Good at Math? Then You Should Ace the SAT Language Sections

In September 2016, Grammarly.com posted a blog entry titled “Why Being Good at Language Arts Means That You Can Do Math.” The post explains that, in a 2014 study, scientists discovered that the genes that determine one’s aptitude for language arts also determine one’s aptitude for math. In other words, the very same genetic programming that gives human beings a capacity for using language also gives us a capacity for performing math equations. 

This discovery seems to fly in the face of everything we know about math and language arts. Chances are if you identify with one of these subjects, you don’t identify with the other. This divide is one version of what the British scientist and novelist C.P. Snow described as The Two Cultures (1959). “Two polar groups: at one pole we have the literary intellectuals, at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension.” For Snow, this division—between the humanities on the one hand, math and science on the other—was a major problem that future generations would need to overcome.

Now, in 2017, we’re still grappling with this longstanding division, but we finally have the scientific basis for tearing it down.

Culture and training, rather than biology, are the biggest reasons people tend to identify with either the humanities or science and math. We tell ourselves we are either “right brained” or “left brained,” creative or rational, as if both math and language arts do not require both imagination and reason. Your high school schedule and standardized tests tell you to separate these subjects into distinct categories, isolated from each other in separate classrooms, separate textbooks, and separate test sections. 

But what the science tells us is that these divisions are arbitrary—they have little to do with our genetic capacity for math and language.

This insight has important implications for students as they prepare for standardized tests. The aforementioned post from Grammarly reminds us that math is itself a language and that if you are skilled at language arts, you also have the capacity to be skilled at math. 

But we should keep in mind that this works the other way, too: if you’re an algebra whiz, you have developed the very skills necessary to succeed in reading comprehension and grammar. Translating those math skills into language arts skills is a matter of identifying these subjects as aspects of the same genetic coding.

But what does this mean in a practical sense?

When first studying for the SAT, it’s important to approach each section as a foreign language, even—or perhaps especially—the Reading and Writing & Language sections. Students can master each of these sections the same way they would master a new language or a new branch of math: 

1. Learn the abstract rules of each language.

One important aspect of learning a foreign language is learning its basic rules. If you want to master Spanish, for example, you’re going to have to memorize how to conjugate the verb “estar” (“to be”). The same goes for the SAT. Just as students need to know quadratic equations, they need to know how to properly connect clauses in a sentence and how to locate the main idea in a reading passage. The Reading and Writing & Language sections depend on rules and formulas just as the Math section does. 

Often, students struggling in Reading and Writing & Language become frustrated because they are already fluent in English—I speak and write clearly, so why should I struggle with a test of my English language skills?

Students who ask this question are onto something: writing and speaking is, as John Trimble writes, “the art of creating desired effects.” If you can communicate clearly with your friends, family, and the larger world around you, then a grammar mistake here or there or a confusion about a complex piece of writing may not truly reflect your future college or career success. 

But the SAT treats language like a science; it has rules that can be violated. To master these rules, approach these language arts sections as you would a foreign language—or as you would approach geometry, algebra, or calculus. The Reading and Writing & Language sections, like the Math section, are foreign languages you’ll have to become fluent in. 

2. Practice, practice, practice.

As anyone who has studied math or language arts knows, knowing abstract rules only gets you so far. You need to put see these rules into action by reading, writing, and completing math problems. More importantly, you need to practice in order to unconsciously absorb the structure of each section the way you absorbed the structure of your native language as a child. 

In chapter 1.2 of the Princeton Companion to Mathematics (2008), the contributors write: 

It is a remarkable phenomenon that children can learn to speak without ever being consciously aware of the sophisticated grammar they are using. Indeed, adults too can live a perfectly satisfactory life without ever thinking about ideas such as parts of speech, subjects, predicates or subordinate clauses. . . . Nevertheless, there is no doubt that one’s understanding of language is hugely enhanced by a knowledge of basic grammar . . . and this understanding is essential for anybody who wants to do more with language than use it unreflectingly . . . The same is true of mathematical language.

