Digital SAT Practice Questions–Word in Context

1.  It was comical in a way, with the dramatic irony of a farcical play. He had studied through the lens of his microscope the waste of germs and infinitesimal parasites- invisible to most- that provoke such majorities of the world’s ___________. And yet, in so focusing his view, he had failed to perceive an affliction that towered before him for fifteen years on that to others was unmistakable.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical word?

A.  Happiness

B.  Suffering

C.  Failure

D.  Calamities

2.  In times of widespread economic distress, experts will sometimes turn to the outliers of a downtrend in order to study the features of their commercial, governmental, and social structures that have seemingly immunized them to financial meltdown. Recently, Sweden’s system has come under particular scrutiny due to the ____________________ of its economy throughout the recession that struck the majority of the Western world in 2007.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most precise phrase?

A.  Relatively stable condition

B.  Incredible crash

C.  Loss of the value

D.  Fragmentation

3.  As Mendeleev assembled the table, he had noticed several gaps in the pattern of properties which- cleverly- he hypothesized to be areas held by yet undiscovered elements. Apart from reserving space on the table for these elements, he went to far as to predict not only their existence, but their ______________ as well. Several years later, the spectroscopic discovery of one of these elements- specifically gallium- and the confirmation of Mendeleev’s predictions caused the popularity of his theory to skyrocket, and the periodic table quickly became a standard fixture in the study of chemistry.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A.  Chemical properties

B.  Present locations

C.  Findings

D.  Theory

4.  Once this multitude is united into a body, an offense against one of its members is an offense against the body politic. It would be even less possible to injure the body without its members feeling it. Duty and interest thus equally require the two contracting parties to aid each other ________. The individual people should be motivated from their double roles as individuals and members of the body to combine all the advantages which mutual aid offers them.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?

A.  Completely

B.  Intermittently

C.  Hesitantly

D.  Mutually

5.  The columns, in true Mannerist style, are without function; crowded together chaotically in the corners of the room and crushed halfway into its walls. The pilasters at the sides of the windows are unaccountably tapered- further challenging the neat verticality of classical tradition- and ________ with capitals belonging to no established style whatsoever.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?

A.  Carved

B.  Found

C.  Crowned

D.  Felt

6.  As a whole, the vast exhibition displays how the modernist movement progressed across the three Latin American cultures using furniture as a microcosm of the three societies. Although many might find this to be ________________ of a complex phenomenon, few can argue that the exhibition is, at least, intriguing.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise phrase?

A.  a misunderstanding

B.  an oversimplification

C.  a failure to display the furniture

D.  an elaboration

7.  Millions of people carry the defective gene, but because it is a recessive disorder, an individual will contract cystic fibrosis only if he or she inherits two mutated genes from his or her parents. If the father and mother both _________ the mutated gene, the child will inherit the disease. However, if only one of the genes is mutated, the child will not contract the disease. If both parents carry the mutated gene, every child they have has a twenty-five percent chance of inheriting the disease and a fifty percent chance of passing it on.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?

A.  lack

B.  grant

C.  avoid

D.  donate

8.  One of the questions that Plato’s fifth book of The Republic grapples with is what role kinship relations play in the function of society. In The Republic, Plato attempts to create a blueprint for a just city-state in which its constituents prescribe to reason and live in communal harmony. In his construction of an ideal city-state, Plato reevaluates the kinship relations that comprise society. Plato believes that the kinship structure is a reflection of the social structure, and that the social and political structures that organize society are not biological or necessary, but rather __________ and subject to change.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?

A.  avoided

B.  unavoidable

C.  exemplary

D.  created

9.  Justice, it might be said, is when tenacity is met with opportunity, and that opportunity came on August 24, 2002 when the Dodgers finally called me up to The Big Show. I pitched that night in a home game against the Braves. The opposing pitcher was Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, and wouldn’t you know that I beat the son of a gun! After the game, my teammates congratulated me in the clubhouse, and, though I don’t remember all of the details, I remember it as one of the ____________ days of my life.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A.  happiest

B.  most stressful

C.  nicest

D.  darkest

10.  Forsythe’s disposition, so recently buoyant and carefree, swiftly darkened to the extent that, were he to auscultate himself at that moment, the _____________ could only reveal an acute saturninity, or else some other sinister malady that corrupts the body and gives the mind a likeness of wetted ash.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?

