Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grammar Rule 4

Pronoun Consistency

You should use the same pronoun throughout a piece of writing. If you use you in a sentence, you must use you as the pronoun, and not switch to another.

While you are gardening with your mother, one should work as hard as they can.
This sentence first used the pronoun you.
Thus, to keep the pronouns consistent, the sentence must be:
While you are gardening with your mother, you should work as hard as you can.

*This is also a leading mistake in the essay portion of the SAT Writing section.

Grammar Rule 3

Pronoun Subjects and Objects

Pronoun use is a frequently mistaken problem.
The pronoun subjects are:
I, he, she, they, we, who
The pronoun objects are:
me, him, her, them, us, whom

The dog and him are drinking Coke.
When analyzing this sentence, take out "The dog."
Does "Him is drinking Coke" make any sense? NO.
Therefore, the sentence should have been: "The dog and he are eating pizza."

*For pronoun subjects and objects, do not try to "hear" the mistake, because people make this grammatical error in everyday conversations.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grammar Rule 2 part 2

Noun - Pronoun Agreement: The Exceptions

The pronouns some, any, none, all, and most can be either singular or plural, depending on the subject.
Example: Some of the apples were rotten.
Some of the pizza was eaten.
This is an example of how "some" can be used as either a singular or plural pronoun.

Grammar Rule 2

Noun - Pronoun Agreement

Example: Not one of the boys played soccer.
Subject: One (singular)
Pronoun: Their (plural)
The subject "one" is singular, but "their" is plural.
The correct pronoun would be his.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grammar Rule 1 part 3 (especially important)

Singular Subjects

You just memorized the "OF" rule, right?
There is another important rule regarding "OF."
Example: Each of the tables were painted blue.
Subject: each (singular)
Verb: were (plural)
Although tables is plural, each is the subject. Therefore, the verb must be was.
If this sentence were simplified, it would become: Each were painted blue. It should be apparent now that the sentence was incorrect.

There are 13 singular subjects that you should know. Including each, they are:
each, every, either, neither, one, no one, everyone, everybody, someone, somebody, anyone, anybody, and nobody.
Example: No one on these teams is good at soccer. (correct).

Grammar Rule 1 part 2

Remember The Rule of OF:

Any noun after the preposition OF is an object, not the subject. Thus, the verb must not be in the tense of the noun after "of."

Example: The excitement of the students were obvious by their smiles.
Subject: excitement
Verb: were
This sentence was incorrect. The verb must be "was" because it must be the same tense as the subject.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grammar Rule 1

Subject - Verb Agreement

Every noun is either singular or plural. And every noun has a corresponding verb tense.
Each singular noun must be paired with a singular verb and each plural noun must be paired with its plural verb. It's simple.

Example: The proctor were overcome.
Identify the subject and the verb.
Subject = proctor
Verb = were
Proctor is singular and were is plural. Therefore, the verb must be was.

Example: The proctor, as well as the students, was overcome by the stress of the SATs.
Subject = proctor
Verb = was.
This is correct, because students is set off by a pair of commas. Think of the commas as parentheses that separate the phrase inside from the actual sentence. The sentence would then be: The proctor (as well as the students) was overcome..., which can easily be seen to be correct.

Other phrases that are frequently associated with commas besides "as well as," are "in addition to," "along with," and "together with." Look for the subject (what the sentence is about), not every noun in the sentence.

SAT Writing - Grammar

The grammar section of the SAT's tests a student's capability to notice grammatical errors and choose correct sentence structures. There are thirteen major rules of grammar that are presented.
(The Writing portion of the SAT is not in the IMSA qualification criteria, but these rules are helpful for taking the SAT later, and for everyday writing)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Skipping Freshmen Year. Good or Bad?

IMSA allows excelling students to skip Freshmen year, and go directly from 8th grade to Sophomore year. Is this a good idea?

Pros: Students do not have to waste their time dragging through Freshmen year. They will have the pride of having skipped a whole school grade.
Cons: An entire year is gone with this decision.
Most students who apply to IMSA desire a good education and dream to go to Ivy level colleges. This requires a lot of time studying by themselves, outside of class. Skipping Freshmen year would take away a whole year of time to study. Also, the students would have to work harder to follow the class, because IMSA curriculum moves at a very fast pace; IMSA teachers expect for students to already know the basics. Other students would have already studied these subjects at home.

Personal Experience: My brother went to IMSA as a schmen, meaning he skipped Freshmen year. He had a difficult time keeping pace with the class, and felt very stressed for studying for the SAT's and AP tests. When I was accepted for IMSA in 8th grade, he recommended I go to the local high school for a year and study very hard at home. I think it was a good decision for me to defer my acceptance.

