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Can I study abroad without taking the SAT or ACT?

For the US

Yes, you can study abroad without taking the SAT or ACT. For international students though, it is highly suggested that you take one of the SAT and ACT.  Colleges will definitely prefer students with a score over a student without a score. The score will help the college assess the student, and set them apart from the rest of the candidates.

The SAT and ACT are primarily used in the admissions processes in the US. For undergraduate admissions in the US, several universities are now becoming test-optional. Meaning that these colleges will still accept submissions with your score, but will no longer be a prerequisite. They don’t require submission of either of the two standardized tests. These test-optional colleges are NYU, Trinity College, University of California, UChicago, Parsons, etc. However, it still remains a requirement at certain colleges. These colleges being the Ivy Leagues, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford.

The Rest of the World

Most countries in the rest of the world, in Europe, Australia, and Asia do not require them. It is important to note that colleges in other countries could require different standardized tests. These tests are often specific to the course. Taking the SAT will also help to serve as an indicator of your abilities to colleges in these countries as well.

Even though in order to study in the US the SAT and ACT are not always required, a good score can open doors to a myriad of colleges. A good score will always uphold your application in test-optional colleges and set you apart from your peers. In addition, these test scores provide the colleges with a common data-point to compare the academic abilities of all their applicants. So even though you can study abroad without taking the SAT, a standardized test like the SAT or ACT is incredibly beneficial and ensures you have the most options available.


Managing School with SAT Prep


Managing School with SAT prep and extracurriculars can be particularly difficult. Ivy Aspire helps you draw focus to the proper allocation and effective use of time. This way you can see to your days being more productive and the most beneficial for you. It’s very important to remember to not only focus on college admission but school work as well. Colleges also look at your school grades too. At Ivy Aspire we continually strive to help you reach a point where aside from SAT prep and school work you also have time for the things that you feel passionate about. Our expertise and our plans will allow you to create a holistic schedule with enough time for schoolwork, test prep, and your extracurriculars whilst also time for your social life, hobbies, and also enough downtime.


Schoolwork, SAT prep and extracurriculars can be difficult to manage. Ivy Aspire helps draw focus to the proper allocation and effective use of time.

Schoolwork, SAT prep and extracurriculars can be difficult to manage. Ivy Aspire helps draw focus to the proper allocation and effective use of time.


To know more about the SAT program at IVY Aspire you can click here. For more information do contact us either by calling us at 8880001177 or writing an email to [email protected]

Our counselors would be happier to answer your queries.


Do I need to study for the SAT or is it like an IQ test?

The SAT tests you on your math and English language skills, which almost all students have learned by the end of the 10th grade. At Ivy Aspire, we understand that students come from different schools and tracks. We are aware of what each board, ICSE, CBSE, IGCSE, IB, and various other state boards, are strong at and what they omit. Allowing us to understand the best ways to improve your scores and success in the test.


First, we ensure you will get comprehensive learning of all the core concepts of the SAT. Second, we will work on your exam-taking skills – teaching you tips and tricks that will help you score better, finish the exam faster, and also conserve your energy for the 4-hour test. Third, we ensure you get enough to practice each and every type of question you can expect so that you are prepared for all types of questions. Fourth, we give you enough practice tests, as a large part of the SAT is the fatigue that sets in after your second or third hour of testing. This helps in ensuring you build your stamina for the exam.


This is why the SAT is far more involved than a simple IQ test. IQ tests are generally a measure of ability rather than acquired skills, whereas the SAT helps to measure acquired skills. The SAT also tests your exam skills, fast-reading skills, summarization skills, critical thinking skills, and other important skills and attributes. Studies have shown that test preparation dramatically increases scores materially. This is also a criticism of the SAT to some extent, but that’s the reality. If you prepare well, with Ivy Aspire, you will boost your scores.

What is a good SAT score to aim for?

The SAT is an integral part of your college application. It helps standardize your scores and demonstrate your academic ability. However, it is only one part of your application. You can overcome a subpar score, with an excellent application. Keep in mind that a high score, with poor extracurriculars and essays, will let you down though. That is why it’s important to focus on all parts of your application. Even a high SAT score isn’t a guarantee for great college admission.

That being said, you can look at some target colleges and their average score. Although the bar for international students is much higher. You would find that the score averages that are provided are understated for international students. Ivy Aspire tracks this admissions data for international students. This allows us to understand what is the true SAT score needed for admission into a particular college. We use this data as a key input into our college selection process. A good score to aim for is the highest one that you can get! Put your best foot forward, take the Ivy Aspire SAT coaching classes. After getting your score we will work with you to get into the college that is the best fit for you.

Our coaching classes have dramatically helped students improve their scores. We do this by focusing on identifying and improving specific traits you need to perform well in the test. We begin the course with a diagnostic test. Based on the test we give you a detailed report mapping your strengths and weaknesses. This personalised system helps each student practice and learn with the help of our experienced counsellors. On average students get 200 points more on the SAT after our program.

What do I need to do to get into a college abroad besides the SAT (Extracurricular)?