A.  doctor

B.  patient

C.  feeling

D.  diagnosis

Answer Explanations

1.  B. The character is studying germs and parasites. It is an irony that, though he studies these creatures, he didn’t realize when he himself was “afflicted” with one. It therefore follows that those germs and parasites would create the world’s “suffering” (B). It isn’t (A) as that is the opposite of what the germs and parasites would cause. It isn’t (C) as the world’s failures aren’t caused by germs or parasites.  It isn’t (D) as calamities can be caused by any number of natural disasters and man-made situations in addition to infectious diseases and parasites.

2.  A.   The first sentence of the passage says that during economic disasters, experts turn to outliers. Since the 2007 financial crisis was a recession, the outlier would need to be a country that didn’t experience that recession. Sweden being in a “relatively stable condition” (A) would make it of interest to economists. (B) and (C) are incorrect since if Sweden had crashed or lost value it would not have been an outlier. (D) is incorrect as there is no evidence that the Swedish economy split up into pieces, or fragmented.

3.  D. From the context we know that Mendeleev is predicting the existence of elements as well as something else about them. We know that he reserved spaces for them on the periodic table, so we wouldn’t repeat that he predicted their “present locations” therefore (B) is incorrect. Elements wouldn’t have “findings” or “theory”, so (C) and (D) are incorrect as well. This only leaves “chemical properties,” (A), for him to predict in addition to predicting their existence.

4.  D. In the final sentence we learn that “individuals should be motivated…to combine all the advantages which mutual aid offers them”. This context tells us that the author is calling for the “two contracting parties to aid each other mutually”. In other words, that each should help the other.  This rules out (B) “intermittently” and (C) “hesitantly” since those would both be less than the “mutual aid” the author is calling for. (A) “Completely” is not a word that can be used to describe aiding a person.

5.  C. A “capital” is the top part of a column which often flairs out from the column (or pilar) and is often engraved with a decorative motif. Be careful not to confuse this with a “capitol” which is the building in which a government meets.   Since “capitals” are at the top of a column or pilar, the best word to use in this sentence is (C) “crowned” which indicates that the “capitals” are at the top of the pilar. (A), (B), and (D) would not describe the placement of the capitals.

6.  B. The first sentence sets up a fairly complex topic- the advancement of an entire movement. It makes logical sense that trying to show this complex topic through a display of furniture might be thought to be “an oversimplification” (B) of the topic. There is no evidence that the display is a “misunderstanding” (A) of the movement. We know that the furniture was displayed, so it is not (C). “An elaboration” (D) would be the opposite of an oversimplification and is therefore incorrect.

7. D. In this sentence, the author is describing the process by which both parents must pass on the gene in question in order for the child to have cystic fibrosis. The answer which most closely means “pass on” is “donate”, making (D) the correct answer. If the parents lack or avoid the gene, then the child will not have Cystic Fibrosis, making (A) and (D) incorrect. “Grant” (C) does not fit the context of the sentence.

8.  D. We see in the context of the last sentence that this structure is “not biological or necessary” we are therefore looking for an answer that is the opposite of biological and necessary. “Created” (D) would be the best answer since things that are created can be changed and people can choose not to create them.  They are therefore not “biological” or “necessary”. (A), (B), and (C) do not fit into the context, even though they are grammatically correct.

9.  A. In this passage, the speaker describes the day in which he was given a huge opportunity and not only grabbed that opportunity, but managed to beat one of the best opponents he ever faced. The best way to describe such a day would be as the “happiest” (A) day of his life. “Nicest” (C) is not a strong enough word to describe such a day. “Darkest” (D) is not at all appropriate for such a momentous day.  While the day may have been stressful, the passages is overwhelmingly positive about the experience, so focusing on the negative stress (B) would be inappropriate.

