The Blog of Knowledge

Read our blog full of handy tips regarding the US university landscape and application process.

We take great pride in providing free, up-to-date resources.

Waitlists: What to Do Next

By the middle of April, the majority of US uni decisions were released. This was an especially competitive year as the most selective schools saw a significant increase in applications. This surge in applications does impact how admissions committees award decisions. Unfortunately, this means that more students will be denied. However, this also means that

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Test Prep Tips for A-Level Mocks

May Day lies behind us, and that means A-Level mocks are around the corner! A-Levels test a thorough content knowledge across your chosen subjects. As well as being US university testing experts, our tutors also achieved top A-Level grades and regularly help their students achieve similarly strong marks through developing their academic skills with online

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SAT Reading History Passages: How to Ace Them

Double passages are taxing. Historical texts are challenging When the SAT combines them, students need strategies for success. A-List private tutors have developed tested strategies for SAT Reading that help students earn top SAT scores. A-List’s Top Strategies for SAT Reading Historical Passages Tackle one passage at a time: if you are short on time,

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Teacher Recommendations: Who to Ask and What They Should Look Like

Students applying to selective US unis will need recommendations that are different than the standard UCAS letter! Students will need a counsellor letter, often written by a Form Tutor, Housemaster/mistress, or Head of Sixth Form. Also, the student will need two teacher recommendations. Teacher recommendations should come from two A-level or International Baccalaureate teachers from two of the

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Mindfulness Techniques for the SAT and ACT

The SAT and ACT require mental stamina and problem solving. Aside from mastering the  test content, applying test techniques under time, to achieve a perfect score on the SAT or ACT requires clear thinking. The two core components of both the SAT test and ACT test are speed and accuracy.  Ensuring you have a strong and adaptable mindset

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Extracurricular Activities: Why They Matter

Preparing to attend a US university requires choosing rigorous courses, preparing for the SAT or ACT, and also investing in extracurricular pursuits. In fact, the key difference between the US and other global higher education systems is the emphasis placed on extracurricular activities. Students often ask what activities they should invest in to maximise their chance

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How to Succeed on the SAT Math Non-Calculator Section

The Non-Calculator section contains twenty questions to answer in twenty-five minutes. This section covers algebra and graphing including: linear equations, systems, functions and inequalities; interpreting and solving quadratic equations, polynomials; interpreting linear, quadratic and exponential graphs. Success on SAT Math comes down to 3 important steps: Reading the Question Closely: as obvious as it sounds,

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Academic Rigour and Academic Record: What Top US Unis Want to See

Though there are many differences between the US admissions process and other international higher education systems, all systems make your academic achievement the most significant part of the evaluation. Assessing a student’s secondary school record will include a review of the rigour of the courses taken and grades received and/or predicted. Keep in mind that

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SAT Writing & Language: Ace Expression of Ideas

The entire SAT Verbal section challenges students. However, students often find the Expression of Ideas section the most difficult. Unlike the Conventions of Usage, Sentence Structure, and Punctuation questions, which cover grammatical rules and have 3 distinct incorrect answer choices, Expression of Ideas answers are often allgrammatically correct.

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Finding the Best Uni for You

With over 4,000 universities in the US, it can be difficult to determine which schools are best for you. Though rankings may play a role, there are significant differences in ethos, environment, and pedagogical approach even amongst the most selective schools. At A-List, we help students find the “best fit” when applying to colleges. This

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How to Score 36 on the ACT Science Section

The ACT science section is unique among the US standardised tests and requires a unique strategy. Hover, you can score a 36 on this section and this raise your overall composite score. In this blog, our expert tutors break down how to achieve this goal score. Know the Format The ACT Science section has 6-7

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Specialised US Universities: Focus on the ARTS

For budding artists, American universities offer excellent opportunities. Students can apply to schools with strong fine arts departments or they can apply to universities focused solely on the arts. Applying to art school is different than applying to schools that offer courses across the disciplines. Students will need to prepare an artist’s statement and a

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How to Score over 30 on the ACT

Are you stuck at a certain ACT score and can’t seem to reach that next step up? You are not alone! By the nature of its standardised design, the ACT requires diligence and insightful reflection as you prepare.  Also, ACT preparation is a marathon, not a sprint! For consistent and substantial score improvement, plan to

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Athletic Recruitment and US University Admissions

International students find American universities appealing because of the top-notch academics and campus culture. Also, for some students, attending a US uni is one way to continuing playing a sport at an almost professional level. US universities investment in their athletic programmes is unparalleled in the global higher education. However, being a recruited athlete, or