Colleges abroad use grades and standardized test scores (SAT/ACT) as benchmarks of a student’s academic capability. The best way to stand out amongst the other applicants who achieve similar academic benchmarks is through extracurricular activities. Extracurriculars are a way to reveal to colleges what you are passionate about, that take initiative and want to create an impact in the world.  It also highlights valuable qualities like leadership, commitment, and self-discipline. They are tools to display your future success and impact on the world about topics and causes that you are passionate about.

This is why it is crucial to go in-depth with a few extracurriculars that show a spike in your application. Which is much more ideal than doing dozens of activities that are not personal and deeply impactful to you. Instead of doing several generic extracurriculars that are thought to look good on your application, find something that truly interests and resonates with you. Once you identify those topics/causes, take initiative, get recognition, and dive deep into them. The objective is to build on your existing personality and characteristics. It isn’t just to engage in activities to put onto your college application. The things you are passionate about could be anything. It can range from DJing to cooking, to wildlife conservation, to traveling. As long as it is having a positive impact on you and others it will.

To know more about the SAT program at IVY Aspire you can click here. For more information do contact us either by calling us at 8880001177 or writing an email to [email protected]

Our counselors would be happier to answer your queries.

Impact of COVID-19 on Students Planning to Study Abroad

As the world comes to terms with the idea of long shutdowns (shelter in place, or curfews), being imposed across India, and now possibly even in the USA, the UK, and other countries. These are popular countries for Indians to pursue higher education. So the natural question is – what will happen to your child’s education? What will be the impact of COVID-19 on students planning to study abroad?

For students already studying in colleges, we’ve found that almost all of them are now safely back home. Colleges have shut their campuses and moved to an online curriculum. These students are already in the rhythm of studying. They will have been given a fair amount of online reading, a schedule of video classes, and ways to submit assignments and tests online. Your job as a parent is to just enjoy their company at this unexpected time, support them through this period, and hope everything goes back to normal soon. We anticipate that Summer Schools may be affected as well. Things may return to normalcy by the Fall, or in the worse case, by January semester.

For students who are applying to college now, you have nothing to worry about. Your admissions will be next year, and everything should be normalized by then!

For Students Planning to Attend College This Fall

For students who are planning to attend college this fall the impact of COVID-19 may be weighing on you. Things to consider are – will embassies be able to process Visas in this situation? Will college be adequately staffed to work out your student housing? Will airlines be operating? And will you be able to attend college safely? To them, I say the following – colleges are incredibly well managed, and quite risk-averse. They will never put your kids at risk, and therefore you have nothing to worry about. In the event that the COVID-19 situation is not fully managed by the time fall comes around, Colleges may choose to postpone the Fall Semester start (and thereby remove breaks in between for Thanksgiving, Winter, etc). Alternatively;y they may just go ahead with online sessions to keep the schedule intact.

I understand this is not ideal. But for students, here’s something to think about — nothing ever is! When we were entering college, September 11, 2001 (the twin towers terror attacks) happened, and we had college graduates all lose their jobs due to that and the stock market bubble bursting. In 2008, people were impacted when the housing market crashed, taking down a number of large financial institutions. I could go on. I think the main thing is to be positive, be thankful for the internet, the wide variety of online teaching and collaboration tools that exist. You can also be thankful for a few extra weeks (or months) of home-cooked food, and free services at home like laundry (thanks Mom!). This too shall pass. But not before it becomes a story to tell. Stay in, stay safe, and live to tell the tale!

Contact us

If you would like to take our advice on this matter, please email [email protected] or use the click-to-call button on the top right of your screen.

5 Readiness tips for Debaters


For a debutante debater or for that matter, a couple of appearances old debater, the experience can be very daunting and can sometimes make you feel frustrated and like it simply “isn’t my thing”. The key is, just to stay in the game and believe in yourself because it really isn’t too demanding and the experience that you walk away with is incomparable. Irrespective of the outcome, it’s a fantastic learning that enables you to be open to different standpoints and pushes you to have a wider perspective. To help with this enriching process here are five things that will make it hopefully a little less challenging.

  1. Know your speech:


As obvious as this may seem, it’s very often overlooked because it’s not considered to be very significant but having this feather in your hat will make you more confident and in the wider scheme of things it’s one less thing to worry about. Of course, a challenge associated with this is the fact that your speech can appear scripted but it’s nothing a little bit of confidence and passion can’t handle. There’s nothing wrong with taking a piece of paper up to the podium but if you know your speech you won’t be looking at it too much which will mean you are making more eye contact with the audience and this will make your speech more effective and leave a lasting impact on the audience and judges. In order to take the trophy home, it’s not about whether you get every line out in your four minutes it’s more about whether you made an impact in the lines that you do remember to get out to make a conscious effort to know your speech and yes, a couple of lines missed out will not mean much as long as what you uttered made the impact and in some ways got the message home.