It is indeed incredible how native speakers master their native tongue—not through studying rules and formulas for constructing sentences, but by being immersed in a language culture of family members and television shows that fill our homes with the rhythms and structure of language. 
But there is a gap between how language is used and a language’s rules. Most people do not speak grammatically. So, in order to master the language arts sections of the SAT, students need to approach these sections much the same way we all first approach quadratic equations: with a spirit of curiosity and an admission of ignorance. Only then can we absorb not only new knowledge, but the structures of arranging words, parts of speech, and variables that are essential for success on the SAT.

3. Time.

The U.S. Foreign Services Institute estimates that it takes most native English speakers 480 hours to achieve even basic fluency (the kind you’d need to feel comfortable asking for directions in a foreign country) in most Romance languages (and about 720 hours for most Eastern languages). To put that in perspective: that’s five hours per day for over 96 days. That’s a lot of time. 
Luckily, many high school students already have a basic fluency of the subjects tested on the SAT. But the fact holds that time—not just practice—is a central factor in learning anything new. It is never too early to begin preparing for the SAT. In fact, the more time students take with the test, and the more practice tests they expose themselves to, the more likely they are to absorb the test as they would absorb a new language while living in a foreign country.

Rules, practice, and time: the essential tools needed to master a language are the tools that unite the three sections of the SAT. If you’re already strong in one of the test sections, you have the tools in place to succeed on the others. It’s just a matter now of putting those tools to work.


Stephen P. is a writer and teacher based in Los Angeles. He has taught literature and writing courses at several universities and has taught writing and critical reading at Elite Educational Institute since 2010.

 

Posted on January 14, 2017 and filed under SAT.

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Posted on January 4, 2017 .

Does High School Prepare Students for the SAT?

While preparing for the SAT, it’s important to focus on essential skills: the writing, reading, and math skills that will serve you well in college and beyond. But it’s also useful to keep in mind that the SAT is not really a test of your intelligence. It’s not an IQ test. It’s definitely not an evaluation of your basic worth, despite how the test might make you feel. Rather, it’s useful to keep in mind that, while the SAT tests on many valuable things, it tests, most of all, on how good you are at taking the SAT.

One of the goals of the new SAT (administered for the first time in March 2016) is to align the test with what students learn in school. In years prior, students often complained that there was a significant gap between what they covered in school and what the SAT tested. With the new test, the College Board claims, “The same habits and choices that lead to success in school will help you get ready for the SAT.” Good at school? You’ll ace the SAT.

This is partly true. Compared to the last version of the SAT, the new test is much less focused on arcane vocabulary and archaic reading passages. The new test focuses much more on essential skills, such as evaluating words in context, using and evaluating evidence, problem solving, and data analysis.

But the College Board’s claim that the new SAT tests only on “what you learn in high school” and “what you need to succeed in college” is a bit overstated. 

Take, for instance, question number one in the Writing and Language Test (Section 2) of practice test 6 from the College Board web site:

 
 

The answer is D. Why not A? Choice A creates two independent clauses (“scientists. . . 227” and “this. . . Area.”) Two independent clauses cannot be separated by a comma. Choice A creates a comma splice, a kind of run-on sentence. Choice B has the opposite problem. “Which” is a relative pronoun, which (get it?) turns the second clause into a dependent clause. A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a complete sentence, so separating the first clause from the second with a period turns the second clause into a fragment. Choice C is also a fragment—the “sentence” after the period lacks a verb. That leaves us with choice D, which creates a modifier after the comma. The pronoun “one” refers to “Lake 227.”

Independent clauses, dependent clauses, comma splices, run-on sentences, relative pronouns, and modifiers: this question does test an essential skill—if you’re interested in becoming a professional writer, editor, or teacher.

Does it test “What you need to succeed in college”? I’m not so sure. No matter which answer you choose, the meaning of this sentence (or pair of sentences) remains clear. Placing a comma or period between these two clauses, using a “which,” or “this,” or “one”—these choices do not change the meaning of the passage. If you were to write a run-on sentence like choice A or a fragment like choices B or C in a college essay, you would probably suffer little more than a note in the margins from your professor. Even most writing and English professors are lenient when it comes to minor grammatical errors. It doesn’t seem to me that your success or failure on a question like this one has much to do with your future success or failure as a college student. 

The even more indefensible claim with a question like this one is that it tests “what you learn in high school.” 

The fact is, most high school students in the U.S. do not study grammar explicitly. That’s probably a good thing, though more focus on sentence-level issues within writing and reading courses would surely benefit many students. 

