Why do I have to know this?

Students often ask why do I have to know this? Sometimes the subject matter on standardized tests has no practical application to everyday life. But, while students may not have to know about coordinate geometry or recite an ancient Greek poetry passage per se, they do need to develop:

  • Critical Reading Skills, ie. the ability to read between the lines, the ability to infer, the ability to understand the tone and thesis of an article.
  • Problem solving skills, ie. the ability to solve a math problem from certain given information.  The ability to play detective by piecing the parts together and then arriving at a logical conclusion through a systematic approach.
  • The ability to write, ie. express themselves in a clear, logical and concise manner. To learn how to write like adults by shunning baby language and by using mature sentence structure and an educated vocabulary.

These valuable skills if mastered will provide a student with valuable assets to perform well in  college and in the job market.

Timetable for H.S. Seniors

School is almost back in session and H.S. seniors have a lot to deal with– from retaking the ACT and SAT to compiling a list of college applications, to figuring out essay topics, to obtaining recommendations, etc. etc. The list goes on and on!  The best way to avoid being overwhelmed is to plan ahead and systematically map out a day by day, week by week and month by month to do list.  For a complete guide to the H.S. Senior timetable, please click here

Improving Sentence Strategy

Read each sentence carefully focusing first on the part of the sentence which is not underlined.  Remember, the part of the sentence which is not underlined cannot be changed.  Therefore, this portion will more than likely control the tense, the subject and many more aspects of the sentence.  Next, try to reconcile the underlined portion of the sentence and figure out whether it agrees with the “given” part of the sentence.

Predict how the sentence should be corrected.  Realize that 80% of all SAT grammar multiple choice questions will have an error.  Do not read choice A.  Eliminate from choices B,C,D and E from your prediction.  Then carefully scrutinize the choices which are left, giving first crack to the shortest more succinct choice.

Let’s examine this strategy with an actual SAT Improving Sentence Question:

With the 1977 publication of Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison both received popular and critical acclaim.

A  both received popular and
B  both received popular and also
C  received popular, along with
D  received popular as well as
E  received both popular and also

After carefully scrutinizing the sentence, the well prepared student should recognize that the word both is redundant. Therefore choices A,B and E must not be considered.  The student should only thoroughly examine choices C & D and after comparing these two choices, D is the obvious answer.

Why Grammar Is Important!

Proper use of the English language is not some exercise in academia.  In today’s digital age, your words  are the face of your organization.  Poor language makes the organization appear stupid and unprofessional.

Kyle Wiens, in his recent post in the Harvard Business Review states that he won’t hire people without proper command of English regardless of how qualified they may be.

So, when you practice the rules of grammar for the SAT or the ACT, please do so knowing  that good grammar is a skill you will need to get hired!  This should be enough motivation to learn how to write properly.

Important Math Formula


At the beginning of each SAT Math Section is a formula box with many of the basic formulas.  However, there are many other formulas that a student must also know, which are not given.  Here is one important geometry formula:

To find the sum of the interior angles of any polygon use: (s-2) X 180 where s represents the number of sides. Using this formula to find the sum of the interior angles of 5 sided figure (a pentagon) (5-2) X 180=540 degrees. Assuming all the angles are equal, to find the value of each individual angle use (s-2) X 180/s, so (5-2) X 180/5=108.

Are Your Priorities Straight?

Many students fail to see the big picture. They claim they have “no time” for SAT or ACT prep. Amazingly, they have time for practice, games, rehearsal, recitals, shows, driver’s ed, the mall, the movies and hanging out. How is this possible? Priorities! If there is time for play, there certainly is time for work. Allocate some of that play time for study time.

If you set aside a block of time early each day in the summer and on the weekends during the school year (when everyone is still asleep), you won’t be borrowing from time with your friends.

Tip–Once school starts, every Saturday and Sunday morning wake up early and prep for an hour. Start ten weeks prior to test day. That’s a full 20 hours of prep in addition to any private tutoring or prep class. Everyone can do that math!

Who Benefits From Private Tutoring?

Private tutoring is not for every student.  Some are okay in a large prep class.  Still, others prefer to lock themselves in their room with the books and prepare alone.  For the rest of you, a private tutor can be of great use.  Here are some profiles of students who can thrive with one on one instruction:

1. The Social Butterfly- the student with many friends will more than likely sit in the back of the room of a large Test Prep Class and socialize while the instructor is giving the lesson.  To the social butterfly, SAT or ACT prep is just another social event and an opportunity to goof off.

2.  The Overprogrammed Student- Captain of the Swimming Team or Captain of the Cheerleaders, Interns at the Local Soup Kitchen, Lead actor in the school play.  You get the picture!  With such an irregular schedule, it is hard for these “kings and queens” of the extracurriculars to show up at a test prep class every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. So a private tutor who can mix and match dates and times is a great luxury.

3.  The Lazy, Unstructured, Unfocused Student- sometimes an intelligent kid needs the structure and focus which private tutoring can provide. Tutors can act as mentors to these students through motivation, organization and by making sure they complete the homework in a timely manner.

Like Us On Facebook

Our Facebook page is an extremely valuable resource.  It features many interesting pieces of information including SAT Questions, Vocabulary Words, Test Prep Strategies, Motivational and Inspirational Blog Posts, Contests, Articles on the current state of secondary and post-secondary education, College Planning and Financial Aid Resources just to name a few!

To keep up with all of our daily and timely posts on Facebook please click here


Are you committed?  Are you willing to do what it takes?  To become a better reader?  To write and speak with a more sophisticated vocabulary?

Are you committed to improve your math problem solving skills?  Are you committed to becoming a better essay writer?

Commitment takes time and effort.  Commitment requires doing some work while your friends are swimming at the beach.  Commitment is making choices– that you will put aside fun this minute for a lifetime of fun as a successful adult.


Believe is the first theme our students will use to write about this summer.  What do you believe?  Don’t answer right away, think about it.

We will be posting the best essays submitted.  More to follow.