Life is tiny – bacteriology 101
Bacteria, a bit unfairly, are often bad mouthed, as they tend to make the news for the diseases they cause: tuberculosis, pneumonia, cholera. From the bacteria’s point of view, however, disease is mostly an accident – they just found somewhere they can thrive.
Four medical school personal statement pitfalls and how to avoid them
Crafting your personal statement for medical school can be daunting – you have had so many incredible experiences that got you here, and you want to put them down on paper in a way that is compelling and makes your readers want to interview you. Whether you are still brainstorming or polishing up your latest draft, this post will review common ...
6 tips for overcoming writer’s block
It’s all happened to us—you get a writing prompt or essay assignment, but once faced with the blank page of a document, great ideas vanish like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Watching the cursor blink, writing anxiety and procrastination set in. A week later you’re clicking submit at 11:59 PM. You waited until the last minute to hammer out a text, ...
How to be productive while wasting time
One thing that I didn’t really realize until I got into the middle of college is that concentrating is actually a really difficult and daunting task. Sure, when you’re in high school, you have much more frequent deadlines, and you may not necessarily have the luxury of NOT concentrating (even if you are a procrastinator). But coming into college, ...
How to secure a stellar letter of recommendation
Letters of recommendation can make or break an application. Check out the guide below to ensure that you get the strongest letters of recommendation possible:
Discovering your thread for medical school applications
Applying to medical school can indeed be a daunting and intimidating journey. By this point, you've dedicated countless hours to mastering intricate sciences (TCA cycle, anyone?), delved into research, and immersed yourself in extracurricular or academic interests. You've amassed invaluable experience that will shape your future as a physician. ...
Applying to clinical psychology PhD programs: the post-baccalaureate research job
There’s really no way around it: getting into a PhD program in clinical psychology is hard. And it’s not just the application process itself that’s challenging – gaining admission to a well-regarded and funded program can take years of preparation before the application cycle even begins. But there are real things you can do in those key years ...
Don’t lose the forest for the trees: an effective approach to nailing the first semester of law school
Law school is a real adjustment for many reasons, but one big one is that students are typically only evaluated based on one exam at the end of the semester. On any given day, it can be easy to stress about the reading you just didn’t fully understand or the cold call that just didn’t go your way. But remember that in the grand scheme, those ...
Staying cool, calm, and collected before your medical school interview
For years, you’ve worked towards this goal of going to medical school. Countless hours of fine tuning your AMCAS, asking for recommendation letters, and writing secondaries have come to this: your first interview. How will you handle it? This article focuses on how to strengthen your standard medical school Zoom interviews and stay calm during the ...
3 tricky medical school questions and how to answer them effectively
Medical school interview questions can be intimidating, but you can master this aspect of the MD admissions process through thoughtful preparation. Here are three of the trickiest interview questions and how you can go about tackling them:
Selecting quotes for deeper literary analysis
As academic writers, we are often told that quotes are important because we need them as evidence. What we are often not told is that a truly well-selected quote should operate not just as support for your argument but as an essential springboard for analysis.
Demystifying the cross product
The cross product is ubiquitous throughout linear algebra and vector calculus. It plays a major role in transformations of coordinate systems and is intimately related to the determinant. In fact, its definition in linear algebra courses is often given in terms of the determinant, which can seem mysterious and arbitrary. In this post, I want to ...
Law school: not just for lawyers
What do Mahatma Gandhi, John Grisham, Barack Obama, and Gerard Butler all have in common? They are among the many holders of law degrees who go on to highly successful careers outside of the legal profession. While many might think that law school is just for lawyers, huge numbers of JD holders never even practice law. But, despite what you might ...
How to read a scientific paper for beginners
As a chemist, I’d say one of the most humbling parts of my job is reading scientific literature. Science writing is difficult to comprehend in its own right, and (even as someone who does science daily) I find the writing in academic papers can be unnecessarily confusing at times. That being said, I still dive into the weeds of a new paper about ...
An intro to neural networks
Are you someone with a burning curiosity for the fascinating world of computer science? Well, you're in for a treat because we're about to embark on a fun, engaging, and totally digestible journey into the captivating realm of neural networks.
Memorizing amino acid structures through pattern-recognition
Quickly recognizing the structures of amino acids is an essential, but oftentimes challenging, aspect of both biochemistry courses and standardized tests like the MCAT. Many posts at Cambridge Coaching have provided excellent tips and mnemonics to memorize these based on their names. We’ll take a different approach here leveraging ...
So, you’re starting to study for the LSAT. What now?
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely taken the first few steps in your LSAT study journey. Maybe you’ve taken your initial diagnostic test and collected a few second-hand prep books that you found on Craigslist. Maybe you haven’t even gotten that far, or maybe you’re already a few months in. T
Managing test anxiety
Studying and internalizing knowledge can be in a challenge in and of itself. Optimizing your study habits, seeking extra resources from your teacher, working with a tutor when needed, and more can help with this aspect of learning. But what about when you’ve got that part down - you’re following a study plan, doing well on practice questions - ...
5 biochemistry mnemonics to help you on the MCAT
Tired of trying to memorize the same complicated enzymes and pathways? Learn these concepts quicker with the following mnemonics:
GMAT sentence correction: start with simple examples
Many people are understandably intimidated by the complexity of the sentences in the sentence correction problems on the GMAT. Most resources teach sentence correction skills using similarly complex examples, which can make it hard to recognize the relatively simple concepts that are being tested on the exam. You wouldn’t study algebra to learn ...
Computational runtime: the concept silently constraining our lives
You may be surprised to hear that I declare computational runtime to be the silent constraint on our lives (compared to, say, money or conventional understandings of time). But much of the technology on which our modern world is built relies heavily on concepts of runtime.
Adaptive vs innate immunity—a bird’s eye view
Our immune systems are comprised of dozens of different types of cells, antibodies, cascades, and more. This is often why immunology is such a daunting subject for so many students.
How to ace STEM cumulative final exams
There’s always at least one course in a semester in which, after 12 weeks of learning new material every lecture, your grade is dependent on your understanding of the whole of the class’s information in the dreaded cumulative final exam.
My unconventional hack for understanding research papers
Reading peer-reviewed papers is an essential part of any kind of research, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I’m often fairly lost on my first read-through of a physics paper; I might get the gist of the research and maybe even understand a graph or two, but it’s safe to bet that I skimmed over all of the included equations and most of the ...
A day in the life of a third year dental student at HSDM
Each day of dental school is like reaching blindly into a box of assorted chocolates – you never know exactly what you are going to get until you unwrap it! But here is a typical day in my life at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
Finance 101: deconstructing the time value of money, annuities, and perpetuities
Welcome to Finance 101! Today we'll cover the time value of money, annuities, and perpetuities.
How to start writing your personal statement
The personal statement is the most daunting part of law school applications for many students, including me. And starting the personal statement is often the most daunting part of writing it; I was no stranger to staring at a blank Word document for hours, with no idea where to even start. How does one encapsulate the most important parts of their ...
What to prioritize as a premed college student
Being premed in college is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
The (un)real power of axiomatic mathematics
A postdoctoral fellow once laughingly told me, “Every mathematician needs to construct the real numbers at least once.” For most people in science and engineering, the existence of the real numbers is obvious. And that is a good thing; mathematics should describe things as they are or must be, not as we would like to see them. For the ...
Decisions, decisions…how to pick a graduate program in science
If you’ve decided to apply to graduate school, you’ve probably found yourself in a labyrinth of endless choices, with each path branching into a maze of research labs, publications, patents, and scientific breakthroughs. As an aspiring scientist, choosing the right graduate program can open a world of possibilities, but navigating the application ...
5 tips for managing medical school application madness
As a fourth year medical student at the time of this writing, it simultaneously seems like an age ago and just yesterday that I applied for medical school. Like almost all pre-medical students who decide to apply, there was a lot of uncertainty and challenges at the time in my life. I didn’t know what my MCAT score was when I submitted my primary ...
I was accepted to medical school - now what?
You spent months perfecting your AMCAS application and interviewing with medical schools. Then, one day, ten unknown digits light up your phone screen. You answer and your life changes with one sentence – “We are excited to accept you to our program!” Celebrations ensue and you finally take a sigh of relief. But then you think…what’s next?
How to ace the SAT math sections—by doing less math
On a timed exam like the SAT, when you have barely a minute to solve each math question, there’s nothing worse than getting bogged down in a problem. We’ve all been there: the small square of space in the test booklet becoming crammed with writing, the pile of eraser shavings growing, the clock ticking, and…wait, what was the question even asking ...
