This Is It This Is It

I'll be graduating high school as part of the class of 2015 so right now i'm a senior! AHHH COLLEGE ADMISSIONS AHHHH OKAY ANYWAY I'll be using this blog to make review posts and stuff because I'm really trying to be more organized this year. Hopefully this blog is helpful for anyone who is interested in following it, especially if you're also in high school(:

Write Your “Why College X” Essay Like You’re Describing The Person You Have a Crush On


You could say: “I like this person because s/he is smart, pretty, and makes me laugh.”

But it feels so much more real when you start listing personal, more emotion-filled statements like: “S/he makes me feel like ___________. In the middle of no where, we’ll have conversations about ______ and I never have anyone I can talk to that about. When s/he’s having a bad day, somehow I can always make him/her laugh by making silly faces and telling corny jokes. It feels magical.”

(^Cheesy example but trying to make a point.)

Include specific reasons, personal connections, and sincere emotions and thoughts.

When you’re describing the person you have a crush on, you don’t want it to sound like it could be any other person. You don’t want it to sound emotion-less and impersonal. You want to show why you two belong together - how what one has to offer can help the other. You don’t want to just tell the other person that they are amazing, you want to tell them they are amazing and together you can be even more amazing.

This is also a great way to add personality. Everyone has a different way they go about describing someone they like. Some are unsure exactly why but in their heart they know it; others are very cutesy; others use a more joking but real voice; some are dramatic, but clearly in love. Some will be artsy in their description. Others might be more direct. (Even my first example that plainly lists reasons to like a person might be a style that suits you if you can make it work.) Find your voice. Show off your personality.

Truthfully, these essays are super hard because no matter how you write it, it’s always going to come out a bit cliche. But if you’re going to share your love anyways, why not do it eloquently?


(Source: Accenture)

Nassau Hall, Princeton University - Princeton, NJ. February 2014.
Four Qualities of an Amazing College Essay


You’ll recall from the Ira Glass on Storytelling YouTube videos that what makes a story great is a great narrative followed by a great insight.

Here are some of the qualities of an amazing essay:

  1. The story is unusual in either content, structure or both.

  2. A “wow” moment.

  3. The ending is both surprising and inevitable.

  4. The ending makes the reader do a little bit of work.

I find it’s best to illustrate by example, so here are the premises for two amazing essays:

Premise of the “Dead Bird” essay: a girl is doing her homework one day when her cat claws a bird (almost) to death and as the narrator tries desperately to save the bird’s life she makes a life-changing realization about a friend of hers who was killed.

Premise of the  “I Shot My Brother” essay: a boy has a chance to save his brother’s life, but in order to do so he’ll have to shoot him.

Are you interested? Good.

Note that I haven’t given away the ending yet. I want you to read both of them first so you can experience them as pieces of writing before we analyze what makes each one amazing.

Once you’ve read each of them, read on for why I think each is amazing.

The Dead Bird essay: Why I think it’s amazing

1. a. Unusual content (the “what”): who gets the chance to save a dead bird? Who makes a connection to a friend while the bird is dying? Not many people.

b. Unusual structure (the “how”): The non-chronological opening: she starts with an arresting image then does a flashback to fill us in on the context.

c. Unusual style (the “how”): The clipped style of the writing. Like a series of snapshots, or a film with very quick takes.

2. The “wow” moment:

The moment when she realizes that her struggle to let the bird go parallels her struggle to let her friend go. It’s not explicit, so you have to look for it. But it’s there.

3. The ending is both surprising and inevitable

Why surprising? We didn’t expect her to make peace with the bird’s death, or her friend’s.

Why inevitable? Now that I think about it, of course she’d have to accept the bird’s death, and her friend’s.

4. The ending makes the reader do a little bit of work.

Look at that ending again—what does it mean?  

The wind, the sky, the dampness of the soil on my hands whispered to me, “The bird is dead. Kari has passed. But you are alive.” My breath, my heartbeat, my sweat sighed back, “I am alive. I am alive. I am alive.”

It’s not explicit. I would call this a “poetic” ending, and I’ll define “poetic” in this way: it leaves something unaccounted for. To get the meaning you have to think about it a bit, and different people may have different interpretations. Note that it’s easy to do this poorly and hard to do this well. In terms of what the ending to this essay means, I won’t ruin it by trying to explain it. I’ll let you decide for yourself. (And that’s not a tease, by the way, that’s a gift.)