The Common Core English Language Arts standards focus on bigger, more essential skills than grammar: argumentation, critical thinking, problem solving, and textual analysis. In fact, nowhere in the Common Core’s explanation of ELA standards does the word “grammar” even appear. 

To the College Board’s credit, the SAT tests on these essential skills, too. For this reason, it’s a pretty good standardized test

But like the Common Core ELA standards, the College Board’s description of the Writing and Language Test makes no mention of “grammar” itself. Instead, the College Board explains, “It’s About the Everyday”:

When you take the Writing and Language Test, you’ll do three things that people do all the time when they write and edit:

1.    Read.
2.    Find mistakes and weaknesses.
3.    Fix them.

The good news: You do these things every time you proofread your own schoolwork or workshop essays with a friend.

It’s the practical skills you use to spot and correct problems — the stuff you’ve been learning in high school and the stuff you’ll need to succeed in college — that the test measures.

Sounds easy, right?

Despite the College Board’s description, the Writing and Language Test remains disproportionately focused on grammar, a subject that most high school students have not had the chance to master.  

Because the SAT continues to test on issues not sufficiently covered in high school, it is essential that students preparing for the SAT approach the test for what it is: a test not of their intelligence or of what they’ve learned in high school, but of a collection of certain kinds of questions that, for better or worse, serve as a gatekeeper standing between students and their college goals. 

Preparing for SAT grammar questions requires that students begin to categorize the types of grammatical issues that the SAT tests on: linking and separating clauses, subject-verb agreement, pronoun ambiguity, and more. For students to feel empowered with the Writing and Language Test, it’s important to recognize that the SAT tests only on certain types of grammar questions. You don’t need to be a copy editor for the New York Times to ace the Writing and Language Test, but you do need to get a handle on about a dozen grammatical principles, including parallelism, modifiers, and verb tense. 

Only by focusing on often foreign grammatical principles—rather than broad, supposedly familiar concepts like “Expression of Ideas” and “Standard English Conventions”—can students begin to tackle and master the difficulties presented by the SAT.


Stephen P. is a writer and teacher based in Los Angeles. He has taught literature and writing courses at several universities and has taught writing and critical reading at Elite Educational Institute since 2010.

Posted on January 3, 2017 and filed under SAT.

Identifying Main Ideas in SAT Reading Passages

We’ve all heard the term “main idea” before—it’s the overall point that the author is trying to make in any piece of writing. On the SAT, however, there is a particular context in which you should think about main ideas.

Identifying the main idea of an SAT Reading passage is perhaps the most critical skill for mastering the Reading section. Many students approach the SAT assuming that the main idea is always in the first paragraph. This is a misconception that can derail your progress if you’re not careful, so developing a technique to find main ideas will keep you consistent in your efforts.

The first step is to identify the topic or the general subject of the passage. Examples could include an Arctic expedition, the effects of video games, or moving to college. Just about anything could work as a topic, and you should be able to articulate it in under five words. Remember to read the title of each passage and any brief descriptive information that may follow because the topic may be explicitly mentioned. 

Once you're clear on the topic, the next step is to figure out what the author’s point is or how the other feels about the topic. You can do so by paying attention to the type of language the author uses to talk about the topic. Is the author in favor of the topic? Opposed to it? And if so, why? Is the author simply presenting facts or a theory to enlighten readers? Perhaps dreams of an Arctic expedition are hampered by both practical concerns and internal doubt. Or the effects of video games have yielded positive results for individuals in certain fields of work. In general, the author will have a positive, negative, or neutral opinion about the topic, and you can detect the tone of the author's opinion through the author’s diction, or use of language.

Because SAT passages are excerpts from larger pieces of text, many times the main idea will be implied, so you’ll have to piece together various parts of the passage in order to detect the overall point. Ask yourself: “What is the common thread that ties each of these paragraphs together?” and look for recurrent ideas or themes. Each time you see the topic mentioned in the passage, mark a star next to it and see what the author is saying in that moment. This is especially true for fiction and historical passages, which are often lacking sufficient context. For fiction passages, the main idea will usually be connected to the primary character’s intentions or motivations. What does the character want? For double passages, each author will take a specific position on an issue of concern. Be absolutely clear on each author’s opinion and the relationship between those two stances.

