SAT Summer Bootcamp

Greetings friends!

Peter and I have been feverishly brainstorming a new kind of bootcamp for the SAT, set to start this summer. We will be incorporating the same rigorous standards we bring to our sessions in a fast, engaging pace based on research from the cognitive science field. The classes will be designed to take advantage of a small group setting.

Interested families can join our mailing list here (https://goo.gl/forms/BlkFaHcFBSn8vXO92).  Future details will be released first to the interested list before being featured on our monthly newsletter.

Stay tuned!



December ACT Seniors

Thanks to a tip from a parent, we’ve noticed that it looks like more and more California schools are accepting the December ACT test results if they’re received by December 31. If all goes well, both the SAT and the ACT will have the score results back in time for the applications. Last year, not all did go well, but we believe this was due to circumstances that only applied last year.

Recall: the SAT was about to change. They generally were giving themselves longer timelines to return scores and sometimes (like in the case of the PSAT), didn’t even hit those deadlines, missing that deadline by about a month. This year, they have been hitting their deadlines, and have even moved up the return date so that the scores are in to schools on time.

Also, the ACT revamped their essay entirely. The tests were scored, but the essays weren’t graded yet, delaying the full score report until it was too late. As the essay format has not changed since then, we have no reason to expect that the scores will come back behind schedule.

All that being said, with the UC’s and the Cal State’s almost universally accepting the December test date, and assuming the tests come back on time as promised, they still might not make a difference. The UC and Cal State systems close Nov 30, so it is possible they will have finished reviewing your application by the time you send your newest test score in.

So – is it worth it? Perhaps. If you think you can get your score up and you want to try anything you can to do so, it might be worth it. But if you feel like you’ve done a pretty good job and your time would be better spent elsewhere (essays, classwork, heck, even with friends and family), then it may be wise to skip it.

Congratulations seniors, you’re almost there!

P.S. Please reach out if you have any further questions at info@moprep.com.


Massive SAT Data Breach Reported

As originally reported in Reuters, a massive data leak of not-yet-administered SAT questions (21 reading passages with ~12 questions each and over 160 math questions) has occurred.

While CollegeBoard has pledged to remove all leaked materials (so no students taking the exams this fall will be affected) prior to the administration, the news is still extremely important as this has been the first time that future material has been leaked, and especially on such a large scale.

Immediate effects beyond the removal of the material are not currently known, but speculations range the gamut from “little impact” to “beginning to question the entire integrity of the SAT.” No such data leaks have been reported for the ACT.

Read on for more speculation and information in this Washington Post article (link included).


Awesome Majors -> Jobs Visualization

Have you spent some time trying to figure out which major you should be? Perplexed at if your major “even matters?” Here’s an awesome visualization to help you answer some of those questions.

Ben Schmidt’s What are are you going to do with that degree? offers us common degrees on the left hand side, common jobs on the right hand side, with all the attached connections between them.

You can also click on individual jobs or majors to see all the streams going out or in.


Cool stuff!


New ACT Test Accommodations System

Does your student require accommodations for the ACT test? Starting June 2016, ACT will provide a new system for students with special needs to request accommodations. Currently, students who require accommodations are asked to work with their guidance counselor and provide several pieces of paper documentation just to start requesting accommodations. This system delays the process of getting their test results and creates more work for students, parents, and school officials. The new system is more streamlined and web-based for greater efficiency. It will allow students to register for the test and begin their accommodations request form online independently, and then work with their school official to complete a single online accommodations request form.

According to ACT Chief Commercial Officer Suzana Delanghe, ACT wishes to “minimize the burden on these students and their families and further level the playing field for them” with this new system.

During pilot programs, the new system yielded positive results. ACT officials are hopeful that this new procedure will speed up the college application process by delivering test results an average of 10 days sooner than they are currently delivered.

For more information on what disabilities qualify for ACT test accommodations and the 2015 documentation policy, check out the ACT Policy of Documentation: http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/ACT-Policy-for-Documentation.pdf.