10.  D. While you might not know what “auscultate” means in the passage, context shows that where he to auscultate himself, he was scared of finding a “sinister malady”. This makes “diagnosis” (D) the best option since it is a “diagnosis” that would show such a malady. Since he is auscultating himself, there wouldn’t be a “doctor” involved, so (A) is incorrect. It would be very odd for him to discuss himself in the third person as the “patient”, so (B) is incorrect. He is not looking at a “feeling” but rather at something that will show him something that will “corrupt the body”, making (C) incorrect.

Preparing for the Digital PSAT

Schools across the United States will administer the new Digital PSAT/NMSQT for the first time this October. Unlike in previous years, schools have much more flexibility in scheduling the PSAT when it is convenient for their students. Accordingly, some schools will have the PSAT early in the month and some later in the month. What are some specific things students can do to prepare for the Digital PSAT?

  1. Download the Bluebook Application and take one full-length Digital PSAT. Doing this will help students become familiar with the computer interface of the new PSAT, with its built-in calculator, timer, highlighter, annotating features, and more. Students will also become comfortable with the adaptive format and pace for the Digital PSAT. In general students will feel more comfortable with the timing on this test, so they should try to slow down instead of speed up.
  2. Take additional Bluebook SAT tests as needed–there are four available in the Bluebook application that students may try. The timing and format of the Digital PSAT and Digital SAT are identical; the only major difference between the two tests is in the allocation of math concepts, with the Digital SAT having slightly more advanced material. So, by trying Digital SATs, students will be well-prepared for the Digital PSAT.
  3. Practice with the Barron’s Digital PSAT review book. I made four full-length practice PSATs that students can try, along with a wealth of review exercises.

For further free Digital PSAT resources, check our page here. Best of luck to everyone taking the upcoming Digital PSAT!

PSAT, ACT, and SAT Planning for High School Juniors

High school juniors in the United States have a very interesting year of testing options ahead of them. There are a total of four major tests that students will have the opportunity to take: the Digital PSAT, the Paper SAT, the ACT, and the Digital SAT. Who should focus on which of these different types of tests?

Digital PSAT: Administered in the month of October through a student’s high school. Students who are trying to earn National Merit recognition should prepare for this exam. National Merit recognition generally applies to students who score in the 95th percentile or above, and National Merit Scholarships usually go to students who score above the 99th percentile. For students who do not think that a National Merit award is in reach, taking the Digital PSAT is still an excellent way to try the adaptive, digital format they will find on the Digital SAT. Scores for the Digital PSAT will be back in November, so students will have plenty of time to review their PSAT results to prepare for the Digital SAT in the spring.

Paper SAT: Administered in August, October, November, and December of 2023. After these administrations, the current paper SAT will be retired and replaced with a Digital SAT. For students who want to take advantage of the expansive body of existing practice tests and review books, taking the paper SAT before it goes away is a good idea. Results from the paper SAT will still be fully utilized by colleges, so students would have nothing to lose by giving the paper SAT a try before they no longer have the opportunity to do so.

ACT: Administered throughout 2023-2024. In general, students who are faster test takers like the ACT. This is a good test to take if you have taken through Algebra 2 and a bit of pre-calculus. The ACT covers more math material than the Digital SAT: logarithms, matrices, hyperbolas/ellipses, and combinations/permutations. It also has a broader array of grammar concepts than does the Digital SAT: wordiness, idioms, diction, and sentence placement. Fortunately, students who want to take the ACT can use many excellent books and practice tests to prepare for this well-established test.

Digital SAT: Administered in the United States beginning in March, 2024 and continuing thereafter. The Digital SAT will be offered on national test dates, and many schools will offer it during the school day given the relatively short amount of time that taking the Digital SAT requires. Students will have their Digital PSAT results back in November of 2023 so they can evaluate whether the Digital SAT is a good fit for them. There is a great deal of overlap in the content between the ACT and Digital SAT, so if students wish to switch from one test to the other, it should be fairly seamless.