  1. The first 20 seconds:


A debate can very often be intimidating because of the hundreds of people watching, the trophy staring you in the eye, every participant’s desperation to win, and all this has a way of charging the atmosphere. In all of this, the first few seconds of your speech may be hard to get out because of nervousness and a typical social anxiety syndrome, but if despite feeling like your heart is in your mouth you can get the first twenty seconds out confidently and effectively you’ve set a fantastic pattern for the rest of your speech. It’s in the first twenty seconds of listening to your speech that the judges and the audience decide whether they want to listen to the remaining 200 or not. Not to mention the incentive it gives you to maintain the tempo of confidence and passion for the remainder of the speech. “Content is always king” so don’t let the content get lost in the fear of delivering it. Even if that means giving yourself cliched pep talks like ” Life is too short” or ” it doesn’t matter what people think”, so be it, whatever floats your boat.


  1. Rebuttal:


Nervous jitters, fear of judgement and sometimes just plain sluggishness prevents one from making an effort with the rebuttal. If your turn is right in the beginning then you may be tempted to stay put in your chair after your speech and let out a sigh of relief that lasts till the very last speaker and in that case, you run the risk of getting forgotten and if your speech is, in the end, you might be tempted to keep practicing your speech and then you run the risk of being regarded as uninterested in the debate due to lack of involvement. Active participation in the rebuttal will introduce you to the judges before your speech and add to your credibility as a speaker so much so that in the long run you will be much happier you spent your time asking questions rather than practising. Sometimes, rebuttal helps provide you opportunities to talk on the mic, in short bursts, a couple of times before your actual speech because with every question you ask your fear of speaking in front of the crowd will diminish. You will also be regarded as stiff competition from your opponents, one to watch out for and the judges will appreciate your willingness to listen to every speech closely and call out the inaccuracies. It portrays your passion for the subject and desperation to make your side prevail and this will only add to your points as a debater. The debater who takes the trophy home will always have a good combination of the rebuttal and speech coupled with eloquence and passion, this is certainly something worth emulating.


  1. Be aggressive:


Being nice and politically correct will only take you so far because in a debate you only have four minutes to prove that you deserve to win and If you spend that time making diplomatic statements that need to be thought out to infer the conclusion, your speech probably won’t have as much of an impact as it would if you simply hit the hammer on the head and aggressively put across exactly what you’re thinking. And I say aggressively only because it demonstrates conviction for the viewpoint to the judges and it shows your opponents that you’re not willing to back down as cliched as that may sound.  In a debate, the last thing you can afford is to appear vulnerable and to this end, some aggression will help manage this requirement. In a debate more often than not, game face on is a game changer and it might not win you the debate but it definitely implies that you mean business and are here to win!


  1. Have fun, Experiment, and explore:


If you genuinely enjoy debating it will be very obvious in the speech that you deliver and every debate that you attend but it’s binding on you to judge whether it’s your cup of tea or not. As you keep debating, make sure to keep the process interesting by experimenting with your style and finding one that works for you and provides you with optimum results in minimum time and effort. Find out what speech structure works for you and tweak it every now and then so that you evolve your “go to speech structure” as you deliver some of the best speeches.

Test the boundaries of causes, effects, solutions and take the plunge, it may be a decision you’ll be forever grateful for.

About the Author

Riddhi Gopinath is a student at Bishop Cotton Girls’ School, Bangalore.



Dealing With Setbacks in School


By the title of this post, you would have already guessed where the “inspiration” for this blog has come from. We all would have dealt with setbacks, big or small, in our school days. These setbacks can be REALLY annoying when you would’ve put a lot of hard work into them. Here are some of the tips that I’ve found to be useful in dealing with these situations-

1) Get over it – Getting over these setbacks or failures can be one of the most effective and the most difficult things to do. You may try to distract your mind by thinking of something else or try to keep yourself occupied with other activities, but eventually, you have to face the fact that you indeed “failed”. Instead of wasting time avoiding the truth, you should move on as fast as possible and get back to work. One of the rules, if you can implement it, can be really useful is called the “24 Hour Rule”. This rule was invented by the most successful NFL coach Don Shula. Shula let his team celebrate a victory or brood over a loss for only 24 hours and the next day they had to get back to training.
2) Don’t care about what others think or say– If you know what you have to do to turn this failure into a success, then you don’t have to care about what others think. Parents and teachers can get really annoying when it comes to your academic performance, but sometimes listening and taking advice won’t harm. Also, if anyone talks down to you or suggests that you cannot come back from this failure, remember that success is the best revenge.
3) Move ahead– Now that you’ve come up with a plan , start working on it. Don’t spend time thinking about refining the plan too much, do that as you go. Also, don’t spend time thinking about what you could have done and rather take the setback as a lesson and focus on what you can do.

I hope that these tips helped and don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. 🙂

About the author
Aaryan Raina is a student at Ivy Aspire.

Moving from an Indian to an International curriculum – The Insider’s advice


Curriculum boards can often be extreme opposites. While it can be argued that there are similarities, for example, the addition of 2 plus 2 is 4 in every board of education, the way of learning has stark differences. In the 7th grade, I made the big move from a school which follows the SSC curriculum to an international school that offered the IGCSE curriculum by CIE. To say that the change was gigantic was an understatement. My entire way of learning, thinking and studying were broken down and moulded to fit the board.