How to learn effectively for the MCAT
During any academic pursuit, it is always important to value learning over rote memorization. Particularly for the MCAT, where there is a seemingly unending amount of content that needs to be understood, you need a strong foundation of learnt material over memorized material.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems on the MCAT
The autonomic nervous system is a division of the peripheral nervous system that mediates non-voluntary control of many of the basic functions of the body, such as heart rate, breathing, and digestion. It is made up of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which have opposing functions that help to regulate the body depending on the ...
Tips for informational interviews
Whether you're shopping around for graduate programs, making career decisions, or just learning more about something that interests you, informational interviews are a useful tool for gathering information and making connections that will enrich your professional network. So many of the opportunities that have been influential in my academic ...
What is structural biology (and why should you care)?
Within all of our cells, we have millions of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates serving various biological functions. Many of these molecules have structure which play key roles in understanding how the mechanisms of those biological functions work. Scientists who study structural biology seek to determine the structure of these ...
MD/PhD admissions: the myths and the facts
The MD/PhD admissions is a competitive and complicated process. That said, there are a lot of misconceptions about what makes a compelling application. Let's debunk four of the most common myths about MD/PhD applications!
How to write your first legal memo in 5 steps
One of your first assignments in law school most likely will be a legal memo. Legal writing is different than other forms of academic writing – it is repetitive and can feel a bit clunky.
Breaking down the brachial plexus
These three words are enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most intrepid anatomy, pre-clinical, or clinical student. There’s so many nerves, some in front and some behind, some looping around – it’s easy to get tripped up trying to make sense of this complex structure.
Understanding omitted-variable bias
One of the most important equations in econometrics – and in economics in general – is the equation for omitted-variable bias. This simple equation is a powerful tool for reasoning about the ways in which correlations we see in the data may differ from the causal relationships we care about. In this post, we'll begin by learning exactly what the ...
Inheritance and polymorphism
Picture this - you’re at a car dealership and you’re eager to purchase your first car. You settle on a brand new Honda Civic, and your representative asks: sedan or hatchback?
Reflections of a 1L
When I started law school in fall of 2022, I was excited to head back to the classroom after a stint in banking and a COVID-19 shortened college experience. Law school, especially the first year (dubbed 1L), has an infamous reputation based on movies ranging from The Paper Chase and Legally Blonde. Emerging from the fray, I can say that law school ...
A common consulting case question: sizing the market
Market sizing questions are commonly asked in consulting case interviews. These questions may range from topics such as “what is the retail apparel market size in France?” to “how many pounds of trash will get composted every year?” The important thing to remember is that the interviewer is not looking for an exact correct answer. Instead, they ...
Building a bibliography from scratch
You have your paper topic, maybe you even have a thesis statement ready to go. But before you can charge into the depths of the writing process, you’ve got put together your bibliography. In some cases, this part seems easy: you’re already familiar with the scholars who work on the topic; your instructor has given you a list of sources; or you are ...
What is a determinant?
This is a blog post about understanding linear maps and a special number associated to them called the determinant. A linear map f from Rn (n-dimensional Euclidian space) to Rm (m-dimensional Euclidian space) is any map which satisfies the following properties:
How to ask your professor for a letter of recommendation
Asking a professor for a letter of recommendation can be a crucial step in your academic or professional journey. Whether you are applying for graduate school, scholarships, or awards, a well-crafted letter of recommendation can make a significant impact on your application. However, approaching your professor and making the request can feel ...
Hedging: a trick to making your arguments more persuasive
I’ve taught expository writing in the Ivy League for several years now, and one of the most common problems I see is student papers that overstate their argument. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix this issue—a trick that makes pretty much all argumentative claims much more convincing.
Hacking the unit circle
The unit circle is a handy tool that can help students learn the trigonometric values, sine, cosine, and tangent, of certain angles (30°, 45°, and their multiples) that the math “Powers-That-Be” have determined to be important. Unfortunately, for a lot of students, the unit circle can feel like tedious rote memorization with unfamiliar numbers ...
To biologists – why we should love math
The mention of mathematics often evokes mixed emotions among biologists. While some embrace it as a powerful tool, most merely view it as a black box for their collaborators to navigate for them or as intimidating and unrelated to their study. However, as a Biology PhD student, I firmly believe that math is not scary and an essential and ...
Finding your voice to write a statement of purpose
We all know that we need to distinguish ourselves on our graduate school applications and that the statement of purpose is a crucial space for doing so. I think of this challenge as a matter of “finding your voice.” As I see it, finding your voice is not only a matter of learning how to write in a stylish, distinctive way, important as that may ...
Three lessons I learned as a first-generation, low-income student at Harvard
My four years at Harvard were some of the most confidence-ravaging yet vibrant years of my life so far. I took a lot of physics classes, but the greatest lessons I've learned all happened outside the classroom. Here are some of the key takeaways I had at Harvard as a first-generation, low-income student.
Intermolecular forces: a basic, ground-up approach
Intermolecular forces (IMFs) are “electrostatic” interactions between molecules – a result of all the charges floating around and interacting in the system. IMFs influence the properties of substances that we can observe and interact with – for example, the phase of the substance or its boiling point.
Approaching Shakespeare
The first Shakespearean play that I had to read in school was A Midsummer Night’s Dream; I was in eighth grade. I found the kooky language insurmountable, and, truthfully, thought the plays were pretty boring. These challenges continued year after year, as we moved on to Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and more. In short, I hated ...
How to build a bridge using Truss Analysis
Truss Analysis was the first engineering concept I learned at Cornell. It involves the Balance of Force and Moments, and can be quite confusing at first. I will break it down into a couple of steps that you can apply to every Truss you see!
From engineer to MBA
I've made it a point to live a life that satisfies my aspirations and dreams. I adopted the idea of chasing my "Personal Legend," which is my actual purpose and passion in life, after being moved by my parents' sacrifices.
Five tips for managing public speaking anxiety
Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is among the most feared things in the world—right up there with acrophobia (fear of heights) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders). But unlike a sheer cliff or a venomous spider, public speaking can’t kill you. But that doesn’t mean public speaking is any less terrifying, and building the confidence ...
Studying physics like it’s biology? There’s another way.
In my experience as an instructor and teaching assistant at the University of Washington, I have worked with many students who are biology or chemistry majors desperately trying to stay afloat in introductory physics. They describe the experience as a painful one and feel their hard work does not pay off. If you feel similarly, the good news is ...
Productive study tips
I always like to start off my study sessions with a bit of music. Especially if I know I need to focus up later, starting off in a light, comfortable mood helps to take the pressure off a bit.
Evolution is mostly random
Competition in nature is relentless. Predation, famine, disease, and disaster all threaten to prevent individuals from reproducing. In this competitive environment, mutations that make survival more likely are more likely to appear in future generations, and mutations that make survival less likely probably won’t stick around in the population for ...
How to prepare for data structures and algorithms interviews
When preparing for data structures and algorithms interviews, it’s crucial to put in time reviewing concepts and solving practice interview problems. However, it’s almost equally important to practice the structure of the live interview itself. Here are some tips for communicating and organizing your thought process as you’re being interviewed.
The single most useful tactic I learned for standardized test prep
Standardized test prep can be a grueling process for the mind, body, and spirit. It took a great degree of willpower not to hurl myself into the sun whenever my practice scores began to dip again (and again, and again). But as frustrating as they might be, disappointing practice days are undoubtedly the best days to improve.
How to figure out the kind of mentor you need
Everyone has their favorite season! Some people adore summer because of the good weather, time off from school, and fun vacations with friends and family. While autumn is my favorite season, I believe the summer is a great time for a person to check in on their needs, goals, and progress. Especially at the halfway point of the year, it’s a good ...
Demystifying the path to mastering science learning
Looking back after almost thirty years of using science to build new technologies and companies, I realize that learning science in college could have been much more efficient and enjoyable for me. I spent almost all my time focused on details of how to do the coursework (to balance an equation, to get the right answer, to figure out what was ...
Six law school outlining dos and don’ts
For the not-yet-initiated, a law school outline is a supercharged version of class notes for a law school course. One critical difference between an outline and your class notes, however, is that an outline should be the distillation of the entire semester’s coursework. Instead of full case briefs, think quick summaries of the issues and holdings.
What fiction teaches us about writing application essays
While writing fiction and writing application essays may seem, at first, like two fundamentally different skills, the two have more in common than you’d think. Both are, in essence, a story: one of growth and transformation. As such, narrative strategies from fiction are essential in writing a personal statement that stands apart from the pack and ...