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Online ACT Strategy: Top Tips

For students taking the ACT outside of the US, the exam is online! The online ACT has the same format as the paper test: four sections, same number of questions, time constraints, and scoring system. Fortunately, there are some advantages to the online format to consider as you prepare: Since students often work digitally for

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Specialised US Universities: Focus on STEM

The American higher education landscape offers students a wide variety of options. And though the majority of US universities and colleges embrace the liberal arts model that encourages students to study a wide range of subjects, the US also has universities specifically focused on STEM subjects. These schools offer an enviable education for students interested

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Resources for SAT Practice: What to Use and

There are finite past papers for SAT practice: eight publicly available past papers on College Board website and eight more recent tests available through A-List. Given these limited resources, it is important to be strategic as you review for the exam. Here are the top 5 ways to review past SAT exams: Strengthen skills before

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Contacting US Unis: Top Tips

The US university admissions process requires completing an application, writing numerous essays, and succeeding on standardised tests! These are the explicit requirements. However, savvy students will also ensure that American universities understand they are a student’s first choice. To get accepted to selective American universities, students should make consistent and thoughtful contact with admission representatives

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ACT Exam One Month Countdown—Top Tips

The next ACT date is 16-17 April 2021. To best prepare you for this standardized test, A-List’s experienced tutors have chosen their top tips to help you prepare. Practice Tests: the weeks before the ACT are prime times to sit 1-3 timed ACT practice tests. A-List hosts proctored practice tests twice per month for our

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American Style Unis Abroad!

At A-List Education, we provide expert advice on all aspects of American university admissions. However, we also provide expert advice about selective American style university options abroad!  There are a growing number of Global Universities who have embraced the US education ethos and offer degree programs in English. One of the first American-style universities in

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Get an 800 SAT Math: A-List Techniques

SAT Math questions break down into four main areas: Heart of Algebra – linear equations, systems, functions and inequalities Problem Solving and Data Analysis – quantitative interpretation with data. Only appears on the SAT Math Calculator section. Passport to Advanced Math- interpreting and solving quadratic equations, polynomials Graphing – interpreting linear, quadratic and exponential graphs

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Work Experience that Impresses: What to Do this Summer

As the vaccine rollout continues, students may start thinking about how to spend their summer holidays. Students who are considering selective American universities should use this extended break from schoolwork to focus on their extracurricular interests and also develop their CVs. The Activities section of the Common Application is one of the most critical for

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Annotation: Key Strategy for Scoring 1600 on the SAT

A good SAT score requires comprehensive content knowledge, timed practice, and precise strategy. One of the most helpful strategies to achieve a good SAT score is annotation. In fact, our highly experienced SAT tutors all attest that annotation is one of the key strategies that a student can adopt to attain a 1600. Effective Annotation:

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University Advisor: How They Help

As students think about their university options, many will consider applying to selective US unis. With over 4,500 schools to choose from and the most schools in the top 100 universities in the world, the US higher education system is enviable in terms of both choice and quality. Yet, the scale of the system and

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Tricky SAT Verbal Questions: Get Them Right

A good SAT score requires both a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of English grammar. A strong performance on the SAT Writing & Language section can help make up for potential difficulties on the Reading section to create a strong EBRAW score. SAT Writing & Language questions cover four general areas: Usage Manipulating the “Building blocks”

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Small Liberal Arts Colleges: Great US Uni Option

SAT spring and summer dates are looming! A-List’s Academic Team is happy to share top strategies for SAT review! SAT questions require a comprehensive knowledge of grammar rules, sophisticated critical reading skills, and a thorough grounding in maths topics. Test preparation to earn a good SAT score is a marathon, not a spring. Regardless of what your practice tests scores, you should carve out time each day to review the grammar rules and maths equations.

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SAT Countdown To-Do List

SAT spring and summer dates are looming! A-List’s Academic Team is happy to share top strategies for SAT review! SAT questions require a comprehensive knowledge of grammar rules, sophisticated critical reading skills, and a thorough grounding in maths topics. Test preparation to earn a good SAT score is a marathon, not a spring. Regardless of what your practice tests scores, you should carve out time each day to review the grammar rules and maths equations.

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A Day In the Life of an A-List Bootcamp Student

A good SAT score requires a thorough grounding in grammar and maths rules as well as an incisive critical reading ability and strong performance under time pressure. A SAT Bootcamp is a great way to cover all the content you need to succeed on the SAT in a time-efficient and even fun way!

