Seniors: College Essays, Step 1

Want to get a head start on your essays for this school year? Check out the essay prompts from the 2015-2016 Common App.

One of the 5 prompts:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

So what’s your task for this week? Take a look at the 5 prompts from the Common App and sketch out what you might possibly answer them with. Just brainstorm, write down some ideas, that’s it. That’s the only thing you need to do this week to get started on writing your college essay.

Stuck at any point? Set up a meeting with us at Mo Prep to get some help by emailing info@moprep.com.


What I Wish I Knew About the PSAT

Two years ago when I sat down to take the PSAT I knew NOTHING about the test.  I didn’t know what subjects were on it, how long it took, or even what materials I needed.  Only later was I able to understand that the test many take as a joke actually holds serious value for college-bound high school students.  Although I took my PSAT seriously, I didn’t grasp the importance of trying my best on a test that would never “officially” go on my transcript.

Three things I wish I knew:

1. The PSAT is an awesome way to  practice taking standardized tests in an official setting without the added anxiety that comes from the seriousness of the real tests.  It can give great insight into where you might score on the actual SAT and more importantly what areas you need to focus on to improve your score.

2. One of the more serious aspects of the PSAT is the National Merit Scholarship.  With this test, students have the ability to earn national merit recognition if they score in the top 1% of their state. This status provides students with the opportunity to stand out when applying to college and have the chance to receive academic scholarships.

3. Studying for the PSAT holds enormous value.  It not only allows you to contend for national merit recognition, but it also gives you a head start on SAT prep before most students have even thought about standardized testing.  Prepping for the PSAT is the perfect segue into actual test prep and creates a great foundation of testing habits that can be used for any form of testing, standardized or not.


Juniors: Practice Test

Juniors, have you taken a practice test yet? Most parents already know that practice tests should be taken under “test conditions,” but most aren’t aware of a couple other things that should occur.

Practice tests are typically offered at tutoring centers for between $20-$35 a sitting, which is a great deal. It is unlikely that any tutoring center is making money off of these administrations: they’re generally understood in the industry as a way to get students “in the door.”

To keep in mind when arranging for a practice test:

  1. The best practice test that can be taken for the ACT is the actual test. However, the next date is September, which can be too far away to be of use. The cost is also greater and the waiting period is longer. You also will be unable to get the actual missed questions to them (only available in Dec., Apr., and Jun.).
  2. Ideally, a practice test should be taken close to when you will begin prep. This will allow the tutor to get a best idea of where the student currently sits on the scale.
  3. It’s best if the practice test is taken with the tutoring company you’ll be working with. This allows the tutor to see the actual missed questions, as well as understand which section may have been particularly difficult on that round. If, for example, the student is taking the 73G, the English section may have been particularly hard, but if they took the 72C, the English section may have been a bit easier.

If you are unable to take a practice test under ideal testing conditions and/or you have no idea which practice test you took, don’t despair! A strong tutor will still be able to perform an assessment and see where your actual abilities are in a matter of a few hours.

Practice tests just happen to be the quicker, cheaper way to get an idea of where you (or your child) is performing. Remember, it is highly unlikely that any tutoring center is making money off of their practice tests. They are solely used to “get you in the door.”