AP Exam Survival Guide: AP Environmental Science

AP Exam Survival Guide: AP Environmental Science

The AP Environmental Science course revolves around the ideas and concepts concerning the interrelationships of the natural world. With the wide range of topics that are covered in this course, students must understand a plethora of content to succeed on the AP exam. This article discusses the AP Environmental Science course as well as study tips to prepare for the exam.

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AP Exam Survival Guide: 4 Tips on Surviving AP World History

AP Exam Survival Guide: 4 Tips on Surviving AP World History

AP World History is an intensive course that covers everything from the times of pre-human civilization to modern world events. Since the range is so broad, this means that there is a lot of content to be covered and when I say a lot, I mean a lot! With this AP Survival Guide for AP World History, you will learn about the exam, study tips, and some resources for learning all about the course.

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AP Exam Survival Guide: AP Calculus AB

AP Exam Survival Guide: AP Calculus AB

Calculus: a word that many high school students, including me, dread. If you are someone who is currently taking Calculus AB and panicking about the exam in May, don’t worry; I was in your shoes, but doubled down on my studying and managed to come out of the testing room with a huge weight lifted off my shoulder before I even knew I passed.

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AP Exam Survival Guide: AP European History

AP Exam Survival Guide: AP European History

AP European History is a rigorous course that covers every historical event that happened in Europe from the sixteenth century to present day. As interesting and fun as the course can be, it also requires plenty of time and effort. This article discusses tips for succeeding in both the AP Euro course and exam.

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3 Ways to Start Preparing for AP Exams


Although it may seem early to start preparing for AP Exams, May will be here before you know it. The earlier you can start preparing, the better off you will be when it comes to actually taking the test in a few months. With that being said, many of us don’t even know where to start when it comes to preparing for exams. In hopes of helping everyone out, I have a few tips on how to start preparing for AP Exams.

Preparation Tip #1: Utilize Prep Books

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to preparing, a prep book is probably the best option. Prep books, or review books, are basically books with a shortened and simplified explanation of everything that will be covered on whichever AP Exam you are taking, as well as some practice exams or materials.

The book search

Before using the prep book, you need to find the right one for you. Barron’s and Princeton Review’s review books are arguably the most popular; however, there are many others published by different companies. To choose a prep book, I would ask people who have previously taken the course which one they found most helpful if they used any. If no one you know has taken the AP Exam you are planning on taking, read reviews of the books online. However, when you are taking advice from others remember to take it with a grain of salt and gather your own opinion based on many sources. Ultimately, you probably won’t know your preference until you have the book in your hands.

Buying your book

Once you have chosen the book that you want to use to start preparing, you need to actually obtain the book. If money is an issue, many libraries do have prep books that you can borrow. If they don’t have the specific book that you need, many libraries will order one for you if you request it. The downside to borrowing a book is that you cannot write on the practice exams or highlight and annotate the actual book. If this is not a problem, then borrowing is a free option! If you are willing to shell out some money to purchase your own prep book, then that is a great option as well. Having your own prep book means that you can write and highlight in the book. This can be especially helpful if you like highlighting essential information to refer to later. Often, amazon.com has the best deals on prep books, as well as fast shipping. However, if you want to make sure you are getting the best deal, you can utilize the website slugbooks.com. Just type in whatever prep book you are looking for (ex. Princeton Review AP European History) and it will pull up price comparisons from across many different websites so that you can purchase your study materials at the best price!

Strategizing your studying

Now that you have your prep book, using it should be pretty straightforward. Many books provide test-taking strategies, which would be great to read at this point, as AP Exams and tests that you take in class are often two very different things. Read the material that you have covered in class up to this point. Most likely, your textbook does not cover everything on the AP Exam, so doing this will ensure that you have a more complete perspective of the information. It also doesn’t hurt to take one or two of the practice exams, if your book has one. This could give you an early evaluation of where you are so that moving forward, your studying can be more focused and relevant to your struggles. Keep coming back to your prep book as the AP Exam approaches, it will be a useful tool in preparing you utilize it in its entirety!

Preparation Tip #2: Utilize College Board

Another great resource for preparing for AP Exams is the College Board website. The College Board is the organization that creates and administers AP Exams, meaning that they have a wealth of inside information on their website.

To utilize the website’s tools, go to “AP Courses” (https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse). Under this link, there are all of the AP courses that are offered. You can select whatever AP course you are taking and utilize several resources there. For example, under every AP courses link, there are four tabs that are very useful. The tabs at the top are “Course Overview”, “Course Details”, “About the Exam”, and “Exam Practice”. All of these have extremely valuable information. Read all of these tabs to familiarize you with the exam, as well as providing a focused overview of the course. This is important to look at when you start reviewing, as you will get a sense of the general topics that are most important in the eyes of the College Board. As I said, they are the ones who create the test; so knowing the overview and the topics that they find valuable can be a great tool.

Preparation Tip #3: Make Graphic Organizers

Finally, something that you can do to prepare is making graphic organizers! Graphic organizers can be a way of organizing information visually in a way that makes sense to you. I recommend making these when you begin to review, as it is a great way to force yourself to look at all of the information that you have and to organize it comprehensively. For example, if you are taking a history exam, try putting all of the relevant historical events into a master timeline. Or if you are taking a science exam, you can organize notes by-laws, theories, etc. This is a great option for last minute studying, as it allows you to have an overview of what you are learning, as well as review all of your materials.


I wish everyone the best of luck on your AP Exams! Happy studying!