After studying in both systems, I have realised the stark difference doesn’t lie in what we learn but how we learn it. In traditional Indian schools, it is expected that students follow the teacher’s directions blindly. Posing questions, doubting becomes an offensive tactic that often remarks you as unruly and mischievous. In the international system, inquiry is a quintessential aspect. It necessary to question knowledge itself to understand it. If you were simply told that apples fall downwards because of gravity, ask what other aspects could influence this? Was it only Newton that noticed this? Asking doesn’t make you bad student but a better one.

Don’t be shy. Your prior knowledge and understanding aren’t useless because you changed systems but could instead help you learn better. Moving from the Indian system can be hard, additionally, you change schools and find yourself in an unfamiliar environment. Don’t let this overwhelm you. Be bold and ask questions, participate in events; debates, decathlons, MUNs as these are all an integral part of the international curriculum.

In my opinion, the biggest change would be the difference in the student’s studying patterns. The international system thoroughly values the concept of application of knowledge. We learn concepts not to know them but use them. It is important that you learn to not read and memorize the concepts but really understand them to manipulate their use in the future.

Lastly, the journey of moving from an Indian curriculum to an international one may be difficult and even impossible at times, but, learn to enjoy it as it could very much be the best decision you make!

GRE Analytical Writing Section Part 1: A lowdown on the GRE Writing section

What is this GRE Analytical Writing Section about?

The GRE  Analytical Writing Section or AWA, informally known as the “Essay section”, assesses your ability to understand complex ideas, analyse arguments, and construct meaningful, coherent responses to said ideas and arguments. In essence, this section tests the different aspects of writing – spelling, grammar, punctuation and not to forget, content!

How is the AWA section structured?

The AWA section is the first section on the GRE. It comprises of two essays: the Issue and the Argument (More on this a little later). You are provided 30 minutes for each essay.

Each essay is graded on a 0.0 – 6.0 scale, with 0.5 increments. Your AWA score is the arithmetic mean of your Issue and Argument essay scores, rounded up to the nearest 0.5.

What are some of the topics that show up in this section?

Some popular essay topics are from the domains of Technology, Society, Economy, and Education.

The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test provides an insight into the GRE’s Advanced Writing section. Another ETS resource, the Official GRE VERBAL REASONING Practice Questions Volume 1 contains a few practice topics. Both these resources also contain sample responses for different scores –giving you an idea of what a high-scoring essay looks like.

The ETS website contains the entire pool of topics from which both essay tasks are asked. With over 200 topics for each essay type, it is highly recommend that you practice your responses for at least some of these topics.

What are the types of essays?

The AWA section has two essay types:


The issue task tests your ability to understand a complex idea and pen your thoughts on the same. Essentially, you are asked to take a stand on a particular idea. You are expected to make a compelling case, complete with examples, on your position regarding the issue.


The argument task tests your ability to analyse a complex argument. The given argument usually contains a brief passage explaining the problem statement and need for a particular action. The passage also contains some proposed solutions, which are backed by evidence. Your task is to frame a response with regards to the coherence of the given argument. You DO NOT  need to offer your own opinion or agree/disagree on the topic provided.

So that brings us to the big question:

How do I ace this section?

When it comes to writing, there is no “one strategy fits all” approach – different people have different writing styles. In general, a good vocabulary, coupled with clarity of thought and excellent grammar helps. You aren’t expected to produce the next great work of literature!

One of the things that helped me do well was the “KISS” principle – Keep It Simple, Silly!

In the next article, I elaborate on some of the tips, tricks and hacks which helped me ace the Advance Writing Assessment section. Stay tuned for more!

About the Author:

Aditya Natarajan is the Ivy Aspire  GRE expert and will share a series of articles to help you crack the GRE!




Vanquishing GRE Verbal Part 2: Some strategies to master the GRE Verbal Reasoning section


In the previous article (Part 1 of the GRE Verbal series), I spoke about the types of questions that appear on the GRE Verbal Reasoning section. As the name suggests, this section requires a combination of skills – the ability to read and analyse (often long) passages of text, a solid vocabulary, the knack of differentiating between the important and less important themes and many more. Fear not, with a balanced strategy and (quite some) practice, it is more than possible to achieve your target score.

Unlike the Quantitative Reasoning section, which generally requires focused and specific practice, the Verbal Reasoning section requires efforts distributed over a broader range of resources.

One of the most important weapons needed in your arsenal to ace the VR section is good vocabulary.  Unfortunately, one does not develop good vocabulary overnight – it is the result of cumulative reading over a long period of time. Fortunately though, in the context of the GRE, there exist several resources to help tackle the vocabulary problem. Many test prep companies such Kaplan, Barron’s, Magoosh and others provide word lists and flash cards – containing “frequently occurring/high frequency words”. Familiarizing yourself with these words is a pretty good start. Publications such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic contain many high-quality, engaging articles which help improve vocabulary. These are also useful for tackling the Writing section! If you’ve got the time, another must-read book is Word Power Made Easy. Although the book does not contain a lot of “GRE words”, it serves as great primer in improving your vocabulary.

