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Everything posted by Erin

  1. That's quite the ordeal. Sounds like a horrible experience. ETS might allow you a retake, but I don't think they'll give you a partial refund. For what it's worth, your English in this post is quite advanced. Hopefully that will come through in your scores. Good luck!
  2. The present perfect verb tense is one of the most used verb tenses in English, but also sometimes the most confusing. In its basic form, it is used to talk about actions that have already been completed with some sort of connection with the present. For example, "I have eaten breakfast" can be used to say that you have finished eating breakfast, but you finished recently. The present perfect tense is made up of two parts: the present tense of the verb "to have" (I have, you have, she/he/it has, etc.) and the past participle of the main verb (eaten, gone, seen, etc.). Here are some more examples of the present perfect verb tense: I have finished my homework. You have cleaned your room. She has washed the car. The present perfect verb tense is often used with time expressions such as already, just, and yet. I have already eaten breakfast. You have just cleaned your room. She has not washed the car yet. The present perfect verb tense can also be used to talk about actions that happened in the past but are still relevant today. For example, "I have seen that movie three times." This basically means that you have seen the movie three times in the past, but it's still possible that you will see it more often.
  3. I get this question from students regularly. What usually happens is a student gets a letter asking them to join the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). (But even if you don't get a letter, you can still join!) Some of them are really excited about being nominated, while others are rightfully more skeptical. The acronym sounds close to the National Honor Society (NHS), so maybe there's some confusion on the part of the student. So students wonder whether they should pay $75 for a lifetime membership at NSHHS. The National Society of High School Scholars is not a prestigious organization and will not help with college admissions. It sends out thousands of these letters every year, and fortunately for them, a high enough percentage of students join. According to their own web page, they accept anyone who meets any single one of the following criteria (retrieved 2022-07-26): 3.5 GPA or better 1280 SAT or 1150 PSAT or higher (about the 85 percentile) A 4 or better on any single AP exam 26 or higher on the ACT Combined IB test scores of 36 or higher IGCSE grade A or better In the top 10% of the class If you visit the BBB page for the NSHSS, you will find many (over 100 total) complaints like this: Many of the complainers state that they thought the invitation was from the NHS (National Honor Society) because they didn't read carefully. The good news is that NSHSS appears to refund fees to those who request it. So good on them for that. Importantly, the NSHSS is NOT a non-profit, even though their website is hosted on a .org domain. Anyone can get a .org, just so you know. It's the .edu, .gov, etc. domains that actually mean something. They are not registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit; rather, they are a 'Domestic Profit Corporation' (according to Georgia's business registration website), just like most large companies you know. Bottom line--NSHSS will most certainly not help you get into college any more than being the leader of your Fortnite team for three years would. If anything, the readers might take a little pity on you for joining. But you're free to join if you want to and $75 seems worth it; there are some benefits listed, like events and some networking and possible scholarships, though to be fair, you can find much of the same for free online and through your school.
  4. In a 4 to 3 vote on June 21, 2022, Lowell High School (in San Francisco) decided to scrap its experiment with lottery-based admissions and return to merit-based admissions. Who this applies to: If you're in 8th grade in the fall of 2022, and you want to apply to Lowell High School, and you intend to start in the fall of 2023, you will apply merit-based. What admissions will exactly look like: I have not found official confirmation from SFUSD of what the admissions process will entail, but it will likely be similar to the previous system (SBAC test, GPA, extra activities, Lowell essay, and a few other factors). See the Lowell HS application timeline post that I wrote for more information. Image for attention:
  5. I'm working on an article about applying to Lowell High School (in San Francisco), and I'm gathering information about the process. I've worked with a lot of students applying to Lowell for a couple of decades, so if you have any questions, let me know. If you're not familiar with SFUSD high school applications, then it's important to note that you don't apply directly to Lowell per se; you apply to all SFUSD high schools at the same time and indicate Lowell as one of your choices. If you're following the news, Lowell is abandoning the lottery system that was in place for two years, so they're back to merit-based admission. I also have information about the 'band' system that Lowell uses, which I can post if anyone thinks it will help. Lowell admissions timeline for students in 8th grade in the fall of 2022, applying to start in the fall of 2023 October 22, 2022: SFUSD high school applications available (including for Lowell High School). December 16, 2022, 3:00 PM (PST): Applications due. January 7, 2023 (Saturday), 8:30 AM or Jan 11, 2023 (Wednesday), 6:00 PM: Lowell admission test. January 2023 (throughout the month) (for Bands 2 and 3): Students will write the Lowell admission essay at their school. March 20-24, 2023: High school admissions decisions sent. April 7, 2023: Deadline to decide on assignment offer. 2023 fall: Start 9th grade at Lowell!
