AP Hunger Games. Station 1: AP Chemistry Exam Study Tips

Starting this week (almost exactly a month away from the first AP exams), I’m going to start writing about techniques that should be applied to specific AP exams. In the past, I’ve had a few students ask me to synthesize my random bits of advice for them during AP exam time. Think of me as your Haymitch, except way more good-looking than Woody Harrelson.

Since the Chemistry AP exam is the first exam offered this year, consider this your first “training station”.   

Station 1: AP Chemistry

  1. Do not aim to get a 3. These days colleges are making it tougher for you to attain college credit for your AP/IB exams. A 3 doesn’t cut it for many schools. That means you need to aim to get a 4 or a 5 so that you don’t have to retake Chemistry your freshmen year. After grueling over Chem all this year, you should be more than motivated to be done with the basics. This next month should be about you trying to earn as many credits as possible so that in college you have a plethora of options such as double-majoring, graduating early, or taking electives like Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z (well done Georgetown University, well done.)
  2. Work on every Free-Response Question Since 2009. Ever year students come back frazzled by the Free Response Questions. They really push you, and balancing those equations are tough. Part A’s Quantitative sections are like the Careers of the exam. They’re brutal, strategized, and usually come in a pack. Get as many practice problems from your teacher as possible that require you to utilize equations. The more familiar you are with the formatting and thinking about solutions on the spot, the less frazzled you’ll come back post-exam. Every single one of the Free-Response Questions I’m asking you to do is on the AP College Board website. Totally Free and Accessible.
  3. Make Outlines to study for the Multiple-Choice Sections. Last year people said the MC section was definitely doable so long as they took time to think about the processes of each section. Write out outlines that illustrate to you how something can be polar or non-polar. Know how to identify the different states of an element. Making outlines can help you cover every aspect of a topic. The internet is full of teachers own outlines. Cross-reference your notes with theirs.
  4. Do Multiple-Choice Sections Timed At Home.  You don’t want to run out of time when doing the section that’s easier to tackle. Sample MC sections are available in practice books like Barrons and Princeton Review.
  5. Ace the Basics: Nomenclature, Solubility Rules, Patterns of Chemical Reactivity etc. Be able to recite ions and compounds in your sleep. Don’t get iffy on sig figs. Know all the classifications of matter. Don’t let the easy stuff trick you up on the hard stuff. Here are some helpful websites. You should research for more if you feel like you don’t have the necessary materials.
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ivypoint Prep’s Solution To Get You Off The Waitlist

At ivypoint Prep’s staff meeting last week, all the essay experts and the administrators made a list of the things we think our students need right now.  The most current pieces of news we’ve been getting back are about acceptances, rejections, and waitlists… ok and feedback about the Hunger Games. The acceptances are set in stone (JUST DON’T MESS UP SPRING SEMESTER!). The rejections are pretty much set in stone. But, our waitlisted students need a way to fight for their spot. They need a way to stand out amongst the thousands of students that are placed on waitlists every year. When you’re so incredibly close to setting your foot into your dream school, what do you do to plead your case?  How can ivypoint Prep push you through the door?

Born was our newest package: The Persuader.

The Persuader will help you edit and perfect your letter of consideration that you should send to your potential university. As you write to the admissions committees that you were waitlisted at you need to carefully choose the words you use to convince them that you are a suitable candidate for their school. What are your strengths? What type of representative will you be for that school? How much do you want to go to that school? We’re getting staff together that are experts in strategizing waitlists and gearing them up to take on The Persuader packages. Each of the essay experts will help you submit the perfect letter for your specific school so you can really stand out.  And the best part is, they’re not going to ask you to give up your right arm for it either.  The Persuader Package is priced at $59.99. For less than sixty bucks you can get an expert, someone who’s served on an admissions committee, to help you get to where you want to go.

Sounds like a sweet deal to me.

Check it out on this page: http://www.ivypointprep.com/editing_services.html



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Waitlist Woes

It’s dangerous. It’s annoying. It’s opening a can of worms.

The truth is colleges know that when they don’t give students a definite yes or no, students (and parents) are ready to go to many lengths to get their foot through the door of their beloved university. The week that waitlist letters go out, admission offices get an obscene number of frantic calls questioning the university’s decision. To most people waitlist means waiting, and no one likes waiting.

Personally, I have a totally different opinion about waitlists. Waitlisted means that there’s hope.