To read the new ACT Test Accommodation System official announcement, check out:  http://www.act.org/content/act/en/newsroom/act-improvements-to-the-act-test-accommodations.html.


Subject Tests 2016 – Should You or Shouldn’t You?

It’s that time of year again, the time to consider subject tests. How many of these questions can you answer yes to?

1. Are you acing one of the following subjects (or doing reasonably well in a very challenging course): Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Pre-Calc, Literature, US History, or World History?

2. Are you applying to any of the elite universities that require subject tests?

3. Do you need any additional “indicators of academic success” to show schools that you are more capable than your GPA would otherwise suggest?

If you find yourself answering “Yes” to at least 2 of the 3 questions, you should strongly consider preparing for and taking a subject test this June.

We are hosting subject test practice days this week and next, $10 a test, if you would like to sign up to take one and see where you need to improve. Testers will receive a comprehensive report for each test they take.


June ACT

A question I’ve been getting a lot lately is whether to continue prep or just wait until the score comes back. There’s not actually a one-size-fits-all answer to the question, but I’ve got some questions for you to consider to help aid in your decision.

1. How did the test feel? How many questions are you reasonably certain you missed? Compare that to a scale in the back of your Official ACT Red book to see what your score may have been, preferably Practice Test 5’s scale. Of course the scales vary a little from test to test, but not significantly. Were you close to your score goal or do you have a ways to go?

2. Have you been prepping a long time and need a break? If you’ve been prepping a long time, it’s more likely that you’ll still remember what you’ve learned in the fall if you take a break, so it won’t be as hard to come back.

3. What does the rest of your Junior year look like? Are AP’s and Subject Tests already starting to overload you? Or are your grades pretty safe? Your junior year GPA is very important to admission to colleges, so taking a break to focus on those may be your best option. But if you have no intention of taking Subject Tests and feel comfortable with your grades, now may be a good time to prep through and just finish with your ACT before the fall tests.

4. What do you want the beginning of your Senior year to look like? Are you prepared to keep prepping then in case your score doesn’t come back quickly enough for you to improve it in June? There will be application essays and brag packets to fill out, and more time can always be spent researching colleges, excelling in your senior classes, or even with friends for your last year.


In short, if you have it in you and you feel like you’re in the phase where you’re still learning a lot from prep, it may be good to prep straight through to June and just be done with it.

If, on the other hand, you have been prepping a long time and need the extra time to study for the end of your Junior year, you may be better off waiting to hear your score and prepping towards the fall tests if need be.

As always, we are happy to help you reach your goals, whatever and whenever they may be!




Useful College Planning Resource

Anxious about which school is the best school? About how you’re going to afford it and if it will be worth it? Have some time to kill but would rather not spend it playing games on your phone?

While this site won’t solve all your problems nor answer all your questions, it’s one of the best resources I’ve seen. Welcome to College Scorecard (clickable link).

I’ll admit I had heard about it a year or two ago but felt it was likely redundant to other resources out there [like the CollegeBoard’s Big Future (clickable link)].

And it very much does have some redundancies. However, what I like most about it is that it reduces the information to an easily viewable page. And the easily digested information becomes somewhat addicting.

For example, check out the differences between UC Riverside and Cal Poly SLO: average cost at UCR is 11k and the average salary upon graduation is 49k, while with SLO, the average cost is 17k with a salary of 61k. Seems like a pretty “good deal.”

I would in no universe have predicted that UCR was more affordable than SLO, nor that there was a 12k difference in starting salaries. However, this is potentially the difference in having a very strong engineering department and should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because the average salary is 61k does not mean that your salary will be 61k.

Whatever the limitations however, this is a pretty interesting site worth spending some time on whether you are just starting your search or trying to narrow down between the ones you’ve gotten into.


Spring Break Plans? Take a College Road Trip!

As a high school junior (or even sophomore), you may have little idea of where you want to go to school, or if you do, have merely an idea and little more evidence to backup why you do. You also may or may not be going back and forth with your parents about why you like or dislike a particular school, and they’re not buying it.

