College Visits 101: 8 Tips to Optimize Your College Trip

College visits are an essential part of finding the perfect school. Nothing can match the experience of actually stepping foot on campus, and, if possible, spending a night in the dorm. Figuring out how to plan an effective and efficient college trip that is both interesting and informative can help you make the right college choice when it comes time. The list of tips below can offer some guidance:

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2017: When do AP scores come out? How can I access my AP scores?

The time has come: AP scores are finally out. Here’s everything you need to know about accessing & sending your AP scores, courtesy of TestMasters.

To access your AP scores, log on to apscore.org on or after the specified access date/time for your area. Scores may only be accessed online, and are not available anywhere else. You may also send score reports to colleges, universities, and scholarship programs through the website, and track where your score reports were sent

AP score access dates vary by state. Find out when your AP scores will be available in the table below.

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SAT vs. ACT: Which Test to Take and Score Conversion

Standardized Testing is an integral part of the College Admissions process. As terrible as standardized testing often is, most high school students aspiring to enter college in the United States will have to take either the SAT or ACT, and sometimes even both.

If you have taken both, you may be wondering which of your scores to send to colleges (or you may just want to see how the two tests compare). Either way, the College Board has released some handy concordance tables (tables that convert old SAT, new SAT, and ACT scores, based on percentile) for colleges to compare students who took different tests. We’ve included an SAT/ACT conversion table below for your convenience, as well as a table relating scores to percentile.

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So You Want to be a Doctor? Part I: High School

So you want to be a doctorWritten by guest writer, Testmasters teacher, Rice University student, and future physician: Carmella D.

So you want to be a doctor?  As a high school student (and if you’re like me, much earlier than that), you probably have an inkling that you want to get involved in the healthcare field in some capacity.  For most people, this involves aspirations of becoming a physician.  Whether you come from a long line of physicians or are a first-generation student to attend university, here’s some questions and answers about the steps of that journey: Continue reading “So You Want to be a Doctor? Part I: High School” »

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5 Important Tips for Writing a Scholarship Essay.

Those apprehensive about student loans or the cost of attending school might look towards scholarships to help ease that burden. Most, if not all, scholarships require an essay to apply, so today we’ll be giving you five tips to writing a better scholarship essay.

Make sure your words fly off the page! Invest your passion into your writing, and your essay will improve dramatically!

Make sure your words fly off the page! Invest your passion into your writing, and your essay will improve dramatically!

 

  1. Write with passion: Scholarship essays are a dime a dozen, so don’t make the mistake of submitting uninspired writing. Speak on your passions, what you truly care about, and this will translate to good writing. Pour your soul, all that you are, onto the page, for that’s the most anyone can ask for. As long as that 12-point font captures who you are, you’ll have given it your best shot. Continue reading “5 Important Tips for Writing a Scholarship Essay.” »
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What Houston Schools Require the ISEE? What is the ISEE?

What is the ISEE?

The ISEE is a private school entrance exam for students entering middle and high school

The ISEE is a private school entrance exam for students entering middle and high school

The Independent School Entrance Exam, or ISEE, is a series of placement tests primarily used for admissions to private schools. The ISEE is geared towards students applying for the fifth grade and above, and there are three versions of the test: ISEE Lower Level, ISEE Mid Level, and ISEE Upper Level. The ISEE Lower Level is taken by students entering grades 5 and 6, Mid Level for those entering grades 7 and 8, and Upper Level for 9th grade and above. Most schools require the ISEE exam, though many will also accept scores from the High School Placement Test, or HSPT, in lieu of the ISEE.

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Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

Today we'll tackle the hardest question you'll be asked: "Do you have any questions for me?"

Today we’ll tackle the hardest question you’ll be asked: “Do you have any questions for me?”

Many undergraduate institutions, especially competitive ones, offer optional interviews for admissions, and the most dreaded question that comes up is the one at the end: “Do you have any questions for me?” Today we’ll be discussing the purpose of this question and offer up some example questions you can ask if you have trouble coming up with one on the spot.

Why do Interviewers Ask This Question?

First and foremost, the reason interviewers ask “Do you have any questions for us” is so that you have an opportunity to clarify anything that may not have made sense during your campus tour or interview. Clear up anything that might’ve confused you (curriculum, extracurriculars, work-life balance, etc.), but try not to ask questions that could easily be found on the school’s website.

The second reason for this question is for the interviewer to determine how much interest  you have in the program/interviewer. Questions demonstrate interest and sincerity, so use this opportunity to show how in love you are with the program!

What Questions Should I Ask?

Take a look at some of the example questions below for ideas on what to ask your interviewer at the end!

  • “What do you like most about [School Name/Department]?”
  • “How did you choose to focus your research on [primary research topic]”
  • “Is there anything you wish you could change about [School/Department]”
  • “What challenges have you faced during your time as a professor?”
  • “What do you think the biggest change to this field will be?”
  • “What advice do you have for new students?”
  • “What do you think most new students should do, but don’t?”
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Common Interview Questions

Just like how you wouldn't go to an interview with formal wear, don't go in without reviewing these common questions!

