Ivy League class of 2021 Early Application numbers

The college acceptance season is officially under way, as schools have released early admission numbers for the class of 2021. Here is a refresher on early admission, which is offered by about 450 US colleges.

At colleges that offer “early decision,” admitted students are committed to attending that school. They may not apply to more than one college through early decision.

Other colleges offer “early action,” which is nonbinding, and students may apply to multiple colleges.

Deadlines for both are in the fall. Deadlines for regular admission typically fall between Jan. 1 and Feb. 1.

What are the advantages of applying early?

Better admissions odds, for one. Guidance counselors recommend it for students who have done their homework to realistically narrow their options. From the colleges’ perspective, it lets them know students are serious about attending.

Are there disadvantages?

Students accepted through early decision (binding) generally receive a take-it-or-leave-it financial aid offer from that one school and may miss out on a better offer from another college.

Critics of the process say it feeds the college-admission frenzy and tends to benefit wealthy students who know how to work the system.

The Ivy League is seeing a surge in early applications. A sampling of the numbers released this month:

 Harvard early action (nonbinding) applications rose 5 percent, to 6,473. The acceptance rate fell slightly this year to 14.5 percent, or 938 students.

 Yale welcomed its largest group of early-action admits in several years, accepting 871 students, or 17.1 percent, from a pool of 5,086.

 Princeton University saw an 18.5 percent increase in early applications. It offered admission to 770 students, or 15.4 percent, from a pool of 5,003.

 The University of Pennsylvania had a record-breaking 6,147 applicants and accepted 22 percent.


Do you have more questions about finding the right college for you?  

Contact us here.


Source:  The Boston Globe, December 28, 2016

Power Poses - Prepare Your Body for Success on Testing Day

There is a simple strategy that you can use to reduce anxiety, improve your ability to deal with stress, and boost your confidence. 

The best part? It works immediately and only takes two minutes to do.

It's called power posing. It can be used to prepare your body for success on test day. To learn more, take a look at the excellent Ted Talk below on power poses --

Do you have more questions about how to raise your ACT or SAT scores?  

Contact us here.


The ACT Essay Changes (Again!)

Beginning this fall with the September national test date, ACT will no longer report the essay score (otherwise known as the writing test score) on a 1-to-36 scale. The writing score will instead return its original range of 2-to-12, with 12 being the highest possible score. We at Test Prep Gurus laud this development as ACT's experiment with using a 1-to-36 scale for the ACT essay caused a lot of unnecessary confusion for students and families.

Carol Dweck - A Study on Praise and Mindsets

We at Test Prep Gurus believe that how a student prepares for the SAT and ACT is vastly more important than how much they prepare. One of the core principles of our teaching methodology is growth mindset. It is one aspect of how we guide students to unparalleled results on standardized exams, while empowering them with broader skill-sets that will enable them to be more effective in reaching their goals in high school, college, work, and beyond.  

It Is to Your Advantage to Apply to Fewer Colleges?

Contrary to popular myth, it may be to students' advantage to apply to fewer selective colleges, rather than more. The table below cross-references students' total number of college applications with the percentage of colleges to which they were accepted. The data was collected from Polytechnic in Pasadena, one of the country's top independent day schools. The conclusions below were presented at the 2016 National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference. 

College Ranking vs GPA & Test Scores

This graph depicts the general interactions between college rankings and GPA and SAT/ACT scores. 

We've found this graph can be a great conversation-starter for parents and students who are new to the college admissions process, just to give them a sense of the general landscape of admissions as it relates to GPA and test scores.  

Additional details about the graph:

Lower Left Quadrant (Low College Ranking, Low GPA/Test Scores): Remember, there are more than 2,000 colleges across the United States that fall into this category. If you want to go to college, there is a college out there that wants you!  This little bit of information can often be very helpful in ratcheting down the anxiety surrounding college admissions.

Upper Left Quadrant (High College Ranking, Low GPA/Test Scores): This is where we find the majority of denials.  If you're applying to a top-ranked school, it really helps to have competitive stats.  If your GPA and SAT or ACT score aren't competitive with those of a school's typical applicants (or it's a test-optional school), you'll very likely need to have another "hook." A hook is a trait that makes a student more desirable to a college, such as being a highly-recruited athlete, excellent musician, development case, debate champion, etc.

Upper Right Quadrant (High College Ranking, High GPA/Test Scores): We often refer to the top 50 ranked colleges as "Ivy-Like."  This term was coined by Deren Finks, former Dean of Admissions at Harvey Mudd College. We have found that this term is a useful reminder that it is roughly as difficult today to gain admittance to one of the top 50 colleges as it used to be to gain admittance to one of the Ivy League schools. If you are applying to schools in this quadrant, it really helps to have a GPA and SAT or ACT score that is in line with these schools' typical applicants.  

Lower Right Quadrant (Low College Ranking, High GPA/Test Scores): This is where students can find scholarship dollars. If your stats are higher than those of a school's typical applicants, you significantly increase your chances of receiving merit-based financial aid.  If you have a strong GPA and an SAT or ACT score to match, we would encourage you to ask your counselor about excellent colleges that don't have a huge brand name. You might be surprised at how much money some colleges will give you!

The Ivy League: Up there, in the top right-hand corner, you'll notice a red dot for the Ivy League. Given the difficulty of gaining admittance to these schools (plus Stanford, MIT, and a handful of others), they are quite literally off our chart. That is not to say that you can't get into one of these colleges; many of our students do! However, if you are applying to the most selective schools in the country it is often helpful to remember that an excellent GPA and a near-perfect SAT or ACT score are usually the minimum requirements for consideration. 


How to Use this Graph: This graph can be a great tool to kick-start a conversation between students, parents, and counselors.  Some questions we've found helpful for families in the past include:

  • Where do you currently see yourself on this graph?  

  • Where would your parents like you to be on this graph?  Why?

  • Where would you like to be on this graph?  Why?  

  • If you'd like to be somewhere other than your current position, what steps do you need to take to reach your goal? 


Do you have specific questions about finding the right-fit college for you?  

Contact us here.

Comparing ACT vs Redesigned PSAT Scores

The starting point for any program is to identify where the student is currently scoring. Test Prep Gurus offers free diagnostic tests for the ACT, SAT and other exams to provide a baseline score, which we expand into a detailed analysis of the student's strengths and weaknesses. The above chart can be used to compare scores from the ACT and the New PSAT to determine if a student is better suited to the ACT or the New SAT.