For more advice on AP Exams, check out these articles as well:

AP Human Geography: A Guide to Success in the Course and Exam

AP Overload: 5 Tips On How To Push Through a Rigourous Courseload


What I Learned After Taking AP English Language Composition


Among the several English classes offered at a high school, AP English Language and Composition, or simply, AP Lang, is a class that anyone in any grade in high school has the opportunity to tackle. By tackle, I mean tackle. The average student will gain valuable resources of the English language from taking this class. From writing in-class essays every other week, to memorizing over fifty writing techniques - the class is a lot of work, but it is worth it in the end. I know this from experience, because I am the epitome of the average student. I’ve learned that as time progresses in the class, writing essays will become easier, and although you won’t be able to memorize every literary technique, you will have a basic understanding for future English courses to come. If there is one important philosophy I learned from taking this course, it is that you will soon recognize your strengths and use them to your benefit, and your temporary weaknesses are well, temporary.

It Actually Counts

Since this is an Advanced Placement course, it is important to treat this as a college course, as if you were taking it in college. From my personal experience, although my English teacher was caring and passionate about the subject and teaching her students, she did not stand for hand holding and micromanaging. Piles of hand outs and paper assignments would be given to us at the beginning of the school week, and would usually be due on Thursday or Friday, with no reminders given in the middle of the week. Depending on the different schools and teachers, it might be different for everybody, but keep in mind the workload will get heavy, since it technically is a college preparatory course. On the upside, all the workload will be worth it if you pass the class and score a four or five on the AP exam. The class is weighted, adding some extra love to your grade point average, and it will also count as college credit if you kick butt on the AP exam! For more insight, read over the course description on College Board.


You Are What You Read

In the beginning of the school year, your teacher should state the required books and reading in the class syllabus or curriculum letter. Once you have that list, I recommend you start buying them from the bookstore or borrowing a copy from the library or a friend who had the class. I personally liked owning my own copy of the book because you are able to write and annotate all over it, without the wrath from your friend or the librarian. Plus, some teachers will actually give you credit for coming to class with your own book, or at least your own copy for that unit.

Once you actually have the required reading, try your best to not procrastinate when reading, and actually try finishing the book a couple days before the due date. This helps if you have any class discussions or questions you would want to ask your teacher before an in-class essay or test. Staying on the top of your game with reading is especially beneficial with class discussions. Trust me, there is nothing more embarrassing when you have nothing to contribute to a discussion, or worst, when you get called on. Another helpful tip when it comes to reading is starting second semester, try reading the newspaper or paying more attention to the news in general. Once January rolls around, the AP exam is only three to four months away, and it is better to prepare sooner rather than later. Reading and watching the news will help you on your essays when you need to synthesize or make additional commentary to your writing.

Think Ahead

When it comes to staying organized, a planner or agenda will be your best friend. On top of the assigned book you have to read for a unit, your AP Lang teacher will usually give you practice multiple choice tests and practice AP prompts to prepare you for the AP exam, as well as several oral presentations throughout the year. If you’re like me, who absolutely dreads oral presentations, planning ahead of time instead of the night before will definitely ease your stress and anxiety, and actually help you feel more confident when presenting to the class.


Let Your Words Speak

The AP Lang class is usually mainly graded on the student’s essays, oral presentations, and participation in class. Among the three topics, I found that writing about the book or prompt was more of my strong suit than talking about it. The difficulty of writing normally comes across students when there is a timed writing or an in class essay. In this case, time is usually an angel or the devil, but there is nothing to worry about if you take into consideration the following necessary precautions.

Know your school’s bell schedule. Do you have a block schedule? Does your timed writing happen to fall on an early release day? Even though it is a small tip, knowing how much allotted time you’ll be given and planning out how to manage that time is the number one priority. In addition, learning how to write in a pressured and timed environment will prepare you for the AP exam as well. If your struggle with time, I suggest you give yourself only ten minutes to read the prompt and outline your essay, and use the rest of the time to actually write it.

Know what you’re writing about! This tip applies more to assigned essays with due dates or in-class essays based on an assigned book or reading (this tip does not apply to the AP Exam, since you don’t know any of the prompts until the day of). This tip also may seem too obvious to miss, but when the time comes where your class is reading a book you are just not interested in, or the essay falls around the same time as your other priorities, it becomes very easy to get lazy with the annotations and notes, or even put aside the reading altogether. The best way to make this tip work is to, again, stay on top of the reading game. Regularly reading the assigned work and taking the time to make annotations and notes will save you so much time and stress when actually writing the essay. Instead of spending the time racking your brain for quotes or flipping through your novel’s pages, you’ll be spending that time to actually write!

Preparing for the Big Exam

The best way to prepare for the AP Exam is probably the simplest and the hardest - do well in the class. Reading that sentence will probably make you want to punch your computer screen, because yes - it is that obvious and that simple. When preparing for any big exam, your best bet of doing well on it is if you practice the work and material of the subject consistently. Like most of the other AP courses, AP Lang’s job throughout the entire school year is preparing you for the exam. From the beginning until the end of the course, you will be given given practice essay prompts, articles to help with synthesis, and worksheets where you have to identify the certain literary technique being used. I managed to pull through and end that year of AP Lang with a borderline A- in the gradebook, and a 4 on the AP exam (I know it’s not a 5, but hey, college credit!). If you take the actual class seriously and try your best, then there is a guarantee you will get a passing score or higher on the exam. Trust.

Final Tips

Here is a recollection of my final thoughts and tips as I look back at my year of taking AP Lang:

Be specific and detail-oriented. This goes for the broader spectrum and applies to everything in the course and on the exam. From writing essays, to analyzing documents, even to just doing some practice handouts, the more specific you try conveying yourself and your thoughts, the better. The course is all about analyzing and showing your understanding of the reading or prompt, so if you could refine it to the smallest piece of your point (with the least bit of ambiguity), then you’re golden. Everything is open for interpretation, but the score and grade is based on how well you can communicate your point.

Lastly, put in the effort. This applies to everything as well, even the pieces of paper you think are busy work. In this course, everything is given to you for a reason. The effort you put into your work will reflect on the red letters on the first page of your papers, or that final score in July. AP Lang is a course where you can apply “you are what you eat”, or more accurately, you are what you read.



