Word Roots: Strategic Studying for Verbal Reasoning


Vocabulary is a toolkit necessary for reading comprehension and verbal reasoning and it is therefore often tested explicitly and implicitly. For this reason, knowing how to decode the meaning of words based on context clues helps students achieve higher scores. One strategy to get good at this involves learning root words. 

What’s that? Well, in linguistics, a root is the primary lexical unit of a word. Put differently, it’s what gives a word most of its meaning. Therefore, developing a grasp of root words can be a way for you to learn what words mean faster than learning definitions word by word. 

In this blog post, we will offer some examples of common word roots. As a strategy, learning roots is a fool-proof way to improve your vocabulary and prepare you for effective inference skills to get questions right. Here they are:

  1. G: “grat” as in pleasing

Example words:

  1. gratifying – to give pleasure or satisfaction
  2. ingratiated – to gain favor or acceptance
  3. gratitude – thankfulness 
  1. A: “ambi/amphi” as in both or on both sides

Example words:

  1. ambidextrous – ease with both left and right
  2. amphitheater – a large auditorium 
  1. B: “brev/brid” as in short or small

Example words:

  1. abbreviation – the shortened form of a word or phrase
  2. abridged – a condensed text
  3. breviloquent – marked by brevity
  1. L: “loc/log/loqu” as in relating to words, thought and speech

Example words:

  1. elocution – public speaking
  2. loquacious – to talk excessively
  1. E: “epi” as in on, upon, or even over

Example words:

  1. epicenter – the core or focus
  2. episode – an event
  3. epitaph – inscription on a tomb
  1. S: “sacr/sanct” as in holy

Example words:

  1. sanctify – make holy
  2. sacrament – possessing sacred character

We hope to have made evident with these examples how word roots are helpful vocabulary categories. While none of the example words have exactly matching definitions, they are closely related, and studying them will allow you to learn a larger number of words in a short period of time. In sum, this is a useful strategy to study for standardized exams where you are asked to do exactly that: learn a lot quickly. Another skill you develop with this strategy is learning how to infer the meaning of words you have never seen nor read before. When you know word roots then you are prepared to identify them in a word and thus derive that word’s meaning in context. Again, this is extremely valuable for exams that test verbal skills. This list of examples is obviously not exhaustive, but we think it’s a good start for deep learning. 

Three Grammar Rules to Know (Pt. 2)

  1. Dangling Modifiers

Modifiers describe, clarify, or give details about a concept. These are subject to erroneous usage and can be difficult to revise when written incorrectly. Dangling modifiers, as we call the mistaken placement of modifiers, occur when it is unclear what a given modifier applies to. Let’s take a look at the two sentences below. The first is an example of correct modifiers in a sentence, and the second is an example of what we call a dangling modifier. 

After reading the report, I am convinced the city needs more public transportation infrastructure.

Though not eligible for the clinical trial, the doctor prescribed the drug to Ethan out of compassion.

In the first sentence, everything is in the right place. It is clear the “I” is the subject that “after reading the report” modifies, thereby adding context and clarifying the order of events. In the second sentence, however, things are not so neat. The modifier is “though not eligible for the clinical trial,” but it is used incorrectly. It is “Ethan” who is not eligible, but what follows the modifier is “the doctor.” Therefore, the sentence needs to be revised. The correct version would be this sentence: 

Though not eligible for the clinical trial, Ethan got the prescription because the doctor was compassionate.

This is one way to fix dangling modifiers. Name the appropriate or logical doer of the action as the subject of the main clause. Another way is to change the phrase that dangles into a complete introductory clause by naming the doer of the action in that clause. For example:

Though Ethan was not eligible for the clinical trial, he received the prescription anyway.

Finally, a good way to fix a dangling modifier is to get rid of the comma and combine the phrase and main clause into one like this:

Ethan received the prescription regardless of whether or not he was eligible.

Be sure to learn this rule so that you do not fall victim to the dangling modifier. When reading, pay attention to when modifiers are used to learn how to avoid this grammar mistake. When writing, try to use it sparingly and simplify sentences whenever possible.

  1. Subject verb agreement

The subject of a sentence and the verb must agree in number. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular too. If the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. Let’s read the example below:

Statistics are a popular course for econ majors. 

This is an error. Statistics is a plural word and so perhaps you may think that “are” is the right conjugation, but it is not. Statistics in this context is a college-level course for econ majors. This means that even though the subject (i.e. statistics) is plural, it is being used as a category name. So it is in fact singular. The right sentence with correct subject verb agreement is really this one:

Statistics is a popular course for econ majors.

