How to plan a test prep program for PSAT/SAT/ACT…

Planning ahead is the key to success.  This includes not only having a plan to increase your test scores, but also a longer term plan for when you will take these important exams.

The SATs are given in January, March, May, June, October, November and December.

The ACTs are given in February, April, June, September, October and December.

That is a lot of opportunities to take these exams but you want to avoid overload and you want to ‘peak at the right time’ for each exam.

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Maximum Education mAke the grAde Tip – SAT Essay – How you say it…

SAT: The essay – it’s how you say it not what you say

Crafting a strong essay

  1. you must address the prompt
    A common error of essay composition is to not stay on task and address the prompt throughout the entire essay.  This is key!  Make one main point and support this point in your presentation
  2. plan before you write
    make an outline, brainstorm, talk to others about it, make a rough draft
  3. build to a crescendo
    start with your basic thesis premise and use examples to build to your crescendo… Leave the reading saying to themselves “yes.. I want to know more about this applicant”
  4. keep with the word limit
    550 (or whatever words) means 550.  Use a word count tool and stay on course.

Need help with your essay(s).


Also see this video – over 6300 views!!

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Getting into college: The importance of the application essay – it’s just your future (and past!)

It’s September. If you are a football fan it’s pre-season and your team has hopes of making it to the super bowl. If you are a baseball fan hopefully your team is poised for a playoff run. If you like to swim and be outside, it is still warm and good weather and if you are a student you are waiting for your schedule and collecting school supplies.. unless you are a soon to be senior. An exciting time. It’s college application season. And you need to get busy!!

Seniors – this is an important time for you. And you need to take this process seriously. Treat it like a class! There are deadlines and time limitations. Simple to say. Not always so easy to do. As an Educator I get asked all the time about applications and admissions strategy, and the best advice us simple: start early, be consistent with your efforts and get it done.

My guideline for my students: Have your paperwork and essays done by the first day of school or the end of September at the latest. Take the pressure off of this process.

Simple to say. Not always so easy to do. Most apps take at least 3-4 Hours to complete. The essays writing and revision process can seem interminable.

So start EARLY and work on them OFTEN.

Most of the application process is a collection of information… name rank and serial number type stuff. Your academic history, your standard admissions test scores, your extracurricular activities etc… and then coup de grace.. the chance for you to tell them about all the things they didn’t ask about already… THE ESSAY.

Writing this essay – or in some cases essays – can be daunting and intimidating for students. What do I say? Am I talking about the right things? How can I say what I want in only 650 words? Does it really matter? How do I make my essay stand out?

The answers are: Talk about your experiences. Stay with the essay prompt that you’ve chosen. Yes brevity is important but stay on point. yes the essay can be a huge factor in admission. Stay interesting and tell your story… don’t write like a history paper.

Need help. Here is a video that I’ve made along with professional college placement advisor Cheryl DiLanzo. It will give you a very good perspective on the essay.


Finally if you don’t know where to start, or you would like a professional look at your essay, consider this free (!!) essay workshop:


Please let me know what you think in the comments area below.

or Contact mAke the grAde now at:

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Today – Sept 30 – Last Day to Get Maximum Education for free! :)

Today only… you you get a FREE copy of Maximum Education at this link:

Watch the video and click the link in the comments…

  • Time Management
  • Information Management
  • Comprehensive Planning
  • Special Bonuses

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Who is your mastermind group?

I imagine you’ve heard of the mastermind group…. you collect (or join) a group of others who are experts in their fields – and at the same time do not compete with you – and you meet and brainstorm and mastermind ideas. The goal is to help each other succeed through support and education and well… OPT = others peoples talent.

Take home message —> you can ALWAYS learn from others no matter how successful you are in your own field.

Over the summer, I had the privilege of joining more than 20 other entrepreneurs for an evening of networking and sharing success stories. Talk about positive ‘vibes’ in the room! Better even, nearly all of these business owners have following their passions for only a few years. A real tribute to the reality that if you feel strongly enough about your dreams and goals and you have the right plan and you work with the right people… success is just a matter of time.

I asked the organizer of the event, Bonny Clayton – Your Web Chick – to summarize the event:

“Six months ago, when I started playing with ideas for how to celebrate my two years in full-time business for myself, I wasn’t sure where to start. I knew I wanted to celebrate the small business professionals who had supported me in ways big and small over these two years. I knew I wanted to spotlight other local businesses. And I knew I wanted to give something back And so Journey to Success, a charity networking event with small business owners as storytellers, was born! The success of the event exceeded my expectations and I believe that success can be attributed to the combination of my diligent social media and personal outreach, the quality of the sponsors who stepped up to support the event and the appeal of the storytelling element. The feedback I’ve received so far echoes my own sentiments…that the storytellers were the hit of the event. And so, selecting storytellers will be an ongoing tradition for each Journey to Success to come!!”

