Why Students Must Keep a Journal

In this unprecedented era of isolation, students are urged to keep a journal for several reasons:

  • Writing down your thoughts is relaxing and inspirational
  • Writing regularly makes you a better writer and improves communication skills
  • Writing down observations and thoughts increases creativity
  • Writing consistently may give you ideas for your college application essays
  • Making lists is not only productive but helps you gain self-confidence as tasks are completed
  • Writing allows you to gain insight and perspective as you read prior posts

So take a blank notebook and start writing, by hand!  Write consistently. It does not matter what subject you write about.  Just jot down thoughts and observations until you decide to focus on specific subjects.  Maybe these entries will be subject matter for your common application essay which can be found by clicking here

A Brutally Honest Post


Hundreds of times I have heard the following from parents, “My child has a 90 plus average in High School, but she performs horribly on the SAT.  She is just a bad test taker”. My reply, “How can she possibly have a 90 plus average, if she is a lousy test taker? Aren’t her grades based on quizzes, tests, and written essays?” “Well, they inevitably retort, “I mean she is a poor standardized test taker”

Ok, now I am going to be brutally honest. If your child is in the top 25% of his or her High School class but cannot crack the 50th percentile nationwide on the SAT or the ACT, then your child will struggle in college.

In 1972, the average Verbal score on the SAT was approximately 530. By 2017, the average verbal score had dropped to 495. During a similar period, the average High School GPA rose from 3.27 in 1998 to 3.38 in 2016.

How can this be? Two Words-Grade Inflation. Admissions officers are aware of rampant nationwide grade inflation. Grade Inflation dilutes the value of the High School transcript because there is no way for an admissions officer to compare a student in Iowa with a student in Long Island, NY who have similar G.P.A.’s. In order to account for grade inflation there must be some sort of standard apples to apples tie breaker. Hence, the reliance on standardized SAT and ACT scores.

So back to the original conundrum—how is it possible for all the students to excel in High School yet fail miserably on the SAT or ACT? The answer is-Reading!!! Students don’t read so they lack critical reading skills, poor vocabulary, poor command of grammar and poor comprehension. In the Passage Based Reading section, they don’t pick up the tone or mood of passage, they cannot read between the lines, and they cannot spot critical points of the thesis or main idea.

In Math, they are unable to problem solve complex word problems because they don’t understand what the problem is asking.

How does one get better at reading? Read, read, read. Read for fun, read something which interests you. Don’t sit there all-day texting and playing video games. Take an interest in something. Be consistent. Set aside 15 minutes per day and just read. Read with your pen. Make notes in the margins, underline things which interest you such as quotes, expert opinions, funny or sarcastic sentences. Be curious as you read. Ask questions such as “  wonder what its like to? What is the problem and how will it be solved? Why did the author write this?

It is never too late. Parents please encourage your children to develop a love for reading as early as possible in their lives. They will be forever in your debt.


Tricks, Tips & Secrets…………..


Whenever a new parent calls me about tutoring, he or she inevitably asks “What tips and tricks are you going to teach my child to master the test?”

My response, “If he or she wants to learn tricks, hire a magician!”

The point being– there are no shortcuts which will make a non-reader become a brilliant reader; there is no magic pixie dust which will automatically turn your student into a problem solver, master of grammar, critical thinker or logical reasoner.

Think about this– How did your son or daughter become a skilled dancer, artist, writer, athlete, musician, singer, or actor? Answer-Years of practice, every day, several hours each week, no days off, no weeks off.

Only when the student has acquired the necessary fundamental skills of reading, writing, critical thinking and problem solving will any “tips and tricks”add any value to her overall scores on standardized tests.

Ask successful students how they achieved their testing goals.  I bet none will tell you that “tricks and tips” were responsible.  I bet they will all say, “Hard Work”.

So start early, encourage your child to do something each day, no days off and eventually your child will master anything he or she sets her mind to.

Summer Reading Club

On our Facebook Page we will be posting several articles each week from the NY Times and other publications on a variety of topics.  Everyone is invited to read these articles, define the words we put out there and join in the discussion.  This will accomplish many things–it will help you become a better reader; it will help increase your word power; it will make you a better writer; and it will give you a greater depth of knowledge about many different subjects.  To access our Facebook Page Click HereSAT Reading

Attention Parents: The Best Thing You Can Do for your HS Junior or Senior This Summer Is ………

Buy a home delivery subscription to the NY Times. Have your child flip through the newspaper each day and pick out 2 articles he or she finds interesting.  Buy some index cards as well. Have your child read the articles, pick out some vocabulary words and place them on the non-lined side of the index cards. Then have your child go to www.thesaurus.com and find five synonyms of  each new word.  Have your child write  the synonyms on the opposite (lined) side of the index card.

When the summer is over your child will have read at least 120 articles, defined 300 words and grouped those words with 1500 synonyms.  This should take no longer than 45 minutes per day.  This activity will become so commonplace with your child it will be as natural as brushing his or her teeth.

In addition to the increased word power, your child will become more worldly and have a new and broader knowledge about  a range of topics.  When your child sits for the PSAT or SAT this fall, his or her mind will be sharp and reading comprehension will be much better.

Hello world!

Hello.   We have a new website and a new blog!  Your comments are most welcome.  Please feel free to contact us with any ideas for topics for this blog.  We will be using this forum for the exchange of ideas relating to SAT Prep, ACT Prep and College Planning.  Thanks for stopping by.