There are other ways in which subject verb agreement can be a troublesome grammar rule. Let’s read the following sentence, which is almost like the opposite problem of the first example. 

Mexico, Canada, and the United States is in North America.

Here the subject is the list of countries. More than one country is listed, so although each country is a singular noun, the subject of the sentence is actually plural. So therefore “is” should actually be “are.” The revised sentence with correct subject verb agreement is this:

Mexico, Canada, and the United States are in North America. 

  These examples illustrate the subject verb agreement rule. Always make sure to account for this rule when you write. And don’t be easily fooled by collective nouns (like “group” or “committee”). These are also considered singular despite implying more than one person and the verb must agree by being singular too. Finally, another kind of sentence that can be confusing for subject verb agreement goes something like this:

One of the best sandwiches in town are from Rock N’ Roll subs. 

The sentence does not have correct subject verb agreement. Yes, sandwiches means there are many kinds. However, this sentence starts by referring to one of those, which means that it is in singular and the correct verb would be “is” and not “are.” This is somewhat of a sneaky type of sentence. Be on the lookout for the right subject verb agreement when you cross paths with these kinds of sentences. 

  1. That and Who

The general rule of thumb about when to deploy these words goes like this: who is used for people and that for things. Grammar sticklers will beat you over the head about this one. Take a look at the sentence below: 

Will was the good Samaritan who saved the cat. 

Who is being used because Will is a person. However, it is true that technically “that” would be okay. Most of the time though “who” will be preferred and it has become an unspoken convention to use it. Let’s read the next sentence:

Jose is on the team that beat last year’s champions. 

While it is the case that Jose is a person and he is who we speak of, the actual subject is “the team” and that is considered a thing. Therefore, “that” would be the right choice. Unlike with “who” this is not a matter of preference. It would be wrong to use “who” for “the team.”

Let’s see a few more examples to drive the point home: 

Carol is in an organization that is dedicated to the preservation of South Florida’s wildlife. 

Again, while the subject—an organization—implies people, it is an entity for which we use that. This is not an exact science. Sometimes you will just need to use your judgement. However, to play it safe, use “who” for people and “that” for things.

In conclusion, here are three important grammatical concepts that you would do well to know. This grammar knowledge is tested in exams such as the SAT and ACT. You will also encounter them when you read the news or any monograph. Overall, the point is knowing them will extend beyond school and will give you lifelong acumen in communicating and expressing yourself clearly. 

Three Grammar Topics to Know

  1. Apostrophe 


In standardized exams, schoolwork, and everyday life alike, the apostrophe is a tricky grammatical concept. The rules guiding its usage are difficult for us to remember when we are writing despite how common it is. The two main purposes of the apostrophe are to indicate possession and form contractions. There are a couple crucial examples that help us illustrate the apostrophe’s correct usage and what it signifies when it appears and when it is absent. These are the ones people most often confuse, and the ones you need to master. 


Its versus It’s

A common error people make is with the word “it.” Sometimes people use “its” when they mean “it’s” and vice versa. When you use the apostrophe and write “it’s,” this signifies that you have made a contraction of “it” and “is.” So, for example, read the sentence below:

I really enjoy going to the beach because it’s a great way to decompress from work.

In contrast, adding an “s” to the word “it” without an apostrophe indicates possession. That is, when the word is “its” instead of “it’s.” This example defies the convention of using “ ‘s” to signal possession. See the example below:

Make sure that the watch is placed in its box.

In this sentence “its” is used to denote that the watch has a box where it belongs. Therefore we use “its” instead of “it’s.” This is an important distinction that escapes us when we only focus on speech because the two are phonetic equivalents. The apostrophe helps to establish their difference in the written word. Using the apostrophe correctly goes a long way towards communicating properly. On an exam or in your own writing, ask yourself whether you mean to say “it is” or show possession when deciding to use the apostrophe.

Who’s versus Whose


The apostrophe signifies another critical distinction with regard to the word “who.” When we write “who’s” it is a contraction of “who” and “is.” By contrast, when we write “whose,” it is to denote possession. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

I wonder who’s going to become the coach for the cricket team?

Whose dog is that?

The first sentence uses “who’s” because the person is wondering “who is” going to become the coach. In this usage, the appearance of the apostrophe signifies a contraction between those two words. Because phonetically “who’s” and “whose” are identical people often confuse them. In the second sentence, the word “whose” denotes a possessive relation. The speaker is asking who the dog belongs to. In other words, who possesses the dog is the question.

