Blog Posts


At Improve Your English, what does a year’s worth of vocab look like? For one of our seventh-graders, last year, it looked like this. Between June 2015 and June 2016, the student learned and was tested on these 492 words (many of them with multiple definitions). They were all taken from her weekly reading.


Narrative Writing: Day 1

“That was awesome!” said one fifth grader.

What makes a class awesome on Day 1? Learning a lot and having fun. Here’s why students are enjoying our course on narrative writing:

  • They like journaling and freewriting.
  • They like listening to stories and student compositions.
  • They really like hearing what the teacher has written.
  • They think writing narratives is work—but they can see that it is good work.
  • They like the rewards program.


Become a Master Reader--in Just 15 Minutes A Day

Want to read better?

Want to learn more vocab, read faster, and understand more?

You can dramatically improve your reading ability — and you don’t even need a tutor. You do need to take one simple step: Commit to reading 15 minutes a day.


How does a sophomore get a perfect score on the SAT?

Sound impossible? It’s not. In fact, two of our sophomores recently did. Another one came very close. That’s three sophomores from Improve Your English with perfect or near-perfect scores.


Admitted to Columbia, Not to Berkeley:
California’s Top Students Face a New Challenge


Admitted to Columbia, Cornell, Tufts, and Pomona--but not UC Berkeley?

This happened to an IYE college counseling student. She was admitted to top private colleges, but not to the top UC.


SAT Final Advice

The week before the test

  1. Review vocab up until three days before the test, but don’t try to learn new words
  2. Take one full-length practice test on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday before the test


What Books Should Kids Read?

The parents of my students sometimes approach me with looks of concern. They are worried, they say, about the books the kids are reading.


Learning from Rejection

All his life, Jia Jiang wanted to be an entrepreneur — not because he wanted wealth, but because he wanted to change the world like his heroes Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Having immigrated to America from China as a teenager, he dutifully attended college while continuing to dream of a great invention.


Ten Truths about College Admissions Decisions

1. Because many students have good grades and test scores, such achievements do not determine admissions. In any elite private college, the number of applicants with acceptable grades and test scores exceeds the number of freshman seats by a factor of 3 or 4.


Will Taking Summer School at an Ivy League College Improve My Chances of Admission There?

The Improve Your English college counselor, Judy Wendel, has a thoughtful response to this question.

The short answer is “No and Yes.”


Exercises for the New SAT: 1

The reading section of the new SAT, which all students will take starting in June of 2016, will feature many of the same types of questions. However, it will differ from the old in the following ways:



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