You get a second chance at proving how awesome you are. You’re making a big mistake if you’re just waiting around or making frantic phone calls to the school. There’s so much you can do. Don’t just get your foot through the door, shove your way in.

1)      Send admissions’ offices valuable materials of what you’ve done since you first sent in your application. Did you write an article that was published in your local newspaper? Send in the clipping. Did you win the regional science fair? Send in a picture of your display. Did you play a solo at the winter orchestra concert? Send in a CD with your piece. Whatever you’ve done that is of substance, let them know that you did it.

2)      Include an explanation of what you’re submitting. It’s not good enough to solely send in the CD. There’s a big chance that they may never listen to it. However, it’s the effort and the explanation that counts. If you’ve been playing the viola for 7 years and had a solo at the winter concert, you clearly are going strong with your passion. Write a short paragraph and make it clear how much you love what you do.

3)      Write a Letter of Consideration. Highlight, illustrate, and underscore why you and this university are a perfect match. Write about new standardized test scores, improved grade trends, or new experiences you’ve had since you first applied. This is basically your chance to shine once again. It’s your personal statement revamped. Even if the waitlist is ranked, you can boost your rank by showing the school that you’re still ridiculously interested in them. Make yourself likeable. Also check out ivypoint Prep’s new post on this: http://www.applicationanxiety.com/pick-right-college-school/ivypoint-preps-solution-to-get-you-off-the-waitlist/

4)      Visit the school. Nothing shouts enthusiasm like showing up to the front door of the admissions office. The visitor card you fill out on when you visit can easily show up in your file. You may get a chance to speak to an admissions officer. Don’t think that people don’t remember who you are. Many times the admissions officer will go look at your file after you’ve left the building. Put a face to your file by visiting ASAP.

5)      Do-Not-Call-Them-Every-Single-Day. This is annoying. Like really annoying. I promise you that if you call, 9 times out of 10 you’re going to talk to some poor student receptionist who has no idea when you’ll get your acceptance/rejection letter.  They’re probably trying to do their Spanish reading while they talk to you on the phone.  Or more importantly, they’re cropping their profile picture on Facebook. You’re just interrupting their hard work! Keep calm and move on.



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Finishing Line: A Checklist Before You Hit Submit On Your College Applications

(1)   Look for grammatical errors. Read the entire application out loud. Yes, this is an annoying and boring process. However, if you write butt instead of but, no amount of facepalming is going to save you the embarrassment.

(2)   Make sure you wrote the right university down. One of the most common errors in college applications is addressing the wrong school in your essay. Often times you substitute names for your “Why I Want To Go To ________ University” essay. Please don’t mistake Boston University for Boston College.

(3)   Check your attachments. People forget to attach things all the time. Chances are the school will not give you a call with a friendly reminder.

(4)   Have someone look over your essays for last minute changes. You’ll be surprised to know how big of a difference a second set of eyes can make for any piece of written work.

(5)   Click the right boxes. Don’t say you’re a delinquent if you’re not. Don’t select Asian if you’re White. Don’t forget to waive anything you’re supposed to waive. Look over the boxes you’ve clicked so nothing you send over is questionable or false.

(6)   Check in with the people who are supposed to send in your documents. Give friendly reminders to your teachers, counselors, registrars, coaches, captains, instructors and whoever else may be sending in your materials. Your application needs to be complete as soon as possible on your end.

(7)   Celebrate. You’ve just completed the most stressful, annoying, pressurizing, and overwhelming process that many high school seniors have ever faced. Now it’s your chance to congratulate yourself. Break out the Haagen Daz, and eat right out of the container. You deserve the whole pint today.




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How to Write Your College Application Essays During the Holidays

January 10th. January 15th. January 30th. These dates are coming closer than your stomach is to bursting the button off your jeans during Christmas dinner (rookie mistake, sweatpants are a must during any big meal.) It’s almost impossible to divide your time equally between watching Elf on T.V for the fifteenth time and attempting to eloquently compare yourself to an iPad (please don’t compare yourself to an iPad in a college application essay). Here are three sure-fire ways to meet your college application deadlines and still watch the Times Square Ball drop. Tangent: New Year’s Eve, the movie, sucked.

1. Make A Timeline: If you don’t give yourself very specific deadlines, you will NEVER meet them. You’ll drag out the essays and then do a cruddy job while turning something in at 11:59 AM on January 10th. Your deadlines should include what part of your essay needs to be complete, what day it needs to be complete and what time it needs to be complete. Example:

  • First draft: December 28th. 3 PM.
  • Second draft: December 30th. 3 PM
  • Reading it out-loud to Mom: January 1st.  11 AM.
  • Final edits: January 2nd.  Noon.
  • Submit: January 3rd . 5 PM.