Plural and Singular

The placement of the apostrophe changes for plural nouns that end in “s.” To show possession for a plural noun, put the apostrophe after the “s.”  For example:

The kids’ playtime is over.

In this case, the sentence is about multiple kids so the word “kid” is pluralized with an “s.” Therefore, the apostrophe would no longer be placed after the “d” and before the “s” as in “kid’s” which is for one kid. Instead the apostrophe would just be added all the way at the end after the “s.” These two (kid’s versus kids’) sound the same, but the first is singular and the second is plural.

Note that this does not hold true for singular nouns that happen to end in “s.” Think of a name like “Carlos.” To express possession, you would still have to add an apostrophe and an extra “s” as in the following example:

That is Carlos’s book.

Knowing these differences is critical. Without knowledge of these grammar rules you will surely make errors and miscommunicate what you actually mean to say or write. Be sure to study them because it’ll help you excel in your English classes and academic tests.

  1. Oxford comma

The Oxford comma ranks highly among the controversies of our grammatical universe. Some people detest it, preferring to opt out when given the opportunity to use it. Others swear by it. They insist it is needed to accurately convey ideas. Here is an example of the Oxford comma in action:

We need to make sure that for our road trip we pack food, water, and clothes. 

When the sentence gets to the list of items (food, water, etc.) there’s an extra comma before the conjunction. That’s the Oxford comma. Let’s take a look again:

For my comparative literature final, I have the option to write about the history of punctuation, word roots, or lexicography.

In this sentence, the Oxford comma once again appears, this time the conjunction is different: “or” rather than “and.” Of course, it would not be grammatically incorrect to omit the comma. However, some people do not choose to omit because one risks miscommunication. 

There is a famous example of why to use the Oxford comma: a class action lawsuit. Drivers for Oakhurst Dairy sued the company because they failed to pay overtime.

Here’s the story. Workers in Maine are entitled to 1.5 times their normal pay for hours worked over 40 per week. However, there are exemptions to this rule. The law states that companies do not have to pay overtime for the following activities:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

Agricultural produce;

Meat and fish product; and

Perishable foods

Oakhurst Dairy argued its drivers did not qualify for overtime because they engage in distribution, and the spirit of the law intended to list “packing for shipment” and “distribution” as two separate exempt activities. 

The drivers argued the letter of the law said no such thing because at the end of the opening line, there is no comma before the “or.” Without the Oxford comma, the law could be read to exclude only packing—whether it was packing for shipment or packing for distribution. But, the activity of distribution, by itself, in this case, would not be exempt from overtime payment. 

Without the Oxford comma, things get confusing and more than one way of interpreting something becomes more possible. Avoid that, and use the comma to make sure you express yourself accurately and precisely. 

  1. The semicolon

Perhaps the most abused and misused punctuation mark, the semicolon is deeply misunderstood. It is supposed to be used to combine two closely-related independent clauses into a single sentence. Yet it often gets used incorrectly. Below is an example of a proper semicolon in use:

It’s super sunny outside; I think I’ll head to the park. 

Both these clauses are independent and could be sentences on their own. A semicolon’s purpose is making what could be two sentences one. That is, we could easily also write: 

It’s super sunny outside. I think I’ll head to the park.


If you are wondering how to use the semicolon properly try to see if the clauses you are combining with the semicolon could be complete sentences themselves. If not, then the semicolon is not appropriate. If they can, then you are using it right. Another way to think of the semicolon is this way. Read the sentence below: 

It’s super sunny outside, and I think I’ll head to the park.

So, in other words, the semicolon almost serves the same function as a comma plus a coordinating conjunction such as “and” or “but.” When a coordinating conjunction is preceded by a comma, that also indicates that you are combining independent clauses. It’s as if you are given the option to end the sentence but would rather not. 

Another common use of the semicolon is to separate items on a list when those items contain commas. An example could be a list of state capitals. Since there is already a comma, use semicolons. Read the example below:

My favorite state capitals are Tallahassee, FL; Honolulu, HI; Harrisburg, PA; and Austin, TX.

Without the semicolon, the sentence above would be difficult to understand, a string of confusing nouns and commas with no structure to guide the reader. The semicolon clarifies the list into distinct items that each comprise two parts.

In conclusion, these three grammar rules are necessary for you to know to elevate your writing and communication skills. These are definitely not the only important ones but they will help when you are taking grammar tests and writing essays. Be sure to study them and incorporate them into your grammatical tool kit to improve your language skills.