Seven Ways to Improve Your ACT Writing Score


During my junior year of high school, I decided to dedicate my time to being a peer editor. My free periods consisted of revising papers, from youthful, optimistic 6th graders to second-semester seniors that were definitely sliding. One question that I was constantly asked across the board was: “How do I become a better writer?” The number of times this question was asked multiplied when the ACT scores came back and I did well on it. My usual response, even after the ACT,  was some sort of “I’m not sure it just comes naturally to me” or “Just a lot of hard work.” Those answers are slightly true, but not the whole truth. Becoming a better writer, in general, does take time and effort, but these tips below will help your writing process, and definitely your ACT writing score.

  • Read Your Own Work

This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but this is one of the most common mistakes I see in writing. I guarantee that there will be many mistakes: whether it will be spelling errors, punctuation oversight; or even just a sentence that made perfect sense in your head, but is confusing on paper. I understand that it can be very cringe-worthy to read through your work, but I promise it will improve your paper significantly.

  • Practice! Practice! Practice!

This is probably one of the easiest steps for the ACT audience, a.k.a. high schoolers. We are constantly writing for our English courses, and it is very clear that we improve over the years. If you cannot see a change in your writing from assigned papers, search for more prompts and write sample essays. Take about an hour each week, and write a paper with different types of prompts. Not only will this help your writing, but this will help your pacing skills, making you even more prepared for your test.

  • Don’t Make The Same Mistakes

   Not only is this a great life lesson, it is a fantastic writing skill. Think of all of the essays you have gotten back from teachers, what are your most common mistakes? For some people, it may be run-on sentences, comma splices, or general flow of words. Whatever you do, make an effort to change your habits, and don’t hold yourself back by not changing.


  • Dilate Your Vocabulary

It is so important to stand out and use more than average words. Try taking everyday words like ‘good’ and replace it with ‘reputable.’ Try to eliminate casual words like ‘cool’ and the repetition of ‘like.’ I would suggest trying to incorporate a SAT/ACT word into your day (like Cher did in Clueless with ‘sporadically’) This will enhance your vocabulary and make all English assignments easier.

  • Go In With A Plan

Remember those brainstorming tools teachers would give you in elementary school to help organize your ideas when writing an essay? If not, here’s a nostalgic reminder:

This may seem like a childish idea, but it really does help with making sure you have a properly formatted essay with strong points. The ACT gives one prompt with 3 opinions and asks which one you side with. When I took the ACT, I was conflicted in choosing which opinion I delineated with the most; however it was clear when I was able to produce 3 strong points about one and became stumped with the other. If you do this step, I promise that your essay will be 10x easier to write, because it will basically be plugging in ideas and elaborating.  


  • Use All of Your Allotted Time!!!

I cannot express how anxious I feel when I see fellow test takers finish essays in 20 minutes. There is no way to do all of the steps above in that short amount of time!! Even if you are not doing anything to your essay, you might think of a new idea, or correct an old idea written down. This will also help pacing issues if you have them. This was all of your ideas will have the time to develop and come out during the test, instead of later.

  • Have Fun!

Lastly, be creative! Writing is a beautiful way to express yourself and your opinions. This is the only creative outlet on standardized tests, and it should be utilized. Try not to stress too much about writing an essay, but still take it seriously. If you follow these steps and have some confidence, writing an ACT essay should be a breeze. 






Guide to Acing the ACT English Section


{How I got a 35 on the English ACT}

“I admire people who dare to take the language English, and understand it and understand it’s melody.” –Maya Angelou

Let me clue you in on a little secret: I hate studying. Especially mechanical things like historical dates, math equations, or grammar rules. With that being said, around 60% of the English section of the ACT is exactly what I just described: mechanical things like grammar rules.

I definitely have to work on staying focused and paying attention during that 60% of questions, and the other 40% too. Below are some tips and tricks to aid you while taking the English section of the ACT, but first, let’s break the test down.


The English test consists of 75 questions to be answered in a 45-minute time span. The questions are:

Usage and Mechanics

Punctuation: 7-11 q’s

Grammar and usage: 11-15 q’s

Sentence structure: 15-19 q’s

Rhetorical Skills

Strategy: 11-15 q’s

Organization: 7-11 q’s

Style: 11-15 q’s

Tips for Usage and Mechanics:

  • Use Practice Questions to Your Advantage. There are so many practice tests and worksheets out there. Try to do a couple each day, and at the end of the week grade them. The ones you had trouble on the most, practice the next week.
  • The 4 C’s. Make your sentences Complete, Clear, Concise and Competent. Read sentences out loud to yourself and make sure they sound accurate.
  • Cross out answers that are obviously wrong immediately. Instead of trying to choose between four answers, choosing between two or three is a lot easier.
  • Know the W’s. Who and Whom. Who goes with he, she and it. Whom goes with Them.
  • Commas go in pairs. (Unless separating two independent clauses)


Tips for Rhetoric Questions:

  • I cannot stress it enough how much reading helps. When reading, you are constantly being exposed to new vocabulary and correct sentence structure and grammar. Make sure what you are reading is officially published, so it is edited correctly.
  • Read above and below the sentence the question is on. Know the style and tone of the paragraph you are answering the question in.
  • Focus on the NOT. A lot of people miss simple questions because they do not notice a question that say which is NOT right, compared to the contrary.

Know the basics of English. If you have been taking Literature or British Storytelling for two years, you might need to review the basics!




The New SAT V.S. The New ACT: A Closer Look


change.jpg Why the Changes?

According to David Coleman, the CEO and Board President for College Board, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is making changes so that students won’t have to spend as much money on testing preparation; also, “these exams have become disconnected from the work of high school classrooms...” (CNN)  All in all, the College Board wants to keep their tests up-to-date for college readiness.

The makers and researchers of the American College Testing (ACT) are constantly looking for ways to make sure that the ACT is a reflection of what is taught and learned in school; in addition, just like the SAT, the ACT is targeted to be a an accurate guide for your college and career.


