Archive for November, 2010

SAT World History

You might have always hated history classes at school, but you may still choose to take the SAT World History test. Here is what the College Board says about the skills you should possess:

  • Familiarity with terminology, cause-and-effect relationships, geography and other data necessary for understanding major historical developments
  • A grasp of concepts essential to historical analysis
  • An ability to use historical knowledge in interpreting data in maps, graphs, charts or cartoons

If you hate remembering too many facts and dates, you need not be discouraged as the test is NOT about memorizing.

Some of my students have had really amazing scores on the SAT World History test. However, others have had quite low ones. I believe the difference lies in their different preparation approaches.

Some students rely solely on SAT preparation books, but these should not be the only source as they offer just concise review materials. They are valuable in providing you with a list of topics covered by the test. Just that.

If you want to prepare for an excellent score, you should use the SATWorld History book just as a map and provide detailed study materials from other sources. Fat US high school textbooks could be a good resource, but I don’t think you should limit your exploration only to them … not today when we have the Internet. You could find there not only texts but also a lot of visual material. Here is a website I just discovered. The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use.


Do you intend to enroll in a degree program your first year?

I have noticed that many people have come upon my blog by asking this question. However, I do not offer any explanation – just the answer my students should provide.

Well, let me explain for all who really wish to know:

You might enroll as a degree or a non-degree student.

If you plan to get a degree ( e.g. a Bachelor of Science in Physics), you need to take some mandatory classes, to collect a certain number of credit hours, etc. Then you enroll in a degree program.

However, your goal may not be to get a degree but just to take a number of classes because you are interested in them. Then you don’t enroll in a degree program. In this case you may not be a full-time student and take the required work-load, but just stray classes.

Of course, you might spend your first year as a non-degree student and then decide to start a degree program. In this case, you write “No” because they ask about the first year only.

This question does not ask you whether you are going to declare a major in the first year. You might enroll in a degree program your first year and not be in a hurry to declare your major during the first year 🙂

This is not just my own interpretation but what a friend of mine who works in a US college told me after discussing the question with other faculty and admissions officers.

The mosaic / the list

Some college ask you:

Is there any further information regarding your personal situation or achievements that you think we should know when considering your possible acceptance to X?

Some students wonder what they could write. Well, sometimes you don’t need to write anything, but sometimes it might be a good idea to write something. How do you figure that out?

A college gets a lot of information about you – from different sources, in different ways. You should think of this information as of a mosaic.

How do you make sure nothing important is omitted? Write a list of all the important things a college should know about you. For every application check if you all points covered – by your essays, portfolios, short answers and possibly teacher recommendations (you should think of the things teachers don’t know about you, so they won’t address).

(USA) Financial aid : CSS Financial aid profile and other instruments

Not all schools use the same financial aid documents, so you should check with every school – what type of forms they require from INTERNATIONAL students. Be careful as often financial aid documents and application documents for the same academic year might have different years in their title. For example, on your college application you might see 2010-2011, while on the financial aid document, you might see 2011-2012.

You might wish to create a table where you write down what every school requires.

You might find SOME  instructions from previous years helpful – see the ‘financial aid’ category in this blog. However, I have not published information about all instruments and documents.


(USA) The Common Application: 2010-2011 First-year application

Read older texts on the common application to learn about its parts, etc. You don’t need to read the specific instructions (like the one I’m posting below) for specific previous years.


Legal name: Your name as it is written on your ID card. Exactly!

Preferred name: If your name is Dimitar, but you’d prefer to be called “Mitko”

Former last name(s), if any – you have such a name if you have changed your last name because of marriage or divorce, for example.

Birth date: “mm/dd/yyyy” means “month, day, year” . 3rd November, 2008 in this format is written as ” 11/03/2008″

US Social Security Number, if any – if you are one of my current students, you probably don’t have any

E-mail address: it should include your real name to sound more formal. Avoid any “pussy”-like usernames.

IM address: IM=instant messenger – Skype, ICQ, etc. Would you like to be approached by college representatives? Well, if you have the guts, go ahead

Permanent home address: you know what it is – where your parents live, etc.

Current mailing adress: where you can be sure to receive mail. It could be a mail box at the post office or your grandparents’ address … whatever.

FUTURE PLANS – this section might be different for different colleges

Entry Term: Fall (if you want to start college in the fall of 2011)

Decision Plan: the most common one is Regular Decision. I usually advise against applying Early …

Do you intend to apply for need-based financial aid? Yes.