The writer’s palette: color-coding as a revision strategy
Revision is an essential part of the writing process, but it can feel daunting. You’ve toiled over ideas, finally gotten words onto the page, and now you need to revise. This step can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re pressed for time or tired of looking at the same draft.
3 tips for a successful college interview
So, you’ve completed your essays, sent in all of your test scores, gathered all of your letters of recommendation and clicked the “submit” button on your application. Now it seems that all you have to do is sit back and wait for a decision letter from the college you just applied to. But hold on! A few days later you check your email and spot a ...
The difference between pursuing a graduate degree in the United States and the United Kingdom
I earned both my undergraduate degree and master's degree in the United States. Once I decided that I wanted to stay in academia and a PhD, I struggled to see myself sitting in the classroom for hours repeating coursework, quizzes, and examination for three or four years and then conducting research on my speciality, which would then take another ...
An introduction to potential energy
Potential energy can be easy to understand, tricky to define, and confusing to use. Here, we not only define potential energy, but explain what it means, why physicists use it, how physicists calculate it, and examine why potential energy is only associated with certain types of forces.
How to self-study mathematics
Mathematics is a topic that is notoriously difficult to learn on one’s own. Sadly, this often causes people to think they’re not “math people” or that learning mathematics perhaps isn’t for them. In the contrary, I think that learning math is something that is accessible to everyone, but requires a different approach from reading a novel, or ...
Avoiding clichés in your Common App essay
The Common App essay is a near-universal hurdle for American high schoolers. Millions of essays from the same seven prompts are written each year for admissions teams to read. As a result, a handful of clichés have emerged about the Common App essay: the school community service trip, the death of a grandparent, the sports injury—I could go on…
A brief introduction to the infinite
Set theory is the branch of mathematics that studies the infinite. The discipline was founded by Georg Cantor in the late 1800s. Cantor is responsible for many of the notions we discuss here. A set, according to Cantor, is a collection of definite, distinguishable objects conceived as a whole. A set consists of its elements. There is exactly one ...
5 tips to ace your medical school interview
Congrats on finishing your AMCAS primary and your school specific secondary applications! Getting your first interview invite is an exciting (and scary) moment. You can use these simple tips to prepare for your interviews:
Maximizing the benefits of MCAT practice exams
Preparing for the MCAT can be a daunting task. One of the most effective tools at your disposal are the AAMC full length practice exams. The AAMC offers 2 free exams (one scored, one not) and 4 paid ones. AAMC practice exams not only provide you the opportunity to assess your knowledge and skills, but also help you familiarize yourself with the ...
Mastering MCAT physics problems through dimensional analysis
Preparing for the MCAT can be an overwhelming task, especially when it comes to the physics section. Physics concepts, equations, and calculations may seem daunting at first, especially with all the numbers and variables in the test’s complex problems. However, with the right approach, you can tackle this section with confidence and success. In ...
How to balance good grades and a social life as an undergrad
When I was a senior in undergrad, the number one question I got asked by first year and prospective students was: how do I get good grades while also enjoying my time at school? Is it even possible?
My freshman year checklist
Ah, the first year of college. It’s a time many of us look back on with nostalgia, a time to which we crave to return. But in the moment? It’s terrifying!
My top tip for improving performance on the ACT
The ACT can be a tough experience. There are tons of questions and little time to complete them. They often seem confusing and misleading, and it’s even easier to become confused when you’re rushing to finish on time. But like all other standardized tests, the ACT relies on a formula. To succeed, you just need to crack that formula.
Five things to do the summer before law school
The months leading up to your first day of law school can be both exciting and extremely nerve-wracking. If you do not have a plan to stay grounded, you will end up in a wormhole of Reddit threads that ultimately lead you more confused than when you started. Here are five things you should consider doing the summer before law school that will ...
Motivating matrices: why do we care about linear maps?
If you’re reading this, you probably already know what a matrix is. But just to be clear, a matrix is a rectangular array of numbers. Here is an example:
How to write an effective “Reasons for Applying” supplement for Oxbridge
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably thinking about applying to the University of Cambridge or Oxford in the UK. Your grades are stellar and you have plenty of out-of-school experiences to talk about, but unfortunately, they’ve only given you 1000 characters to prove your interest in the program. Moreover, this is your only chance to sneak ...
functions(): the silent heroes of programming
Are you ever nostalgic of the days of long division? Or annoyed that a tape measure makes determining the dimensions of a new couch so simple?
Using Porter’s Five Forces to analyze the theme park industry
One of the fundamental frameworks necessary to help us understand the economic factors that affect the profits of an industry is Michael Porter’s Five Forces. The Five Forces creates a structure that encompasses a business’s upstream and downstream partners, as well as categorize broad economic issues within an industry. We will be applying the ...
Tips for effective note-taking in college
The beginning of the school year is an exciting and slightly overwhelming time during college. Start off your science classes right with these tips for effective note-taking and studying techniques!
Relativity: from Galileo to Einstein
Imagine sitting in a car and pressing the gas. You can tell you're moving since you feel the car's acceleration and see things moving around you. Once you're traveling at a constant velocity, you no longer feel the acceleration but see the outside world moving around you.
5 key lessons I learned from the MBA application process
Applying for an MBA program is an intense, transformative, and rewarding journey that can be both exciting and incredibly overwhelming. Here, I share some key lessons learned throughout my own application journey. While these worked for me, it’s important to understand the best strategies and timeline for you.
Things I wish I knew earlier in my journey to medical school
Looking back on my time as a premed, I realize how many missteps I took along the way, and how many assumptions that I'd entered school with but didn't even recognize until months, sometimes years later. I don't blame my younger self – after all, hindsight is always 20/20 – but you don't have to make the same mistakes I made. Here are the things I ...
5 tips for managing writing anxiety
Some writing anxiety is inevitable and even useful. But if your anxiety is keeping you from producing your best work, try the strategies below to improve your writing process.
Should you take a gap year (or several) before law school?
As a college student considering applying to law school, you have a lot on your plate: taking pre-law classes, preparing for the LSAT, gaining relevant professional experience, and much more. During this process, one central question will inform all your other choices: whether you will “go straight through” to law school after graduating from ...
Essential tips for the LSAT
A common question I get asked by my students is, “What should I be doing to prepare for the LSAT?”
Perfecting the interview: how to master behavioral and traditional questions
In today's competitive job market, it's crucial to be well-prepared for all types of interview questions. In this blog post, I'll break down the main types of questions, as well as how to answer them thoughtfully and thoroughly.
Solving systems of equations by graphing (even after Algebra 1)
When learning about lines in Algebra 1, you likely learned how to solve a system of (linear) equations, such as the following, by graphing:
What’s going on with electric vehicles?
There are very few among us who haven’t seen or heard of electric vehicles (EVs). When thinking of EVs, what comes to mind might range from wishing for a stylish Tesla to wondering how anyone could put up with so little range and charging infrastructure. However, it’s tough to have an academically informed opinion when so much information comes ...
Generating a scholarly argument in the humanities
Many if not most humanities papers, essays, and articles require that you make a scholarly intervention into an academic conversation. The nature of this intervention varies: if you are doing advanced research, it will be expected that you have read other criticism on the text(s) or object(s) under consideration and respond to a body of criticism ...
How to write compelling MBA admission essays
Already getting overwhelmed about writing your MBA essays and you haven’t even started yet? I’ve been there. Everyone has their own trusted process and unique story to tell, but here are three quick tips that helped me put my best foot forward in the admissions process:
The long and winding road to my first research publication
In many ways, peer-reviewed publications are the currency of academia. Your list of publications over your career may very well be the deciding factor in whether you receive tenure as a professor. If you are a PhD student, your research group may set strict requirements on the number of publications you have before you graduate (often three ...
How to give effective research presentations
1. Cater to your audience Engaging your audience is vital to maintaining their attention and fostering active participation. Your title slide should be used as an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and connect with your audience. Do not simply read the title! Try to scan the room and make eye contact with people and smile - it will make ...
Centrifugal force explained
Fictitious forces such as the centrifugal force are fake forces – they don’t really exist! However, fictitious forces are helpful when working in non-inertial reference frames (a fancy term for reference frames that are accelerating, like when we use the rotating Earth as a reference frame). In these frames, F = ma doesn’t hold, and you’ll need to ...