Overall, the content you will be tested on has changed. The math section emphasizes graph and data interpretation; the reading section focuses on data reasoning and evidence support; the writing section is now a passage-based section; lastly, instead of 25 minutes, you now have 50 minutes for your essay and you will be analyzing other writings as well.  Don’t these changes kind of sound like the ACT test? Well, that is what most people are claiming! To cheer up those who are dreading these changes, there will be no penalty for guessing on questions; before, you’d get a ¼ point deduction for every wrong question.  Are you wondering how the scoring changed? The SAT is going back to the 1600-point scale, but the essay will be graded separately from your section scores.

Fortunately, the new SAT might be a little easier for some because of the no-guessing penalty and somewhat simpler questions; also, the old SAT has been administered for a long time so there are plenty of study materials to help you out.

Also, the essay is now optional; however, double check with your potential colleges because they may or may not require an essay.


The main changes that educators and students are looking at when it comes to the ACT are the new sub-scores.  These include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and ELA (English Language) sub-scores.  Both the STEM and ELA sub-scores will allow students to know what their weak and strong points are on certain subjects.

Another major change that you should pay attention to is the Writing section.  Don’t worry! It’s still an optional section, but now you’ll have one prompt, one issue, and three total perspectives.  Instead of just defending your side of an argument, you now have to “explain the relationship your perspective has with the three that are given.”  (Petersons)  In addition, the Writing Section time has extended to a total of 40 minutes.


Overall, with the new changes to both tests, the SAT and ACT, are becoming more similar; however, the SAT is more so designed to test your critical thinking and reasoning skills while the ACT is designed to test you on content you should have learned in school.  I can’t tell you which test you should take but with these changes and all of these different types of resources available, you’ll make the right choice for you and your future.





The Perfect Score Game: Do You Really Need That 1600?


  I remember the exact moment that I decided that I was not taking the SAT ever again. It was early-June, my junior year was finally ending, and school was beginning to unwind. Just one more thing needed to happen before I could begin my summer of cool relaxation: SAT scores. I unlocked my phone and typed in my college board username with great trepidation but also with the vibrant, microscopic hope that I would get the illustrious 1600 that I thought would be my ticket into any college of my choice. That hope died as soon as I clicked the “See Your Scores Now!” tab.

At this moment, I knew that I had to seriously reevaluate my college strategy. I didn’t do horrendously on my SATs; my scores from my first SAT actually fit into the 25-to-75 range of my top choice school, albeit the lower section of that range. I had only taken the test again to pursue the distinguished 800 club or the 1600 that would show schools that I was perfect, therefore allowing me to slack off on the rest of my application. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, so I had to ask myself a series of questions:

Do I really want to take another SAT?

Let me paint a picture of my junior year for you. After six AP tests, SATs, and with the overhanging stress of subject tests, summer work, the essay, and actual college applications steadily and quickly approaching, taking the SATs again was the last thing that I wanted to do. I simply did not see myself having the time this summer, with work, summer programs, and schoolwork, to actually make studying for the SAT a priority, let alone do it well.


Can I afford taking another SAT?

I also realized that in order to improve my score, I would have to try a new studying strategy. For the past two SATs, I had relied solely on self-study, with my trusty blue SAT book always by my side. I realized, however, that to gain the drastic improvement on my scores that I wanted, I would need to invest in some other study method, perhaps a class or a tutor. The simple fact of the matter was that my lower-income family could not afford sending me to a class or paying for a tutor; even the monetary expense of just taking the SAT again, when added to the future cost of SAT subjects and college applications, made taking the test again seem unnecessary.


Is that perfect score really essential to my college application?

This last question made my decision clear. In order to answer this, I had to evaluate the other parts of my application. My high school transcript, while not perfect, was generally excellent and put me in the higher section of my top choice’s 25-to-75 GPA mark. Throughout high school, I had made it a point to foster good relationships with all of my teachers and my guidance counselor, so I was pretty confident in my recommendation letters. I had never received any disciplinary action nor had I any blemishes on my record. My extracurricular list was intense to say the least, but still credible with many awards, honors, and leadership positions to show my commitment to my activities. By this time, I had already written my college essay, and although I knew that I had a whole editing process to go through, I was satisfied in its content and its ability to speak for myself as a person.

My short answer came to this: I had worked hard throughout high school, and that showed with or without a perfect score. My scores were good for the schools that I wanted to get into, and the financial and physical strain of preparing for another test just for the vanity of a perfect score did not seem worthwhile to me.

In truth, the only person who can accurately judge whether or not you need that score is yourself. Maybe the other parts of your application are lacking for your top choices, so the SAT is really where you want to shine. Maybe you have the extra time and resources that you need to greatly boost your score. The scenarios are endless and different for everyone, but for me, it came down to one easy decision: no more SATs!



What You Need to Know about Score Optional Colleges


So many students stress out so much about the SAT and ACT, used in the college admissions processes, and how one test can potentially change their futures. We, as students and test takers, often argue that one type test can't define our intellect. We pour so much of ourselves into these tests, exhausting ourselves for a score that will somehow define us to a college in some way in the college admissions process. But students are now not the only ones who are acknowledging this. As time passes, more and more schools are becoming either test optional or test flexible.


What does it mean to be Test Optional or Test Flexible?

When a school is test optional, it means that it is your choice as a prospective student to send in your test scores. You can send your scores if you believe they will accurately represent you to the school, or choose not to. This gives students more control over how they are presenting themselves academically, which is empowering in the college admission process. An incentive for the college as well is that only the applicants with very high test scores will submit their scores. This will lead to the college appearing to have a higher average SAT and ACT score, because only the top scorers submitted their scores. This makes colleges appear more prestigious, but this doesn’t mean that the college is ill-intentioned!

Some schools, on the other hand, are test flexible. This means that applicants will have an alternative to submitting a test score. For example, a college may have students meet a certain GPA to be eligible to not send a test score. Or, a college may ask for another form of testing besides the SAT or ACT, such as submitting SAT Subject Test scores or AP Scores. This shows a student’s ability to excel in a subject of interest, which may prove to be more valuable.