Summer Programs and College Admissions: How to Make the Most of Vacation


Students often spend summers doing things they did not have time for during the school year. This often means lots of time on a beach or on a hobby like gardening, for instance. Now, think of doing these things but as part of a semi-structured 5-8 week enrichment program at a university. That is pretty much the idea behind summer programs. You take a passion or interest in a subject and explore it with others to ensure maximum benefit. 

If you want to sharpen your skills in French or Russian, then apply to a summer language immersion program like the one at Middlebury College. If you want, instead, to become an engineer or a computer programmer, then apply to go to the Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University. The point is that there are many options for you to explore and there will certainly be a program out there for whatever your interests are. This will ensure that you are socializing with like-minded peers that share your curiosities about the world and have similar life goals. In this post, we will explain the pros and cons of participating in these kinds of programs and their role in the college admissions process.

Let’s begin with the benefits. For one thing, these programs are difficult to access. That means that if you do go, you will be part of an exclusive experience available only to a privileged few. It will most certainly make you a more worldly person. You will learn and get lots out of whatever program you choose, not least because you get to choose the theme and apply to those that you are actually invested in. Moreover, what you learn during summer programs usually expands the horizons of your in-school material. It will either push the boundaries of stuff you’ve covered, or it may actually introduce new concepts and ideas you have not seen in your education yet. The summer programs we reference here are for high school students, so in some cases this experience may help you skip general ed requirements in college. They are rigorous and elevate your thinking to new levels of clarity and sophistication. And, of course, by participating in a program you get perks: potentially becoming close with an instructor that later writes letters of recommendation, actually learning what life is like at a university campus, and so on. 

However, there are some things to consider if you want to go through with applying to a summer program like the ones mentioned here in this post. For one, these programs can be costly. For example, Yale’s Young Global Scholars program charges $6,500 for two weeks. Some programs do in fact offer financial aid, but others don’t. In other words, if you are from an economically disadvantaged group, these programs may not be feasible. However, if you are able and willing to pay, then this may not be a deterrent. 

Bear in mind that attending a summer program at a university or college does not guarantee entrance to that institution. While there is no doubt that these programs are an enriching experience, the competitiveness of summer programs often do not reflect the competitiveness of the host institution. Of course, your participation in a summer program may increase probability of acceptance, but not on the basis of this accomplishment alone. This is especially true since most admissions counselors are aware that students with summer programs on their resumés are likely from affluent backgrounds. Admissions counselors want to see a well-rounded application that demonstrates the candidate’s merits in many ways.

With that being said, these specialized programs offer an educational experience that is not easy to replicate and will likely influence your thinking for years to come. Not to mention the opportunity to travel to places that you may never have gotten the chance to know. When it comes to summer programs and college admissions preparedness, you should see it as the means with which to craft and curate an application file that is thematically coherent. This will help demonstrate your commitments to long-term educational goals. It is a way to signal to admissions counselors: “I’m ready for college. I know how to contribute and be of service to this community!”


Early Decision: How to Know if it’s Right for You


For the class of 2020, the regular decision acceptance rate to Ivy League schools was 6.8 percent, while for early applicants it was 20.3 percent. 

Why? Because colleges are more willing to accept qualified candidates who are also willing to commit to them. “It is easier to get into the top-choice college through early decision because colleges really want qualified students who want them,” wrote Robert Massa, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Institutional Planning at Drew University, in an article for the New York Times.

However, only 16 percent of high-achieving students whose families have annual incomes below $50,000 applied for college early decision in the 2013-2014 academic year, according to a study by the Cooke Foundation. 

Why? Because students from low-income backgrounds are generally less informed about the college admissions process than more wealthy students. “Rich and poor students alike may be free to benefit from today’s ED racket—but only the rich are likely to have heard of it,” said James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic. 

This is the result of unequal access. Richer students’ access to an entire industry of professionals dedicated to guiding students through the process and coaching them on everything from essays to the types of schools best suited to their educational interests makes them more likely to be aware of ED and its benefits.  

The study “Who Goes Early?: A Multi-Level Analysis of Enrolling via Early Action and Early Decisions Admissions” published in the Teachers College Record concluded that “early admissions programs, and in particular, early decision perpetuate social privilege and stratification.” 

In 2006, Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia eliminated early admission with the intention of making the process fairer. However, these colleges reinstated it to remain competitive. Colleges and universities around the country have recognized the implications of the early admissions process but have not been able to reconcile it with their financial and competitive motives. 