Fortunately, there is an easy, relatively affordable, painless way to settle many of these discussions and help set you up for happiness down the line while applying, hearing back, and choosing between schools.

And as you may have guessed from the title – it’s a college road trip! This road trip need not be expensive (although you certainly may make it so with an east coast tour), as one of the best set of college trips can be had relatively locally.


The purpose of a road trip

While you might be tempted to see every school you’re possibly interested in, the most important purpose is actually much simpler: you want to narrow down and expand your list as accurately and effectively as possible. In order to accomplish this, you’ll want to see a UC, a Cal State, and a small private liberal arts school. You may think you know you definitely want a UC (great education with a great price tag), but it is still advisable to formally visit each type of school (while in session) to really truly know.


Rules of the road trip

  1. 1. Try to only visit a school when school is in session, especially if it’s a small school. You will not get a true idea of what the community is really like if you don’t. (And then what’s the point of going to visit anyway?)
  2. 2. Do a formal visit. Sign up for the information session and tour, and actually go on it. You can always duck out of the tour if it’s too long or you’d rather check out another part of campus, but schools generally track who’s visited and who hasn’t, and you want them to know definitively that you saw the school if you did.
  3. 3. Bring a notebook to make notes on.  You may want to take notes on your phone, but you won’t be able to as quickly as you would on a real pad of paper, and you will almost certainly forget something important if you don’t take notes at all.
  4. 4. Don’t stop your parents from taking notes either! You may disagree with some of what they write, but it will be useful after the visit (or visits) to help both of you remember the schools afterwards.
  5. 5. Try to ask at least one student what their favorite part of going there is and what their least favorite part of going there is. You will almost certainly get a biased answer, but it may help you avoid a school where you clearly wouldn’t be happy.


Ideas for a road trip

  1. 1. Local: UCSD, USD, SDSU, Chapman
  2. 2. Los Angeles: Chapman, UC Irvine, LMU, USC, Cal Lutheran
  3. 3. Inland: Claremont Colleges (choose 2), Redlands University
  4. 4. Up The Coast: UCLA, Pepperdine, UCSB, Cal Poly SLO
  5. 5. Northern CA:  UCSC, Santa Clara University, SFSU, UC Davis

How to make best use of the Waiting Period

Seniors, how’s the waiting period going? You know, the time between when you’ve submitted all your applications and the time you heard back from the schools you really care about? It’s a little nerve-wracking, isn’t it?

We’ve compiled a list to make the most of your waiting period that goes beyond the usual hum-drum lists (a. keep your grades up, b. don’t panic):

1. Use this as an opportunity to research the schools you have already gotten into, beyond what you researched before applying.  What is the course load requirement for graduation? This can be found out by determining the credit load requirement (e.g. 128 credits) and dividing by the typical credit given per class (e.g. 4). and dividing again per year and per semester. To see an example of how much this can vary, let’s consider Harvey Mudd College (128 credits / 3 credits / 4 years / 2 semesters = 5 and 1/3 classes per semester) and UCSD (180 credits / 4 credits / 4 years / 3 quarters = 3 and 3/4 classes per quarter). While the knowledge amount might be the same in the end, your comfort level during your education may vary widely depending on which school you choose.

2. Start reading up on the difference between scholarships, grants, and loans.

3. Calculate travel time and cost to potential schools from home, including connecting flights, travel to and from the airport (Uber? Airport Shuttle? friends’ largesse?).

4. Check out the school calendars. Are there breaks over the whole week of Thanksgiving or just Thursday and Friday? Will you be able to go back home over Thanksgiving break?

5. Check out your potential spots: where you may be able to get a quick bite, where you may be able to “escape” to, and where you’ll be studying.

Any other ideas of what you’ve been thinking about in your waiting period? As always, don’t fail your classes, sit tight, and enjoy your last few months with friends and family. Things are about to change in huge ways, so try to savor the last of this piece of your life as best you can.