the world. I initially learned about a field that addresses these very phenomena—that is, the field of psychology —when I was in high school. However, I didn’t consider it as a possible career path until ...
What I love about history
It’s not uncommon for people to find history the most boring subject in school. It often gets a bad rap in popular culture, too. In Harry Potter, for example, the History of Magic teacher, Professor Binns, drones on and on and frequently puts his students to sleep with boring lectures about arcane material. When I tell people I study history, they ...
A comprehensive college admissions timeline
This is not your average college admissions timeline. Rather, this is an outline of a thoughtful and purposeful college process, one that begins your freshman year because it's a journey of discovery, reflection, and articulation. Read on to see Cambridge Coaching's suggestions for how to structure your high school career with respect to your ...
What you need to know about Harvard Business School
HBS has a great reputation as being one of the top business schools in the world, and people are often keen to apply just for its reputation alone. However, it can be helpful to really understand what you’re signing up for when you start at HBS. Academics are such a critical component of the learning and growth you undertake during your MBA, and ...
What surprised me the most about Columbia Business School
While this post originally started as a “Why I chose CBS” post, I realized halfway through writing the post that the reader (you!) would be learning a lot more about me than about Columbia Business School.  So instead of diving deep into why I chose to attend CBS, I want to spend more time telling you what surprised me the most about CBS.
Why I chose MIT Sloan
In early 2016, I stood at a crossroads with the incredible chance to attend one of the elite MBA Programs: MIT Sloan. My two years in this program were rewarding, enriching, and absolutely unforgettable. Here's why I chose to attend this fantastic program:
What I love about physics
What if I told you that there’s a way to describe the waves of the ocean, the winds in the skies, the motions of celestial bodies — almost everything around us — and harness that information to create great things? This tool does exist, and it’s a science so fundamental that its principles guide our understanding of everything from microbes to ...
Concept mapping: your tool for tackling standardized tests
I’m not a visual learner. I’m not a “diagram person.” I was a skeptic when first introduced to concept mapping. It was not a tool I made use of until the very beginning of my fourth year of medical school right before I took my second board exam, but it was something I wish I’d known about long before when taking college exams or the MCAT.  While ...
The DAT: six weeks out from test day
During my junior year of college, I was taking five classes, working two jobs, and finishing up a year-long independent study. Without much time to spare, I delayed the start of my DAT studying to May 15, the day after my organic chemistry II final.  The catch? My test day was set for July 1, leaving me only six weeks to review all of the material ...
Buffering your MCAT studying schedule 
Planning your MCAT study schedule can be a daunting task. With so much material to cover for the exam, it’s impossible to know where to begin studying without a detailed plan and schedule. You need to know what you need to know! There are plenty of resources out there to help you navigate which test window to register for, how much time you should ...
MD-PhD credentials: what do I need?
You’re interested in MD-PhD programs, but you want some more information about how to prepare and what the process looks like. Since the annual applicant pool is relatively small, this information can be hard to find, especially if you don’t attend a large research-oriented institution.
How to streamline a draft
One way to make sure your writing is clear (beyond writing "good sentences") is to take a look at the content of your paragraphs. The technique I'm going to detail in this post is perfect for a first draft, but can be used for final drafts too. I like to use this method when I need to cut some words to make a paper shorter, or before and after a ...
How to plan and organize historical research
Designing and executing historical research for a short essay, seminar paper, or thesis can be daunting. How do you find a primary research question, and how do you know which sources will help you answer this question? How do you read and take notes on sources once you've found them?
How to ask for feedback that will actually improve your writing
We’ve all received feedback on our writing that just wasn’t very useful. Maybe you wrote a paper for class and received back a list of grammar and spelling mistakes that you’ll never look at again. Maybe you showed your personal statement to three different people and were confused when you received three contradictory pieces of advice for ...
Tips for studying biology
I am often asked the question, “Brooke how do you study for biology?” We know to use practice problems to study for physics, or pathway diagrams for chemistry, but biology is different: it is a lot of memorizations!