Just like how you wouldn’t go to an interview with formal wear, don’t go in without reviewing these common questions!

Today we’ll be posting questions we commonly see on the interview trail. While most universities do not require interviews, many do offer optional ones, so take advantage of them if available! Take a look at these and make sure you have solid, complete answers to these questions. You don’t want to be blindsided by one of these during your interview, after all.

  • “Tell me about [extracurricular activity]”
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to overcome adversity”
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult group of people”
  • “What surprised you most about your time as an undergrad?”
  • “Why do you want to attend this university?”
  • “Tell me about yourself”
  • “How would your friends describe you?”
  • “What is your greatest strength?”
  • “Name some of your weaknesses”
  • “What did you enjoy most about your high school/hometown”
  • “What do you plan on doing with this major?”
  • “Tell me about a time you lead a group”
  • “Why should we choose you?”

This last question is perhaps the most important here. You want to make sure you have your “elevator pitch” down solid because you will almost certainly be asked this question. Be able to summarize your strengths and why a school should choose you in a concise manner. You want this pitch to convey your academic prowess as well as why you would be a good fit with the school.

Don’t forget that one of the best things you can do to impress your interviewers is achieve a really high score on the SAT or ACT!

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Does Undergrad Prestige Matter for Graduate School Admissions?

Not attending an Ivy League for undergra ddoesn't close the door on prestigious graduate programs!

Not attending an Ivy League for undergrad doesn’t close the door on prestigious graduate programs!

Today we’re featuring a post from our sister blog, It’s Not GRE-ek. As many of you are ramping up for undergraduate admissions, we wanted to put some perspective on how much “prestige” matters when going from an undergraduate degree to a graduate or professional degree.

We get this question fairly often: “I went to a relatively low-ranked school. Do I have a shot at attending an Ivy League graduate program?” The short answer to this is yes, you do have a shot! The full answer is a little bit more complicated than that, so read on for more information!

How Much Does Undergrad Prestige Actually Matter?

Graduating from a prestigious undergraduate institution will not in and of itself grant you admissions into an Ivy League or similarly top graduate institution. What it will do for you, however, is give you a leg up on similarly qualified applicants. If you graduate with a 3.9 GPA from Duke University, and your competitor graduated from Greendale Community College with a 3.9, you’re definitely going to have an advantage there. Admissions officers will view your application in its context; a somewhat lower (~0.2 points, roughly) GPA from a highly regarded institution will likely be viewed more favorably than a somewhat higher GPA from a less well-known institution. Similarly, a letter of recommendation from a well-known researcher in the field will hold more weight than a letter of recommendation from a researcher who hasn’t published as much.

Well, What Can I Do About This?

Plenty! Not graduating from a “top” undergrad school doesn’t mean you don’t have a shot! Plenty of students from relatively unknown schools matriculate in top graduate programs, but you really have to prove yourself to do so.

  • Publish, publish, publish: For STEM fields especially, publications are key to success in graduate programs. Even getting last author on a paper is impressive as an undergrad, as it shows that you’re capable of finding and completing research, which is essentially the entirety of academia nowadays
  • Find an advisor or professor who you can really get to know: You want a STRONG letter of recommendation going into your file, not a mediocre one. You want a professor who has known you for a while and who can speak to your strengths and character. This is usually only achieved through knowing an advisor for several years or by completing an intensive research project with him/her. Get working on that!
  • Maintain a high GPA: This is a no brainer, but you want to have as close to a 4.0 GPA as you can possibly manage. A 3.9 from an unknown school looks infinitely better than a 3.3 from a prestigious institution. You need to ensure that your GPA is high enough to hopefully counteract any bias the admissions council might have against your institution
  • Destroy the GRE: The GRE, as is all standardized tests, is the great equalizer in terms of admissions. It’s an objective standard by which all students are measured — no bias in terms of institution or curriculum here. Make sure to prepare well and absolutely dominate the exam so  you can show admissions officers how rigorous your curriculum was and how much you’ve learned!
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PSAT Semifinalists – How to Advance, What to Expect

PSAT Semifinalist cutoffs being announced soon, so we want to detail the path towards becoming a full-fledged National Merit Finalist, and what that means exactly. Let us know in the comments if you qualified as a Semifinalist!

How Many People Earn National Merit Semifinalist? How Many Will Become Finalists?

For the 16,000 of you who are now National Merit Semifinalists, congratulations!

For the 16,000 of you who are now National Merit Semifinalists, congratulations!

Across the country, a total of 16,000 students will qualify for National Merit Semifinalist status. As you likely know, students qualify on a per-state basis, with each individual state having its own cutoff score. Of the 16,000 students, 15,000 will ultimately become National Merit Finalists, so overall, your chances of becoming a Finalist are high!

Continue reading “PSAT Semifinalists – How to Advance, What to Expect” »

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