The I Shot My Brother essay: Why I think it’s amazing

1. a. Unusual content: what kind of person shoots his brother? And what kind of person shoots his brother to save his brother’s life? Not many people.

b. Unusual structure: non-chronological order of events (starts with the end). Cinematic time-jumps.

c. Unusual style: great dialogue. Realistic characters. Memorable visual details. One of the best openings I have ever read.

2. The “wow” moment: the moment he has to shoot his brother in order to save his life.

Double wow: he’s also been looking to get back at his brother, so shooting him is both an “I love you” and “I hate you” moment.

Triple wow: the moment of violence ends up being the catalyst for ultimately bringing them together…

3. The ending is both surprising and inevitable

Surprising: no way will these two reconcile.

Inevitable: of course they’ll reconcile.

Also surprising: even if I suspected they would reconcile, I didn’t expect it would happen in this way.

4. The ending makes the reader do a little bit of work.

Again, look at that ending—what does it mean?            

Smiling, I open Jon’s Jansport backpack and neatly place this essay inside and a chocolate taffy with a note attached.

Twenty minutes have passed when the door abruptly opens.

“Guess what the doctor just said?” my brother cries, unable to hide his exhilaration. I look up and I smile too.

Again, I won’t spell it out. Just think about where his relationship with his brother started and think about where it is now.

Also—and I just noticed this—both of these essays end with some kind of redemption. I’m not saying that’s required for an amazing essay, but I think it’s part of makes my heart swell every time I read these two.  

Keep in mind that these are not the only qualities of an amazing essay or even required to makeyour essay amazing, these are simply qualities that I have observed in essays that I find amazing.

What do you think makes an essay amazing?



(Source: theyuniversity)


Leave your desk at 3 p.m. … because science 

Contrary to what your 9-to-5 schedule would have you believe, pushing back your chair and leaving the computer behind after a few hours of intense focus can actually make you more productive. A short mid-afternoon break gives your brain the chance to process a storm of complex thoughts and perform better.
Great thinkers are taking note | Follow micdotcom
8 Ways to Memorize, Your Guide to Studying



Question: How Do You Memorize Large Quantities of Information?image

My Reply:

Thanks for asking! 😄 Actually, you cannot really recall things that you don’t understand and I’m telling you that based on experience (med school). Here’s how I do it.

  1. First, I avoid…

(via attackonstudying)


(Source: Pinterest)
22 Science-Backed Study Tips to Ace a Test


’Tis the season to start studying. All over the country, students in high school, college, and grad school are going into panic mode, wondering how they’ll manage to remember an entire semester’s worth of information before the big final. Luckily, we’ve got some advice to make those freak-outs a thing of the past. From talking out loud to taking gym breaks, here are 23 ways to (gasp) get psyched about studying and ace those exams.