  6. Try to make your name match your other documents, such as your passport. So your name is something like: Given name: Erica-Fulano-Y- Family name: Sun Is that correct?
  7. This looks like a reply just to get the URL to a target site. I will ban this account.
  8. It's been a long time since I've dealt with this sort of thing, but yes, all names need to match everywhere. If they don't match up, any number of organizations could reject you, since they may not be able to confirm your identity.
  9. Kevin, your story is not dissimilar to mine (BA in English, traveled outside of the US for about four years). I think I understand where you might be coming from--perhaps looking for a way to make a solid contribution to the world and having some educational credentials to help. Problem is, many master's programs, especially the competitive ones, will want someone who is a safe bet, someone with a track record of doing what they're interested in and who has a clear vision of where he wants to be after graduating. I know many universities do allow you to construct your own major of sorts, so you may want to seek those out. One potential problem with those is that you may find it hard to find employment, even with a master's degree. I do know a guy who did a PhD in social economics, which fits a lot of what you describe. For study outside of the US, you should look into the costs; they may be much lower than what you'd pay in the US. Oh, you probably know this already, but it's harder to get funding for a master's degree than for a PhD.
  10. Hmm... Reviews don't look all that great. Less than 3.5 stars. =/ I haven't tried this GRE vocabulary app (iOS; free) - Android for $0.99, but it looks good, and I know Vince, and I know he's obsessive about GRE prep.
  11. No problem at all, mnbvbnm. 😊
  12. I could use a couple of moderators for this forum, if you'd like to volunteer, please message me. If there are a lot of people who are interested, I may use a form. I prefer to consider members who've been around a while (a year or more?) and are involved in economics somehow. Reminder--this is a free forum, and is sort of a side project for me. (So no revenue here. If I ever get to the point where I could monetize the site in an unobtrusive way, I would then be able to offer some sort of compensation.) I do have a bit of an interview process, which involves actually meeting in real time. Why? The main thing is that I just don't want random people moderating since there's private information shared here. Thank you!
  13. A little early, but here you go, your thread to discuss, hand-wring, share insight, and dream about saving the world.
  14. Haha. I can create it. I think we could use a couple extra moderators here, by the way.
  15. I know a lot of people will give you a hard time for writing this yourself, but they'd probably be surprised by how many people have told me that when they ask for a letter of recommendation, they're asked to write it first for the recommender and then the recommender will sign it. Most of the students of this group have been applicants to business school in the US, and they need an LoR from their boss. But I've heard the same from other students who ask their teachers to write one. That said, here are my thoughts: I would start by giving context of how you know the student: S was a student in my XYZ class in DATE, etc. 'I will never forget how S solved a security problem in a poll application using bar security as an analogy.' doesn't ring true for me; doesn't sound like what someone would say about another person. In ¶2, I feel like there needs to be more insight into the intellect of S, not just general assessments of her earnestness or intelligence. I'm not sure what that would entail for security, but for teaching and education, I'd want to read something like this: S has demonstrated a finely developed sense of empathy for each student and readily adapts herself to each student, which I attribute to her background as a bicultural, bilingual child of immigrants raised in the projects of San Francisco. Reading the rest, I feel the same--it's a little bit too general ('He's a smart guy, has good ideas, and works hard! You should admit him!); there are thousands of extremely capable and prepared applicants for every spot in higher education. This letter really needs to drive the point home that S is uniquely qualified. For example, I would suggest possibly adding some kind of ranking (eg, 'one of the top five students I've had) or something unique ('I found S so eager to learn that I started mentoring him in some of the more advanced areas.') One more tip--I'm not sure of the program you're applying to, but competitive ones will want to see a good match on other dimensions--the LoR should mention other areas that set you apart as well. Did you have a unique project? An interesting background? Have you overcome any challenges to achieve anything in college? I should mention that I have written letters of recommendation for employees and students, but I wouldn't consider myself a professional. It would be best to get the opinion of someone who actually reads letters of recommendation.