One key strategy is to identify pivots related to the topic, particularly in the first and last paragraphs. Words such as ‘but’ ‘yet’ and ‘however’ can indicate an author’s actual point of view. Information before a pivot word is often either a counter argument or a position that the author does not agree with; however, the information after a pivot is vital (see what I did there?). While this strategy may seem obvious, it is very easy to overlook these words. You must be vigilant and understand the significance and function of pivots. Once you get the hang of it, you will have a clearer idea of how authors structure their arguments.

Having a precise understanding of a passage’s main idea will assist you in answering the multiple-choice questions. Occasionally there will be an explicitly stated thesis; if so, box it and label it “Main Idea” so you can easily refer back to it. If you have to infer the main idea, jot it down once you finish reading the passage. Once you begin answering the questions, narrow down your answer choices and ask yourself which remaining choice is closest to the main idea. It should become clear why that answer works better than the others.

For each SAT reading passage, you have to be on the hunt for the main idea. It simplifies the process of answering the questions, and it allows you to retain the overall point without having to reread parts of the passage. If you regularly practice finding the main idea of a passage or an article, the process will eventually become second nature. Try it today. Read an article or one chapter of a book and write down the main idea. Notice how everything else in the text supports that main idea. It’s one of the simplest techniques you can adopt to improve your SAT Reading score, but sometimes it’s the simple things that end up working the best.


Jon G. is originally from Houston, Texas. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Harvard University and is currently one of the resident English gurus at Elite of Los Angeles. Nothing makes him more proud and pumped up than watching his students succeed. When it comes to hitting the books, Jon recommends starting early and studying in increments to avoid burnout. He's a huge basketball fan, loves green tea, and his favorite vocabulary word is "seditious."

Posted on December 13, 2016 and filed under SAT, Test Prep.

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Posted on December 6, 2016 .

Writing About a Real-Life Event in Your College Essay

Writing about events from your own life can be difficult, even painful. But it’s necessary if you want to get into college.

For the Common Application essay, students are asked to write a 650-word essay in response to one of five essay prompts. These prompts ask students a range of questions about themselves, from their background, identity, or talent, to the lessons they’ve learned from failure, to their core beliefs and their major life dilemmas. Each question, in its way, asks students to write the first chapter of their memoirs. 

If you have a painful or uplifting story to tell, then you’re in luck: you have meaningful material for your college admission essays.

But if, like many high school students, you struggle to find meaning in the relentless cycle of school, homework, extracurricular activities, after-school programs, and college applications, then your first challenge is to dig into your life to find a story worth telling. 

If you’re struggling to find your story, here are some tips to get you started:

Nothing is Too Embarrassing

To get started brainstorming, first allow yourself to consider the parts of your life you’re hesitant to share with others. Some of the most meaningful aspects of your personal life are likely also the most embarrassing. Perhaps you’re embarrassed by what your parents or guardians do for a living, or by your living situation, or by some element of your family dynamic, or even by your name. We all have aspects of our lives that we wish could be different. These wishes often cloud our thoughts during the day and fill our dreams at night. 

Start here. Everyone’s life is messy. Whatever you find too embarrassing today will very likely become a fundamental part of who you are tomorrow. It’s from this space of embarrassment that you’re most likely to tell a compelling story of personal growth. 

There are limits, of course. In general, avoid sharing that you’ve broken the law or cheated on a test, for instance. 

Also, if you do elect to write about a difficult personal topic, it’s important that you feel comfortable writing about this subject in detail. If you just can’t bring yourself to be detailed on a given topic, then skip it. Without details, you’re unlikely to write a meaningful essay. 

But, with a detailed account of your own unique story, you’re sure to impress admissions committees.

Nothing is Meaningless

Often the best writing is spun from the most mundane circumstances. James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), for instance, is widely heralded as perhaps the greatest novel of the twentieth century, but its 700 pages focus on a single day of a 38-year-old advertising canvasser who does nothing overtly heroic or remarkable. What’s remarkable about Ulysses is less the content of its plot than its form—not what Joyce wrote about, but how he wrote it. 

Your college admissions essays aren’t experimental novels, of course, but they can be similarly focused on finding and expressing meaning in everyday circumstances. 