Breaking down a Step 1 question
Step 1 is a beast - but a conquerable beast. Developing a broad knowledge base in pharmacology, pathophysiology and biochemistry is critical to doing well on test day. However, the process of taking the test—dissecting question stems to quickly apply relevant knowledge and identify the correct answer—is arguably just as important to reaching your ...
Things I wish I had known as a premed
Writing medical school applications is a prime time for self-reflection. Both during the writing process and in preparing for interviews, I’ve found myself reflecting on the things I wish I had known as a premed. Below are the things that I wish I had known in undergrad, especially as the first in my family to pursue a career in medicine. 
Tips on crushing your dental school interview
Alright, so you made it through the written portion of your application, and BOOM: an email from your dream school inviting you for an interview? CONGRATS! This can bring an immense amount of excitement—but also a ton of jitters and nerves.
How to review a full-length practice MCAT exam 
So, you’ve taken your first practice MCAT. Now what?
Working out your brain
My first day in the gym was intimidating. I always thought the gym wasn’t for me, and so I had tried to avoid it as much as I could. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed as I picked up the smallest weights in the gym with my slender arms. However, overtime I was able to pick up heavier weights and noticed that my arms were slowly filling up the ...
Why I chose Yale School of Management
As one of the top business schools in the world, Yale School of Management takes a slightly different approach than most. At Evans Hall, you’ll find students from a wide array of backgrounds, all attracted by SOM’s mission of educating “Leaders for Business and Society”. This is because SOMers believe that, at its core, business is about people, ...
The PSAT: what it is and isn’t for your college application process
Although designed as a test for 11th grade students, sitting for the PSAT might also be appropriate for 9th or 10th grade students. To better understand what the PSAT does (and does not) represent in terms of the college application process, here are some answers to common questions:
To ACT or to SAT? That is the question. 
“Do colleges like one test more than the other?” “Isn’t the SAT harder?” “What if I’m terrible at science?!” “But all my friends took the ACT!”
Medical School Admissions Timeline
The MD admissions process is long, and it begins even before you officially apply to med school. During your junior and senior year as a pre-med, be sure to stay on top of completing all of your pre-med academic requirements, reaching out to recommenders, and(increasingly) studying for the MCAT.
How to write a personal statement if you’re changing fields
Your personal statement must answer the crucial question of any graduate school application: Why are you a perfect fit for a program? To demonstrate that fit, many students craft an academic arc that traces their undergraduate experiences to their current application. But what if your path is more jagged? After switching from an undergraduate ...
What’s the difference between stiff, strong, and tough?
Though the average person might think the words stiff, strong, and tough mean the same thing, engineers know that they in fact have very different meanings. Learning the difference between these terms will help you sound like a pro when discussing material properties. 
How taking a gap year helped me get into Harvard Medical School
I would not be where I am today, at Harvard Medical School, if I hadn’t taken a gap year after college. If you’re thinking about taking one but still on the fence about it, here are some reasons for why I took a gap year and how I feel about that decision looking back today.  
Dreaming and designing: a short guide to your many lives
One of the most impactful books I’ve read this year is Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, a phenomenal guide by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, who lead the Design Program at Stanford University. Evans and Burnett break down the principles of design thinking and demonstrate how they can be used to build a life that is ...
The role of insurance and common threats in health insurance markets
Growing up, the GEICO Gecko and Allstate’s Mayhem were frequent fixtures of TV nights with my family. “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” and “You’re in good hands” were slogans I knew for as long as I could remember. Clearly, the services these companies were selling – different types of insurance – were marketed as taking ...
What I learned during the first-ever virtual medical school interviews
During the 2020-2021 medical school admissions cycle, interviews were conducted on a virtual platform for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021-2022 will certainly use the same virtual format, and medical school admissions interviews are likely to remain virtual for the foreseeable future.
How to highlight your student-athlete experiences for med school applications
College athletics take a lot of time out of your schedule: student-athletes must reserve four hours per day for practice, multiple hours per week for rehabilitation in the athletic training room, a few hours per month for meetings, and several days per semester for traveling and competing. If you are a pre-med student-athlete, you might begin to ...