As always, the ETS Official Guide to the GRE is your best friend. It contains practice questions of each type, sorted by order of difficulty. The Official GRE VERBAL REASONING Practice Questions Volume 1 contains 150 real test questions with explanations. There is also a plethora of additional resources offered by other test prep companies. In my opinion, the explanations of the answers found in the ETS resources are unmatched- they’re clear, concise and don’t contain spurious leaps in logic.

Not all questions in this section are of the same difficulty – some take longer to solve than others. In general, Reading Comprehensions (RCs) usually take longer to complete. Avoid spending too much time on a single question. Move on and see if you can try a different approach later.

Some tips to solve the different types of questions are:

Reading Comprehension


  • Many people find RCs to be the hardest question type on the Verbal section and save them for the end. Make sure you devote enough time to solve all the questions.
  • Do not make any assumptions – the RC questions are always based on the information provided in the passage. Some questions may require you to infer things from the passage – this isn’t the same as assuming something!

Text Completion


  • A commonly followed practice is to “use your own words” – this process involves filling the blank(s) with your own word(s), and then going through the options to find the closest answer.
  • In questions containing multiple blanks, finding the right word for the second/third blank may be easier than finding the right word for the first blank. You can then work your way backwards to find the right answer for the first blank.

Sentence Equivalence


  • Always look for certain keywords that indicate the “tone” of the sentence.
  • Do not just pick a pair of words whose meanings you’re unfamiliar with. While they may be right at times, this isn’t a recommended method.

Apart from the above tips, there are a couple of other points to keep in mind.

  • It is a good practice to underline important parts of a question – these may be sentences in a passage, or certain keywords in a Text Completion/Sentence Equivalence question – these may help you save time.
  • Employ the process of elimination while attempting questions in the Verbal Reasoning section – for any question, eliminate any options that is definitely incorrect, and progressively reduce the number of available options until you land up with a single answer choice.
  • Similarly, make sure you practice questions of different difficulty – working on only very difficult questions or acing the easy questions alone aren’t enough!
  • Remember, the most important weapon in your arsenal is being calm. A level head is the most important thing needed to conquer this section.

The GRE Verbal Reasoning section, just like the Quantitative Reasoning section, is all about practice. Take several timed, full length practice tests under similar test conditions and track your progress at regular intervals.

About the Author

Aditya Natarajan is the Ivy Aspire  GRE expert and will share a series of articles to help you crack the GRE!






Vanquishing GRE Verbal Part 1: A lowdown on the GRE Verbal section


What is the GRE Verbal Section about?

The GRE Verbal Reasoning (VR) section, informally known as just the “verbal section”, tests your ability to understand, analyse and evaluate textual content. This section isn’t all fancy vocabulary – although it helps if you possess a strong vocabulary. Some questions require you to identify relationships between words or phrases, while others require you to analyse a block of text to arrive at a conclusion. These are just a few of the types of questions that occur in this section – read on to find out more about the Verbal Reasoning section!


What is the format of the GRE Verbal Reasoning section?

There are two (or three, depending on the experimental section) 30 minute sections, each containing 20 questions. Not all questions are of the same difficulty – some are harder and require more time to answer than others! You’re likely to lose more points if you incorrectly answer an easier question than a more difficult one.


What are some of the topics that show up in this section?

Unlike the Quantitative Reasoning section, which contains a broad set of topics from which questions are asked, the Verbal Reasoning section contains no such set. The content found on the verbal Reasoning section is derived from a variety of sources.

The content on the GRE Verbal Reasoning sections spans various disciplines –science, philosophy, history, literature and so on. If you come across unfamiliar content, don’t worry. It’s probably the same for most other people!

The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test provides an insight into the GRE’s Verbal Reasoning Section. Another ETS resource, the Official GRE VERBAL REASONING Practice Questions Volume 1 contains 150 real test questions with explanations. Going through this resources are very highly recommended.

What are the types of questions that are asked?

According to the ETS’ official website, the GRE Verbal Reasoning section comprises of the following question types:

Reading Comprehension (RC)

RC based questions account for almost half the questions in the VR section. RCs require more than just passive understanding of the words and sentences- they require an understanding of the overall theme of the text as well as the ability to evaluate hypotheses and extrapolate conclusions.

RC based questions are usually of the following types:

Multiple choice questions with ONE correct answer

As the name suggests, every question contains five answer choices – one of which is the right one.

Multiple choice questions with ONE or more correct answer

Such questions require you to select one or more answer choices from the list of choices provided. The choices are represented by square boxes rather than the regular ovals. The right answer is either a single option or a combination of options. Note that in order to score full points in such a question, all correct options must be chosen and all incorrect options must not be selected. There are no part points for such questions.

Text Completion

As the name suggests, these questions require you to fill in the missing blank(s) with the appropriate word or phrase. These questions test your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar rules. Once again, these question can be either single choice or multiple choice – depending on the number of blanks to be filled.