How many schools are test optional/flexible?

Over 800 schools are either test optional or flexible. This is a growing trend among colleges who want to create an admission process that will allow them to see more out of their applicants. While many of the schools transitioning are smaller ones, a couple of larger schools that have deemphasized the SAT and ACT are New York University, Drexel University, Washington University, and University of Arizona.

New York University is a test flexible school that allows for the submission of the SAT, ACT, three SAT Subject tests, three AP tests, an IB diploma, three IB level higher exams, or a nationally accredited exam that shows completion of secondary education. Drexel University holds the same standards, except they require two rather than three SAT Subject tests or AP tests. On the other hand, George Washington University and the University of Arizona are test optional with the exception of a couple of circumstances.

All in all, test-flexible/optional schools allow the opportunity



Khan Academy: The Guide to Academic Success


Khan Academy is a website and phone application that offers a wide range of academic assistance. The program was created in 2006 by Salman Khan as a non-profit educational organization to provide "free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere".  Students all over the world use Khan Academy, not just for the regular studying, but even for test prep! Here is what Khan Academy can offer you to improve your grades and understanding:


Khan Academy contains educational help on not just subjects, but sub-subjects of the subject. Their services vary from Math (by subject and grade) to Computing to Arts and Humanities. Recently, they implemented a new program dedicated to college admissions assistance, aptly titled College Admission!

Learning and Practicing

Now that you know what is offered, you may be asking, “How exactly does one learn in Khan Academy?” The answer? Through the old school saying: practice makes perfect!

Khan Academy contains video lesson on every sub-subject, like Arithmetic in Math. In Arithmetic you can see videos on different topics like negative numbers and fractions. Once you have selected a topic, you instantly have access to a multitude of videos! For example, if you choose the topic “fractions”, you would come to a page that displays video titles like “Intro to fractions” or “Fractions on number lines”.

These videos are usually less than 10 minutes long and provide examples and practices to help you understand the content better.

After finishing a lesson or video you can also do practice tests!

When you finish you can take a short quiz to practice the material you just learned. Khan Academy offers hints and an explanation to an answer if you get it wrong on the quiz.

Through the video lessons and practice tests you are able to expand on your understanding of a subject and can apply your new knowledge to you academics.


Test Prep

One of the most useful content available at Khan Academy is the test prep, especially when it comes to the SAT.

College Board partnered with Khan Academy in order to provide FREE SAT practice to all students. Khan Academy filters your PSAT score and analyzes the areas where you weren’t as strong in and provides practice session on those areas.

There is even a routine you can set where you can study reading and writing or math for 30 minutes a day for three days to keep a consistent study routine, and once you’re done with that, they provide four full practice tests!

They also fill you in on details about the new SAT you might be not be sure about and they also give tips and strategies for the SAT. You can also choose to review your study practices and see what questions you get wrong and which sections you have a harder time on.

Beyond SAT prep, Khan Academy also offers test prep on the MCAT, GMAT, IIT JEE, NCLEX-RN, CHASEE, and even AP Art History.

You know what they say, practice makes perfect, and with Khan Academy, you can certainly get plenty of practice. In fact, with a resource like that, you could even reach perfection!



How to Get Through the ACT/SAT By the End of Junior Year!


If you were to hasten towards a graduated high school senior during their graduation party and quickly ask them about their one regret during college applications, don’t expect a hesitated answer. Almost anyone that recently went through the college admission process will give advice lines of starting something earlier, whether that’s their essays, extra-curricular activities, or getting focused in school. A quick “congratulations” and a thank you for the Target gift card you gave them, and sadly one of your only resources to learn from the best is gone. Now while you may have more follow-up questions to ask, a quick call from their parents for them to start cutting the cake leaves you alone and empty-handed with a bunch of little pieces of advice you don’t know how to execute. Until now…

Your scores on the ACT and SAT, two standardized tests required by a large majority of colleges in the United States, is one of the biggest factors in a collegiate acceptance, wait-listing, or denial in the admissions process. Since test scores, a number on a page that although easily countable to six-year old’s but is a tiring task for anyone, holds near as much weight as your grades and courses, it’s a number that you really want to perfect.

Many high schools’ recommended track for testing, which is taking your test with the school in the spring of your junior year, puts many students on a track that leaves little to no time for improvement. First generation students, the first child in a family, or anyone who’s just naive to the college admission process may fall into this trap, and may be the same senior giving a speech about starting early before quickly diving into your graduation cake.


While not having the tests scores you want not only adds stress to your junior year, it completely delays the rest of the college application process. Since your practice test scores can’t be sent to your colleges, and thus you’re practice test improvements aren’t official, you can’t create a college lists with accurate safety, match, and reach schools based off of your profile, as you don’t know if your test scores are an accurate representation of match, safety, and reach schools based off of your academic profile. This results in you either having to send in scores blindly, which no one wants to do, or not having the flexibility to apply to colleges and universities early action or early decision, both deadlines that require you to submit your application earlier than in January when most regular decision deadlines are. The timeline below is one that can (almost) guarantee all of your testing is done by the end of your junior year, allowing you to get a good amount of sleep each night.

September-December: Introduction to the testing life

The beginning of junior year is the best time to get exposure to the SAT and/or ACT, as you’ll have plenty of time to get practice tests. While some high schools and school districts have the PSAT and practice ACT requirements for their students, it’s also good to take the extra initiative and take a real version of this test on your own, to gain more exposure and experience. Once you get the scores back from the test(s) taken in these few months, you can see if your satisfied with that score if you’re going to put in some additional practice, if that means doing self-studying or private tutoring, which you can read about in the article here: https://yougotintowhere.com/2016/08/22/sat-prep-courses-what-i-learned-and-my-experience/


January-April: The testing grind continues

The cold and rainy months are a great time to do more work when you need it. This is the time to have the work ethic push you did in the fall and beginning of Christmas months show in the scores for the tests for these months. You can either schedule the test on your own, wait until you take the test with your school, or both. Just make sure you pace out when you take each tests so you can balance out your school work, extra-curricular activities, and everything else you have going on.