Another tool for Logical Reasoning: the “assumption” question
One of the trickiest types of questions in the Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT is what I call the “assumption” question. An “assumption” question gives you an argument, and then asks you which of the following choices is an assumption on which the argument depends. Although this seems like a straightforward thing to ask, students often have ...
How to apply to 1L big law positions
You just started law school and you probably don’t even really know what a tort is yet, so how could we be talking about employment already? You may have heard the rumblings that some law students are able to obtain a big law summer associate position after 1L year. These positions pay a pro-rated big law rate, usually provide some peace of mind ...
My MCAT experience (or how I learned to be more productive)
It was January 2019, and there was about a month left before my MCAT test date. I was exhausted by this point: the test prep was taking up the majority of my time outside of school. During a study break, I vividly recall looking at the data usage statistics on my cell phone and being shocked. These metrics indicated that I had been using my phone ...
How to solve an empirical formula problem
In this blog post, we will review how to determine the empirical formula of a compound using the mass percentages of the elements from which it is formed.
Quantum numbers
In this blog post, we explore the four quantum numbers, which allow us to describe the properties of each electron within an atom. According to the Pauli Exclusion Principle, no two electrons can share the same combination of quantum numbers. A carbon atom has six electrons, for example, and each of these electrons can be described by one of six ...
A painless introduction to VSEPR theory
Today we will discuss VSEPR (pronounced “vesper”), which stands for valence-shell electron-pair repulsion. The basis of VSEPR is that the electrons in bonds and lone pairs repel each other. To minimize the instability that results from these repulsions, a molecule will adopt the shape that places electron groups as far apart as possible. VSEPR ...
A language study routine that actually works
So you're studying a new language, and you've been told that you need to make time to review and study vocabulary regularly. That makes sense. You tell yourself you'll do it. You may even make some flashcards and spend time drilling them two or three times early in the semester when you are full of good intentions. But if you're like me, the ...
How to write a diversity statement for law school admissions
Diversity statements for law school are optional. No really, they truly are optional! The purpose of a diversity statement is to explain to admissions how your past diverse experiences have contributed to your personal and professional growth. A diversity statement is not a personal statement. Personal statement focuses on why you want a law ...
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 the interview question, What you do for fun?
"What do you do for fun?"   When I prep applicants for their medical school interviews, I can't help but grin to myself as I ask this question because of the nearly inevitably 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 ...
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
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.
College Alumni Interview do’s (and a few don’ts)
First, the do’s: 1. Be on time and look professional. Log into the Zoom link early and wait. Be sure your “Zoom shirt” is appropriate.
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, but 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 tends to 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 ...
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 online learning remains part of our lives, 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
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
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 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 proverb
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 in the 520s? 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 teach-backs 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 and 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
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 – how cool!” 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 sooner.
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 need to follow suit. Your personal statement, for example, is not the place to defy the ...
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
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 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 on the personal statement
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 ...
Activism and civic engagement in 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 ...
Four 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 to keep energy up during the MCAT
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.
How to reset your mind for MCAT success
The MCAT is a 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 eight 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
Logan, an MD candidate at Harvard Medical School and president of Harvard’s Global Surgery Student Association, 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 ...
How to apply to American medical schools while traveling abroad
Applying to medical school while abroad can be a wonderful but challenging experience. It's entirely possible to do the whole process remotely, but it will take careful planning to be completed correctly. There are many important factors, but two of the most important will be successfully filling out your AMCAS application and navigating ...
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 #1 strategy when approaching the ACT Science section
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: 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 might be hard to imagine remaining a student after graduating from college, yet as the working field becomes more selective and applicants more experienced, advanced degrees are becoming increasingly popular. Although most students are confident in their decision to pursue graduate school, they often face uncertainty when deciding whether to ...
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
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: ant navigation and vector addition
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
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 “salary” (i.e., a scholarship) for attracting revenue to ...
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 the film '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: 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 Are struggling with the reading section in general, and are looking for ...
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 ...