Take this essay for admission into Johns Hopkins University from 2015. Isaac is a teenager from Vermont who loved reading the morning announcements over his high school’s intercom. Look at how he describes his first day on the (seemingly boring) job:

Fortunately, there is not much going on this week, which means I have some wiggle room with what I can say. The loud buzz of the intercom whines throughout the school, and the silent apprehension of the day is met, somewhat unexpectedly, with a greeting of 20 “yo’s” and a long, breathy pause. I artfully maneuver someone else’s writing into my own words, keeping the original intent but supplementing the significant lack of humor with a few one-liners. I conclude by reminding everyone that just because the weather is miserable today does not mean that we have to be as well.

Isaac takes time to linger over what most would take for granted: through his imagination, the sound of the intercom becomes a “loud buzz” that “whines throughout the school,” interrupting the “silent apprehension” of his schoolmates. Consider how this paragraph might sound with a less imaginative approach:

Fortunately, there is not much going on this week, so I can say what I want. The intercom turns on and I say “yo” 20 times. I read the words written on the script and add some jokes. I conclude by saying we don’t have to be sad like the weather is. 

The content is essentially the same, but the second version fails to communicate the essential spirit of the moment. It fails to give us something interesting to savor, and it keeps us at a distance from the texture of Isaac’s unique experience. Isaac’s writing succeeds not because of his rather mundane content, but because of his ability to re-inhabit the life of the moment through vibrant words and images. 

To paraphrase Isaac, you might feel as if there is not much going on in your life, but that just means you have more wiggle room with how you can write your story. 

Be Specific

It’s just a plain matter of fact that most readers are more compelled by concrete images and specific stories than by vague assertions and generalizations. Typically, the best essays tell a single story. The trick is to find a story that represents something essential about you. 

So, instead of generally describing your school’s social dynamic, tell that awfully embarrassing story about your first social interaction in high school. Instead of vaguely suggesting that you’ve never seen eye-to-eye with your parents, tell your reader about a time when you argued with them. Instead of describing the frustration you’ve felt from losing high school sports competitions, relate the story of a single, meaningful loss. 

In other words, show your reader specifics, then tell them how this story provides insight into your essential sense of yourself. 

Your essays should be open, interesting, and detailed. But above all, they should be you. As director Shekhar Kapur says, “We are the stories we tell ourselves.” Getting into college requires that you share just one of those stories with others. 


Stephen P. is a writer and teacher based in Los Angeles. He has taught literature and writing courses at several universities and has taught writing and critical reading at Elite Educational Institute since 2010. 

Posted on December 1, 2016 and filed under College Admissions.

The Value and Purpose of the New SAT Essay

One of the most significant changes on the new SAT is the essay assignment

The essay used to be mandatory. Now it’s optional (sort of). 

The timeframe for the essay ballooned from 25 to 50 minutes, in order to make time for students to read the assigned passage. 

And the assignment no longer asks you to take a position on a broad topic. In fact, the College Board explicitly states that “[y]our essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.” 

Confused yet?

For some students, this requirement—that you focus on how the author builds a persuasive argument rather than on what you think about that argument—seems unclear. What does it mean that an author “builds an argument”? How do I begin to explain how an author builds an argument? Most importantly, what’s the point?


Arguments are like Buildings (or Built-Things)

Imagine you’re asked to build a house. First, you’ll need a plan. How many rooms? How will they be arranged? What kinds of materials will you use? Architects, engineers, and construction workers need to make countless decisions while planning and building a house. 

Writers are no different. 

Their wood, nails, and insulation are the words they choose. Their foundations are the concrete evidence they cite. Their arguments are the sum of all the parts that make up the house. 

Take, for instance, the opening paragraphs of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech (1963):

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregations and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

MLK is remembered today as one of the great orators of the twentieth century. But to truly grasp King’s brilliance, we can’t just take for granted that this is a genius piece of oratory. In order to understand the meaning of this passage, we need to ask some questions about the decisions he made in writing these paragraphs:

Why does he open with an allusion to Abraham Lincoln? How does his reference to the Emancipation Proclamation set up the ideas that follow?

Why does he employ the image of “flames” to describe the injustices that slaves endured?

Why does he compare the emancipation of slaves to “a joyous daybreak after the long night”? What does the sun rising have to do with justice?

Why does he repeat “One hundred years later” throughout the second paragraph? Why would he choose to repeat himself?

