Monthly Archives: March 2011

Want to get better grades? Be an ACTIVE learner!

by Kevin Wong

Active Learning: What is it?

Active Learning forces students to interact with information in the learning process. Instead of trying to learn by simply listening to a teacher or reading text and attempting to mindlessly commit as much information to memory as possible (passive learning), the student engages in activities such as asking/answering questions, writing, or engaging in discussion related to the material during the learning process.  These simple activities force the student to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information, which promotes deeper understanding and longer term retention of the material.

[Continue reading to learn how to implement ACTIVE learning strategies for yourself]

Continue reading

Time management

by Nina Bahadur

Time Management

Time management is an essential skill for getting through high school, college, and the rest of your life! Here are my top two suggestions for getting organized and making the most of your time.

To-Do Lists

By making a list of tasks, you will be able to manage your time accordingly to get everything done. Being aware of everything you have to do is half of the battle!

I would recommend splitting your to-do list into three parts, depending on the urgency of each task. Here is an example list:

1. Highest Priority – do this today

  • Biology homework (due tomorrow in class)
  • Proofread essay on “Of Mice and Men” (due tomorrow in class)
  • Pick up French textbook from Alice’s house

2. Medium Priority – do this before the end of the week

  • Meet with Matthew to work on history presentation (due next week)
  • Organize handouts in Math folder
  • Practice SAT test before tutoring session on Friday

3. Low Priority – do this before the end of the month

  • Sign up for May SAT test date

While you are studying, I would also recommend listing any concepts that you are struggling to understand. That way, you can easily articulate any questions to your teacher, and you will be able to focus on those “problem areas” when studying for a test.

[Continue reading to learn about study schedules and additional tips]

Continue reading

The College Essay: Be Yourself

by David Kurz

Looking back on my 17-year old life, I remember feeling a mix of uncertainty and pressure when it came time to write the college essay. In my experience, the personal statement was uniquely difficult because – unlike SATs, GPA, AP scores, and academic achievements – it was subjective, biased, and supremely personal. My college essay sometimes seemed like a blank sheet staring me in the face, daring me to be creative, fluid, and self-revealing in the midst of a high-stakes application. The good news is that, eventually, I was able to turn this daunting undertaking into a fun exercise that let me express my personality better than any other piece of my application.

My Story

I remember deciding that I wanted my essay to capture something about me that spoke to how I was singular. Something that only Dave Kurz could write. I recall leaning back in my chair, looking around, and thinking to myself: “What makes me different?” What I settled on certainly wasn’t perfect, but it did fit the criterion I had laid out for myself; my essay literally could not have been written by anybody else because of the distinctive way only I could unite various aspects of my life story. In my case, this meant writing about everything from Hungarian history to Spanish classes to soccer to kayaking to jazz trumpet to faith, and how they had all come together to make me who I was. I also included some minor details about my life that weren’t important in their own right – for instance, my high school habit of grabbing frozen waffles while running out the door – but added a personal touch to the writing. The key was not really what I wrote about, but how my writing captured my personality.

[Continue reading for Dave’s advice, and additional tips and resources]

Continue reading

SAT or ACT? Take advantage of diagnostic tests to help decide

by Richard Pan

One of the tough decisions that a high school student has to make is whether to take the SAT or the ACT. Each has its advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of the test taker, but which one should you take? We will break things down into a few different considerations, but first, let’s take a look at the back-stories.


Introduced in 1901, the SAT is the older of the two exams. It has gone through several iterations since its inception, from open-ended essay questions on a range of topics (including English, math, physics, chemistry, and foreign languages) to the current format of three multiple-choice sections on math, reading, and writing. The ACT was first administered in 1959, and in terms of subjects tested, the test has remained substantially unchanged through the years. An optional writing section was added in 2005 to the existing sections on English, math, reading, and science.

[Continue reading for a detailed comparison and our recommendation]

Continue reading