New York Times: Applications To Elite Universities Rise Again

...Maybe don't apply early here.

...Maybe don't apply early here.

A brief article posted last week by the New York Times' Education desk confirms that applications to elite American universities rose again this year despite economic hardship. But as always, the number of available spots isn't budging, so the selectivity of those schools continue to increase, and the need for applicants to diversify their applications increases.

Though it might seem dire, there are a number of pieces of good news to take from this. Selectivity increasing at the top means that those schools are stronger than ever. It also means that schools that used to be considered good (or at the very least, good enough) are also improving. Better and better students will find themselves at lower-tier schools, thus raising the quality of the student bodies there.

And what really makes this whole thing not as bad as it seems is that the tools at your disposal have never made applying to school easier or more efficient. Though you'll definitely need to apply to a broader selection of schools to increase the chances you'll be somewhere that satisfies you, tools like CEO can make that task a much more manageable one, often times requiring no additional work from you.

Knewton Blogs: Quick Tips for SAT Success - Reading Comprehension

Today's blog post comes again from Josh at Knewton. Enjoy.

As an apple falls from a tree, so does Josh's knowledge of the SAT...

As an apple falls from a tree, Josh's knowledge of the SAT travels swiftly to your head... Or something. So glad they ditched the analogies section.

If you've begun your SAT prep, you've probably realized that the SAT reading comprehension passages aren't exactly a walk in the park. In fact, the test-makers pride themselves on trying to confuse you by featuring passages with strange or unfamiliar subject matter—and it's not like you can Google the topic for some quick background. What's more, you only have a limited amount of time to read the passages and answer the attached questions.

The instructors at Knewton are here to help! Smart SAT strategies will help ensure you approach this part of the Critical Reading section with confidence—and improve your score!

Check out these quick tips to help you make the most out of the time allotted for reading comprehension questions:

1. Don’t spend all your time reading the passages. Instead, scan each passage for main ideas. You can often find the main argument in the first paragraph; once you locate it, skim through the rest of the passage to get a gist of the purpose of each subsequent paragraph. It's always a good idea to jot down a few notes in the margin to refer back to when it comes time to answer questions.

2. Easy passages first! If you’re into science, the easy passage for you might be the one that focuses on the biochemical make-up of pheasants. If you’re more of a literature type, you’ll probably gravitate towards the discussion of Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter. Either way, get the easy subject matter out of the way so you’ll have more time to focus on the tough stuff later on.

3. Read the questions carefully. In fact, you probably want to read them more carefully than the passages. Make sure you know what the question is asking before trying to arrive at an answer. There might be answer choices that are technically true—but that don’t answer the question at hand. The test-makers put these choices there on purpose—don't fall into their trap!

4. Answer general questions before detail questions. Detail questions will generally take more time to answer, as you’ll have to search through the passage for evidence. If you’ve skimmed well, you should be able to answer general, main-idea questions without too much of a problem. Don't forget to refer back to your margin notes to save time!

5. Don’t get creative. Hate to break it to you, but the SAT doesn’t want your opinion. You should be able to find evidence for all your answer choices in the passage—not in your head.

6. Don’t freak out. This one goes for the whole test. The time constraints of the reading comprehension section—of all the sections, in fact—can make for a stressful test-day experience. Take a deep breath if you start feeling overwhelmed. It's definitely important to keep a steady pace, but you also want to make sure you're giving yourself enough time to understand the general outlines of the passage, and the angle of the question, before attempting an answer.

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College Essay Organizer For Juniors: Now With More Discounted Goodness

Nothing Is Inconceivable. Not even the ivies, baby.

Nothing Is Inconceivable. Not even Harvard.

CEO has taken a few proactive steps to help juniors take control of the college application process before it takes control of them. For purchases made before May 1, retail prices are being discounted 50%, just by using the promotional code 'junior'.

It's an exciting time for juniors who are beginning to wrap up what is probably the most difficult academic year they've had so far. Most can't wait to get it behind them and co-o-o-ast into that senior year of waking up late, leaving early, and doing a small version of nothing somewhere in between.

But hark, there waits a large pile of applications to be done before one can be stranded on the lawn of some weird frat house after homecoming, and the sooner you can get that pile organized and simplified, the sooner you can get the apps out the door and get yourself into the nine month vacation known as "I already turned those things in."

Have a look at the new juniors page and see why it's a great idea to get rolling on the things now, and see that by purchasing your account before the crush of work kicks in, you'll save money and put yourself ahead of the curve. Remember, with our new email notification system, you'll be updated as soon as your schools publish whatever changes they make to their application for the 2010-2011 season.