Sentence Equivalence

These questions are similar to the Text Completion questions, in the sense that you’ll need to fill in the blanks. The difference is that the blanks need to be filled based on the overall form and meaning of the sentence, rather than on vocabulary or grammatical rules.

So that brings us to the big question:

How do I ace this section?

Vocabulary plays a key role in doing well in this section – being proficient in antonyms and synonyms is a good start to acing this section. It’s not all about the individual words though- in the end, being able to understand and analyse pieces of text is just as important in order to score well in this section.

Improving vocabulary is a long term process. This calls for inculcating a reading habit – multiple authors on multiple topics. Going through vocabulary supplements can help only incrementally!

In the next article, I elaborate on some of the tips, tricks and hacks which helped me ace the Verbal Reasoning section. Stay tuned for more!

About the Author

Aditya Natarajan is the Ivy Aspire  GRE expert and will share a series of articles to help you crack the GRE!


Mastering GRE Math Part 2: Some strategies to master the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section


If you’re reading this, you probably already have an idea on the structure and the types of questions that appear on the GRE Quantitative Reasoning (QR) section. If not, head over to Part 1 before reading ahead. At first glance, the QR section can be intimidating. There are questions from a wide range of topics, many of which require the knowledge of several formulae. Fear not, with a little practice and patience, you can achieve your target score!

The “Math Review” section of the ETS Official Guide to the GRE contains definitions, properties and examples of the concepts tested on the Quantitative Reasoning section. Similarly, Khan Academy contains videos that provide additional explanations to many of these concepts. This is a great place to start with familiarizing yourself with the quality and type of content typically found on the test.

Many test prep companies such Kaplan, Barron’s, Magoosh and so on also offer their own resources. While these resources are certainly useful, in my opinion, nothing beats the official ETS Guide mentioned above.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the questions appearing on the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section aren’t usually calculation-intensive! More often than not, there are simpler approaches to solving a problem. Make sure you aren’t bogged down by a problem – avoid spending too much time on a single sum. Move on and see if you can try a different approach later.

Some tips to solve the different types of problems are:


  • Use the provided scratch paper to work out the problem. While this approach may take a little longer than mentally solving the problem, it ensures clarity of thought.
  • Try memorizing some simple algebraic formulae – squares, cubes etc. Often, it is a lot faster to plug in values into the formula rather than having to manually derive them.

Data Interpretation

  • These questions require complete concentration and usually take more time to solve. Personally, I’d recommend leaving these questions till the end, and attempting them once the other questions have been attempted.
  • Always keep an eye out for the axes of graphs, labels on the pie charts and so on. Some questions may require a conversion from one unit of representation to another.


  • Make sure you fully understand what is being asked – jumping head first into solving the problem and then deciding the scope of the question can lead to an unnecessary waste of time.
  • Use the calculator judiciously. Oftentimes, it is faster to manually calculate than to type it into the calculator.


  • The geometric figures appearing on the test aren’t always drawn to scale- unless explicitly specified! Make no assumptions regarding the same.
  • The “this option looks right” approach isn’t very effective and shouldn’t be followed.

Apart from the above tips, there are a couple of other points to keep in mind.

  • As mentioned earlier, avoid spending too much time on a single question. Some questions take longer than others to solve, but it isn’t prudent to spend more than say, 3-4 minutes on a single question. You can mark the question for review and return to it later, if you have the time.
  • Make sure you practice all the different concepts tested on the GRE Quants section. Avoid tunnel vision – focussing too much/ too little on certain topics.
  • Similarly, make sure you practice questions of different difficulty – working on only very difficult questions or acing the easy questions alone aren’t enough!
  • Remember, the most important weapon in your arsenal is being calm. A clear, sangfroid head is the most important thing needed to conquer this section.


The famous Russian writer Anton Chekov once said “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” The GRE QR section is all about practice – practicing how to manage time, practicing how to read and understand the question and most importantly, practicing how to solve the question.

So remember: practice, practice, practice. Take several timed, full length practice tests under similar test conditions and track your progress at regular intervals.

About the Author

Aditya Natarajan is the Ivy Aspire  GRE expert and will share a series of articles to help you crack the GRE!


Balancing Academics and Extra Curriculars in Grade 11 & 12

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”A healthy balance of academics and extra curricular activities is of utmost importance in every student’s life, more so, when the student is in grade 11 or 12 where the pressure of marks and studies is constantly mounting. While academics are the top priortiy, it is very essential to equally induldge in extra curriculars as they not only help students switch off from the hectic schedule but also develop an all-round personality.

 Develop a Schedule

Planning a strict schedule, and more importantly sticking to it, will help you clearly demarcate between your study time and recreation time. Develop your schedule in such a manner that you complete the tasks and lessons for the day but also have sufficient time left for your hobbies.

Don’t have too many activities

In the unrealistic quest to become multi-talented, students often tend to get into many activities which ultimately takes them nowhere. Indulging in far too many activities will not only disrupt your academic schedule, but also not help you zero in on a single extra curricular activity which you can purse to perfection. Just have one or at the most two extracurricular activities and solely focus on them while balancing your studies alongisde.