  16. So you're saying sponge (the animal) is a countable noun whereas sponge (the material or substance) is an uncountable noun? If so, I agree with you.
  17. First, I took some quick notes of what I think are some of the logical flaws. I'll paste these here; maybe they'll help someone. The main flaw of this argument, and probably many Analyses of an argument, is that it simplifies an exceedingly complex subject (nutrition science). Now, let's take a look at your writing. ¶1: I would suggest stating some of the flaws rather than summarizing the goal of the paragraph. Ie, this sentence: The author of the passage seems keen to present Paleo diets as having been developed through sacred wisdom of our forefathers and as a sure shot remedy for many diseases. doesn't really pull its own weight. ¶2: Small thing, but your writing is really good, so I'm sort of reaching for straws here: This implies--for academic writing I think that often the word this should be followed by the noun it refers to. In other words, make the pronoun referent explicit (rather than implied). I assume you mean something like This predictable and established adaptation. ¶3: Missing word, missing period, and one suggestion: But that is ignored by the author, hastily proceeds to commend the ancient knowledge of our ancestors and conclude that it is a cure for many chronic illnesses > But that shortcoming is ignored by the author, who hastily proceeds to commend the ancient knowledge of our ancestors and conclude that it is a cure for many chronic illnesses. Also, I'm not sure we can call the practices of our ancestors 'knowledge', as they may have simply acted based on what was available to them, not necessarily on some sort of wisdom built up over generations. ¶4: I would like to see this argument presented in a bit more detail--just state why replicating their diet may not work. Eg, our bodies are different now, the foods aren't really the same, either, there are toxins in the environment, etc. Here I might also mention that our early ancestors may not have actually had long life spans, so there may be very little that we'd want to replicate from their lifestyles. Overall, strong writing and analysis.
  18. @April M Which part of the TOEFL gets harder for you over time? Do you have to take the iBT version of the TOEFL? From your post, it appears you're living and working in the US, so you should have a lot of practice with English by now. Just curious about what it's like as a non-native speaker of English living in the US.
  19. So the game was rigged? We'll never know, will we? Wow, @Vaya posted that almost 20 years ago. Crazy. I still remember her. Good kid, LOL.
  20. This is the essay that was posted: I OCR'd the essay to make it easier to read and give feedback on: @brcewolffFirst, the good news: You show a pretty high level of ability in writing in most parts of your essay! You have a lot of complex sentences and strong reasoning. To improve: The #1 thing is that this essay is a bit off-topic. You're basically writing about the quality/rigor of education available to students in the US, not the actual curriculum. This essay prompt asks you whether every student in the US should study exactly the same material for their entire education. For example, every ninth grader would start English class by reading, say Huckleberry Finn, not a novel of the teacher's choosing or some other topic. And every high school graduate will have taken the same mixture of math, history, science, PE, etc. throughout their school years. Second, please try to pay attention to common English punctuation conventions. Your readability isn't really affected, but not capitalizing proper nouns (eg, united states) isn't a good look for an important essay. Another related example--you wrote The swiss, the Netherlands, Japan, and China. First of course, you need to uppercase Swiss. Second, you should list these nationalities using the same part of speech (ie, make them parallel), so you could either say The Swiss, Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese or Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, and China. A couple more grammar/punctuation areas to focus on: college. private => college. Private. Be sure to uppercase the first letter of a sentence. Schools that are private, do not need to rely on the money of taxpayers. => Change Schools that are private to Private schools. Get rid of the comma after private (no comma between the subject and verb for this construction). Consider shortening money of taxpayers to taxpayers' money or even just taxes. There are a few more errors as well, but hopefully you get the idea. Not sure whether Grammarly would pick up all the errors; I plugged the writing into a couple of online grammar checkers (Grammarly and Prowritingaid), and they didn't get even some of the most obvious ones. Also, you should write this essay without your personal experience; cite instead common information (even though you won't have access to research tools while writing for the GRE). Final observation: You've basically written a persuasive essay here, not an expository one. Be sure to know the differences! You need to write in a more neutral, analytical way, as if you were analyzing all the evidence and presenting a conclusion or recommendation.