What they won’t tell you about choosing the right graduate institution
If you're reading this post, you are probably an experienced student. You’ve overcome standardized tests, have had plenty of extracurricular experience, and perhaps even mastered your interview skills. However, one seemingly challenge awaits: choosing the right graduate institution for you. While this challenge seems innocent enough, there is the ...
The Taylor Series
If you’ve taken a high school physics class, you probably started by learning about position, velocity, and acceleration, ubiquitous concepts in physics that are also well-motivated by our daily life experiences. But soon after that, the course probably moved on to less familiar concepts, such as energy and simple harmonic oscillation modeled by ...
So, you've decided to pursue a PhD...
You’ve come this far! And if you have asked yourself the important questions—and more critically, if you have responded with honest and intentional answers—you are ready. I don’t suggest going down the PhD path if you think you should, or if you feel like it would be a waste of your past work not to follow through. Your journey has yet to be ...
Tips for crafting art portfolios for Art & Design schools
It’s been a little over ten years now since I applied for design school, and in the time since, I’ve gone from student to teacher in my own right. As a lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design, I’ve learned firsthand how effective a portfolio can be for your creativity, skills, and unique perspective. More so than your application essays, art ...
How to approach biology and biomedical graduate school interviews
The graduate school application process is exhausting. Tailoring multiple applications for each school is a daunting task. A sigh of relief finally arrives when invitations to interview for graduate programs arrive. However, as part of the application process, interviews carry a lot of weight, and most students don’t get a blueprint for what to ...
Screening for dementia: why it helps, and how we can do better
The dementia spectrum is enormous, spanning a complex range of cognitive, pathophysiological, and social factors which vary from person to person. We pour billions annually into research—trying to get to root causes and fund clinical trials—but for most conditions, we’re far away from a cure. Treatment is usually focused on symptom management and ...
Attempting to become a theoretical physicist: initial steps
If you've clicked on this blog, you must be captivated by the beauty of relativity, quantum mechanics, dark matter, or black holes. Now, you're eager to delve deeper into these subjects. Maybe this moment just happened recently or a few years ago. Regardless, you want to get paid to study nature and attempt to describe it using mathematics. As I ...
Escape velocity
Escape velocity is the speed an object needs to escape the gravitational influence of another object. Here, we explain escape velocity, derive the right equation, and discuss what this equation does (and doesn’t tell us) about how objects actually move in space. For example, how fast would you have to throw a tennis ball for it to fly off into ...
How to map the Milky Way with tiny hydrogen atoms
All you’ll need for this project is a computer that can run Python, 30 hours of free time, and an 18-foot aperture parabolic antenna.
A deep dive on Anki settings: how to optimize for the MCAT
The default Anki settings are meant to be changed, especially when studying for the MCAT. Anki is set up in a way that maximizes indefinitely long-term retention, but for the MCAT we just want to prioritize retention on test day, rather than memorization forever.
How to think like a mathematician
Behind every mathematician is a beautiful mind: one that has been forged through years of critical thinking. Their minds are molded by countless failed attempts at solving problems and refined by the exposure to remarkable ideas explored along a lifetime of learning. How can we train our minds to see the world more like mathematicians do? The map ...
5 things I wish I knew before I applied to dental school
The dental school application process can be overwhelming (but it's worth it, I promise!). Here are some key things I wish I had known when I was applying to school:
Graduate School Qualifying Exams: what are they and how can I prepare?
As a graduate student in a STEM field, your program probably has one or more written qualifying exams which you must pass, along with your oral exams, to earn the coveted title of PhD candidate. The written exams cover the fundamental material in your field—generally from courses you took as an undergraduate or a first-year graduate student. These ...
A guide to organic chemistry mechanisms
The dreaded weed-out class. A pre-med’s worst nightmare. Students often approach organic chemistry with apprehension, and a particularly sore spot in the class is mechanisms. Arrows, electrons, charges, and structures all drawn out like a map. Now, make that 10 maps – or 20! What’s a pre-med to do?
MCAT anxiety: two tricks to use adrenaline to your advantage
You know the feeling: an uneasiness in your stomach, a shakiness in your stride, and a growing sense of doom as you approach your test center. You may even be worried that the nerves will cause you to freak out and ruin your chances of a good score.
Why you should use original historical sources for your English papers
One thing I wish I had learned as an undergraduate (who geeked out on medieval lit) was how to find and read facsimiles of original manuscripts. The Internet is a treasure trove of public works, with classic, canonical, and contemporary literature available in html or as PDFs. This is awesome. It meant I could teach a survey course of British ...
What not to do in your law school applications (and what to do instead)
Applying for law school can be a daunting task. From taking the LSAT, to writing your personal statement, to reaching out to recommenders, preparing your law school application is an extensive process.
The value of seeing: why everyone should make art
“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.” (John Berger, Ways of Seeing)
Make your AMCAS Work and Activities section stand out!
As a medical school applicant, one of the most critical sections of your application is the Work and Activities section on the AMCAS. Through this section you have the opportunity to showcase your amazing experiences, clinical skills, and personal qualities to medical schools. However, it can be tough to pick which activities to choose, how many ...
How to stand out during management consulting case interviews
The case interview is an interactive word problem based on a real consulting situation. This will typically take 20-30 minutes and will happen after a behavioral interview. In this blog post, we will discuss the purpose of the interview, types of case interviews, the structure of case interviews, and how to stand out.
How to revise your writing in 3 easy steps
So, you’ve finished the first draft of an essay, paper, short story, or personal statement! You’ve done the first hardest part: sitting down and putting pen to paper. But writing, like any other creative pursuit, is “10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” In other words, the first draft is just a start. Revising is where the real work happens.
How to ask a professor if you can conduct research in their lab
You might learn during your classes that your professor's research is quite fascinating. So, naturally, you want to be a part of it! Here are some tips toe help you clinch that research opportunity.
When to diagram in Logical Reasoning questions
Diagramming is an invaluable skill for LSAT test-takers. For Logic Games in particular, getting a good score is highly commensurate to your ability to quickly diagram information in a manner that clear, concise, and easy to refer to as you’re working through the test questions. Diagramming is also an extremely helpful tool in figuring out some of ...
Making mistakes in math class
Learning math often feels like it’s all about right or wrong, like success or failure are the only two possible options and that all of your math expertise is visible as soon as you take a test. What I experienced as a student studying math and now as a math teacher is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of my greatest learning ...
Freewriting: the cure for writer’s block
Writing an essay or term paper can often feel like an uphill battle. We have all been victims, time to time, of the dreaded “writer’s block.” It can be frustrating and overwhelming when you sit down to write but you just don’t know where to start. But fear not! In this blog post, I will describe a helpful technique for overcoming writer’s block: ...
How to find the mentor of your dreams
Are you a pre-med student feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn? You may consider finding a mentor to help you on your journey. Having a mentor can be an invaluable tool to help you stay motivated, gain advice, and support your success.
How to get the most out of your questions
Even at the doctorate level, many students struggle with phrasing questions in a clear way that will result in thorough and informative responses from others. This can leave the student feeling discouraged and unsatisfied with their effort to speak up, leading to a decreased willingness to ask questions in the future. Here are three key aspects to ...
The necessities for LSAT prep
LSAT studying is a slog. There are other ways to describe it—taxing, frustrating, rewarding, challenging—but I think slog sums it up pretty well. One major component of its intimidating nature is the sheer number of ways to study—drilling, tutoring, practice tests, practice problems, books, classes, and videos are only some of them.
Does reading poetry make you feel grumpy? Lean into it.
Poetry can try the patience of even the most willing of readers. John Milton’s extended similes mysteriously belabor seemingly arbitrary comparisons; T.S. Eliot’s famously infuriating footnotes obscure more than they reveal; and Lyn Hejinian’s non-sequitur-fueled “sonnets” boggle the mind, refusing sense and logic at every turn. If you’ve ever ...
Tips tackling your secondary applications
1.) Understand the AMCAS timeline The primary AMCAS usually opens in early May and is submitted the first month of June. For the 2023-2024 cycle, AMCAS will open May 2nd and you will be able to submit starting May 30th. Typically, medical schools will send the secondary application 2-4 weeks after they receive your primary application. So, if you ...
A step-by-step guide to AMCAS
I remember feeling absolutely terrified of hitting the button that would open the application portal. I knew it was going to be overwhelming, so I distracted myself by researching information about AMCAS on the side. Let this be your sign: bite the bullet. The sooner you look at AMCAS and get familiar with the application, the sooner you will be ...