Pick such an extra curricular activity which is completely different from your coursework or any thing related. Remember that extra curricular activities are “extra” which are meant for your recreation and relaxation. Pick such an activity which doesn’t demand the same kind of cognitive operations as your academics. This will help you take a break from your coursework and also enhance your overall personality as an individual.


It is good to have a healthy balance between academics and extra curricular activities but at the end of the day, just one of them should be your top priority. Ideally, academics is given the most importance by most students as that is what shapes their careers and future but if you feel your hobby matters more then give it more importance. Whatever your priority may be, devote more time to that. Prioritizing early on in life will help you strike a healthy balance between academics and extra curriculars.

About the Author

Rohini Narayanan is an Ivy Aspire student and is excited about pursuing a career in law

Acing the Common Law Admission Test: What not to do.


The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is increasingly becoming popular among students. With a rise in number of applications each year, the competitiveness of the exam is elevating every year.

If you want to crack the CLAT and crack it convincingly, here are things you should NOT do.


  • Replicating Topper Study Methods:

The one mistake all CLAT aspirants tend to make is reading interviews of toppers and replicating their study methods. That is the most awful thing you can do! It’s good to take inspiration and guidelines but blindly copying will just frustrate you. Study according to your pace, your comfort level and your preferred time.

  • Studying From A Million Books:

There is absolutely no use in ordering unnecessary books and cluttering your desk. Stick to one book, grasp all the concepts thoroughly and once you are done with that book, think about the next one. Buying a dozen books will just confuse you more!

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  • Sideling Your Academics:

Many students tend to completely ignore their school coursework and just study for CLAT. This is not required! Pay attention to your academics. CLAT is not an entrance exam like JEE or AIPMT which requires your undivided attention. Let the concepts be at your fingertips and you will be in an advantageous position.

  • Cramming:

Cramming should be the last thing you do if you want a shot at CLAT. Randomly mugging up the static GK portions is not going to work in your favour. Start reading a bit of GK everyday from the very beginning itself to avoid cramming and all-nighters. Nothing can beat a consistent and staggered preparation.

While these tips may work for some people, they are avoidable at best. Good luck!

About the Author

Rohini Narayanan is an Ivy Aspire student and is excited about pursuing a career in law

Choosing a Stream after Class 10


One of the first important decisions that we have to make in our lives is that of choosing a stream after class 10.  The few months that follow the culmination of the board exams are filled with confusion, permutations and combinations. A tough call has to be made among the streams of Science, Humanities and Commerce. Here are some things you should keep in mind while selecting a stream as this one decision that can affect your entire life and career.


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Aptitude, Personality and Strength

This is the most important thing to be considered while selecting a stream. Remember that class 11 and 12 are very different from class 10 where a good student can consistently score in all the subjects. In the higher classes, your aptitude and skill are really put to the test which is why it is essential that you choose a stream where you can do well and not merely choose a stream because your friends are or your parents are pressurizing you to.


Understand the Pros and Cons

While identifying your aptitude and interest is very important, it is equally, if not more important to understand the merits and demerits of choosing a particular stream. It is essential that you thoroughly research the three streams inside out and chalk out the pros and cons of taking them, which will enable you to come to a decision, quickly and accurately.


Talk to a Counsellor

Talking and seeking guidance from an educational counsellor can really help you make a decision. The counsellor will make you understand the benefits and scope that a particular stream provides. Apart from that, counsellors can identify a certain underlying skill and aptitude which you may be completely oblivious too. Counsellors bring out the reticent interests within you.


Consider Career Prospects

Skills and aptitude undoubtedly very important but a stream should also be selected, taking future prospects into consideration. If you think saving lives or coming up with new cures will really interest you then Science stream with biology would be a good avenue for you. If you are more inclined towards public policies or economic policies, Commerce or Humanities with economics may be your stop.


Dont take a Decision on the basis of your Class 10 Results

The one common mistake all the students make while selecting a stream commit is basing their decision on class 10 marks. While the class 10 marks may give you a marginal indication of your potential in a particular subject, it is by no means a measuring rod of your actual capabilities. The coursework in class 10 is mostly based on rote-learning and memorizing, class 11 and 12 is more application and understanding oriented. If you didn’t get a very good grade in class 10 in Social Science, don’t rule out Humanities as an option.

 About the Author

Rohini Narayanan is an Ivy Aspire student and is excited about pursuing a career in law.

3 tips to cracking the IBDP


Hello, if you just started IBDP and want to achieve the diploma most efficiently, here is the secret to success. When, I started my first week I was bombarded with assignments, papers, journals all to be completed in a matter of days. Frustrated, I asked myself how can I keep up with this workload for two whole years? No doubt that this course is difficult and fast-paced but done well, it can be extremely rewarding. Here are the three tips fit for all students to crack the IBDP.