IMSA Lifestyle

Everyone knows that living at IMSA can be difficult. There are stacks of papers and assignments, but people do not hear about the other side of IMSA life: the enjoyable side. Not everything about IMSA is work. It's the balance between work and fun the two that makes the experience amazing.
Having fun at IMSA is the same as having fun at any other school. Students play sports, hang out, watch movies etc. There is also a dodgeball tournament every Tuesday night. Many students participate this IMSA tradition. Also, RC's take students to local restaurants a few times every week. Some examples of these are Buffalo Wild Wings and Starbucks. Students are also permitted to order food from restaurants.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

IMSA New Criteria

For these recent few years, the Illinois Math and Science academy has been paying close attention to an applicant's interests in math, science, and technology. Thus, you should have facts to support your interests. If you are not interested, lie. Exaggerate your accomplishments. Have trophies from competitions or awards from teams prepared when you apply. If you do not have any, join a team or even just read a book regarding these topics, and write it in your application.

Reading Comprehension tip 2.

There are also a few types of answers that you should look avoid:
1) Racist or prejudiced answers.
The writers of the SAT make sure that any answer that may offend a group of people is not on the test. If there is an answer that is offending, it is definitely incorrect.
2) Answers that are too vague or too specific regarding the passage.
When answering a question that is not asking for the overall feel of the story or the author's tone, do not base your answer off of one phrase or sentence. It will most likely be incorrect.
Also, do not look too broadly for an answer. The answer will most likely be within a paragraph.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reading Comprehension tip.

When answering a problem in the reading comprehension section, always re-check the passage for evidence before filling in an answer. In other words, there is always a sentence or paragraph that you must look for which states the answer for a question. Although the problems on the SAT seem to have more than one answer, there is always one answer that is related directly to the passage. If there is no evidence for an answer you chose, it is most likely incorrect.

SAT Reading part 2

The main part of the critical reading section asks a student to read short and long passages and answer the corresponding questions.
There is no easy way to improve one's critical reading score. Practicing a lot is the only way to develop your skill.
Buy or borrow a variety of SAT critical reading books and complete the practice tests.
Do not hurry to complete the tests within the official time.
After you have finished, check your answers and quickly look over the problems you got wrong. All official SAT practice books contain answers and reasoning for the answer. If you do not understand the book's reason behind an answer, move on; it is a waste of time trying to understand a problem that is too hard for you. After solving many problems, you will eventually begin to understand.
Then start another set of problems, and continue this process. Your score will not improve immediately. It will gradually rise as you become more accustomed to reading difficult passages.

Monday, September 14, 2009

SAT Reading

The SAT reading section is the most challenging for most students. To prepare for this section, it is best to first expand your range of knowledge in vocabulary. I studied with the 1000 SAT vocabulary flashcards from Sparknotes.

To study, first look over all of the note cards. Choose an appropriate number of cards to read everyday. Reading 10 cards everyday is fine; trying to remember too many cards is ineffective.

Also, never take days off. Studying at a constant and steady pace is best for bringing better outcomes. If you cannot stop procrastinating, assign yourself to study your vocabulary at a specific time of the day. For example, I study my vocabulary before I do my homework.

There is no need to memorize all of the words on the first try. When you have looked over all of the cards, go through the list again. You should notice that you recognize most of the words and can remember them more easily than the first time.

Continue this process however many times necessary to memorize the vocabulary.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Qualifying for the Illinois Math and Science Academy

The Illinois Math and Science Academy requires a recent SAT score on the admission packet.
The admission counsel will judge students by their Math and Critical Reading SAT score, among many other things. The Writing portion of the SAT's is not assessed, so students are not required to do well on this section. The average math score is about 650; the average critical reading score is about 600.
Although the average scores are in this range, it is best to have a math score of about 700 and a critical reading score of about 650 to ensure qualification.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Common Misconceptions

1) People who read are smarter.
This is one of the most common misconceptions that teachers have. Often, teachers will tell you to read for even 15 minutes a day, and that studies show that students who read are smarter. Yes, statistics may show that smart students read more than less achieving students, but they did not become smart by reading. Rather, spend those 15 minutes on finishing homework or studying for tests.

2) Smart people are like robots.
Through my experience, I have never thought that smart people are nerdy, geeky, or stoic. If anything, they are nicer, and have better manners. Some parents do not want their children to study hard and become this way, but it does not happen.

3) "I don't want to waste my childhood studying"
People who do not want to give the extra effort to have better grades often use this phrase. It may be true that a person's childhood is the time when he or she can have the most fun, but it is also the time that decides the person's future. Students who use these 10 years will be more successful for the rest of their 70 years. Although money cannot buy happiness, money is a large factor in deciding how happy a person is.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Introduction to this blog

Hello, I am a freshman student.
I aspire to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.
This year, I have been accepted to the Illinois Math and Science Academy, which is one of the top 10 high schools in the United States. For more information on the school, visit or
I will enroll starting next year. Meanwhile, I am in Honors classes at a local high school.
In this blog, I will be writing hints and helpful techniques in qualifying for the Illinois Math and Science Academy.
If you have any questions or concerns you would like answered, please comment below.