The hydrophobic effect, explained
If we had to pick one go-to answer to explain as many things as possible in biochemistry, it would probably be “the hydrophobic effect.” It’s responsible for protein structure and function, cell membrane organization, and the distribution of drugs and metabolites. It’s often an important consideration in drug design. But what is it, and how does ...
Understanding Demonstrated Interest
At some point in your college application journey, you may have heard the term “demonstrated interest.” But what does it mean? And does it matter?
A simple and effective strategy for CARS
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section of the MCAT can be challenging to tackle, and it’s hard to know how to approach it. But you CAN study and practice for it.
Four tips for surviving year one of law school
You may be going into your first year of law school with a range of emotions. Whether you’re excited to finally make a lifelong dream come true, apprehensive to figure out exams and your career path, or something in between—take a moment to congratulate yourself for making it here. As someone who was the first in his family to attend law school, I ...
An introduction to action potentials
Have you ever wondered how our brains work? Our every thought, every emotion, and every movement are generated by our brain through a vast network of cells called neurons. Neurons make connections and talk to each other through electrical signals called action potentials.
Things I wish I knew before grad school
Graduate school is an incredibly rewarding, full experience. Here are a few things I wish I had known before starting the journey:
3 Tips for writing an excellent med school personal statement
We’ve all been there. You’re looking at a blank page, paralyzed at the idea of writing the most important essay of your life: the infamous medical school personal statement. You’re anxious, tired, and burnt out. Each day, the application deadline creeps a bit closer.
Five design tips for a presentation your audience will remember
Whether for class, a project proposal, or a lab meeting, you’ll probably need to make a slide deck at some point in your career. To make it stand out and stick with your listeners, here are some psychology- and research-based design tricks that you can easily add to any presentation, technical or otherwise.
Solving constrained optimization problems using Lagrange multipliers
Among the most important topics covered in any college-level microeconomics course is that of how to solve constrained optimization problems, which involve maximizing or minimizing the value of some objective function – such as a utility or cost function – subject to one or more constraints – such as a budget or production target. Although these ...
Tips for picking your college course schedule
Picking your course schedule in college might seem daunting. Chances are, your college offers hundreds of classes each term, and you have all sorts of major requirements and general education requirements to satisfy. Picking a course schedule involves answering questions like: Which classes will help you learn the most? Which classes fit best in ...
How to use the ideal gas law
While you might not think about it very often, gases are everywhere around us, from the air you breathe to the natural gas you might use to heat your home. To use gases safely and effectively, chemists use the ideal gas law to understand how much gas is in containers and pipes.
Information overload and the LSAT
You’re reading this because, ultimately, you want to be a lawyer. You look forward to dealing with multiple complex legal issues, responsibilities, and client demands. You know the day will come where your client has an urgent question about a legal issue buried deep within a 300-page legal document. After all, that’s the day-to-day life of a busy ...
The next-generation of DNA sequencing: understanding modern genomics technologies
On October 21st, 2004, the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium published a near-complete draft of the human genome, a 100 million dollar initiative to understand the genetics of our species. By 2022, the cost to sequence the human genome neared $1000. This drastic price reduction has led to new advancements in understanding cellular ...
How algorithms changed my perspective on biology
When I first started studying biology, I thought the discipline was mostly about memorizing facts and figures about different organisms and their characteristics. In high school, I was more interested in physics and chemistry, which seemed to involve learning general principles and laws that could be applied to many problems. In other words, I ...
Getting started on a graduate school personal statement
You’re applying to graduate school. You have to write a personal statement. If that blank page is looking a little daunting, here are a few ways to jumpstart your process.
What is the National Health Service Corps?
My name is Alex, and I’m an HRSA National Health Service Corps Scholar. I know that probably just sounds like a bunch of acronyms and random words put together, but it’s actually a long-winded way of saying that I am getting my dental school tuition paid for in full. If you’ve ever considered any kind of professional schooling in the health care ...
IQE: Introduce, Quote, and Explain
Though the arguments in our essays might seem clear to us, that doesn’t always mean our audience is going to find them so easy to follow. This is especially true when it comes to citing textual evidence in essays. Our audiences aren’t there with us in the library or at home poring over our books and papers. They’re not in our heads. We always have ...
4 reasons why to-do lists improve your daily life
If you tend to forget things, miss deadlines often, feel overwhelmed by tasks, or have generalized stress or anxiety, to-do lists are the solution for you.
How to tackle Psychology/Sociology on the MCAT
If you’re overwhelmed by the seemingly endless amount of terms and theories necessary to succeed on the psychology and sociology section of the MCAT, know that I was right there with you. In this blog post, I’ll break down the strategies that helped me transition from feeling flustered to confidently going into the Psych/Soc.
What not to do in your personal statement
Your personal statement is a critical component of your law school application. Here are the top five pitfalls to avoid when writing your personal statement:
4 tips for better papers
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of dread that settles in the pit of your stomach when you sit down in front of yet another blank Google Doc with a paper due at midnight. You might even tell yourself you’re not getting the grades you want because you’re just not good at writing.
A math puzzle (for fun!)
I'm going to introduce you to my favorite math puzzle. It's a doozy, and I hope you'll find it as intriguing as I do. And maybe a bit more intuitive than I did when I first encountered it.
How to ace intro to physics (using McDonald's)
“One Oreo McFlurry, please.” I hand the cashier my card, take the receipt, and then wait. “Pull up to Window 3, sir, to get your order.” Stretching out in front of me are four windows in a series, one after the other, after the other. But I can't get to the third window without waiting for the car at window two to finish. The system is inane. ...
The top five places to study in London
Maybe you’re in the Big Smoke for your semester abroad, or perhaps you just need to grind for a few hours between sightseeing on a family vacation. In either case, I’ve got you covered. Finding a study spot in London is harder than you’d imagine, especially if you’re doing work in the evening. Unlike most big cities in the US, coffee shops in the ...
How can I connect my work to a larger audience? 
You may have the best proposal to present to a Principal Investigator at a T1 research institution. You may have drafted a fascinating schematic imagining a new building for an architecture program. Your work is solid but you need to connect with others outside of your narrow field to show how your proposal engages a wider audience. What can you ...
How to get every MCAT line-drawing stereochemistry question right
Stereochemistry definitely made me question my ability to do well in my first organic chemistry class. I would turn my head round and round, or turn my paper round and round until I could finally visualize what the stereochemistry would be in 3D space. This is time consuming, and will take away time from other questions on your MCAT. But what if I ...
Electric potentials, fields, and forces
You started your electricity and magnetism course and now all you hear about are potentials, potential energies, fields, and forces. It’s overwhelming. The purpose of this post is to help you understand each of these quantities and how they are related.
I’m failing chemistry—does that mean I shouldn’t be a doctor?
Ask almost any premedical student about chemistry, and you’ll get the same set of reactions. If they haven’t finished the chemistry prerequisites, it's a gulp and a look of fear. For those who have completed chemistry and are still premed, it's a sigh of relief: the hardest part is over! And for those who are currently struggling in chemistry ...
How to craft the perfect resume
The amount of information in the world, according to Statista, has increased nearly 15x over the last ten years and much of this information is personal information on you and me. It is remarkable, then, that employers and business schools still require a resume, a simple, yet complex, one-page summary of all your accomplishments and experiences.
FAQs: Case Interviews
You got into business school - congrats! After taking a moment to celebrate, you'll want to start thinking about recruiting for the industry that you are interested in fairly early on. If you’re interested in becoming a consultant, that’s great! Consulting allows you to explore a number of different industries while gaining important ...
Orgo 1 tips: organizing the acid-base basics
Acid-base chemistry is a fundamental unit in orgo that provides a platform for many of the other reactions you’ll learn about throughout the semester. Not only that, it’ll follow you to many other classes (like biochem and inorganic chem). If you’re still puzzling over what acids and bases even are, let’s take a minute to get everything straight. ...
Choosing the right PhD program
There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re applying for a PhD program. Before you begin to fill out an application, here's some guidance that can make this big decision less overwhelming.
Breaking into research: a guide for undergraduates and high schoolers
Research is the crucible of scientific innovation. But to many young undergraduate students and high schoolers, participating in this space can seem daunting, untenable, or even impractical. However, if you keep reading, I hope to demystify getting involved in research as a budding scientist and convince you that working towards a publication and ...
You can always change your mind: getting a PhD in a field you didn't major in
Everyone has a story about how they ended up in graduate school. Some people know in high school, or maybe as early as middle school, that a PhD in a certain field is their goal. Most people, however, make this decision while in undergrad. The majority of people pursue their PhD in the same discipline as their major in undergrad, which makes a ton ...