Please contact us if we can advise you as to the best testing plan for this upcoming school year.

Digital PSAT Practice Test Available

For students preparing for the PSAT/NMSQT this fall, the College Board has made a linear PSAT practice test available. This test is longer than what students who are taking the adaptive computer version will take but offers some excellent practice material.

Here is the link to the Digital PSAT Practice Test.

Here is the link to the Digital PSAT Practice Test Solutions.

Students preparing for the Digital PSAT can also use full-length Digital SAT practice tests since the timing and format of the two tests are identical.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills

With the prevalence of internet accessibility increasing across the board, one key skill in education is diminishing: the ability to figure it out. It may be true that students no longer need to memorize key facts because they can always look them up, but being able to puzzle through things is essential to many jobs. After all, what happens when something can’t be looked up? What kind of world would we have if we didn’t have people who were willing to figure out new things? This ability to figure things out starts very young. Remember the toy where the small child has to match the shape of the block to the shape of the hole? Somewhere along the line, though, many children and young adults begin to expect less work in figuring things out. They’re given fewer puzzles to solve and more things to memorize. They stop looking at learning as a puzzle solving and start simply asking for answers (from a teacher or Google) if they don’t know.

The result is that by the time students get to the ACT and SAT in high school they often have very weak concentration and critical thinking skills. They view math as a set of memorized steps, not a puzzle to be worked through. They view reading as something to do only to gain facts, not as something that requires critical thinking. This leads to poor results and to many students struggling to develop skills that have long lain dormant.  

One key part of ACT and SAT tutoring is strengthening these weak skills. Students will often become frustrated when they say “I don’t know how to do this problem” and instead of explaining the steps a tutor starts asking them questions. But this is how these skills are built. Instead of explaining and having students memorize every type of question that could be on the test (an impossibility), asking the students questions and assisting them in breaking the question down and solving the puzzle on their own will enable them to figure things out on test day when a tutor isn’t there to explain things. Nine times out of ten, when a student claims they don’t know how to do the problem, they actually already have all the math or reading skills they need to solve the problem, they just don’t realize what type of math they need to use or where to focus their reading. Developing critical thinking skills leads to much batter results. Besides tutoring, students can develop their critical thinking skills in several ways.

Here are some every day suggestions for strengthening this key skill.

  1. Hypothesize before looking things up:
    Let’s say you need to know the date for some key historical event for a school assignemnt. Before hopping on the internet or grabbing a text book, try to figure out at least a range of time that even could have happened in. Make a game of it to see how close to the correct answer you can get by using all the information you have already in your mind. For example, if I needed to know the date of the moon landing, I might go through a thought process like this: I know the moon landing was during the Cold War and the Cold War was after World War II but before the 90s, so it’s probably between the 50s and 90s. I remember back to a TV show I where the characters watched the moon landing. The TV was black and white and their clothes seemed bright. There were also a lot of hippies as characters. Maybe the moon landing was in the late 60s or the 70s. Only once I have thought through all of this and come up with a hypothesis do I look up the answer: the moon landing was in 1969.
  2. Do puzzles regularly:
    Sign up for a daily word or number puzzle. Maybe it’s a Sudoku. Maybe it’s a mini crossword puzzle. Make it something you can do most days, but that you can’t look up the answer to. Don’t let yourself give up quickly! If you need to, put it down for a few hours and then come back to it later. Work through feelings of frustration and focus on how much easier it gets over time! Try to be okay with not figuring it out if you puzzle on it for a good amount of time and can’t crack it.
  3. Ask specific questions:
    If you’re stumped on something at school or in anything you’re working on, focus on asking really specific questions. More specific questions force you to think about the problem a lot more before getting help and will avoid the helper just giving you the answer without making you think. Avoid saying things like “I don’t understand this thing” or “I don’t know how to do this” and try instead to say things like “what is the relationship between these two things- I don’t think I fully grasp that” or “If I’ve already done steps one and two, what should I consider to get to step four.” Once you’re comfortable with that try asking yourself those questions before asking other people.