Do you intend to apply for merit-based scholarships? Yes.

Do you intend to be a full-time student? Yes.

Do you intend to enroll in a degree program your first year? Yes

Do you intend to live in college housing? Yes or No – you might have different answers for different colleges. If you know that they offer financial aid only for the tuition, then you might wish to live off campus if it is much cheaper.

What is the highest degree you intend to earn? I have already explained the degrees: bachelor, master, doctor.

Career Interest: if you are undecided, just write “undecided”

Academic interests: well, you do have some, and there’s plenty of space to fit them in


Citizenship status

Non-US citizenship Bulgarian

Primary language spoken at home Bulgarian / Turkish …

White (including Middle Eastern)


You should include information about both parents, even if one or more is deceased (dead) or has no legally (or practically) responsible for you. If your parents are separated, divorced, etc. – if you are in any doubt, ask me!!!

Occupation: position at the moment

Employer: the name of the company, not the boss’ name

College / Graduate school: if your parents have a University diploma, and they have studied at university for more than 4 years, then you should choose “Graduate school” and write its name. The degree is usually “Master” – of what? That’s their major.

Legal guardian: only if other than a parent!

Siblings: these are your brothers or sisters


Secondary schools: these are high schools (гимназии)

Entry date: the date you started high school

Graduation date: ask school officials

School type: all my students should enter “public”

CEEB/ACT Code: If you are one of my students, your school does not have such a code, so you’ll get 0000 after click on “not found”

Counselor’s name: one of the teachers writing your recommendations will be your counselor – the one who knows you best and is going to prepare the school report.

Counselor’s Title: if he is a subject teacher, you could write “Teacher of Physics”, for example

List all other secondary schools, including summer schools ….: if you have not changed high schools after 8th class or you have not taken part in any summer academic programs at high schools, you don’t write anything here.

Please list any community program/organization that has provided free assistance with your application process N/A

If your secondary school education was or will be interrupted: no student of mine this year should fill in these!

Colleges & Universities: no student of mine this year should fill in these!



Class Rank N/A

Class Size the number of students graduating in 2011 (брой ученици във випуска)

Weighted? If it is impossible to skip, choose “No”

GPA = grade point average (среден успех) – include year grades for 9, 10 and 11 class

Scale: 2-6 ( 3 is the lowest passing mark)

Weighted? If you include ALL subjects, choose YES; if you don’t include all subjects, choose NO.

My students should include information only about TOEFL and SAT tests. Fill in information not only about the tests you have already taken but also about the ones you plan to take.

Current courses: the subjects you take in 12 class

Honors: This is only about academic honors – related to academic subjects, so don’t include achievements in sports J Arrange these carefully! It’s a bit tricky!


Write the most importants ones in order of interest, even if you plan to send a resume! It does not matter if any of these are institutional, family or independent ones!


Short answer: It’s about ONE of your extraxurricular or work experience. As it should be include no more than 150 words, make sure every word makes sense! You should explain why it was one of your most meaningful activities, what you gained from it.

Personal essay: No matter what topic you choose, the essay should tell something about you – how the person/book/experience, etc. has influenced you

I suggest you write down ideas on ALL topics instead of focusing only on the one that seem the easiest. I’ll help you choose which one is worth developing.

Additional information: if you have something really unusual in your circumstances … you’d better ask me before you write something pathetic!

Disciplinary history: No, No, I hope


Application fee payment: Will Mail Fee Waiver Request ( it’s a letter from your school, explaining that you don’t fave the money to pay. Most colleges accept it)

Tick all boxes!


You might have had more than one teacher per subject, but there is not enough space to write down all names, so make sure you write all subjects, and then write the name of the teacher who taught you longer or more recently. The teachers who are going to write reference letters should be on the list. If in doubt, ask me.

Applying to US colleges

Some people still don’t know what documents should be sent to American colleges. Instead of asking me, please, go through the relevan information in this blog. Check the category “Comm app”, and you will find more than 20 posts. Some of them give specific instructions on filling out applications for specific years, but most of them do provide information that is still valid.

My next publication will appear in a minute, and it will be the latest instruction on the Common Application, which you are going to fill out online.

If you have carefully read the blog so far, you’ll know that it is not the only document you have to prepare.