If after your extra studying, you found that you found your score didn’t move as much as you would’ve liked, this is a great time to possibly take the SAT instead of your normal go-to of the ACT (or vice versa) to see if you do better on one than the other naturally. You may find one test easier than the other, and thus find improving your score easier to do as well. At this point, you could’ve taken full length practice and/or real exams upwards to four times, which will hopefully have you at the score that you’d like.

May: AP Season 

If you are taking AP classes, and are taking the exam, May is the one month you want to take a break on the SAT and/or ACT and focus on AP exams. While AP exams are heavily rumored to not have near as much weight as your regular test scores, it’s important to make sure you focus on AP exams if you're already registered for them, as they do cost a lot of money per exam.

June: The Last Attempt-SAT subject tests and the last time taking the SAT/ACT

Some more selective colleges either recommend or require SAT subject tests also known as SAT IIs. These tests are one hour exams on one specific subjects. SAT subject tests are offered in a myriad of foreign languages, US and World History, two levels of math, English literature, biology, chemistry, and physics. You can take three of these subject tests on the same date.

I found the easiest way to end the school year stress free and to not worry about these exams is to take the subject tests in the corresponding honors, or AP and IB courses as applicable. So if you took AP Spanish and Honors English Lit during your junior year, and studied hard for the AP exam and the final exam at school, you’ll be more than ready than the subject test in June.


They’re a plethora of colleges, including but not limited to Duke, the eight colleges in the Ivy League, Northwestern, and the University of Michigan, that require or recommend two SAT Subject tests. It’s important to check with the schools you may have slight interest in to see if they recommend or require them, so you can sign up! To check your testing schedule availability and registration dates, click here: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests/register/test-dates-deadlines

Standardized testing is one of the most stressed portions of the college admission process. With much weight that it can hold in your acceptance, or how adding one point to a score can be the difference between a half and whole tuition to your dream school, you want to be able to have the best shot as anyone else. This timeline allows just that, with a schedule that gives you many opportunities to improve your score to your maximum potential!




How to Not Freak Out About Junior Year



A guide on how to handle your junior year so you will be successful senior year.

“Junior year is admittedly the toughest year of high school student’s life, but in every part of life there is a need for balance” -Unknown

Junior Year. Finally, an upperclassman! You’ve gotten through your first two years and now you’re a step closer to your senior year. Don’t let all that get to your head because as a junior, you have more responsibilities which means you must have more accountability. As prom, homecoming, extracurricular, jobs, AP Testing, and etc. come speeding towards you, make sure to keep these four points in mind to have a successful junior year.

Grades! Grades! Grades!

Make sure to keep your grades up. Your junior year transcript as well as your transcripts from your previous years will be the ones you will send to colleges in the fall of your senior year. Make sure you study for your classes, as well as participate, and ask questions if you don’t understand the content. They say that junior year is the hardest year and for good reason. When selecting your classes, be sure to include rigorous courses (i.e. AP classes or any advanced level class). College admission boards really like to see that a student is challenging her/himself with a college-level class in high school. Take about one or two AP Classes a year. I wouldn’t go as far as to take more than three unless you know you will be able to handle the amount of work you will be given.


Procrastination is A Sin!

Procrastination is something you really don’t want to do as a junior. Try to do your homework right after you come home. Be sure to know when your deadlines are so you won’t to be shocked when you have a project due the next day. You don’t want to be stressed with a difficult task because stress equals no success. When you receive a project, start working on it immediately. Spread out the amount of work you need to do within your given time-frame and try to finish it early so you know for sure that you have completed your work. With the extra time, you can use it look for any mistakes and to review your objectives so you know what you’ve done is to your teacher’s accord. With tests, make sure you know when you will be testing whether it’s for the ACT/SAT or just a regular test. And set aside an hour every day to study.


College Research

Junior year is a great time to start compiling a list of colleges you would like to attend. You can meet with your counselor as well as your parents to figure out what major you would like to pursue. While compiling your list, note the admissions requirements of each college to make sure that you would be the right fit. Plan on going on a few college visits during the school breaks so you can really get a feel for the schools you have listed. This will help you narrow down the list of schools to apply to.

Work Hard... Play Hard!

Last but not least, make sure you have some fun. Continue with the extracurricular activities that you enjoy and even take up some more. Colleges like to see that you can balance your school work as well as a few extracurricular activities. As a junior, try to attend as many school sponsored activities such a sports games, school dances, or parades as possible without hindering your grades. Life can’t just be all work and no play.

I hope these tips will help you out these upcoming year. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions. And as always make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook.







AP Human Geography: A Guide to Success in the Course and the Exam


A Guide to Getting a 5 on the AP Test

AP Human Geography (or APHuG, as students often call it) is a useful introductory AP course that provides a challenge for many high school students. While it can be a very rewarding course, it also requires a lot of hard work, which is daunting to some students. To fix this, I have compiled a list of helpful tips that should make that elusive 5 much more attainable.

Actually Read the Textbook

            Your textbooks will be one of your most accessible and useful resources while taking this course. It provides most of what will be covered on the AP Test and will be much easier to access and find than many other outside resources will be. It is also probably what your in-class tests will be based off, so actually reading the textbook will be helpful in that sense too.

And what do I mean by “actually” read the textbook? I mean that you should do more than just merely skim over the chapters. Take time to thoroughly read the chapters, make flashcards on terms that are bold in the text, note the different graphics and maps (and trust me, there will be a lot of them), and study and understand them. If you start doing this at the beginning of the course, you will have the ideal preparation coming into the AP Test.