Developing the skills needed to figure things out is difficult, but it’s well worth the effort and will pay off in many ways beyond just standardized tests. Keep working on those skills and let us know if you’d like any guidance along the way.

Michal Strawn

5 Reasons to Take the SAT and ACT Tests

Over the past two years, there has been quite a bit of upheaval in the world of college admissions and standardized testing.  Many schools are now “test-optional,” meaning that students can submit SAT and ACT test scores if they would like, but they are not required to do so.  Given the media reports about standardized tests, some parents and students may wonder if they should even bother taking the SAT or ACT.  Here are five reasons why taking the SAT or ACT is a still a wise choice in this uncertain environment. 

1.  Nearly all colleges would like to see your scores.

From what is covered in the news, it sounds like most schools do not care about evaluating your test scores.  According to, the reality is that only 3.7% of U.S. colleges are “test-blind,” meaning they do not consider test scores.  The most well-known test-blind schools are the colleges in the University of California system; the others are predominately smaller liberal arts colleges.  This means that  96.3% of U.S. colleges either require the SAT or ACT or will consider SAT/ACT scores if submitted.  Some, like Georgetown University, West Point, and the University of Florida, have required standardized test results even during the pandemic.  Others, like Ivy League Schools and Big Ten universities, give students the option to submit test scores, recognizing that there have been test site cancellations and health concerns that may have precluded students from being able to test. 

Probably the most well-known example of a test-optional university is Harvard.  When you look at their admissions website, you will see that they would indeed like to see your standardized test results if possible:

“Harvard accepts other standardized tests or other academic credentials if you choose to submit them. In any admissions process, additional information can be helpful. For example, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-levels, national leaving examinations, national or international contests, early high school assessment scores such as the PSAT or pre-ACT, or courses taken outside your school during the school year or summer are just some examples of information that could be submitted.”

If you call the Harvard admissions office, they enthusiastically encourage students to submit standardized test results—an admissions officer told me that the majority of applicants do submit test scores, and they would like you to send in your scores if you are able to test.  The bottom line is that colleges prefer as much information as possible to make an admissions decision, and they consider standardized tests an important metric in evaluating applicants. 

2.  Test scores provide protection against grade inflation. 

According to the Department of Education and the College Board, the average High School GPA was 2.68 in 1990, and 3.38 in 2016.  A recent national survey of K-8 parents found that 90% of parents believe that their child is achieving at or above grade level, and that 66 percent think that their kid is above average.  Inflated GPAs may give parents and students an incorrect impression of academic readiness, and they make it more challenging for college admissions officers to differentiate among applicants.  Consider this excerpt from the Harvard admissions website

“Given the wide variation in how students prepare for Harvard – as well as the fact that most applicants and admitted students have outstanding academic records – it is difficult for high school grades to differentiate individual applications. That does not mean that high school grades are unimportant. Students who come to Harvard have done well day to day in their high school studies, providing a crucial foundation for academic success in college, including a 97% – 98% graduation rate.  SAT and ACT tests are better predictors of Harvard grades than high school grades”. 

Good grades are certainly a key part of a successful college application.  However, students will stand out among the applicants if they have good test scores as well. 

3.  Those who submit test scores likely have a better chance of earning admission. 

According to the Future of Higher Education Newsletter, those who submit test scores are admitted at a rate that is often twice as much as those who do not submit test scores.  Here are some examples for applicants in the fall of 2021:

  • Emory: Admit rate 17% (with tests) vs. 8.6% (without tests)
  • Colgate: 25% (with tests) vs. 12% (without tests)
  • Georgia Tech: 22% (with tests) vs. 10% (without tests)

Colleges will happily accept applications from anyone who wishes to submit one—after all, they receive application fees and will see improved selectivity statistics.  Colleges will need to see clear evidence of academic strength in other areas to be confident about students who do not submit test scores.  To have a successful application, students would be smart to include test scores that demonstrate their readiness for college-level work. 