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Sitting the SAT Twice: Why it’s a Good Idea

Many elements need to come together optimally in order to earn a good SAT score: test-taking techniques, pace through the sections, and nimble responses to trickier questions. However, no matter how ardently you have strived to ensure your practice SAT tests replicated the exam scenario, there are always going to be new variables during this

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US University Admissions Timeline

Students who are interested in attending a US university should start planning during Year 10. The breadth and depth required for a successful US application does require thinking carefully about curricular choices, extracurricular activities, and how best to use summer breaks to create a compelling CV. At A-List, we are here to help manage the

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How to Achieve Top A-Level Predicted Grades

Official A-Level exams may have been cancelled, but A-Level results will still form a crucial part of students’ university applications. Though schools are still finalising exactly how they will calculate the grades, strong academic performance will be key successful final grades. Within this shifting academic landscape, particularly as remote group learning presents distinct challenges for

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US Universities Still Accepting Applications

After the holiday season, you may still be exploring your options for applying to universities in the US. Though the first major deadline has passed, many top US universities have deadlines in the beginning of February. If you are still interested in applying to colleges ideal for international students, the A-List Advising team recommends you

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Course Selection for IB and A-Levels: Strategies for Top US Schools

This month, students in their final GCSE year will select their future A-Level or IB diploma programme courses. For students who are considering selective universities in the US, the A-List advising team recommends choosing courses with the US liberal arts ethos in mind. This is one way to become an ideal applicant and the best

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Extended Essay and EPQ: How a Private Tutor Can Help

It’s January and that means question and project summaries are likely due for your Extended Essays. Whether you take A-Levels or working towards an IB diploma, you will likely have to choose, plan, and write your question and the beginning of your outline.   The Extended Essay and Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) are the type

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Submitting Regular Decision Applications

During the holiday period, we know that many students will be finalising their university applications. Most universities in the US have a January 1st deadline! And though students deserve a break after a stressful term, the A-List Advising Team does recommend that students submit their applications before the deadline. Why You Should Submit Early: Submitting

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How to Plan for Academic Success

The winter holidays are fast approaching. Though this is a time to rest and recharge, you may also want to do some strategic planning during this flexible time. Reflect First, you want to honestly review your academic trajectory and achievements. How do your marks look? In what academic competitions or projects have you distinguished yourself?

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Letters of Continued Interest: What to Write

Many US universities send out their early round decisions in December! This is an exciting time. Many of you will be accepted to their first-choice school and some may be denied. However, a portion of early applicants will be deferred to the regular decision pool. Though this may be initially disappointment, being deferred is a

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Academic Mentoring and Meeting Your Goals

At US universities, your final graduation grade is assessed from your first assignment. The vesting system in the UK does not exist and every assignment affects your overall grade. That means you need to begin university with strong academic organisation, time management, and reading and research skills. Preparing to meet these challenges before you begin

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Early Decision and Early Action Results: What They Mean

If you applied Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, or Early Decision 1, then you can expect to hear from schools beginning in the middle of December. Precise dates are determined by individual institutions. Below, A-List has outlined the possible outcomes and what they mean. Acceptance: Success! You have been offered a place. In most instances, this

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A-List tutoring: get a great SAT AND prepare for university

Preparing for the SAT is a long journey, but it has multiple benefits! At A-List, the skills our students develop as they prepare for the SAT also help them excel at university. At A-List Education, we prioritise a growth mindset, strategy, and academic extension. Working with an academic advisor or private tutor, you will develop

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US Applications: How to Prioritise Schools on Your List

As students prepare their applications for universities in the US, they may wonder if it’s a good idea to add additional selective schools to their list. Most often, students want to apply to world renown universities in the hopes that an admissions committee will view their academic results and extracurricular accomplishments favorably and offer them

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Key strategies for top IB grades

Though the US admissions review process is holistic—taking into account extracurricular achievements, essays, recommendations, and standarised test scores—grades are still the most important part of the application. For students doing the International Baccalaureate (IB)diploma programme, receiving a 45 prediction is the ultimate goal. Working with a private tutor can help you work efficiently towards this

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Mindfulness to Ease Stress during Admissions Season

Mindfulness has been shown to have a positive impact in people’s lives, both in terms of wellness and mental health and performance outcomes. Higher levels of mindfulness have been associated with better grade, and even higher standardised test scores. Students who are applying for colleges who have undertaken a mindfulness practice have also been found

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Strengthen your STEM skills through online tutoring!