Use a Prep Book

This may sound obvious; however, it is essential to have and actually use a prep book in order to prepare yourself. The best thing to do would be to purchase a prep book at the beginning of the year and use it as you go. What I mean by that is, if you are learning about agriculture, along with reading your textbook’s agriculture chapter, also review the prep book’s agriculture section. Most textbooks do not include every little bit of information that will be on the AP Test. By reviewing the prep book along with the textbook, you will be filling in gaps in your knowledge, that way there will be less to actually review when tests roll out in May.

Some of you might be wondering: what prep book should I use? The one that I personally found to be the most useful, and many of my classmates found to be helpful as well, was the Princeton Review prep book. It was packed with a lot of information, which is why it is crucial to start reviewing early, and also had several practice tests with questions formed very similarly to the ones asked on the actual AP Test. The Barron’s prep book was a much more condensed book that was mainly useful for vocabulary review. Both of these books can be found on Amazon for fairly inexpensive. However, if you are unable to buy them, your local library should have AP prep books available for you or a former student may be willing to donate their old one to you. Do not be too concerned if you are not using the current edition, as long as it’s relatively recent the content is largely the same, with maybe a few formatting changes and some new practice questions.

Using College Board

            The College Board website will become your best friend while taking this course and generally throughout your high school experience. College Board is basically the company that administers all of the AP tests and has information on every AP class that is offered. Look at the page specifically dedicated to AP Human Geography and read over the class description and overview. This will get you acquainted with the course and, as you get closer to the test, remind you of everything that you need to know.

Another extremely useful feature on the College Board website is under the “Exam Practice” tab of the AP Human Geography page (Under this tab, you will find previous FRQs that were on the actual tests and their scoring guidelines. An FRQ is a Free Response Question and it is the second component of the AP Human Geography exam and most other AP exams in general. It basically gives you a question with multiple components that you must respond to in a paragraph format). Look at all of these old FRQs and do them! Not only will it give you practice on the writing style needed to write an FRQ, but it will also help you become familiar with the kinds of questions that will be on the AP Test and the knowledge necessary to answer them. 

Find Additional Online Resources

Whether it is your teacher’sweb pagee, a newspaper article, or another student’s Quizlet, finding reliable and helpful online resources will make studying a lot more diverse and interesting. For example, my classmates and I used our teacher’s class web page as a resource. She would often post related articles and YouTube videos that she did not have time to share in class. The students who actually utilized her webpage found studying for tests and the AP Exam much easier, as they had a diverse wealth of knowledge from multiple different resources.

Here are a few particularly helpful resources, videos, and articles that I found to be useful to get you started.


Do Outside Research on Related Topics

One of the best things that I got out of this class was the knowledge I gained about the outside world. This class is incredibly relevant and applicable to the world as a whole, which makes it very easy to apply current events. For example, the most useful thing I did while in this class was research on the political situation in Iraq. Not only was this interesting to me, but it also applied to the AP HuG concepts of centrifugal/centripetal forces, multinational states, etc. This enhanced my knowledge of these topics, and also brought my attention to current affairs.

Watch Power of Place Videos

Power of Place videos are probably my favorite and least favorite part of taking this course. They were not always the most exciting videos, but they are extremely useful.

For example, my class watched the “Ethnic Fragmentations in Canada” Power of Place, which directly corresponded to one of the FRQs on the 2016 AP Test about language and culture in Montreal, Canada. It was incredibly helpful, to say the least, and I would highly recommend watching them, especially if you are concerned about applying concepts in your FRQs. Here is the link to all the videos.

            Overall, you will get out what you put into this course. It is challenging, but a 5 is easily attainable if you work hard, pay attention to concepts both in and out of class, and start preparing early. Now go study and kill that AP test!



SAT Prep Courses: What I Learned and My Experience


Four days a week, four hours a day, I sat in a freezing, green classroom. I was at Elite Educational Institute taking SAT Prep classes. After completing their eight week summer program, I have learned and experienced a lot. Here’s what you need to know about SAT Prep courses.

You must be self-motivated.

The main reason why I decided to take an SAT Prep course is because I didn’t believe I would be disciplined enough to study by myself. Yet, I found that with a SAT Prep course, I was unsatisfied with the instruction I was receiving. If I really wanted to learn the material, I had to read and complete the workbooks and practice problems I was provided on my own. You have to be willing to learn in order to improve.

Measure your success based on yourself.

Unless you’re the smartest in your class, you will hear people complaining about their “low scores”. Their lowest score might be just above your highest. It honestly feels like a kick in the stomach, but you have to relax and focus on your progress. This is about YOU getting better and feeling bad about yourself isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Pay attention to test taking strategies.

I always struggled with section three of the SAT: the no calculator math section. I would leave at least five of the free response questions blank because I simply ran out of time. The worst part was when reviewing my test, the free response always seemed to be problems I knew I could get right. The other problems that held me back in the multiple choice section kept me from a higher score. In my prep classes, I learned to do the free response portion first and do the multiple choice portion after. That way, if I’m running out of time, I can at least make a guess. Another strategy I learned was in the reading section. The two-part questions involving textual evidence are so much easier when you find the textual evidence first and then compare it to the previous question. All these little techniques are probably what have raised my score the most.

Your score will fluctuate.

When I first registered for classes, I had to take a placement test. On that placement test, I scored the same score that I had in the seventh week of classes. What happened was that I was given an easier PSAT test as a placement test. When I took my first real test on the first day of class, my score was about one hundred points lower than the previous test. Even as I made the climb up one hundred points, my score would decrease a little every few weeks. This happened to everybody in my class as well because the tests were sometimes a little harder and sometimes a little easier. Unlike the real SAT where the score is curved, my academy had a fixed grading scale with no curve. Be wary of this and don’t be disappointed in yourself if your score goes down!

SAT-LogoAll in all, I don’t regret taking the SAT course over the summer, and will be continuing in the school year for another five weeks. I feel a lot more confident taking tests, and it gets easier to sit down and focus for such a long period of time. I’ve also met a group of great people who I can compete with in a friendly way to help myself improve. SAT courses aren’t for everybody, but I recommend it for people who need something to help them along the path to a higher score.


