Posts Tagged ‘SAT’

College Admissions: Navigating the Common Application

During the college admissions process, it’s wise to be able to navigate the Common Application (  A good number of the colleges that you’re applying to could accept the Common App, so using it instead of filling out a school’s individual application could save you time and effort.  And when you’re almost certainly stressed out preparing for your SAT, writing your college essays, and gathering letters of recommendation—why wouldn’t you want to save some time and energy? Here are some basic, but useful things you’ll need to know when getting started with your Common Application:

  • General Information: What may seem like the easy part of the application is, in fact, quite simple if you can answer certain questions about yourself and your family. The “Applicant,” “Demographics,” and “Family” sections of the Common App ask some basic information of you. What’s your name? Your address? Are you a US citizen? What are your parents’ names? If you can answer these questions easily, which hopefully the majority of you can, you won’t have much of a problem getting through this first part of the Common Application.
  • Academics: Seeing that you’re in school and applying to college, filling out this portion of the Common App also shouldn’t be too complicated, but there are a few things you should be sure to know before taking it on. The first, is some basic information about your guidance counselor—you will need his or her name and contact information. At this point you’ve probably made your way to the Guidance Office a few times, seeking assistance in the college application process, but in case you don’t have this information, make sure to find it out for before filling out your Common App. You’ll also need to know all the courses in which you’re currently enrolled, and any academic honors or distinctions you’ve received throughout high school.
  • Tests: It’s  college application season, so be sure to know all your standardized test information. Which standardized tests scores will you be submitting to colleges: your SAT scores, your ACT scores, your SAT Subject Test scores (SAT IIs), all of the above? For whatever tests you’ve taken with scores you plan to submit, make sure to: know when you took each test (month/year), and what your scores were (for the SAT and ACT, you’ll need to know the scores for each section as well as your overall score).
  • Activity Resume: A portion of the Common App involves detailing the activities and work experience that you’ve been involved in throughout high school.  The list provided allows you to add up to 7 extracurricular activities. You’ll need to briefly describe your involvement in each activity, list the grades in which you participated, and include the time spent on the activity (in terms of hours per week & weeks per year). Your work experience is to be entered in a separate chart. To successfully enter this information, you’ll need to list the specific nature of the work, your employer, the approximate dates of employment (month/year-month/year), and the number of hours per week working
  • Writing: The writing portion of the Common App is two-part. The first question requires a brief response (of no more than 150 words), and asks you to elaborate on one of your extracurricular, personal, or work activities. You have some options when it comes to choosing the longer essay topic. Some of these options include writing about a significant life experience, an issue of concern or importance to you, a person that has had a significant influence on you, or choosing a topic of your choice.  Because you do have a wide range of options, make sure you choose a subject matter that is meaningful to you; the essay, after all, is your chance to express yourself to admissions counselors.

Good luck getting through your Common Application, and on your college application journey!

If you found this entry helpful, be sure to explore Vocab Videos for standardized test prep and other useful tips!


SAT Preparation: Tips for Handing College Entrance Exam Stress

Be sure to get a good night's sleep before your SAT!

Any test can be stressful. Let’s think of a few—a calculus exam, your road test, THE SAT. None are particularly pleasant experiences—agreed?  But college entrance exams, like the SAT and ACT, can be even more overwhelming since they mean a bit more than your average test. It’s important to be able to manage the stress that comes along with the inescapable knowledge that the SAT and ACT play a significant role in getting you into the college of your choice. Here are a few tips for handling the stress:

  • Take Practice Tests: The more comfortable you are with the test, the more prepared you’ll be come the big test date. Take as many SAT or ACT practice exams as you have available to get familiar with format, question types, and your time management abilities.  If you practice enough, the official exam will feel like just another practice test.
  • Don’t Cram: It’s unlikely that that you’ll learn something while cramming the night before the SAT or ACT that will better your performance on the test. Don’t overwhelm yourself the day before the test with all the last minute tricks you can learn, or by taking another full exam. It’s not going to help, and you’re not going to want to be falling asleep during the actual test with your number 2 pencil in hand. Instead get a good night’s rest. You’ve prepared, and sleep will certainly benefit you more than cramming.
  • Eat a Healthy Breakfast: Your parents were right—breakfast is the most important meal of the day, particularly before such a big test! Get your blood sugar up and your brain functioning most efficiently with a healthy breakfast. Plus, you’ll be taking your exam for quite a few hours and you won’t want to be hungry, or for your stomach to be growling too loudly in that quiet testing atmosphere.
  • Read Directions and Questions Carefully: Don’t get so stressed out staring at your first real SAT that it all becomes a blur. Read the directions to get into focus; and, READ QUESTIONS CAREFULLY. Knowing what’s being asked of you is a simple way to avoid careless mistakes.
  • Think Positively: It may sound corny, but believe in yourself and go into the test with a good attitude. Negative, “I’m going to fail” thoughts will only destroy the confidence you’ve been building throughout your test preparation. At this point you’ve done all you can, and now it’s just a matter of applying everything you’ve learned and practiced. Take a deep breath, keep a positive perspective, and know that you’re going to do just fine.

Some stress before a test can actually be beneficial—it can push you to work harder and to put forth maximum effort, but too much test stress and anxiety will certainly take its toll on a student’s test-time confidence, so be sure to keep these tips in mind.