Here is the real problem: early decision is binding. That means that low-income students who do know about ED are still hesitant to apply this way, despite its obvious statistical benefits. Low income students require substantial financial aid and cannot commit to an institution without being able to compare the financial aid packages offered by all the colleges and universities that accept them. This is why scholarship programs like Quest bridge have been so crucial to evening the playing field on this topic.

You may now be asking, “Should I apply early?” The answer depends on your specific situation. If you are certain and know that your financial aid package is likely not to be significantly better and one school versus another, then yes. Applying early helps your chances of actually getting in to your preferred college. In this way, it is a no brainer. Just be sure to weigh the potential repercussions of overcommitting and then being stuck in circumstances that are not financially viable. That is something, of course, that could be said of the college admissions process as a whole. 

For those considering early decision, the best course of action is to learn as much as possible about the institution in question and be honest about what you are looking for. Reach out to admissions officers at the school you are considering to get as much information as you can about the application process and school as a whole. If you can, schedule a campus visit—preferably a multi-day visit where you stay on campus overnight. Gather as much information as possible about student experience before you commit. Finally, when given the opportunity to talk to current students or recent alumni, take it! 

Early decision benefits students who are well prepared and eager to begin their college journey. If you know what you want, go for it!

The SSAT: Making Sense of the Madness


Depending on the exact private school(s) you intend on applying to, the test used could vary. Another assessment private schools may use is the SSAT, the Secondary School Admission Test. There are three levels: the Elementary Level (grades 3-4); the Middle Level (grades 5-7); the Upper Level (grades 8-11). Each one has a slightly different organization of sections. 

For example, the Elementary Level SSAT is broken down in the following five portions:

    1. Quantitative (Math): One section of 30 questions in 30 minutes.
    2. Verbal: 30 vocabulary and analogy questions in 20 min (note: a 15 min break is usually given after this section).
    3. Reading: 28 questions based on reading passages to be completed in 30 minutes.
    4. Writing Sample: Student is given a prompt and 15 minutes to respond to it. The writing sample is not scored, but schools use it to assess writing skills.
    5. Experimental: One section of mixed content questions (verbal, reading, and math). This section does not count toward reported scores. (15-17 questions in 15 min).

In total, the test lasts two hours and five minutes and contains 104-106 questions in all subjects combined. For all the scored sections (Quantitative, Reading Comprehension, and Verbal Reasoning) the test is scored on a scale of 300-600. 

The Middle/Upper Level SSAT is very similar, but is arranged in a different manner.

    1. Writing Sample: 1 essay topic in 25 min. (note: 15 min break after this section).
    2. Quantitative (Math): 25 questions, 30 min
    3. Reading: 28 questions based on reading passages to be completed in 30 minutes.
    4. Writing Sample: Student is given a prompt and 15 minutes to respond to it. The writing sample is not scored, but schools use it to assess writing skills.
    5. Experimental: One section of mixed content questions (verbal, reading, and math). This section does not count toward reported scores. (15-17 questions in 15 min).

For Middle Level SSAT, test-takers are scored on a scale of 440 to 710. By contrast, Upper Level test scores are scaled on a 500 to 800 range. You may be wondering how to interpret these scores. For this concern reach out to whatever school you will be submitting scores to. They will tell you how the scores are being used. Most of the time it is to ensure all admitted students surpass a threshold the school has deemed significant. Also the score may determine what classes the student may be placed into. 

The ISEE: What You Should Know


Accepted by over 1,200 independent schools all over the world, the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) markets itself as the most trusted admissions assessment for students in Grades 2-12. ISEE is also the most flexible assessment option for some families since it offers an array of testing formats: online, paper-based, and at-home. Moreover, unlike other tests, the ISEE does not penalize students for incorrect answers. This enables the use of intuition and context clues for educated guesses that may earn points, helping secure admission to schools. Depending on where you think you’ll submit an application, this may be a good alternative to other tests. Here are some relevant details:

  1. Duration — 2 hours and 50 minutes (Upper and Middle Levels); 2 hours and 30 minutes (Lower Level).
  2. Sections — Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an unscored essay. 
  3. Because the ISEE helps test students for admission to private middle and high schools, different levels of the test are offered depending on where you are in your education. 
  4. The Upper Level is designed for applicants in 9th grade and above. The Middle Level is for applicants in 7th and 8th grade. The Lower Level is for applicants in 5th and 6th grade.

