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Helpful tips about college admissions, test preparation and just being a better student, leader and person from ILUMIN Education.

Filtering by Tag: sat/act


Elton Lin

There is one immutable truth in my time working with students. The students who read, score highest on the SAT. Of course reading doesn't necessarily help on the math section. But the students who read well (finish books, peruse good periodicals and are just curious) score well on the English portions of the test and tend to have the discipline to prepare adequately for the math section. My advice to you this summer.... READ.

I wish I read more when I was in junior high and high school. Reading only caught on for me once I got to college. I started reading John Grisham and Mitch Albom and slowly progressed to more philosophical things like Henri Nouwen and Freidrich Nietzsche. I also read Andre Agassi's autobiography recently. CRAZY stuff; I couldn't believe his wig was going to fly off during the 1990 French Open finals! Whatever it is, start a plan and get reading!

A few tips for creating a good reading list:

  • Continue reading in genres you like (sci-fi, historical fiction, etc.), but read books that are more challenging with vocabulary, syntax and style. How do you find them? Tip: AMAZON.
  • Read good periodicals like the New York Times, The New Yorker Magazine and The Atlantic. Read up on what's going on in the world. The new SAT will test more on critical thinking and historical contexts. You'll be better prepared by understanding the problems in our world and how people are solving those problems. 
  • Set goals! At last two articles a day! At least three books a semester! Whatever it is, set a goal and shoot for it. 

Need more help putting together a good reading plan? Contact us here at ILUMIN! Read on!


Elton Lin

A lot of you are considering what schools to apply for next year. A few of you have your sights set on the big guns: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc. But there are a bunch of you out there that may feel held back by poor test scores. You worked hard, have decent grades and good extracurriculars, but you just don't do well on tests. Don't worry, it happens to a lot of us. You're not alone!

There's a growing number of (good) schools that are electing to be test optional. Here are a few really awesome schools that do NOT require standardized tests:

Bowdoin College - GREAT school and super selective. Ranked 4th on US News National Liberal Arts list. Small classes and students love their professors. You have to be stellar to apply, but at least you don't need to send in your test scores.

George Mason University - In 2009, US News ranked GMU the #1 ranked up and coming college. Great for engineering and business (even if you bombed it on the SAT Math 2).

Pitzer College - Part of the Claremont Colleges. You can take classes and take part in any activities throughout the Claremont network of schools (yes, that includes Pomona College and Harvey Mudd). AND nobody needs to know that you're not great with the SAT.

I'll list out a few more schools in another post. Feel free to contact us with any questions or post a comment below!