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.

The Common App: Overview

The Common Application, which is accepted by more than 900 schools, including some colleges located outside the U.S., helps streamline one essential part of the admissions process for students. Through the platform, first-time and transfer applicants alike can apply to multiple colleges at once. So, students only need to fill out details that most schools require, including

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 Summer Reading Plan to Improve Your SAT Reading Score

Good SAT scores require a strong SAT Reading score. Covering fictional, social science, historical, and scientific texts, the SAT Reading section necessitates a developed critical reading ability. The best way to develop this skill is to read a wide variety of challenging texts in the months and years leading up to your SAT. Reading such

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US Universities and International Students: Is it Right for You?

International students are interested in the attending US universities because they offer an excellent education with unparalleled student resources. In the top 100 universities in the world, the US has 58 schools, and the UK has 8. Also, with over 4,000 schools to choose from, students can choose a school that best fits their needs.

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2021 ACT trends and how to prepare for the September test

There are just under two months before the September 2021 ACT, which means this is the time to ramp up your ACT preparation in earnest! To help you prepare, here are our top observations from recent ACTs combined with our 15-year experience of helping students score good ACT scores: English: Grammar rules continue to be

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US University Ethos: Schools that Match your Values

At A-List UK, we believe students thrive in educational communities that share their values! Important lessons are often learned outside of the classroom. Universities in the US are often an integral part of cultural debates and social change. A-List UK professional college advisors recommend that students who want to advocate for issues that are important

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Extra Time and Standardised Tests: Apply for Accommodations 

For good SAT scores and good ACT scores, you want to harness your learning style. Both SAT and ACT exam board offer accommodations for students with learning differences. Accommodations might include extra time, extra breaks, a scribe, larger font, a computer/paper-based test, or being able to sit the sections on different days. First, you need

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US University Campus Life: How to Find your Fit

Students from all over the world are interested in US universities because of their international prestige, flexible curriculums, and first-rate student resources. However, students are also interested in the US college campus experience! Many US unis and colleges have wonderful campuses where students live and learn together. Each school cultivates its campus culture. Thus, even

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ACT  Tips for a Top Score 

Getting good ACT scores is hard work. It takes diligence, drive, and organisation in order to learn the content needed. These skills are also need when students analyse their performance on practice tests. Private tutoring can help students develop these skills and tailor their revision in the best way for their learning style. A-List UK

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Charity Work and US Uni Applications

Students who want to get accepted to selective US universities know they need to invest in their extracurricular profile. Many students are keen to do charity work so they can give back to their communities and also learn valuable skills university communities need. At A-List UK, we always encourage out students to invest in activities

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Correct Mistakes and Increase Your SAT Scores

Correcting your mistakes is one of the keys to earning a good SAT score. The SAT design makes getting to grips with the question styles strategically savvy and reflecting upon the causes of error is the most important way to ensure you do not repeat the error! When you are completing your practice sections, ensure

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What are Ivy League Schools Looking For?

At A-List UK, we believe in ambition. Our students want to attend some of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world. However, understanding what Ivy League schools, and other equally competitive and rigorous universities, look for in their applicants can be confusing. A-List UK expert college consultants want to dispel myths and help

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Top 3 Bootcamp Activities that Increase Your Score

In five days and 27.5 hours of instruction, A-List UK SAT Bootcamp provides comprehensive content, key exam techniques, and personalised strategies. Here are our top three bootcamp activities guaranteed to empower students to earn a good SAT score: 1. Textual Analysis The SAT Reading includes a range of challenging texts from 18th century to present

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What Makes for a Good US Personal Statement

The US personal statement is a unique essay within the higher education landscape. Though most universities across the globe want a writing sample to assess your academic ability and interest in a specific course, US universities ask for a personal narrative that highlights key values and qualities that you will bring to the university community. Writing

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Tips to Improve Your ACT Score!

Good ACT scores require high individual section scores to produce a strong composite: achieving this requires comprehensive content knowledge, particularly English grammar, effective use of exam techniques, and sufficient stamina. The ACT is split into two parts: content (English and Maths) and strategy (Reading and Science). An effective way to raise your composite score is

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Exam Results and US Uni Applications

When students are thinking about applying to selective US universities, they often wonder how their exam results impact their applications. Though there are many differences between the US university admissions process and UCAS, they do have one thing in common: grades are the cornerstone of the application. For international students, this means your IGCSE, GCSE,

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Tips for Perfecting Your Timing on the SAT and ACT

Both the ACT and the SAT push students’ resilience and mental sharpness to the limit due to their time constraints. A-List’s expert tutors provide tips for working under pressure. 1. Read the questions properly: as obvious as it sounds, the #1 error stems from students misreading the questions. To prevent this, focus on key words in the question that specify

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Online Courses and US Uni Applications: Should You Do Them?

As students plan their summer activities, many ask advisors if they should do academic courses. Both universities, private organisations, and governmental initiatives offer summer enrichment programmes for secondary school students. For ambitious students who hope to get accepted to a selective US uni, these programmes offer the opportunity to develop advanced skills and also demonstrate

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Mental Fitness and the ACT

The ACT requires mental dexterity and stamina. The exam asks students to apply comprehensive content knowledge over the long three and a half hours of the test. To earn a good ACT score, students are only allowed small margins of error in a few sections. A-list has worked over 15 years to develop strategies that help students master the content as well as develop mental fitness required to excel on the

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Test-Optional Policies: What These Mean for Students

When international students think about applying to selective universities in the US, they often think about having to prep for the SAT or ACT. Top scores on these tests will make students competitive in the application process and increase their options. However, if you are unable to prep for these tests but you still want

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SAT Bootcamp Benefits: get ahead over summer

This July, A-List will offer intensive subject and section specific bootcamps helping our students to target their areas that need improvement to earn a good SAT score. Our SAT bootcamps have raised student scores year after year. SAT Bootcamp Benefits 1. All content covered required for a good SAT score. In 5 days and 27.5

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US University Applications: Summer To-Do List

As the 2020-21 school year comes to an end, now is the perfect time to plan your summer. If you are applying to US universities for the fall of 2022, there are key tasks you should complete in the coming months! Below, A-List’s expert advisors have outlined what you need to accomplish. Before the end

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How to score 9 on GCSE Literature

A strong score in core GCSE subjects, English and Maths in particular, significantly impacts your application to US universities. The English Literature GCSE allows students to demonstrate mastery of literary analysis and close reading. The key to scoring 9 is consistent preparation throughout your coursework and developing strong academic skills. This blog will focus on

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US University Admissions Data: 2020-2021 Cycle Round Up

As the 2020-2021 US university admissions cycle comes to a close, A-List is sifting through the data to provide great advice for the next round. Understanding trends in admissions is the best way to make savvy strategic decisions during the application process. Applications at the most selective schools increased dramatically. Though the Ivy League, MIT,

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Year 11 Students: SAT and ACT Key Steps

Congratulations – you have (almost) survived Year 11. As you look forward to the summer, now is also a fantastic time to beginning prepping for your US university applications. To put yourself in a strong position for top US colleges, you will need good SAT or ACT scores. The summer after Year 11 is the

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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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