How to be a good mentee
If you’ve ever attempted to find a research mentor, you know how daunting it can be. Without existing research mentors who can vouch for your work ethic, breaking into the research world can be challenging. So, once you’ve found a research mentor, it can be even more overwhelming to think about how to develop that relationship. Whether you’re in ...
An economics survival guide
For those who are not naturally math inclined, the first exposure to economics can be daunting. With a little extra work, those of us with a math aversion can grow fond of the subject. I employed some of the following strategies to get the most out of my economics courses and share them with the hope that they will help you too.
How to write your medical school personal statement
Applying to medical school is a difficult process to say the least. Not only does an applicant need to do well in all of their premed courses and have a strong undergraduate GPA, but they also have to have hours of research and volunteer work, as well as have a good MCAT score. However, despite all of these significant hurdles, the most difficult ...
How to make the most of your college visits
College visits are an important process of the application process, whether they are in-person or virtual tours. Here's how you can make the most of these visits:
How to generate ideas for a literary essay
Students are expected to think and write with greater sophistication, specificity, and self-direction as they get older. This can be a stumbling block for writers used to receiving topics from instructors. One day, instead of a general prompt, you’re handed an unfamiliar novel and asked to determine your own line of research and argument. It’s ...
How do chess engines work? An intro to AI.
Before we consider how computers play chess, let’s talk about how humans do it.
5 Tips for writing lab reports
So, you’ve completed the experiment in your high school science class. Now what? After hours in the lab and analyzing your data, it is now time to write a lab report. This can be a hard assignment for students to wrap their heads around. Lab reports are kind of like the essays you have written for English and history, but now it is time to apply ...
How Step 2 is different than Step 1
Starting to study for Step 2 CK can feel overwhelming at first because, compared to Step 1, there isn’t as much guidance about what you need to know and what resources to use.
How to tackle 10 tough admissions interview questions
Applying to college or graduate school? Interviews will likely be part of the application process! Although interviews can be nerve-wracking, they are a great chance for you to show your personality and give the admissions committee a sense of who you are as a person – in real life, not just on paper! Read on for tips for tackling 10 tough ...
The LSAT: why finishing each section should not be your goal
When I first started studying for the LSAT, I put a lot of pressure on myself to finish each section in 35 minutes. In this mad dash to finish, I was missing questions I should have been getting right. I was simply going too fast.
Making the most of office hours
We’ve all been there. You’re standing in an empty hallway, nervously tapping your foot, waiting for your professor to finish meeting with the student before you. You can’t help but listen in, and, gosh, does that other student seem like they have their act together. It seems like everyone you know goes to their professors’ office hours to wax ...
The magic of induction
What is the sum of the first n positive integers? Phrased mathematically: 1 + 2 + 3 … + n -1 + n = ?. The answer, it turns out, is n * (n + 1) / 2. How do we show this is true though? How do we prove this?
An introduction to resonance
Arguably one of the most important topics you will learn in your organic chemistry course, resonance is something that seems like it makes absolutely no sense upon first glance. What does it mean, why should I care about it, and how do I use this information to supplement my understanding of organic chemistry at large? All great questions!
How to make the college admissions process less stressful and more rewarding
Let’s put it bluntly: the college admissions process can be taxing. Between standardized tests, constant deadlines, and the dreaded personal essay, there are myriad sources of stress facing every college applicant. But while studying for any particular exam might provoke some degree of automatic anxiety, the process itself can be rewarding. ...
Demystifying Anki: why and how to use it
The MCAT is a tough test. But, there are tools available to help you make the most of your studying. If I were to recommend just one thing to anyone studying for the MCAT, my advice is to use Anki.
Writing advice: know your audience!
Writing, in all forms it takes, can be very scary. This is because writing is hard! If you’re anything like me, you may also worry about what others will think of your writing. It’s inevitable that some people won’t like or agree with what you say, but what you can do is make sure that your writing is as foolproof as possible. You’ve probably ...
How to apply to Brown University
Brown University requires three specific essay questions for first year and transfer applications. Each of these questions provides an opportunity to demonstrate how you might benefit from and contribute to the Brown community.
Understanding stem cells
Have you ever wondered how the human body developed such diverse, specialized organs? How cells in our body can each be so different from one another and perform such different functions? Or how our body replaces damaged tissue in healing and repair?
Medical Physics: a little known career path
Whenever I tell people what I’m studying in grad school, they seem pleased for a moment, but it doesn’t take long for them to look totally perplexed. It’s as if I told them I study gopher economies.
5 key tips for improving your LSAT score 
Due to sharp increases in the overall number of law school applications, a strong LSAT score is more important than ever. According to data released by Reuters, the number of law school applicants increased nearly 13% in the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, the largest year-over-year percentage increase since 2002.
The power of Python
Python has gained a reputation over the past decade as an excellent language for beginners to the world of programming. Why is this? It boils down to two primary reasons: it is easy to read and write, and it comes with a great ecosystem of open-source libraries.
Tips for law school exams
Law school exams usually consist of long fact-patterns. Students are expected to analyze as many issues as they can spot. Studying for the exam can feel daunting because the structure of the exam is usually unfamiliar.
How to write the Common App essay
It may seem overwhelming to write a college essay for the first time. Especially when that college essay is for the Common Application and will be sent to every school that you apply to. In this post, I’ll go over some tips for writing the Common App essay, and what steps you can take to make your essay as compelling as it can be.
Why does chemistry seem so difficult?
I have greeted over 1,000 students to my classroom throughout the 20+ years of teaching AP Chemistry, and the number one question I hear is “Why is chemistry so hard?” I have several responses to that question that I have offered to my students. But first, I want you to read each bullet below and notice which one resonates with you:
Avoiding the “Tragedy of the Commons" or the key to a killer Common App essay
For every rising senior, the infamous Common Application Essay is a bright spotlight. Some fear it, some relish in it, and many grapple with exactly how they can use it to shine in sea of strategic and significant applicants. Initiated as a movement to streamline the process of presenting yourself to a large assortment of schools, the Common App ...
Five questions to ask yourself when considering (American) law school
Deciding to go to any grad school is a big deal. Apart from a PhD, law school specifically is one of the single longest grad school commitments you can make – not to mention one of the most expensive! Before jumping into LSAT studies or sending off your T-14 law school applications (read: “Top 14 law schools” shorthand – fun, right?), you should ...
How to start writing about a piece of art
One of the things that makes art history such an interesting analytical discipline is that it examines both the anthropological and creative value of an artwork. Artworks are historical objects that can give us insight into the culture of a particular place and time. Yet artworks also transcend their time and place through their creativity, ...
How to apply to Law School while working full-time
Last fall, I was working as a full time analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. and trying to apply to law school. I struggled trying to organize enough time to devote to studying for the LSAT, applying to law school, and applying for scholarships. Below are a few life lessons that I learned throughout the way:
Quantum Mechanics in 5 minutes
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve heard the word “quantum” before. It’s a real buzzword: “quantum computing,” “quantum gravity,” “quantum information,” “quantum entanglement”. But what is quantum mechanics, really? My goal in this post is to give you intuition for what quantum mechanics is, where you can find it in real life, and why it’s so ...
How to approximate the value of pi
I always tell my students not to be afraid to ask why. In so many parts of our lives, we are asked to defend our opinions and ideas—to offer evidence and to explain our thinking or reasoning. But sometimes, it feels this is missing from math education, especially in middle school and high school. Math becomes about memorizing formulas rather than ...
Perfecting the internship process from start to finish
Internships for undergraduates help build professional skills, marketability, and experiences for resumes. During an internship, you might learn what you do or don’t want to do after you graduate, and start to understanding how “the real world” works by gaining experience in a professional work environment. Most importantly, companies will look at ...
Befriend your admissions anxiety
So, you’re applying to the school of your dreams! How does that feel? It’s probably a much more complex answer than you would have initially anticipated. Perhaps you feel a burst of elation, followed by a flood of fear, combatted with justifications, affirmations, strategizing and eventually a settling down into acceptance. Perhaps you just feel ...
How to prepare for the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Services
As you’re applying for Medical, Dental, or Veterinary School through the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Services (TMDSAS) system, you’ve probably been working on your personal statement, sought out letters of recommendation, and taken the MCAT or DAT (the GRE is no longer required for veterinary applicants). Alas, the application ...
Why learn to write? 
In school, we devote time and energy to learning many different skills, in many different subject areas. Some of these skills may feel more relevant than others. A student who dreams of becoming an artist may bemoan the hours spent calculating derivatives in Algebra, while a future chemist might wonder why she should bother with Social Studies’ ...