  21. I thought it might be helpful to have a reference for common terms and questions about college admissions. Note that many of these terms apply to high school admissions as well. test-optional (TO): If a school is test-optional, that means that the school doesn't require you to submit standardized test scores, but will consider them if you do decide to submit them. Test-blind schools and colleges are very common in the US right now--more than 75%, according to Inside Higher Ed (retrieved 2021-11-06). Note that many schools or programs swear up and down that they can effectively evaluate you as a candidate even without admissions test scores, but frankly, that's just not true. A test score almost always adds an extra dimension to your applications and therefore, also adds a measure of confidence about making a decision whether to admit, reject, or waitlist. Tips: The general rule is to submit a score if it's higher than the average of that school. And yes, statistically, people who submit test scores have a higher chance of admission (but that's also partly because people who choose to submit scores tend to have higher scores). test-blind (TB): If a school is test-blind, that means they won't look at your test scores when they make their decision about whether to admit you. As of 2021-11-02, there are only 86 US colleges that are test blind (according to Fair Test; retrieved 2021-11-06), which is about 2% of all US colleges (there are about 4,000 colleges in the US). However, the University of California, one of the largest and most prestigious college systems in the US, notably went test-blind in 2020 because of COVID-19 and growing concerns over access to testing and test prep. And at least in San Francisco, California, the percentage of high schools that are test blind is higher. LoR: Letter of recommendation. Some programs require or request these. Tip: In the US, it's generally preferred to have an LoR from someone who knows you well, not necessarily someone famous. (Students sometimes say I can get a letter of recommendation from the mayor of Springfield/governor of ABC province, so I'm guaranteed to get in, right? No, you're not ever guaranteed, and a letter like that would look… let's say insincere to be polite.) early decision (ED): Many US colleges have an 'early decision' option to apply. This option gives you the chance to find out early whether you got in. How much earlier? Well, for Stanford, it's a full 3.5 months early--Dec 15 for ED vs April 1 (as of 2021-11-08) for RD. Note that a December result is considered pretty early, as it's before many deadlines. So if you don't get in ED, you could still have time to apply RD for other schools. So what's the kicker? Well, traditionally, you're supposed to apply to only one college early decision. The idea is that a specific college is your first choice, so you should apply to that college ED. Oh, one more important factor--if you get in, you're supposed to accept; you can't change your mind. This type of application is called binding. (See this document for more information on binding decisions.) Also, for a couple of good reasons (including so-called yield), people who apply ED have a slightly higher chance of gaining admission. In other words, the acceptance rate for ED applications is higher than that for RD applications. So what if you don't get in? Well, basically there are three types of notifications: one, you're admitted. Two, you're rejected. Three, they can't make a decision, so they defer you to the RD pool of applicants. Finally, ED is pretty popular, and a most students I've worked with or known apply to one college ED if it's offered. (The University of California, for example, does not have early decision.) early action (EA): single-choice early action (SCEA): restrictive early action (REA): binding: If you apply to a college with a binding decision, that means you are bound to attend that university if they accept you. And conversely, they are bound to admit you if you accept. Tautological, I know. But it's a two-way agreement, technically. So you're supposed to attend if you apply with a binding decision and they offer you admission. Note that you're supposed to attend before you find out their financial aid offer, so if that's a concern, you may not want to apply with a binding decision. And you may be wondering what happens if you back out of your agreement. Well, it's not 100% clear (people wonder whether one college will tell another), but the standard advice is that you should uphold your agreement unless something changes drastically, like your visa was revoked or you decide not to attend college for some reason. Repercussions if you back out of your agreement: It's hard to imagine college cops banging on your door, so in reality, not much would actually happen. However, it's possible that if you got into a really good university (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, etc.), then that college has talked to your counselor, and your counselor gave you a good recommendation. In this case, the counselor might get some blowback because she recommended