4.  Good test scores can lead to substantial scholarships. 

  • For those seeking major merit awards to Ohio State, like the Maximus, Trustees, Provost, or National Buckeye Scholarship (up to a $54,000 value), the criteria include SAT and ACT scores for those who have been able to take them. 
  • The University of Oklahoma awards out-of-state students who are National Merit Semi-Finalists (based on the PSAT and SAT tests) a $56,000 scholarship to cover four years of tuition. 
  • The University of Alabama gives a Presidential Scholarship for students with perfect ACT/SAT scores.  It includes four years of tuition, a stipend, a research grant, and a book grant, valued at $112,000 over a four year period. 

Three to four hours on a Saturday morning could be the best financial investment a student could make. 

5.  Colleges use ACT and SAT test scores to determine your course placement. 

It is one thing to be admitted to a college; it is another to get started on desired major classes as soon as possible.  Achieving certain section scores can allow students to place out of general education requirements, saving time and money.  Ohio State, among many other schools, use ACT and SAT test scores for English and math course placement.  The University of Louisiana, for example, gives students who score a 28 or above on the ACT English a full semester credit for English 101; those who score over a 30 on the ACT math earn two full semesters of credit for Math 109 and Math 110.  Since the ACT and SAT are designed to measure how likely a student will be successful as a college freshman, taking the tests will highlight areas that students should improve so they can be successful in collegiate coursework. 

I hope you found this information helpful.  Please contact us at with other questions you may have about the SAT and ACT. 

–Brian Stewart

ACT Reading Update–Visual Quantitative Information Questions

The ACT has announced that at some point during the 2021-2022 school year, students may have an additional question type on the ACT Reading section: Visual Quantitative Information questions. These questions will most likely be found on one of the three Informational Reading passages, as opposed to a fiction passage.

What will these questions be like? Check out this link for some sample visual quantitative information questions. Unfortunately, until tests that have these questions are released, these appear to be the only official sample questions ACT has made available.

Why is the ACT adding this question type to the reading section? Most likely it is because the SAT has done so on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, and the ACT would like to assess similar skills. This is yet another example of how the ACT and SAT tests have increasingly converged in recent years, making it easy for students to transition from one test to the other.

So, what should students who are concerned about these new question types do to prepare? First, go into the ACT reading section with a flexible mindset; if you come across a series of graph analysis questions, know that they will only test you on the information in the reading passage and the graph. No outside knowledge will be required. Second, practice with some SAT reading passages that have graph analysis questions. Each SAT reading section has about 4-5 questions of this type, so you will have far more to work with than the limited sample ACT has provided. Here is a link to several SAT practice tests that you can review.

Best of luck!

Thinking Strategically about Early Applications to College

Many students believe that when you apply early to a university, you must limit your application to a single college. When, you look more closely at the application requirements, you will find that you can apply more strategically. Highly selective schools in the United States–like Harvard, MIT, and Yale–have restrictive early action. For example, Harvard describes its Early Action program like this:

“If you apply to Harvard under our Restrictive Early Action program, you may also apply early to non-binding public or foreign colleges/universities (no Early Decision programs), but you may not apply early (in any form) to U.S. private colleges/universities.”

Note that the restriction applies only to U.S. private universities. So, where else could an ambitious student apply?

International Universities. Schools in Canada, like the University of Toronto or McGill, would be excellent candidates. Schools in the United Kingdom, like Oxford and Cambridge, could also be great possibilities. Given the weight that international schools put on academic qualifications, these schools could be good options for students whose academic qualifications are stellar but whose extracurricular qualifications are not as comparatively strong.

Elite State Universities in the United States. Schools like the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin would allow early applications that are non-binding.

So, instead of simply applying to one selective private school with an early application, you may want to also apply early to an international university or a couple of state universities. Doing so will likely ensure that you have more options for college admissions come December instead of having all of your eggs in one basket with a single elite private university.