Remember Your Stuff

  1. Study when sleepy. Bedtime stories are for wimps. Instead of reading The Berenstein Bears, try studying for a few minutes right before hitting the hay. During sleep, the brain strengthens new memories , so there’s a good chance we’ll remember whatever we review right before dozing off [1]. (Just try not tobring work into the actual bed, since it can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.) And though bedtime is primo study time, it might also help to crack open the books after cracking open those eyes in the A.M. — in the morning, the brain still has lots of room  to absorb new information.
  2. Space it out. A relatively new learning technique called “spaced repetition ” involves breaking up information into small chunks and reviewing them consistently over a long period of time. So don’t try to memorize the entire periodic table in one sitting — instead, learn a few rows every day and review each lesson before starting anything new. 
  3. Tell a tale. Turning the details you need to remember into a crazy story helps make the information more meaningful. For example, remember the order of mathematic operations PEMDAS  this way: Philip (P) wanted to eat (E) his friend Mary (M) but he died (D) from arsenic (AS) poisoning.
  4. Move your butt. Research suggests studying the same stuff in a different place every day makes us less likely to forget  that information. That’s because, every time we move around (from the library to the coffee shop, or the coffee shop to the toilet seat), we force the brain to form new associations with the same material so it becomes a stronger memory.
  5. Switch it up. Don’t stick to one topic; instead, study a bunch of different material in one sitting. This technique helps prepare us to use the right strategy for finding the solution to a problem. For example, doing a bunch of division problems in a row means every time we approach a problem, we know it’ll require some division. But doing a series of problems that require multiplication, division, or addition means we have to stop and think about which strategy is best.
  6. Put yourself to the test. Quizzing ourselves may be one of the best ways toprepare for the real deal . And don’t worry about breaking a sweat while trying to remember the name of the 37th U.S. president (fyi, it’s Nixon): The harder it is to remember a piece of information in practice mode, the more likely we are to remember it in the future.
  7. Write it out. Put those third-grade penmanship lessons to good use. Research suggests  we store information more securely when we write it out by hand than when we type it. Start by recopying the most important notes from the semester onto a new sheet of paper.
  8. Make me wanna shout. Reading information out loud means mentally storing it in two ways: seeing it and hearing it [2]. We just can’t guarantee you won’t get thrown out of the library.
  9. Come together (right now). Group work doesn’t fly with everyone, but for those who benefit from a little team effort, a study group’s  the way to go. Pick a few studious pals and get together every few days to review the material. Put one person in charge of delegating tasks (snack duty, music selection) and keeping the group on target with its goals. 
  10. Treat yo’ self! A healthy holiday cookie, a walk around the block, five minutes of tweet-time: whatever floats your boat. Knowing there’s a little reward waiting for us at the end of just a few pages makes it easier to beat procrastination while slogging through a semester’s worth of notes.
  11. Drink up. Sorry, not that kind of drink. Instead, hit the local coffee shop for something caffeine-filled; there’s lots of research suggesting coffee (and tea) keeps us alert, especially when nothing seems more exciting than the shiny gum wrapper on the library floor [3].
  12. Take a time out. Taking time to plan is one of the most important skills a student can have. Don’t just start the week with the vague goal of studying for a history exam — instead, break up that goal into smaller tasks. Pencil it in on the calendar like a regular class: For example, allot every day from 1 to 3 p.m. to review 50 years’ worth of info.
  13. Gimme a break. The KitKat guys said it, and so does science: Taking regular breaks can boost productivity and improve our ability to focus on a single task[4]. For a real productivity boost, step away from the screen and break a sweat during a midday gym sesh.
  14. Work it out. Get stronger and brainier at the same time. Research has found just half an hour of aerobic exercise can improve our brain-processing speed and other important cognitive abilities. Jog a few laps around the block and see if you don’t come back with a few more IQ points.
  15. Daaaance to the music. As anyone who’s ever relied on Rihanna to make it through an all-night study session knows, music can help beat stress. And while everyone’s got a different tune preference, classical music in particular has been shown to reduce anxiety and tension. So give those biology notes a soundtrack and feel at least some of the stress slide away.
  16. Nix the ’net. We’ve all been there, facing the siren call of a friend’s Facebook wall on the eve of a giant exam. If a computer’s necessary for studying, try an app (such as this one ) that blocks the Internet for a short period of time and see how much more you get done.
  17. Say om. Just before staring at a piece of paper for three hours, stare at a wall for three minutes. Research suggests meditation can reduce anxiety and boost attention span. While those studies focus mostly on regular meditation, there’s no harm in trying it out for a few minutes to calm pre-test jitters [5].
  18. Doze off. When there’s a textbook full of equations to memorize, it can be tempting to stay up all night committing them to memory (or trying to). But all-nighters rarely lead to an automatic A — in fact, they’ve been linked to impaired cognitive performance and greater sensitivity to stress [6]. In the days leading up to a big exam, aim to get those seven to nine hours a night so sleep deprivation doesn’t undo all the hard work you’ve put in. 
  19. Own the OmegasOmega-3 fatty acids, found in certain fish, nuts, and olive oil, are known for their brain-boosting potential. One study found that eating a combination of Omega-3-and Omega-6 fatty acids before an exam actually reduced test anxiety [7].
  20. Feel free to inhale. Dusty old library again… or spa day? Research has found that catching a whiff of essential oils (like rosemary or lavender) can help calm students down before a big exam [8]. Skip the frantic last-minute review and try a few minutes of aromatherapy instead.
  21. Practice your brain pose. Hardcore yogis tend to have better cognitive abilities — especially attention span — than folks less familiar with Down Dog [9]. A few daily sun salutations may be all it takes to keep centered during finals period.
  22. Learn what works. Some people are early birds; some are night owls; some prefer to study with a pal; others need complete and total silence. Experiment to find what’s most effective for you, and then stick with it! 