2011? Did I just write that?

Knewton Blogs: The Most Important Parts Of Your College Application

Today's blog post comes courtesy Josh Anish over at Knewton. Enjoy!

I tutored for years before joining the tremendous team here at Knewton. And during those salad days spent lugging the Big Blue Book around Gotham, parents always asked me to prioritize the components of the college application for their students. Here was/is my unscientific answer that I nonetheless feel strongly about, ranked in order from greatest in importance to least.

Josh From Knewton, Sayin' Hey.

Josh From Knewton, Sayin' Hey.

1) Grades. There’s no substitute on your college apps for a strong GPA. Colleges are looking for good students, and the best way to show that you’re a good student is, well… to get good grades. Obviously you should strive to have an impressive GPA throughout your high school career, but if you had a few slip-ups early on, don’t worry too much; colleges give more weight to your performance during your junior and senior years.

2) SAT score. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the SATs still mean something. The SAT is not an intelligence test; students’ scores can jump up to 400 points if they prepare diligently and correctly. Hence the need for a good SAT course.

3) Personal statement. This is your one shot to really introduce your personality to an admissions board. It’s like you’re running for President and you’re on national TV at the convention: You get a podium and only a few minutes to make your case to the voters. The task of organizing all the admissions essays you need to write is a notoriously difficult one, but the good folks here at College Essay Organizer provide a tremendous tool that is extremely helpful.

4) Extracurricular activities. These might have ranked higher a decade ago (before Rushmore came out), but now they’re in their rightful place at #4. The marketplace is very crowded, and you can only start so many clubs. Nevertheless, colleges really want a vibrant campus, filled with students trying and doing new things. Show focus; do a couple of things and do them well. Don’t spread yourself too thin and/or try to preen for admissions officers.

5) Teacher recommendations. The challenge here is to choose your recommenders wisely. Colleges have seen great recommendations of all shapes and sizes, and a sweet letter surely works in your favor. It is more important, however, to be cautious of a bad or— more likely—a lukewarm recommendation. In short, play it safe and ask the teachers who really seem to have taken an interest in you, instead of the aloof teacher who has a reputation for writing flowery letters.

Josh Anish is the Senior Editor at Knewton. He’s getting fired up to help students with their SAT prep.

Free College Admissions and SAT Help: Gifts From Vocab Videos

Vocab Videos Gives You A Big, Shiny, Virtual Present

Vocab Videos Gives You A Big, Shiny, Virtual Present

The wonderful people over at Vocab Videos have dropped a number of unexpected holiday treats on us - a free list of SAT Vocab words, as well as a holiday discount for their test prep services. Feel free to head over there and check out their site if you haven't already. We discussed them a few posts back and their great, memorable videos for those individual vocabulary bits no one can ever seem to keep straight.

So much of what we do here at CEO is about making organization and optimization easier and simpler for you that we're always inclined to spread the word about other tools that make your life easier during this long and complicated process.

For those of you just starting this process in preparation for next year, start thinking about your Spring SATs sooner rather than later. There's always another word to learn or another technique to get under your belt. Vocab Videos and A-List Education can help you out with that test prep quickly, easily, and at all pricing levels.

For more updates on how to handle this smelly college behemoth, stay tuned to CEO Blog, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @CEOrganizer. Happy new year!

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SAT Prep For College Admissions

Besides the college essay, the SAT is the other big unknown when it comes to college admissions. Most of your grades, extra curriculars, and even parts of your recommendations are beyond your control by the time your senior year rolls around. But the SAT is always there, able to be improved upon each time you sit down to take it.

Some not-so cunning girls in their natural habitat try to photograph a cunning fellow

Some not-so cunning girls in their natural habitat try to photograph a cunning fellow

The most intimidating part of the SAT that's got to be learned a bit too quickly for most people's tastes is the vocabulary. Words like hegemony, perquisite, arboreal... Any of these ring a bell? Not for us really. This blog post got spell checked about thirteen times already and we're only a paragraph and a half in. Paragraph and a half. Hey. Made a rhyme.

Vocab Videos is a site that can help get the vocab down very, very easily thanks to their humorous images of what can be tedious words. And the short (thirty second) scenes help make the words much more memorable.

Yes, we all like to complain about the SAT, but the reality is that it's here to stay, or at the very least, is here to stay in the college admissions game for as long as you are, so it's better to take the bull by the horns before those horns get turned on you. The SAT help at Vocab Videos is much more fun and entertaining than the rest of the test-taking process, and lucky for you it deals with the parts you like the least. So get over there and make it happen.

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