No one should take seven days to write 500 words, but you still need to give yourself a night to sleep on what you wrote. What sounds good today can sound terrible tomorrow..

2. Spend More Time Editing than Writing: Often times you’ll write a first draft and think you just need to read over what you wrote for some grammatical imperfections. The best essays have been rewritten so that every detail, every adjective, and every word play sounds fresh. Edit then re-edit. Make sure you have another great writer proof your work.

3. Schedule in Full Fun Days: Everyone needs a break during the holidays. If you spend every single day working on your essays, you’ll start to hate them. It’ll show up in your work. Most of the time, you know you’re just going to be stalking people’s holiday photos on Facebook instead of actually writing anyway. It’ll make you feel like you’ve been “working” forever. Take December 25th and December 31st completely off if you want. Make time for you, your family, presents and gingerbread cookies.


                                                          Happy Holidays Friends!




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Early Decision Winners 2016. What Worked?

News has trickled into ivypoint Prep’s ivory tower about which students have made it into their dream school early this year. We had the Ecstatic. The Bummed. The Confused. The Insulted. And most often…the Hysterical.   Emotions are running high whether you were accepted, deferred, rejected or even still applying. While, I’ve done no statistical analysis of 2016 undergraduate applicants worldwide, I can tell you what trends our ivypoint Prep  experts have noticed this semester so far.

  • As usual, SATs and GPAs are important. Nonetheless, this year SAT IIs are becoming academic deal breakers.  They make an even larger difference for splitters: students with either a great GPA but a weak SAT score or students with a fantastic SAT score but a so-so GPA. SAT IIs highlight that you can keep up with the academic challenges of the school even before AP/IB scores are available. They can also make up for your weakness in one area of a subject. If you scored a 600 on the Critical Reading section of your SAT but a 710 on your Literature SAT II, your SAT II score proves that you have certain academic abilities. Take relevant SAT IIs in subjects you’re interested in and make them count.
  • Run-of-the-mill extra-curricular activities do not cut iteven if you have been playing piano for 10 years. A couple of years ago, commitment played a huge role in evaluating your extra-curricular activities. If you were on the debate team, they wanted to see how many years you attended tournaments. If you were in Model UN, they wanted to see what position of leadership you held in the club. Most people have caught on that you have to be involved, but it looks like top-tier colleges are holding unique experiences on higher pedestals now. Among the students I spoke to that applied to early admission into schools like Harvard and Duke, I had a part-time writer for a major newspaper, a student pilot, an Irish government intern and a programmer of a new software program admitted.  
  • Collecting lots of AP/IB Classes is pretty necessary. In the past, many parents have assumed that enrolling in 3 or 4 AP classes for all of high school is enough for the top 25 schools. This notion is outdated. Colleges are looking for challenging curriculum, not just high GPAs. It doesn’t matter how challenging your regular high school program is, APs and IBs set a standard that makes you comparable to other applicants. Competitive candidates take 4 to 5 higher-level classes a year.
  • Essays that are not about YOU were given a cold shoulder. Every year I have students who try to send in application essays that are about their grandparents, their heroes, and books they’ve read. These types of essays may make very emotional writing pieces, but they are not winners during the admissions process. Essays that talk about someone or something else aside from YOU detract from your application. If more than 5% of the essay is not about your own experiences, it’s time to do some major editing.           

For my friends who didn’t get what they wanted this December: It’s never too late. Now is the time to re-write essays and send in supplemental materials to your dream schools explaining to them why you are a perfect fit for their school. Also, consider exploring other schools. We may think we know exactly what we want until we find something even better out there.  Don’t you people watch How I Met Your Mother? Don’t pull a Mosby.

- Kumar




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More Updates: Waiting on Early Decision.

Just as an update to last week’s post:

American- Added Early Decision II

Brown – 556/2919 accepted. 19% decrease in their acceptance rate from last year. Most of their efforts went into recruiting engineers for their new program that started in 2010.

Columbia- 631 accepted. 554 deferred. 3088 rejected. 20% increase in their acceptance rate from last year.

Duke- 648/2641 accepted through Early Decision. 20% increase in applications, but about the same number of accepted students. Acceptance rate dropped.

Harvard- 772/4231. 18% acceptance rate.

Princeton- 726/3443. 21% acceptance rate.