Article by Shane Lebowitz


(via wannabeorganized)


As it’s getting closer and closer, I thought I would put together a masterpost of all things academics to help us tumblr people survive the school year. Here we go!
Plane Geometry cheat sheet 
General math help to learn almost anything (THIS WILL SAVE YOUR GRADE TBH)
Trigonometry Cheat Sheet For Dummies (2)
Algebra 2 Help (I wish I could give y’all my teacher too because he was the greatest but this will do)
This guy translates math to English
Solve any math problem
Cheat sheet for every mathematical thing ever 
Fancy online calculator 
Don’t wanna read the book? (2) (3) (You should, but) 
Crash Course Literature
Write a kickass essay with 1/2 the stress
Grammar checker for Chrome
Get rewarded with pictures of kittens when you write (Pro tip: if kittens don’t tickle your fancy, add: /?search=whatever kind of picture you want (ex: /?search=rabbit) for pictures of whatever you choose.)
The Ultimate Writing Masterpost (IT HAS EVERYTHING)
Word Hippo
Alternative to MS word (2) 
Everything you will ever need to do with writing 
Having trouble with Shakespeare?
Write like Hemingway
Plan an Essay in Five Minutes
Pinterest Writing Boards
Proofreading Marks
Citation Maker
Crash Course Biology, Ecology, Physcology + Chemistry
Guy translates Chemistry to English
Anatomy  + Chrome App
Crash Course US  + World (2) History
Everything about History
Newspapers  (Shoutout to my Honors World History Teacher for sharing that one with me. You can also read newspapers in other languages on there, so: cool.)
History Study Guides
All the history
Political parties and their beliefs
My personal language tag
101 languages
My languages
Practice reading in different languages + use Wikipedia to do this by changing the language on the homepage
2000+ Most Common Words, Translated
Tips from Luca Lampariello
Coffee shop sounds
Rainy sounds
Nature sounds
Block distracting websites for 45 minutes at a time
To do list Chrome app for procrastinators
To do list app 2 (3) (4)
That’s it for now! I will update as the year goes on!
Anyone have any links to (free) PDFs of SAT prep books?





hi okay i’m a nice person and i love you all

here is my super special folder for test prep textbooks

it includes (and i usually have more than one bok for each, for some it includes like 5; they’re all arranged in alphabetical order)

  • act
  • ap calc
  • ap chem
  • ap lang
  • ap gov
  • ap physics
  • ap econ
  • ap stat
  • sat
  • sat bio
  • sat math
  • sat physics
  • general sat subject tests

pls share this ok 

Oh my gosh these are so cool, thank you! 

(Source: apps-and-academia, via attackonstudying)


A tool to use for find Synonyms: Synonym Finder.

This is a great, unique little tool I found by browsing for writing resources. It’s name speaks for itself: it’s a synonym finder.

The site is clean cut, has soothing colors, and to-the point results for any word you look up.

For example, when I look up the word “romance,” I get this:

Synonyms: romance, romanticism
Definition: an exciting and mysterious quality (as of a heroic time or adventure)

Hypernyms: quality
Definition: an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone
Usage: the quality of mercy is not strained—Shakespeare”

I had no idea what a “hypernym” is. Apparently it’s a word with a more general meaning that a more specific word fall under. Like, color is a hypernym for green.

On the right corner there’s a button to make graphs! So you can trace each synonym from it’s root word, and see how far the other synonyms connect in comparison to others.

I really like it, so I’m going to definitely bookmark it on my writing tools list.

(via fuckyeahcharacterdevelopment)

The Secret to Writing Faster


This author advocates writing in longhand instead of typing to achieve a higher word output each day. What do you think? Do you prefer typing or writing by hand? Like the Writer’s Circle on Facebook!

(via journaling-junkie)

How to Turn a Real-Life Moment into an Anecdote


How to Turn a Real-Life Moment into an Anecdote

I confess: I love anecdotes. These are basically when a writer shares a mini-story about a real-life moment or experience. Usually, they are plucked out of the past, and presented without much introduction. Their power is that they draw you into a story, or college application essay, by starting with a punch of drama. Anecdotes make awesome introductions.

The key is to get as close to the…

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dreaming-of-college asked:
Hey peeps! My name is Sarah and I am absolutely in love with UChicago and everything about it. Y'all already know why your school is so great so I won't get into the sappy details, but the bottom line is that I yearn to be a UChicago student with every fiber of my being. I know that there is no "average" student at your school, however, what qualities do you look for in applicants and what makes an application stand out? I appreciate your advice; keep doin' what you're doin' :)


Hi internet friend! Glad to hear you think UChicago is so special and rockin’. (It is, so, good call there). But, warning: more information than you probably wanted coming on up!

When I’m reading an application for UChicago, here are some things that help it go in to the “yes” pile (it’s not really a pile so much as a cloud-based theoretical yes resting spot). Note that this isn’t a formula for getting in to UChicago— I’ve read applications for several years and even I couldn’t create an applicant who I could guarantee would get in— but just some things that do help an excited applicant stand out as a student we’d like to admit.

