Test Prep Tips Frequently Overlooked

When students and their parents think about preparing for the SAT or ACT, most people think about:

  • Enrolling in test prep courses
  • Taking practice tests
  • Memorizing “SAT” words

However, the thing that many people forget about is what needs to happen the night before the test and the morning of the test. I know that some of you might be thinking these tips are cliché, but they really are important and will help you to do your best on the test.

  1. Go to bed early.
    • Think about it. When you’re tired, it’s harder to concentrate, right? Try to go to sleep as early as is needed for you to wake up in the morning feeling well rested. Be honest with yourself and know what your mind and body needs and get that extra sleep.
  2. Sleep where you’re most comfortable.
    • You’ll probably be doing some last minute studying for the test the night before. It’s natural to want to get one last study session in. However, don’t go overboard and fall asleep where you’re studying. You won’t sleep well with your head down on your desk or the kitchen table. I also caution you sleeping anywhere that is not your own bed. You want to sleep well so that when you wake up in the morning, you’ll feel fully rested and ready for the test.
  3. Set your alarm.
    • This should go without saying, but set your alarm. If you use your phone as your alarm, I’d suggest setting a few different alarms in case you accidentally push the “dismiss” button instead of the “snooze” button. I also suggest that you set another alarm on a real clock, just in case. You don’t want to wake up late and rush getting ready, or even worse, sleep through the start of the test.
  4. Eat a good breakfast.
    • They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that is especially true when you are taking the SAT or ACT. Eating a good meal helps you to feel good and will help your cognitive skills. Eat a healthy breakfast and skip the sugary foods and drinks.
    • Plus, you don’t want to be “that” student whose stomach growls very loud during the test when it’s very quiet.
  5. Bring everything that is required and optional for the test.
    • You don’t want to show up to the test well rested and ready to take the test and then realize you forgot something that is required! The night before the test make sure you set aside all of the required and suggested items.

The SAT and ACT are important tests for college admissions, but remember that stressing or worrying will not help you to do better. Take care of yourself the night before and the morning of the test and you’ll do great. Good luck!

Magoosh SAT

Summer Scholarship Search

It’s summer! For the next three months, you have your freedom from school. You don’t have class deadlines to read books, write essays or study for tests. With this new found freedom, many students just want to go out and have fun. Going out and having fun is a great thing to do during the summer because you deserve it. However, in some of that free time, you should take the opportunity to start or continue your scholarship search.

There are millions of dollars of scholarships available – why shouldn’t some of it become yours to use for college? There are scholarships available for almost everything! You don’t have to have perfect grades. You don’t have to have a talent. Did you know there are scholarships out there for people that are left-handed, a twin or have red hair? There are scholarships like this and many others that are described as unusual.

Where Do You Start?
There are many great scholarship websites that you can use for free:

Create free accounts at one or all of the above websites and start the scholarship search. The websites will allow you to provide information about yourself and as new scholarships become available, they’ll email you the details.

Get Organized

  1. Organize scholarships in order of due date and set reminders to make sure you’ve submitted them on time.
  2. Prepare a Resume/Brag Sheet
    • Include information about your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, jobs, internships, volunteer activities, talents and anything else that might set you apart from other applicants.
    • This resume/brag sheet is great to give individuals that will write recommendation letters for you.
  3. Determine individuals that can write recommendation letters for you
    • Always ask people that know you more than just your name.
    • Always give them sufficient notice before you need the letter.
    • Give the letter writer your resume/brag sheet. It will help them to write a great recommendation.
    • See if you can get general recommendation letters from writers. This is helpful for scholarships with summer deadlines, or scholarships that you only find out about it a few days before it’s due.
    • Give the letter writer a copy of the scholarships information, even for scholarships you send in the general letter.
    • Always thank them for their help!
  4. Gather required documents. Many scholarships require more than just an application and essay.
    • Request multiple official transcripts. The transcripts be ready to include in scholarship mailings.
    • Copy of SAT or ACT Scores.
    • Recommendation Letters

There are many scholarships available. Keep your eye out for them, prepare and apply. College is expensive and any amount will help!

Dedicate a little time each day to your scholarship search. Just a little bit of time can turn in to a lot of money that can help towards the cost of your college education.

Good luck with your scholarship search. And, don’t forget to follow my blog. Every Saturday I share a list of scholarships with upcoming deadlines.


Photo Credit: "Learning and socializing on the beach" by Ingo Bernhardt using cc by 2.0 - text added to original

Recommendation Letters For Scholarships

As I have been compiling lists of scholarships for my weekly Scholarships Saturday post, I’ve noticed that there are quite of few scholarships that require recommendation letters. There are quite a few scholarships with summer deadlines that require recommendation letters. But, how do you get a recommendation from a teacher during summer break?

Most of the scholarship recommendation requirements I have found do not require recommendation forms. This means that a general recommendation letter can be used. If you do not have a general recommendation letter from a teacher, NOW is the time to request a letter before school is out for the summer!

Who Do You Ask?
It’s good to get a variety of letters in case the scholarship requirement asks for a specific individual (i.e. teacher, extracurricular activity adviser, counselor, coach, pastor, supervisor, etc.) It is best to get individuals that know you well to write a recommendation letter. Therefore, find individuals that know more about you than just your name.

When To Ask?
If you are trying to get a recommendation letter before the end of the school year, NOW is the time to ask. The key is to get the writer as much time as possible to write a letter for you.

How To Ask?
For recommendation letters for scholarships, let the writer know that you are planning on applying for scholarships for college and have found that many require recommendation letters. Since you will be continuing your search and may find more scholarships in the middle of summer, let them know that it is best if the recommendation is general and does not list a specific scholarship.

Tip For A Better Recommendation
Besides making sure that the person writing the recommendation knows you well, provide the writer a resume or brag sheet about your accomplishments. This will help them when writing your recommendation letter. Resume/Brag sheets should include information about your extracurricular activities, including leadership positions, outside school activities, work experience, volunteer experience, accomplishments, honors, awards, etc. Your resume should also include your educational plans for the future (i.e. attend a four-year university and major in biology). Your brag sheet should include anything that you are proud of, as well as things that can set you apart from other applicants.

Talk to the people you would like to write a recommendation for you as soon as possible. Having recommendation letters available during the summer will give you an advantage over many other students searching for scholarships this summer. Many students will not be as prepared to submit recommendation letters and will skip over scholarships requiring recommendations!

Now, go out and ask for those recommendation letters. And, don’t forget to thank your writes for their help.

Scholarship Saturday – May 31, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.

Stanford University: My Impressions

Stanford University

On May 25, 2014, I visited Stanford University in Stanford and Palo Alto, California. The majority of the campus is located in the census-designed place of Stanford, but the Stanford University Medical Center and Stanford Shopping Center is located in the city of Palo Alto. The university was founded in 1885 and opened in 1891. In 2014, Stanford University was the most selective university in the country. The university accepted 5.1% of the students that applied for admission. Read More