you. Why does this matter? This could hurt the reputation of your recommender with those colleges. non-binding: This is the most common type of application to send in--you apply to a college, and if they admit you, you will think about whether or not you want to attend. In other words, you're not obligated to attend if you don't want to, for example, if you got a better offer of financial aid at a college you really like. regular-decision (RD): personal statement (PS): Also called admissions essay. This is just a very broad term that refers to the writing you do for your application to college or graduate school. It's also very common to talk about the essays using the name of the platform the college uses, for example, the Common App essay. statement of purpose (SoP): A statement of purpose is more common for graduate school, and it generally highlights your qualifications, what you plan to do in the program, future career goals, etc. gap year: A gap year is simply taking a year off between high school and college. Many students do this (I did this, in fact) because they want to do a special program before they start college, while others just need a break before they start college. University of California These are specific to the University of California. PIQ: The personal insight questions. These are basically the responses to the main questions. They're not really considered essays, so we try not to call them essays. There are eight PIQs that you look at. From those eight, if you're not a transfer student, you pick four to write. The others, you just ignore.
  22. This is great, intelligent, educated English. Loved reading it! For the GRE writing, I would make the following suggestions: First, at least for me, the big question is whether college students should specialize in one area of study or be introduced to subjects they may not otherwise learn about. Both approaches have great benefits. On the one hand, a future software engineer may not really need to learn Art History. But who knows whether that particular body of knowledge will make her more creative in problem-solving? On the other hand, college graduates today may end up changing careers several times in their lives; maybe a more well-rounded education best suits the needs of this group. Also, you can't really talk about this matter without addressing the costs, in terms of both money and time, of one approach over the other. In the US, an education can put graduating students in debt that will take years to pay off. ($200,000 is not unheard of for doctors, for example.) And perhaps society would be better off graduating more skilled professionals more quickly and economically for a particular task than adding a year or two to their education; if we have a shortage of, say, psychologists right now, maybe have a psychology-only track to get those students out and practicing. It's a complex issue! Especially in the US. Some minor points that I noticed as I was reading: > The above statement throws light Technically, the statement is really only a statement; it doesn't provide more information on the issue, right? > Clarity in this regard is absolutely essential and has stoked the interests of public policy experts, educationalists and academic institutions for a long time. I'm being picky, but this is a bit of a throw-away sentence, as it doesn't add to your argument and feels boilerplate. I prefer the sentence that follows it. > the skills required for dexterous application I think of dexterity as involving skill with the hands, as a magician might want to achieve. > identify the complimentary fields of studies Use the other complementary. Just think of the related word complete to remember this one. > it is the student who should be given the freedom to choose and any form of paternalism in this regard must be eliminated This is a great point. However, you may want to address its counterargument--that young students have less understanding of the type of education that will benefit them (and society) in the long term. It's vital to have a clear stance and not just say that it's important to evaluate the options carefully. The original essay for preservation:
  23. Sure thing! This is a nice piece of writing. There were a couple other minor grammar errors, too. Eg, I would say undergirded by, and Does God exist. Please note that in the US at least, the Christian god is referred to as God, with an uppercase g.
  24. Not sure what you mean to do with implicate. Maybe , implying or , suggesting I think it would be good to expand on what technique could be used to communicate effectively. reflect perhaps? We don't really use retrospect as a verb in the US. Not 100% sure about other Englishes. Comments: This is a nicely reasoned essay. I agree that people often feel threatened and therefore become defensive. I also think that most people see themselves as reasonable, despite what we see in the media, and would be more willing to entertain opposing views if their interlocutor took a more neutral and perhaps even curious approach.
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