Early Action? Early Decision? Early Confusion?

Early decision and early action deadlines are creeping up on students right about now at the beginning of November. While some students may have decided to apply early some time ago, many of their friends may be left in a panic as they watch the deadlines go by thinking “what does this mean?”. “Should I apply early?” Many students experience FOMO (fear of missing out) as they realize a bit belatedly that many of their peers are wrapping up applications just as others are only getting started. What is early action? What is early decision? Who are they right for? Below are the basics that students need to know in order to make informed decisions about early applications.

Early Action:

Early action is a pretty good bet for most students. Applying early action means that students apply sooner (generally early fall of senior year) and then they get their decision early. Students can apply early action at as many of their colleges as have an early action program. Early action applications come with no commitment and are a good way to get the applications out of the way sooner so that students can focus on and enjoy senior year. Early action also allows for students to have more time to make their decision once they get acceptances and it takes the burden off students’ shoulders much sooner.

Early Decision:

Early decision applications are a much bigger deal than early action. Not many schools offer early decision; those that do tend to be highly selective institutions. Many students, therefore, may not even have the option of applying early decision. The key thing to remember is that early decision applications are legally binding. Students are required to attend the school and withdraw applications from all other schools if accepted into their early decision school. This means that students who apply early decision are committing to attending before they see what financial aid the school will offer them. Students should not apply early decision unless they are sure that the school is the right fit and they are committed to paying the full price for the school. At most schools, applying early decision does increase your chances of being admitted and, similar to early action, gets the work and the decision out of the way much sooner which is attractive to most students.

In Conclusion:

If you’re in your senior year and you haven’t yet submitted any applications, it’s okay! You still have time for those regular decision applications, so don’t rush to apply early if it means submitting subpar work. Generally, schools accept regular decision applications until the beginning of January, but make sure you check with your schools to find out their specific deadlines. Try to have your applications in as soon as you can; don’t wait until the last moment. The sooner you get accepted the sooner your school can put together your financial aid package. Most schools have a limited amount of aid to give out, so you don’t want to be last in line. If you need any help with your applications or essays reach out to us and let us assist!

How to Start the College Process: Three Tours

A lot of students start junior year not entirely sure what they want in a college. By the time they reach the start of senior year, they need to know. The summer before senior year and that school year itself will be full of college applications, essays, letters of recommendation, and financial aid paper work. To make this process go more smoothly, students should try to have their list of colleges just about ready before senior year starts. This means that the summer prior to 11th grade and junior year itself are the time for figuring out what a student wants in a college and writing a list of places to apply to. While some students have had their dream school picked out for years, others approach the process with a completely blank slate. If this is you, you might be overwhelmed, wondering how to narrow down the thousands of available options.

A great place to start is on any college campus. An even better place to start would be on three college campuses. You can make life easy on yourself by touring three campuses close to where you live. There is no need to travel far, you’re just looking for things you like and things you don’t like. Indeed, knowing what you don’t want is just as helpful as knowing what you do want!

So which colleges should you start with? You should aim for three distinctly different options: one large, one mid-sized, one small. At least one of the three should be private and at least one public. One could be a city campus with others being in small towns or rural areas. In short, you should try to see as much diversity in options as possible.

When planning these visits make sure to sign up to take the official tour. This will give you a chance to see classrooms, dorms, and cafeterias as well as to ask questions about majors, campus culture, and graduation rates. You should take careful notes on what you like- if you don’t write it down, you’ll likely forget it!

After the three colleges tours are done sit down a write a list of “must haves” for a college. Are small class sizes a “must” or a “never”? What major or majors must be available to you? Must the campus be bustling or quiet, city or country? Once you get all of your “musts” on a list start doing research on schools in your desired geographic area. You’ll find that it’s much easier to narrow down your possibilities now that you know what you want!

If you want help with this process reach out and let us know- we’d love to work with you as you get ready for college!
Michal Strawn