In asking such questions, we are beginning to consider how this piece of writing was made. In asking you to explain how the author builds an argument, the SAT is asking you to explain how the house was built, to show what choices went into its construction, to explain the deliberate choices a writer made in constructing this piece of writing.


So, What’s the Point?

We are surrounded by arguments, and not just on the SAT or in your English classes. Every time you run into an ad on YouTube, a text message from your best friend, or even a street sign, you’re confronted with an argument. 

The YouTube ad tells you to BUY THIS. 

Your friend tells you to MEET ME HERE. 

The street sign demands that you STOP.

All of these are arguments. They attempt to persuade you to act, think, or behave a certain way and for a certain purpose. 

They are attempts, in short, to get you to stop thinking.    

The SAT essay is a test of your critical reasoning capacities. It tests just how well equipped you are to interpret this world of arguments. And it gauges your ability to see an argument for what it is: a sequence of deliberate, individual choices.

In short, it asks you to see the world around you as something that was made. For if you can begin to decipher how your world was built, you just might be able to someday build it better.


Stephen P. is a writer and teacher based in Los Angeles. He has taught literature and writing courses at several universities, and has taught writing and critical reading at Elite of Los Angeles since 2010.
 

Posted on November 6, 2016 and filed under SAT.

Learning to Love the Personal Statement

Calling all high school seniors!

For many of you, the college application season may seem like an endless process. There are many different elements required when applying for admission to college, but it’s the personal statement that often looms largest in students’ minds. Required by the Common App and designed to provide a clearer picture of who you are as an individual, the personal statement is your opportunity to express any relevant information that will help admissions understand you and your lived experiences.

Maybe you know exactly what you want to write about. Maybe you feel that you have nothing to write about. Whether you fall into one of these two categories or anywhere else along the spectrum, you probably want to know how to write a compelling essay that effectively communicates why you’d make an excellent addition to a college or university community.

First and foremost, understand that your personal statement is exactly that, YOURS. You should write about something that you want to write about, as long as you can do so in a sophisticated and intelligent manner. No matter what you end up writing about, truth and authenticity should be at the core of your writing. Many students have similar experiences, so use vivid sensory details to retell the experiences you wish to share with admissions. As a reader, I want to visualize your story as you tell it. I am also looking to see how you have grown or changed over time — How are you different today than you were five years ago? Last year? Yesterday? Think carefully about who you are right now, where your values lie and even who you want to be in the future. Though you may not have a concrete vision of your future, do not hesitate to project an idea of where you see yourself headed.

Yes, sharing a story in 500-650 words may seem daunting at first, but once you identify the story you want to tell and consider all the details surrounding that story, the word limit can often seem inadequate. Try to start small and work your way out to share bigger ideas about yourself and your goals over the course of your essay.

A simple exercise could be to write down any person, place or thing that has meaning to you and ask yourself “Why?” Or outline the various milestones in your life and recount these experiences in as much detail as possible while considering the effect they have had on your personal growth and development. The idea here is to brainstorm as many topics as possible before selecting just one because there may be an opportunity to connect different topics together, which can lead to a more compelling story.

If you love helping others, try to remember who or what first instilled that value in you. Perhaps you are passionate about art, nature or technology — share specific anecdotes that demonstrate how the relationship between you and your passions has evolved over time. Something as simple and mundane as your favorite food could be tied to other interests, including science, travel or language. Consider the intersections of your interests and your values and recognize the full scope of your uniqueness.

While it may seem oxymoronic, learning to love the personal statement is what will ultimately invite readers to gain a true glimpse into your world and understand what you as an individual can bring to a college community. Reflecting on your past and taking the time to truly think about its meaning is an incredibly rewarding experience. Although it can be easy to undervalue your journey, you have remarkable potential and much to offer. Once you understand how to articulate such individual character and integrity, recognizing what you bring to the table is undeniable.


Jon G. is originally from Houston, Texas. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Harvard University and is currently one of the resident English gurus at Elite of Los Angeles. Nothing makes him more proud and pumped up than watching his students succeed. When it comes to hitting the books, Jon recommends starting early and studying in increments to avoid burnout. He's a huge basketball fan, loves green tea, and his favorite vocabulary word is "seditious."

Posted on November 6, 2016 and filed under College Admissions.