How to participate in class without saying a word
Does your grading rubric include a category like “classroom participation”? In my experience, when students learn they are being graded on their participation, their first reaction is to participate more: more frequently, more vigorously, more visibly. They raise their hand as often as possible, even before they’ve had time to really think through ...
A college application guide for rising seniors
The time has come for you to make your college application list. You have worked for this moment your entire high school career. While going to college seems exciting, the application process might seem daunting or exhausting. But I believe the application process can be fun! If you follow these easy steps, you will be good to go in no time.
Decoding and comprehension: the two components of learning how to read
Reading is a fundamental mode of communication and therefore a prerequisite of active participation in today’s world. There are two components to reading: decoding and comprehension. Decoding refers to understanding the relationship between letters and sounds, otherwise known as phonics; comprehension refers to a student’s ability to make sense of ...
The physics behind hybrid vehicles
The advantage in fuel economy that comes from driving a hybrid-electric car instead of a non-hybrid has not one major contributing factor, but three. Even if you don’t drive a plug-in hybrid, these innovations drastically improve the vehicle’s efficiency using clever applications of physics and optimization.
Don’t think you’re a scientist? Think again!
What do you think of when you think of science? Who does science and what does “doing science” entail? Before I truly thought about what science was, I used to think of an old man in a lab coat mixing different liquids in flasks. Something like this:
How to navigate a computer science major
Computer science is a major with some of the most varied outcomes for their students. Computer science majors will go on to be professors, software engineers, hardware engineers, machine learning engineers and data scientists. A good computer science program will provide introductory coursework that offers glimpses into each of these various ...
Stuck on your common app essay? Forget the prompts!
If you’re anything like many of the students I have tutored (or like me), you opened the Common App essay questions and became very overwhelmed very quickly. There are so many options! And how are they both so vague and so specific? You read:
How to ace medical school interviews
Congratulations! It’s interview season and you’re almost finished with the seemingly endless application cycle. Waiting to receive interview invitations can be very nerve-wracking, but it’s also a great time to take a breath, refocus, and prepare for this final step. Here, I’ll share the highest yield information to help you succeed in traditional ...
How to write Stanford's Roommate Letter
Of all the creative college application supplements out there, perhaps the most deceptively simple is this infamous prompt from Stanford University:
An introduction: Montessori in Clyde River, Nunavut (way, way up North)
I’d like to offer a glimpse into one of the most moving and meaningful experiences I’ve had as an educator.
The three pillars of time management
The broad scope of ‘time management’ essentially boils down to three aspects: priorities, organization, and commitment. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when creating your schedule, especially as you enter a new school year. Maybe you’re trying to juggle what feels like a million activities as you’re applying to college or wondering how you are ...
Breaking down glycolytic regulation
You can stare at or redraw the pathway for glycolysis to memorize it, but obtaining a deeper understanding of cellular and tissue metabolism requires an understanding of the regulatory mechanisms governing glycolysis. Below you can find a figure of the steps for glycolysis as a reference as we discuss the regulation.
Steps for solving organic chemistry synthesis problems
The time has come. You are past the introductory chapters of your organic chemistry class and now must dive into one of the hard parts: synthesis problems. These types of questions can be intimidating at first because they rely on your knowledge of a variety of reactions and can be like little puzzles. However, there is no need to be scared. By ...
How to boost exam scores with the bucket method
Multiple-choice exams are inevitable in our education system. They crop up for students as early as elementary school, follow students all the way through college applications, and persist in university courses and graduate school entrance exams. Having an arsenal of exam strategies ready to deploy during a multiple-choice exam can significantly ...
Perfect your practice: MCAT edition
As an MCAT tutor, I've encountered the same questions about effectively using MCAT practice time over and over again. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I hear, and what my recommendations are!
6 steps to ace any technical interview
Technical interviews can be very overwhelming. Where do you start when you are given 45 minutes to solve a coding problem? How do you organize a plan when you don’t even know what the question is asking? But, whether over Zoom, on a whiteboard, or through an online portal, if you follow these six steps on each practice problem you do, you will be ...
Tips for persuasive personal writing
Personal essays pop up across admissions processes, from high school admissions all the way through graduate admissions. They often feature open-ended prompts or encourage you to dig deep into your core values and beliefs. This is a daunting task - so where do you start?
Reading Comprehension on the SAT Reading Section
One common belief that I’ve heard about the SAT Reading section is that older high school students just wake up one day and “get it.” When these students start to suddenly excel on questions about tone and paragraph purpose, it can seem like they flicked on a light switch. Students, parents, and other people alike have talked to me about this ...
How to make your AMCAS experience descriptions more memorable
Your personal statement isn't the only important piece of writing you'll do when applying to medical school. Your AMCAS experience descriptions can enhance your application and get reviewers to consider you for an interview. They also provide interviewers with a picture of what is important to you, and are typical conversation starters in ...
Once upon a combination, er, permutation…?
Counting is hard. At some point or another, virtually every business school aspirant stares down a GMAT quant problem that requires more mileage than what finger-counting can provide.
How to turn around a bad semester
For most of us, entering a new environment or learning a new topic can really shake up our usual routines. Maybe your high school study habits just aren’t working for college courses, or your AP class is way more intense than expected. You might find yourself treading water to keep afloat while fighting the ever-growing burden of a large workload ...
How to answer the Georgetown supplement
All universities value applicants who have thought through their reasons for applying. Georgetown takes it to the next level: more than a decade after all other major universities made the switch to the Common App, Georgetown remains the lone holdout. “We’re encouraging students to express themselves to us, rather than to a common process,” says ...
How do I know if I want to be a doctor (MD) or a doctor (PhD)?
Contrary to what I knew in high school, a person who loves biology does not have to become a physician. That is why I began undergrad as a bright-eyed pre-med student, convinced I would be a pediatric neurologist. Spoiler alert: I did not pursue medicine. I didn’t even stick with neuroscience. I am now a PhD student in a microbiology laboratory. ...
How to construct a literary thesis statement
Before dive in, here are a few things that will hopefully make the whole process of writing a thesis a bit less stressful. First of all, it’s important to remember that your thesis will change throughout the writing process and that’s perfectly fine (even good!). Second, your thesis doesn’t have to be just one sentence; two, or even three, ...
Clarifying summary, analysis, and synthesis
Many writing assignments in college, especially in the liberal arts, will require elements of both analysis and synthesis. Understanding the differences as well as the complementary relationship between these two moves will help you write stronger essays.
The puzzle pieces of an argument
When learning about argumentative writing, my students regularly freeze. The terms claim, reasoning, evidence, and explanation all appear to be the same. They are unsure where to start and where to end. So let’s break it down together.
How to tackle the Bowdoin supplement 
Ok, so we all recognize that the phrase “college is the best four years of your life” sounds absolutely ridiculous… it is. In fact, everyone at Bowdoin laughs at this phrase; however, don’t let this discourage you from using Bowdoin's unique supplement prompt to showcase your thoughtfulness and your ability to reflect, synthesize and EMBRACE the ...
Three tips for writing a persuasive essay
At some point in your academic career, you’ll likely have to write an essay where you argue for or against a specific point of view. This may be for a standardized test or for a class you’re taking, and it’s important to always follow the directions that are specific to that assignment. Still, I’m going to offer some advice about writing ...
How to answer Columbia's lists
Columbia University is one of the world’s most diverse institutions. Their school-specific application questions help create a class of students with different interests and backgrounds. The Columbia admissions officers want to picture how you will interact with your classmates and contribute to campus life. The questions below will help ...
How to answer Yale's supplemental essays
School-specific supplementary essays provide an opportunity for you to share additional insight about yourself that may not have been captured in the main Common App essay. In this post, I will present approaches to Yale University’s supplementary questions. Ideally, these strategies can be applicable for a range of supplementary questions beyond ...
Capacitor confusion: basic pointers to salvage your sanity 
You have recently started to learn about electrical circuits, and even though the occasional, particularly tricky circuit still proves challenging to solve, you feel like you “get” what batteries and resistors are and are starting to grasp fundamental concepts such as voltage and current. Forever dedicated to your torture, your physics teacher ...
Finding your why for your medical school statement
Applying to medical school is one of the most involved application processes that anyone can go through. The application cycle feels overwhelming. Now that I'm well on the other side of the application process and I near the end of medical school itself, I can share some lessons to help you through the intense yet rewarding experience of the ...