Williams- 239/566 applicants accepted. This will make up 43% of their class.

Yale- 15.7% acceptance rate (up from 14.5%). They also had a decrease in their number of applicants by 18% similar to UPenn. This is probably because both Harvard and Princeton opened up Early Decision again.

Schools My Students Hungrily Are Waiting On: University of Michigan and University of Virginia.



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Waiting for Early Decision Acceptances

The good news? As the numbers start to roll in, it looks like the trend this year is an increase in Early Decision acceptances in top-tier schools. Some of you have already heard back. Some of you are still waiting for December 15th or later (University of Chicago, for example, releases on the coming Monday).  It’s almost like waiting for your O.W.L.S …only bigger.

Let’s take a look at some of the trends schools are reporting shall we?

Some Early Decision/Action numbers for your perusal:

Dartmouth: 465/1800 Early Decision Applicants Accepted. 2.6% Increase in Acceptance Rate from last year.

NYU:  3, 182 Applicants. 7% Increase in Applications for Early Decision I.

Stanford: 755/5880 Early Action Applicants Accepted.

UPenn: 1,148/4526 Early Decision Applicants Accepted. 1% Decrease in Acceptance Rate from last year.

Already Sent out Early Decision Acceptances:

  • Brown
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Columbia
  • Cornell
  • Georgetown
  • Northwestern University
  • Stanford
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • William & Mary

I’ll have more updates on early decision acceptances and deferrals later this week.

It’ll be interesting to see what types of students are accepted for various schools for the Class of 2016.

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Do College Admissions Committees Have Quotas for My High School?

No blanket answer exists that applies to all colleges for this question. For majority of all universities, there is no number of students that the university sets to admit from a particular high school. In other words, if there are 9 students that are admitted from fictional, but awesome Kumar High School into Northwestern University, lucky Mr/Ms. 10 can probably still get in. Then you may ask: what about schools like Stuyvesant High School that sent 113 grads one year to Harvard, Princeton and Yale? Or perhaps J.P Stevens High School that sends a sizeable amount to Georgetown University? Isn’t Raffles in Singapore the “gateway into the Ivy League”?  These universities are playing favorites I tell ya!

High schools that historically have strong academic and intellectual curriculums meet the criterion that many top-tier schools are looking for. They want to know that you can handle their academic rigor. If students from your high school in the past have excelled at your dream university, they illustrate to the admissions committee that you have also navigated through a similarly challenging high school process.  They look favorably on your high school in some-ways. Nevertheless, a set number is rarely ever seen in the admissions process. In the battle between private and public schools, people often question which type of education will get you into the best colleges. Obviously private schools can afford to beckon Ivy League resources. They also have programs that they can offer their students to be more assertive about college admissions. Nonetheless, public-school educations still dominate admissions by a land-slide. The bottom line: get good grades, ace the SATs, volunteer every weekend, start a club, craft superb essays, and maybe even chit-chat with Kumar (:D) That’s going to matter more than figuring out which high school will statistically guarantee you admission into Dartmouth.


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I Missed Early Decision. Now What Do I Do?!

Similar to all great movies some great colleges include a sequel. If you couldn’t figure out which university to sign your life to or you couldn’t finish up your essays, do not fear! You have a second chance! There is a whole bouquet of colleges that you can pick from to apply for Early Decision II. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this sneaky little opportunity, Early Decision II, works just like Early Decision I- except the deadline is later.  Deadlines are in early January.

10 Schools That Have This Great Sequel:

  • Vanderbilt
  • NYU
  • Colgate
  • Vassar
  • George Washington
  • Emory
  • Wesleyan
  • Carnegie Mellon
  • Bryn Mawr
  • Tufts

And More!

 5 Advantages for You:

  •  Schools may accept a December SAT Score. Enough time for you to make a comeback and still be at your dream school!
  • You have more time to visit campuses, so you can be absolutely sure you want to go there.
  • You can still prove that a particular school is your number one choice.
  • Winter Holidays give you the chance to edit your essays while sipping on eggnog.
  • Decisions are made way before April…they’re mostly handed out in February. That’s less anxious waiting for the whole family.

In other Early Decision news, you might be interested in knowing that this year Harvard and Princeton have both restarted taking non-binding early applications. Princeton got a whopping 3,547 applications. This means some other big league schools, like UPenn and Dartmouth, had a slight drop in their total applicants. Other schools have their work cut out for them. UVa reported 11,417 non-binding early-action applications. Ouch.

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