No matter the level of the test, the ISEE will always test the same sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics. For the three levels explained in this blog post, the same scale is used. Students taking the test will receive four scaled scores from 760 on the low end and 940 at the high end. Of course, the levels of difficulty increase by age group because if you are at the lower end of the age range the test may ask questions that you have not seen in school yet. However, younger student’s scaled scores will not be impacted by this fact. All in all, if well prepared, these exams should not be intimidating but rather the arena in which to demonstrate your capacity for learning and retaining knowledge. It will also ensure you are appropriately placed to continue your educational path. 

HSPT: Preparing for Private School Entrance Exams


Students interested in applying to private high school should know about the HSPT. It stands for High School Placement Test and is given twice a year, in the spring and the fall. This exam is used for the admissions process, scholarship selection, and curriculum placement in many private high schools. There are five sections on the HSPT exam: 

1) Quantitative Skills (52 questions)

2) Verbal Skills (60 questions) 

3) Reading (62 questions)

4) Mathematics (64 questions)

5) Language (60 questions)

The entire exam is multiple choice and lasts approximately two and a half hours. The HSPT exam is scored on a scale with 200 as the lowest possible score and 800 as the highest score. In addition to the standard score, students will receive their national and local percentiles, which indicate how their scores compares to other students. Each school that uses the HSPT has a different set score that constitutes as “passing” or “acceptable” so be sure to do some research on the schools you want to apply to. This way you’ll know more about the range you should be striving for to be a successful applicant. 

AP and IB: Discovering the Road to Success


What is the best educational path? Of course, the answers vary and are subjective. Every student has different learning styles and certain curricula may better address those. However, the most popular paths involve Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB). Specifically for college admissions, AP or IB classes stand out. Taking classes in AP and IB programs demonstrates your academic commitments. Commonly, students and families ask whether colleges think one is better than the other. The quick answer is no, but the two are in fact different and its worth knowing how. In this blog post, we’ll try to address that.

Colleges do not automatically consider AP or IB more impressive or challenging than the other. In the US, over 14,000 public schools offer APs, compared to 800 for the IB program. Since IB is a rare program colleges aren’t going to penalize students if they aren’t in IB. Additionally, how both AP and IB courses are taught and graded at high schools differ greatly making it hard to categorize either one as superior. Both are rigorous. Instead of having an AP versus IB mentality, students should just worry about taking the most challenging classes their high school offers. That’s how college admissions counselors are thinking. That’s what they want to see. Grades in both AP and IB are of “considerable importance” according to 73.2% of respondents in the 2019 State of College Admission report. 

How do you know which to take? First, you have to know the basic differences. The AP program was developed in the United States to boost college-preparedness with no set program of courses. Students are allowed to be in just one course, or they could take a dozen. This depends on their school, schedule, and goals. AP is a flexible educational program that balances rigor with choice. By comparison, IB was developed in Switzerland to be an internationally recognized diploma. To earn the diploma, you have to take a set program of courses in a range of subjects. It tracks students earlier on and forces them to stay on course. In IB there are four basic programs that use 10 different learning profiles. Learning profiles are divided among categories such as Thinkers, Inquirers, and Communicators, for example. The Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP) are for children. International high school students between the ages of 16 to 18 can take either the Diploma Program (DP) or the Career-related Program (CP). Through these programs teenagers prepare for college in key subject areas such as math, science and the arts. IB also offers core career classes and community service projects. It is very holistic.

In terms of how students are evaluated there are also some distinctions. The AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5. One means failure. Three is a passing score. Four and five means excellent. Most colleges require the student to earn a score of at least 3-4 for the student to use AP test scores to exempt them from prerequisite classes. IB has more emphasis on writing and developing critical-thinking skills. The IB diploma also requires the extended essay. This is a college-style independent research paper that is guided by an IB teacher and given a letter grade by an outside evaluator. The AP is a program focused on teaching you specific content and testing through exams via the College Board. This usually means more multiple choice tests and an emphasis on meeting certain content goals. In short, the AP program is US-based and it provides courses that high school students can take for college. Approximately 30 percent of college scholarships use AP course scores. The IB course is international and it provides an integrated approach to learning. Significantly, students can take AP exams without being enrolled in an AP class. However you must be enrolled in an IB class to take an IB exam. If you have proficiency in a language that is not offered by your school, for example, or you want to self-study for a niche subject such as art history, then the AP program will give you more flexibility to do so.

The differences between the programs offer advantages and disadvantages that depend on the individual context of the student. Both offer challenging coursework and help prepare students for college courses. Taking AP or IB courses will contribute to developing a competitive portfolio for college applications and are therefore excellent choices for academically motivated students. 

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