How to answer the University of Virginia's supplemental essays
School-specific supplements are an opportunity to share an intellectual interest, or an element of your life story, that might be missing from your main Common App essay. In this post, I will describe strategies for answering two supplement questions from the University of Virginia. Although my advice is tailored to these two prompts, my hope is ...
How to write the community service essay
Whether in an interview or an essay, all college applicants should be prepared to talk about the ways they have worked to improve their schools and communities. No college wants to admit a passive recipient of community, they would all much prefer to admit an active and engaged citizen who understands that community requires contribution. Use this ...
The “Why College X” Supplement
Perhaps the most straightforward type of supplement question, many schools simply want to know “Why Us?” The word count for this type of response will vary significantly based on the school – from 50 to 500 words.
How to write an essay about leadership
Leadership essays, or essays where you are asked about your work as a leader in your school or community, are not as common as you might imagine. Given all of the emphasis schools and clubs put on leadership roles and titles, essays asking students to dive deeply into this work are actually pretty rare in college applications. That said, it is ...
JOY! Not just a character in Inside Out, but a supplement essay too!
Increasingly, schools are asking students to reflect on things that bring them joy, satisfaction, or happiness. These can be difficult to write as often the college application process is the opposite of joyful... but these joy essays are here to stay!
Who… are…you? How to write the identity supplement.
In Alice in Wonderland, when the Caterpillar persists in asking “Who… Are…. You?,” Alice stumbles and cannot reply. It’s a good thing that Alice isn’t applying to college, because some form of an essay asking about you (and your identity and/or perspective) is an ever-more-popular supplement question. These are hard! It is important to tackle ...
Demystifying MCAT physics
Physics can be a very time-intensive section on the MCAT. There are numerous equations to memorize and parse through for each question and it is not always obvious which are relevant. You can waste a lot of valuable time guess-and-checking equations that have the related variables in them. I will illustrate some techniques from personal experience ...
How to write a college supplement about community
You do not exist in a vacuum and colleges know this! The very common “community essay” is an opportunity for you to tell a story about one community that matters to you and what you have gained from its membership. This is your chance to talk about people you care about (and why!) in a much tighter and more focused way than you can in your Common ...
How to answer the “why medicine” question
It's a common question for medical school applications: why medicine? Here are some tips for answering this question without falling into the trap of sounding too generic or cliché.
Four key tips on how to study for the LSAT
Everyone seems to have a story about how long they studied for the LSAT. The test has a reputation for being tough, and for the most part, that reputation holds true; it is definitely one of the hardest standardized tests ever created. But preparing for the LSAT doesn’t have to be as daunting as it’s made out to be. There are a few tips and tricks ...
The combo essay: not a lunch order!
Increasingly, schools are crafting a single supplement question that combines two “tried and true” supplements into one big question. Consider the “combo essay” the way for you to talk about the best aspects of why you want to attend College X combined with the ways you get to talk about your academic interests and passions as specific to that ...
How to answer a challenge question for college supplements
The challenge question is a rare written supplement but is actually a very common interview question. Every college applicant should be prepared to discuss a failure (or something that did not go as they had intended) whether that discussion comes in the application itself or in an interview situation. While, on the surface, challenge questions ...
How to tackle the academic interest supplement
Why are you going to college? Hopefully to learn more about something that inspires you! While you might have many and varied reasons for attending college (someone told you that you had to, you are excited to watch a college basketball game live, you cannot wait to move to a new city), at the root of your college application is the presumption ...
How to become a successful software engineer
The realm of software continues to evolve, as does the architecture within education to become a software engineer. While some experts come from various university programs in Computer Science, others break into the industry through boot camps or self-guided study programs. Unfortunately, not every program can cover every base, and as the field ...
How to prove the Pythagorean Theorem
The Pythagorean Theorem plays an essential role in many facets of math from Euclidean Geometry to complex numbers to trigonometry. Today we’ll explore one of its many proofs.
10 steps to completing your college essay before school starts
It’s that time of year: you’re probably working on your college essay. You might even have a first draft. Great job! Take a breather and enjoy some of your favorite summer activities. When you’re ready to confront your document again, take a look at these revision tips that I’ve put together over years of helping students make their essays into ...
What are the soundness and completeness theorems in logic all about?
If you’re interested in logic, you’ve probably heard of the soundness and completeness theorems. They’re the first major results proved in a logic class. Their proofs can get messy and technical, especially the proof of completeness. What the theorems are really supposed to tell us and why it’s interesting often gets lost in all that technicality. ...
Go from surviving to thriving during exam prep
There’s no question that preparing for standardized exams can take a toll on our emotional and physical well-being if we are not intentional about our approach. To reach your highest potential on a standardized exam, you must take your wellness schedule as seriously as your exam prep schedule. But what should you focus on? The following 5 pillars ...
Where to begin on the personal essay
You’re nearing the end of eleventh grade, and you’re approaching that daunting but thrilling task that you’ve been imagining for years: you’re applying to college! Even before you make a College Board account or begin narrowing down your college choices, you probably already know about that one super critical piece of the puzzle: the personal ...
Simple linear regression: what you need to know for data science
Given the recent rise of big data, there continues to be growing interest in the field of data science. One of the most basic, yet most useful tools for a data scientist is the linear regression model. Let's walk through the basics behind simple linear regression—a statistical model used to study the relationship between two variables.
The value in understanding algorithms from a theoretical perspective
Computer science majors across many universities often dread their introduction to algorithms course, especially if it is proof-based. It can feel out of place compared to the rest of their classes that focus more on learning standard coding practices, the fundamentals of how computers work, or just generally courses that seem to directly prepare ...
Demystifying operating systems
I have tutored a great number of students in undergraduate operating systems. Personally, I enjoy the topic. My dissertation is in the field of distributed systems. Distributed systems is an academic offspring of operating systems research where partial failures are expected and allowed. The operating systems course is almost universally taught ...
How to get a top research internship in high school
Looking to do research and unsure about where to start? Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to developing your interests, making connections at a university, and demonstrating your passions for a particular field of work.
Simplifying MCAT Organic Chemistry
While Organic Chemistry makes up a smaller portion of the MCAT, understanding the distinctions between types of organic reactions is essential. This will outline several foundational strategies for tackling chemistry on the MCAT, without pure memorization. Having a strong comprehension of organic reactions will allow you to save valuable time on ...
Help! I don’t think I’m interesting enough for medical school!
This search prompt ("Help! I don’t think I’m interesting enough for medical school!") and its many iterations (“Are all medical students cool”, “What if I don’t do any sports”, “How to develop a hobby in 4 months”) littered my internet search history circa 2019, split-screened alongside the latest draft of my primary and at least five bookmarked ...
How to land your dream internship
Internships help college students gain experience and try out different fields before graduation. You can think of internships as a 10-12 week job interview with a company. Many companies look to hire a certain percentage of their internship class back as full time employees. But not all internships are created equal, so use the following tips to ...
Building your dental school foundation
Pre-dental students have an endless well of questions regarding both the application process and what dental school actually consists of. What if I told you that there’s a way to both improve your application and prepare yourself for the rigorous coursework that you will experience as a dental student? By focusing on developing good study habits ...
Should you get a PhD? 5 ways to know.
Perspectives on whether people should pursue a PhD run the gamut from cautiously positive to incredibly negative. From the changing financial prerogatives shaping higher education to the casualization of labor and the dismantling of entire humanistic fields, academic hopefuls must navigate an increasingly complicated landscape. Particularly for ...
Your crash course for letters of recommendation
A key part of your med school application is the recommendation letter. Since you cede control of the contents of that letter to your recommender, the information in letters of rec might seem like a black box. However, there are some tips and strategies that you can use to ensure that your recommendation letters are cohesive with the rest of your ...
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 ...
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 and ...
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 truly ...
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 used the same virtual format, and many medical school admissions interviews are likely to remain virtual, or have a virtual component or option, in 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 premed journey: first-year edition
You've just started college. Part of you wants to follow your new friends in trying out new experiences, but then there's the go-getter in you, thinking that you may need to start looking for the best possible 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, ...
Four essential tips for premeds
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
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. If you’ve read the title of this post, 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 wisdom: what my premed 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, you've most likely 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 can help you ace your MCAT: build a mind palace
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. 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 Ceos, who retraced ...
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 premed student
So, you’re a premed student trying to choose a first research laboratory. You might have done your research on how to approach mentors, and 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 eight common Chinese idioms (“chéngyǔ”)
“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, ...
Six ways to brainstorm more effectively
At its core, writing is about discovering 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 premed 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 ...