Collage Preparation Blog

Last edition, I started sharing some of my observations of families who (in my opinion) successfully navigated the test preparation, college selection, and college admission processes.  In this edition, I would like to share a few more observations on how some of these parents best helped their students to succeed.

Realistic Expectations

One factor that can negatively impact a student’s SAT or ACT score is the stress of taking a timed test.  Many of us know smart students who excel in their classes yet do not perform well on tests.  While there are strategies that can be utilized to help mitigate the stress, parents should be realistic about how much improvement they can expect to see from their students’ scores.  Adding on the pressure of an unrealistic parental expectation is rarely helpful to already anxious kids.  In fact, often is has quite the opposite effect.  Try to avoid the trap of comparing your [...]

This is the second podcast in an informative series presented for the benefit for college bound students or students thinking of attending college. The tips and ideas presented are guaranteed to help anyone get closer to being accepted by their first choice college.

In this episode James speaks to Christina Hamilton, director of admissions at Sacred Heart University.

Listen to episode 2 below:

Review of UWorld SAT Prep Tool

At First Choice, our driving mission is to give students greater opportunities in their lives. We have a number of approaches and products, but primarily we do this by helping our students better prepare and conquer the one piece of their admissions package that can be improved in a tight time frame – their SAT and ACT scores. Unlike GPAs, community service, or extra-curricular activities, their standardized test scores are snapshots of single moments in their academic careers. Because of this, we can coach them to success by emphasizing both test preparedness (strategies for approaching the test, as well as how to handle time and anxiety pressures) and subject matter expertise.  Each student has different needs within both areas, and creating concrete improvement requires commitment by the student and tailored instruction by our tutors. I am always on the look out for tips, tricks, approaches, or materials that can [...]

SAT prep tips for parentsAs parents, our goal is to teach our children how to make good decisions.  When the time comes, we have to trust that we have raised them well and given them all the tools that they need to make those choices themselves.  Many parents ask me, “How do I get my kid to choose the right college?  How do I make sure they do the right thing?”  I always hesitate to give parenting advice – my personal parenting mantra is “therapists need work too” – when there probably is no parenting choice that couldn’t end up in counseling!  So, instead of giving a list of SAT prep tips for parents, allow me to share my observations of the families who (in my experience) have most successfully navigated the test prep and college selection [...]

Congratulations! You just successfully finished the school year! Unfortunately, if the year you just wrapped up was your junior year, you don’t get to rest for long. The college search process is an important and time consuming one. You want to minimize your stress at the beginning of senior year by getting a head start on things over the summer. Fall of senior year is a busy time, so you should start trying to get some things finished in advance. In this article, we will review a few tips for how to use your summer wisely.

First up: standardized tests. This is the first time that the SAT is being offered in August. That means that you can prepare for the test over the summer while you aren’t distracted by other school commitments. The first step is to review your results from the spring tests. Determine your weak areas and review them first. Over the [...]

This is the first podcast in an informative series presented for the benefit for college bound students or students thinking of attending college. The tips and ideas presented are guaranteed to help anyone get closer to being accepted by their first choice college.

Listen to episode 1 below:


College Wait List TipsGetting mail from your first choice college can be a nerve wracking experience. You open it hoping to find out that you’ve been accepted, and anxious over the thought that you may have been rejected. If one of these two happens, your path is pretty clear. But what about the third possibility? What do you do if you get waitlisted?

Being put on the waitlist leaves you feeling in limbo, not sure what to do next. So here are a few concrete steps that you can take, and some important considerations that you should keep in mind.

Make your intentions known!

The first thing you should do is to send a letter of interest to the admissions office. You want to let them know that they are your first choice, and that you would accept an offer [...]

On April 5, all public school juniors took the SAT. In the beginning of May, students will get those test scores back and many of them will have questions. In this article, I’m going to answer some of those questions and explain how to use those scores to help you prepare for future tests.

What does my score mean? The SAT scores have gone back to the future, so to speak, and are once again calculated out of 1600. Last year’s admitted class at UConn had an average score of 1270, and the national average now is around 1030. That should give you a sense for where your whole score falls in comparison to the average. Let’s go more in depth. Students get two separate scores ranging from 200 to 800: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. This [...]

It’s essential to get your FAFSA form filled accurately and early.

We have created a step by step guide detailing everything you need to complete the 2017-18 FAFSA form.


How to File Your 2017-18 FAFSA from James Maroney

Have you got any questions about filling out the form or applying for college financial aid? Leave a comment below or send us a message.

Are you wondering whether you should take the SAT or ACT test to gain a place at college?  Choosing between the two generally comes down to personal choice, however how can you decide which to take?  What is the difference between the SAT and ACT test?

To answer that very question, we have created our own info-graphic, which explains some of the major differences between the two tests:


SAT vs ACT test


Would you like to share our infographic on your blog?  Please feel free to download it and credit us at:

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