Taking the most challenging options available in your environment, and doing well in that work. This doesn’t mean we care if you took one less AP class because Band and Spanish conflicted or that your GPA is .0001 lower than someone else in your class. (We don’t). This does mean we care to see that, whatever the challenging options are at your high school, you’re taking advantage of them across many areas, and that you’re doing well in that work. UChicago is a rigorous environment, and students who are successful applicants (and are successful once they get on campus, which we care about a lot!) are students who have challenged themselves both in subjects they consider strengths and in other areas. (And note: “available at your school” is key here. We know that many schools have different offerings, and so are never going to expect you to take advantage of options that simply don’t exist in your school or environment). 

Being genuinely interested in a liberal arts-style education. Our Core Curriculum is the intellectual cornerstone of our college. It’s awesome! You get to take courses in a lot of different areas— you’ll explore humanities, social sciences and civilizations, physical/bio sciences, foreign language, the arts, and math. Cool stuff, right! Well, every year we get tons of applications from students— even really great students!— who have not looked in to this side of the College or who really don’t seem like they’d like taking courses outside of their specific interest area. Now, we don’t expect everyone will want to double-major in math and anthropology. We also know that many of you have followed a pretty standard curriculum in high school that didn’t have a lot of room for exploration beyond a few required subjects, so don’t worry if you aren’t able to/ interested in waxing poetic about philosophy to show a genuine interest here. We simply hope that, even if you’re passionate about a particular subject, you think it might be cool and important to take some classes outside of your principal interest area.

Have fun with your essay. We give you those fun prompts for a reason— no, really, you don’t have to write about your summer vacation! We love learning more about how your brain works by seeing what happens when you encounter a question you’ve never been asked before. So yes, you really can write about whatever you want (*within normal bounds of social propriety) and no, it doesn’t have to be a play-by-play recap of all of the clubs of which you’ve been president. (Please. Please don’t make it about that). As we say in our essay instructions: “Take a little risk, and have fun.”

Hope this helps!




This is Duolingo, a language-learning website/app that deserves some serious recognition. It offers over 10 languages for English speakers, as well as courses for non-English speakers around the world, and they’re in the process of adding more. 
But wait, I don’t want to do any more schoolwork! Not to worry little one, Duolingo is actually more like a game. You can compete with friends, and earn “lingots” (which are basically Duolingo money) to buy power-ups, extra activities, and bonus skills - like Flirting.

I’m already taking a language, what do I need this for? 
It’s not really a secret that most school language courses (in America, anyway) suck and only teach you to speak the language at about a third grader’s level. Which is why Duolingo is so freaking awesome.
Teachers can’t give every student individualized attention, but Duolingo can. If you’re not learning the way you want to or as much as you want to in the classroom, Duolingo is a really great resource. It’s easy, tailored to you, and really effective.

Duolingo tracks your progress and reminds you when you haven’t studied for a while or need a refresher on something. Already semi-fluent in a language? No problem, just take a shortcut to more advanced subjects or test out of the lesson. 
The lessons start with the basics (he, she, hello, thank you, etc) and move up to harder stuff. Duolingo focuses on vocabulary first, so you can learn the language and then the grammar that goes with it - much simpler than the system most schools use. It also tracks the number of words you’ve learned and how well you know them.

And you don’t even have to write out the flashcards!
Duolingo is perfect for reviewing everything you forgot over the summer or giving you the extra help you need. And if you’re trying to learn a language on your own, it’s fantastic - you don’t have to create your own lessons. Whether you’re trying to learn your second, third, or fifth language, I seriously recommend Duolingo.
Okay, what else?
Duolingo also has discussion boards, where you can ask for help with a hard lesson, make new friends, watch for updates, and share your achievements.
Even better is the Immersion feature. It won’t send you to Spain or France, but it’s pretty awesome. Duolingo takes real articles from the internet, which users translate. You can translate articles from your native language into the language you’re learning or vice versa, which gives you more experience and makes the Internet more universal.
You can suggest new languages and track Duolingo’s progress in creating new courses. Bilinguals (older than 13) can help to create these courses. Duolingo has a long list of courses that can be contributed to, like Punjabi, Hebrew, and Vietnamese. Oh, and Dothraki, Klingon, Sindarin, and Esperanto.
And the best part? IT’S COMPLETELY FREE. 
If you love languages or just want to pass French class this year, USE DUOLINGO. Download the app and practice a language while you wait for the bus instead of playing Angry Birds!

Coolest app I’ve ever downloaded.

IM USING THIS TO LEARN GERMAN!Ive learned more German in a week then my grade 10 course of which i skipped 3/4s of.