Top grades in A-Level chemistry, biology, physics and further maths – and their IB equivalents – require a deep understanding of a broad range of concepts as well as the mental flexibility to apply those concepts in a variety of situations. To cover so much material, a group class cannot dive as deeply into core

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Why a private tutor might be best for you

Twenty-first century students have ever increasing academic responsibilities and daunting deadline. In education, one approach does not suit everyone! A personal tutor offers the tailored feedback, personal pacing, and goalsetting that helps students reach their full potential. Advantages of Personal Tutoring: 1)      Tailored Feedback: individual tutors offer real-time feedback based on personalised assignments that provide

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Supplemental Essays: Why they Matter and What to Do

Though the personal statement is an essay that helps universities evaluate the kind of person you will be in their community, and it is central to the US application, it is not the only essay you will write. Most universities in the US, though certainly not all of them, have supplemental essays. These essays vary

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How online tutoring can get you A*s

As you work towards your university goals, earning top grades is the first and most important step. Though the US admissions process will also examine your extracurricular record, essays, test scores, and recommendations, your grades are the cornerstone of your application. At-A-List, we have experts to help you excel in your A-Level courses or IB

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UC Applications: Tips and Deadlines

The University of California system is famous around the globe. International students are drawn to the excellent academics and the idea of spending four years in California. This system of nine universities includes UCLA and UC Berkeley. The system receives over 200,000 applicants every year and is considered highly selective. Also, the UC system has

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SAT Subject Tests: 10 Tips for Success

SAT Subject Tests strengthen an applicant’s profile. Selective US schools seek nuanced information to make choices among a highly qualified pool of students. These Subject Tests, an hour-long multiple-choice test on specific content areas, are an excellent opportunity for students to highlight their expertise on various academic topics. There are SAT Subject tests in twenty

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The differences between US Universities and Colleges

There are over 4,500 universities offering undergraduate degrees in the United States. The sheer size of the US high education system makes it enviable in terms of choice and quality. However, the variety within this system, and the language used to describe these institutions can be confusing. At A-List we aim to make all aspects

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White Paper: Rankings

Helping students make informed choices as they apply to US universities is of paramount importance. As counsellors, we are expected to support students’ aspirations as well as reassure families that their students will thrive during their university years and there will be a return on investment. Many students and families come to counsellors with a

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Financial Aid for International Students

As you apply for US unis, you may wonder how you will fund your education.  A-List aims to make every step of the US university admissions process transparent for international families. Financial aid for international students is available! However, international students need determine if you qualify and learn how to apply.  In this blog post

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White Paper: Funding for International Students

Funding a US University Education: The Costs, Process, and Opportunities The cost of US higher education is much publicized and cause for needed debate both in the US and around the world. The sticker price for many US universities can be shocking. Thinking about how you will finance your degree is crucial, particularly for international

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Supplemental Essays: Why They Matter and What to Do

Though the personal statement is an essay that helps universities evaluate the kind of student you will be in their community, and it is central to the US application, it is not the only essay you will write. To get accepted to selective US unis, you will need to write supplemental essays.   Most US

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Revision: Make the Most of Mistakes

At A-List, we appreciate that students want to mark their practice tests only with ticks, sailing down the page, celebrating their accuracy. However, making mistakes on SAT practice tests is an important step towards earning good SAT scores. Mistakes allow students to better understand how to approach questions and this helps them approve their overall

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Common App Tips: Activities Section

The Common Application is the centralised portal to over 800 American universities. This online application enables students to share key academic information to all the schools on their application lists. This application is also where students detail their extracurricular record. The “Activities” section on the Common App carries significant weight to the review and admissions

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Tips for the SAT!

What is the key to earning good SAT scores? Planning, preparation, and practice. As the SAT draws near, now is an excellent time to consider your strategy for test day.   Weeks Before the Test The weeks before the SAT are prime times to sit 1-3 timed SAT mock tests. This not only enables you

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Financial Aid: Need-Based vs. Merit Scholarships

Many international students aspire to attend selective US universities. However, the cost of US schools often gives students and families pause. Many families hope to secure scholarships for international students.  At A-List, we want to make the funding options clear.   There are two major types of financial aid: Need-Based Aid and Merit Scholarships:  

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Cracking SAT Grammar

In order to secure a good SAT score, you must perform strongly across all sections of the test. This includes the Writing & Language section, forty-four questions that run the grammatical gamut from identifying verb forms to rhetorical skills. Our students come from a swathe of educational backgrounds, and with our expert guidance and directed

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