Of SAT Scores and Self-Worth: Realizing Your Value When the Pressure is On


“This is it. I might as well just kiss my dreams goodbye and say hello to community college, because with these scores, it looks like that’s where I’m headed.”

Those words are verbatim from what one of my close friends told me in an emotional phone call back in May, when scores for the March 2016 administration of the SAT were released. She was absolutely devastated because her scores were not where she wanted them to be, and had overanalyzed everything that could have gone wrong: her nerves distracting her during the test, fallible study methods, and even the incessant ticking of the clock that had been hung on the back wall of the classroom.

Her statements to me, albeit on the dramatic side, are similar to the panicky thoughts that a lot of rising seniors, including myself, are having as the new school year quickly approaches. With the notion of not being good enough for colleges when it comes to standardized testing constantly looming over students’ heads, it is easy to see why so many get caught up in and are discouraged by their scores.


Headfirst Into the Abyss

It is the case for many students to feel as though they have been suddenly thrown into the real world without a parachute during their final two years of high school. I remember having a breakdown near the end of my junior year regarding my own future as I signed up for standardized testing, feeling like I wasn’t adequately prepared for the heavy expectations of the future.

We are taught that standardized test scores are the foundation of a college application and that if they are not satisfactory, our chances of getting into the university that we desire go down exponentially. Our parents shell out the hefty fees for the SAT and ACT and we walk into our testing rooms on the assigned dates with the frightening idea that our futures are dependent on a mere few hours full of scribbling inside of small bubbles and reading passages that we will later joke about on social media in order to ease our stress.

When scores are finally sent out after a nail-biting period of time, students are sent into a frenzy and adolescents pace the floors of their bedrooms in panic. The fact that so many of us are petrified of checking our scores in fear that our aspirations will crumble in front of their eyes is heartbreaking, for we should not believe that simple numbers on a computer screen dictate the rest of our lives.

We do not have to allow ourselves to be hindered by outrageous expectations. We have the power to set standards for ourselves and be comfortable with who we are, not who we are not.

The Value of Valuing Yourself

There is a saying that goes, “It is not what you are that holds you back, it is what you think you are not.”  I love the way that Maimuna Abdi Yussuf puts it in her article, Dear Rafiki, You Are Not Your SAT Score, in which she states that nothing is really what it appears to be and that everything is what you make of it, meaning that you should not take your scores at face-value and should instead use them as merely a catalyst that will propel you into your future that will mean so much more in the long run than what you made on your SAT.  I reiterated this to my anxious friend, and asked for her to remember everything that she has accomplished over the duration of her high school career; when she finished her list (and boy, was it long), she was wiping away her stress-induced tears and reaffirming the validity of her dreams.

I am writing this to tell you, whether you are an upcoming freshman just beginning to get your feet wet in the depths of high school or a senior feeling like you are about to drown, that your standardized test scores do not define you as a person. As human beings, we are sums of many parts, and as students, we have a lot more to put on college applications than our scores on a couple of cumulative tests.

The journey to realize your self-worth can be a hard one, especially when us students are being pitted against each other all the time when it comes to things like class rankings and test scores, but it is necessary to go down that path because it is ultimately up to you to make the decision of whether you will allow your test scores to represent you as a whole or not.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your quest for self-worth:

1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

It’s an old mantra, but an important step in realizing your self-worth is becoming aware that when you are not satisfied with something, you have the ability to change that. Even if you refuse to allow your test scores to define you as a person, it is important to know that you are in complete control of how you handle them. Be proactive. Skip the nervous breakdown and sign up for the next scheduled test. Find study methods that work for you. Make a study schedule and stick to it. It truly is simple; as long as you pace yourself and work hard, the results will come. Don’t focus on the scores that you didn’t get; concentrate on those you did instead, for you made them yourself with your own hard work and effort and you should be proud of them no matter what.

2. Don’t take the bait of others.

Many students are of the Type-A personality: ambitious, competitive, and aggressive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the problems come when they need constant validation, like that one friend in your English class who always turns to you and asks what you made on the most recent test when they know that they completely aced it and that you struggled with it a bit. People like these are always trying to find ways to fuel the rat race that exists in all schools, but you have the ability to keep yourself out of it. Know that your standards may not match up with theirs, and that it is completely possible that what they think is horrible may be perfectly adequate to you. As long as you are happy with your scores and the progress that you are making, what they think should not matter to you. If they ask you how you did on your standardized tests, you have the right to keep the actual numbers to yourself and tell them that you are satisfied with what you made instead.

3. Remember everything else that you can bring to the table.

Let’s face it: anybody can be in the top ten of their class or make above a 30 on the ACT. In order to truly value yourself, you have to keep what makes you unique in mind. For example, you may not have the highest test scores, but you’re the surefire editor of you school’s popular newspaper, or maybe you’re a piano virtuoso behind the scenes. Colleges do not only look at your scores, but at your extracurriculars as well. They want to know if you can contribute something extra to the school and that you aren’t just another intelligent student who is going to graduate with nothing to provide them with except another brain. If you are a well-rounded student, you don’t necessarily have to have the best test scores or fall in the top five percent of your class; you just have to be aware of your assets and use them to your advantage by putting as much emphasis on them as you can. Colleges don’t look for perfect students because there would be no reason for them to further their educations if they were on that level. They instead search for students with unique perspectives and experiences who can further the minds of the people around them.

tumblr_o52urptpSA1ut1kpfo1_1280Whenever you are in doubt of yourself, recall this advice and the fact that standardized tests do not measure your worth as a human being. You are so much more than the answers that you bubble in inside of a testing room. As long as you try your best, it is impossible for you to be labeled as a disappointment. You have so much more to contribute to the world, and as long as you are determined and assert yourself, you are definitely bound to make changes in it.