If you liked this advice, and want to reduce any test stress you might encounter by not knowing your SAT and ACT vocabulary—check out Vocab Videos!


SAT Test Preparation: Knowing Your SAT Vocabulary Words Is Worth 150 Points!


When it comes to vocabulary, the rich get richer.

Knowing your SAT vocabulary words, can help you better prepare for the SAT and increase your SAT score up to 150 points! So, putting in the time to learn the right vocabulary words  is well worth your effort. Here are a few tips and tricks for getting your SAT vocabulary down pat:

  1. Watch Vocab Videos: Sure, you can learn your SAT and ACT vocabulary by using flashcards, but why would you? Watch Vocab Videos. Not only is video a more engaging and entertaining method of studying your SAT vocabulary, it’s also a more effective SAT test prep tool. Research has shown that people remember more effectively when they have visual and auditory cues. Instead of just telling you the definition of a vocabulary word, video allows students to see a vocabulary word’s meaning in action.
  2. Repeat: We know that watching a vocabulary video once isn’t enough to remember a vocabulary word forever, so watch the vocabulary words that you’re having some difficulty with again. When it comes to vocabulary and retaining the meaning of vocabulary words, repetition and reinforcement are essential. Watching vocab videos multiple times, allows your mind to really absorb the visual memories the videos offer.
  3.  Quiz: Test your SAT vocabulary knowledge and take advantage of the Vocab Videos quizzes. Confirm that you’ve successfully learned the SAT vocabulary words that the videos define and illustrate. The quizzes, modeled after SAT style questions, also provide excellent preparation for standardized tests.
  4. Get Involved: Go the extra step to really get involved in the vocabulary learning process. Make sure you know each vocabulary word so well that you would be able to recognize and understand every word in any context, or manner in which the words present themselves. We’d even suggest writing some of your own sentences using the SAT vocabulary to make sure that you truly grasp the words’ meanings.

There’s no reason not to take advantage of this concrete way to increase your SAT and ACT scores. Give Vocab Videos a try!


SAT Vocabulary: Learn Vocabulary Through Video!

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”—Albert Einstein

The Paul Barnwell Education Week article, “Literacy Accountability in a New-Media Age,” (, calls to question whether educators need to alter their age-old teaching tools and strategies in a “New-Media,” technology-driven world.  Barnwell highlights that students, surrounded by websites, blogs, and social-networking technologies such as, are called to interpret various forms of media these days, not just traditional print media. Academia, he says, is a bit behind – only recognizing literacy in terms of books and whether a student can draw the main idea from a passage. His suggestion is not to get rid of this general understanding of literacy, but to expand on it as it is becoming increasingly important for students in today’s world to be capable of effectively reading and interpreting various forms of media.

And so it would seem that incorporating online video into the learning process is advantageous for students of the “New-Media Age.” Here are a couple reasons to support this belief:

  • We live in a media-saturated world. Students today are surrounded by, become familiar with, and learn to understand their world through symbols, moving images, as well as through printed words.
  • Video is engaging. Video as an academic medium offers verbal, auditory, and visual cues that effectively engage students and holds their attention.
  • Videos are more fun! Students love watching and sharing videos. The phenomenon is proof positive that online video is a communication medium that is here to stay. Using video in the classroom gets students engaged and excited about learning.

Vocab Videos ( not only improves literacy in a real sense by teaching students vocabulary that will help make them better readers, writers, and interpreters of information, but also helps students become familiar with “reading” video and gathering information from different sources of media.  Give Vocab Videos a try!


High SAT Scores: 5 Tips from Harvard Pros on Getting Ready for the SAT


  1. START EARLY:  Allow yourself enough time to get a handle on the test. The college admissions process is stressful, and SAT preparation can certainly be overwhelming, but giving yourself enough time to get familiar with the SAT will make the big test date a little less scary. 
  2. MAKE A PLAN: There’s a lot available to students for SAT test preparation: SAT tutoring, SAT classes, online SAT preparation, and SAT books.  Pick the study method that fits with the kind of help you need and establish a plan for tackling the test. Make a schedule; a little SAT prep a day, in some form or another, will go a long way. 
  3. LEARN VOCAB: Learning vocabulary is an important way to improve your SAT scores. About 1/3 of the SAT Reading section is made up of questions that are explicitly vocabulary-dependent, so knowing SAT vocabulary can increase your score by 150 points in total. Even on questions that don’t specifically test vocabulary, it’s easy for students to get confused by difficult words, so vocabulary can help in all aspects of reading comprehension.   
  4. TAKE FULL PRACTICE TESTS: Again, familiarizing yourself with the SAT is key! Take full-length SAT practice tests, and get to know the format and the kinds of questions that frequently appear. As miserable as it may sound, taking timed, full-length SATs under test-like conditions can be extremely beneficial when getting ready for the SAT. Just practicing sitting and taking a 3 hour and 20 minute test will make it that much easier to do on the day that it counts.  
  5. READ The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, AND OTHER LITERATURE: Prepare for the SAT Reading sections, and learn what’s going on in the world at the same time. You’ll be reading about subjects you’re not necessarily familiar with on standardized tests, so get a head start. Read, get a grasp of the content, and look up the meanings of any words you come across that you don’t know.  

If you found these tips useful, and would like some more help getting ready for the SAT, check out Vocab Videos and get started!