At this small (20 people) event, not only did I sample some great home made food and the best cupcakes ever (nothing wrong with mixing food with business right!), but I also met several talented and motivated people. All of them were on different stages in their respective journeys to success. And I learned something from all of them.

PS – the event raised over $200 to support the North Shore Animal League!

Take action. Form or join a mastermind or a networking group. It could be a localized face to face group, or use technology and meet via online forums. Both work well.

If you are local to me… CHECK OUT THIS MASTERMIND GROUP or connect with my inbox if you want to learn more about online mastermind groups.

Connect. Learn. Prosper.

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Limited Offer – Get Maximum Education for Free!

Amazon is offering my book for FREE today tomorrow and Wednesday only.

I have made a short video to promote this (attached)… the direct link is:

Link to get Maximum Education for free!
Also.. please share with anyone who you think might be interested.

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Online Tutoring: What are your options?

It’s 11pm and you have a question about your math or science homework. You just can’t seem to finish your English or History paper. You’re 5th graders homework is beyond what you as a parent ever learned in high school… Do you have a solution? Where are you going to get help? Good news. There is a convenient, simple, and increasingly affordable solution: online tutoring. Online education and online tutoring is not a new concept, however in the past few years there has been a proliferation of companies and individuals providing this service. So what is online tutoring?

The concept is simple and fairly self-evident. A student would connect with a tutor or educator through an online medium or online based classroom. Then they can work through their educational or academic challenges. Typically a combination of media issues for example, video feed audio feed and an online whiteboard along with screen sharing. Almost like being there live.

“We provide 15-20 hours or online based education to our students each week.” says Dr Steven Greene, the lead educator at mAke the grAde a Philadelphia PA based service. Some of this are 1 hour sessions that are similar to our face to face tutoring, but many are in 10 minute blocks to accommodate students who have just 1 question or just need a single concept explained.”

Greene goes on to talk about the convenience of the system.

“Clearly there is an academic and educational advantage to the student as they can get help from an expert, but there also is a convenience advantage as students are able to tailor the amount of time needed to their specific question so the process becomes very efficient. Also the ability to get help when they need it is priceless.”

An example of one of Dr Greene’s online sessions can be found here:

What do online tutoring services instruct?
Academically, pretty much everything.

Subjects range from general math such as arithmetic, algebra and geometry right up to calculus in addition there are students who have questions about science topics like general science, and the more advanced classes like chemistry biology and physics,. Additionally History, English including writing term papers, and foreign languages are popular. There are clear advantages… Imagine being able to learn Spanish from a native speaking tutor in Spain! Or being able to learn Chemistry from a working Chemist. And it doesn’t end there… an increasingly large number of students also work on standardized tests like the SAT and a ACT college admissions exams and further get coaching for the application and essay process.

These services are not hard to find. A single search of the Internet shows that just about anything can be taught or learned online those in the education arena and outside of it. There are topic basic sites dedicated to this field such as Udemy and Creative Live. Companies like and which provide subject based tutors appear to be popular as well. Here is a link to a review of several of the large companies:

But does it work? Is it effective? Can one really learn this way? College students, High school students, Middle School students and Parents all seem to love the concept.

“I never would’ve made it through my freshman year of college” reports Jenna currently a student at Penn State University. “It wasn’t my classes were overly difficult all the time, but the volume of work was challenging, and it was very reassuring to know that I could get help that was really effective when I needed it and I didn’t have to be locked into a strict schedule. There is plenty of help on campus but it doesn’t always work around my schedule”.

Charles, now a High School senior in California was happy to have the option. “We had checked out several local tutors and some of the big house prep classes but but we wanted something that was one-on-one and more tailored to my timetable and my instructional needs. We found that online tutoring was the best of all worlds when it came to prep for the ACT. The best part about it was that I really connect with my tutor and my score went up 5 points which was phenomenal.”

Finally parents are happy to have the help. “I was fine working with my daughter until 7th grade. At that point the Math and Science were just beyond what I remember.” said Andi, a mother of three who seemed to have a full time job just managing homework time. “Having to oversee homework for all of the kids become too much. And honestly, it reached a point where they just didn’t want to work with me or their dad. The online service is just great. We use it when we need it and my kids love doing it. Really it’s a life saver.” Want to check out a sample online tutoring session:

Finally, try before you buy. Most tutoring companies, including mAke the grAde, will offer a free trial session before you commit to anything longer term.

Dr Steven Greene is the lead educator at mAke the grAde. They are a full time academic services and tutoring company based in the Philadelphia PA area. Since 1996 mAke the grAde has worked with over 7 000 students and their families including nearly 1 000 using online tutoring. You can reach him at

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