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Tip # 1: Be consistent

IB is an extremely quick course. With six subjects and TOK, CAS and the extended essay finishing all tasks can be tricky. Submitting the assignments can get tricky, but by timing and prioritizing can really be the easiest but most efficient way to keep up with the pace of the studies

Yes, this sounds very naïve, as it may not always be possible to complete each task diligently and exactly on time. This however, can be solved as one can start this attitude from the first few days of the semester. Many students complete year one tardily, to find out that year two isn’t any easier. Being in constant awareness of your work and be diligent to avoid keeping a backlog.

Tip # 2: Use Your Days Well

For most deadlines and test, there is a general scheduling rule: Complete by the due date. While this rule is the most obvious choice, it isn’t efficient. To make sure you follow through on each assignment, plan your schedule well. On normal school days studying after class is tiring, thus use your weekends and holidays to your advantages to complete the most time-consuming tasks. This helps to complete you work while focusing on it with undivided attention.

Tip # 3: Keep a Goal.

Often it is taken for granted that when a student selects the IB programme they have an intricately goal they strive to achieve. While some may find this useless and disregard it, following it is a safer option. It is not necessary to plan for every detail you want to achieve in the duration of the course but to plan and pace yourself accordingly. Always keep a target score (or score range) that you WANT TO, CAN and WILL BE ABLE TO achieve. This makes the process of “Preparing” far easier as you know what outcome you prefer. Set goals for yourself to be focused and consistent, not demotivated.

Often students set goals that are out of their capability at a certain point in time. Set you goals to fit your capabilities and strengths and follow through to achieve just that. This will avoid any demotivation to occur. These tips will definitely help to crack the IB as well as all academic endeavours ahead.

About the Author

Tanisha Desai is from Poddar International School, Mumbai and is equally right and left brained. She is looking to study law and loves to paint and draw.

GMAT Study Plan


If we talk about an exam ,the first question that pops in our head is what the prep time should be. So with an assumption that a person is working, GMAT study plan ideally takes 60 – 90 days. It is usually helpful to chalk down a plan. While making a plan, keep the following tips in mind.

Tip 1

Start by writing a full length test from GMAT prep.This test is available on and is helpful later. This gives you an insight on the test and the areas that need to be worked on thoroughly.

Tip 2

Make a point to focus on both the sections (quantative and verbal). Either one of them can be your strong point but keeping in touch with the pattern and the type of questions asked in GMAT is of utmost importance.

Tip 3

The GMAT Official Guide should be your go to book for the preparations. It has all the types of questions that are asked in the exam, with solutions. It is better to use the latest edition as it will have newest types of questions added by GMAT.

Tip 4

The study plan should include verbal and quantative practice everyday.Divide the official guide over a period of 15 days. Make sure that the concept behind every question is clear. Review the questions to find out the reason of choosing that particular answer. This practice will help you in enhancing your knowledge and clearing the concepts. Also, if you face difficulty with a few questions seek help. Ivy Aspire provides the best help for your GMAT preperations .They provide different types study material and tests that are very important for practicing before taking the main test.

Tip 5

After solving the Official guide over a period of 15 days, take a test to gauge your progress. This test will help you understand your weak and strong areas.

Tip 6

Make another 15 day plan for the weak areas.For instance , if your reading comprehension is a weak area in verbal section ,then make this plan with more practice questions on reading comprehension .

Tip 7

Write a test again after this 15 day period and review the test with micro detailing.By this stage in your preparation ,in most cases , people face a lot of problem with time management.So to practice time management part ,follow the next tip.

Tip 8

Time your speed in doing questions from official guide now.For example , assign 1 hour for 40 problem solving questions and check how your fair.You can do the same with verbal as well.For more material for practice questions, you can get in touch with Ivy Aspire to help you with the same.Although a lot of material is available online , but a lot of them are not aligned with the original pattern of GMAT, Ivy Aspire can help you in finding these materials.

Tip 9

After you are thorough with the questions with official guide , you can now write full length tests available .

 Tip 10

GMAT prep test are available on with 2 free of cost and 4 with some fee. Plan GMAT prep tests 10 days prior to your test day,writing one test every alternate day till your test day.This will help you to get in the mode of writing a full length test. More than writing the test itself ,it is very important to review them properly.As this review will help you understand that what kind of mistakes you tend to do under time pressure and how you can avoid them on test day.

 About the Author

Ayushi Mishra is a student at Ivy Aspire.


Mastering Math Part 1: A lowdown on the GRE Quantitative section

What is the GRE Quantitative section about?

The GRE Quantitative section, also known as the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) section, essentially tests your ability to deal with facts and figures. Don’t worry, it’s not all complex number crunching – your ability to arrive at a solution in a logical and stepwise manner is just as important. Many questions are “word problems” which must be logically modelled mathematically.

What is the format of the Quantitative Reasoning section?

There are two (or three, depending on the experimental section) 35 minute sections, each containing 20 questions. Enough said.

What are some of the topics that show up in this section?

Some important topics covered include:

  • Integral calculus
  • Game Theory
  • Partial Differential Equations

Just kidding. (I’m sorry!)

The GRE QR section contains topics you probably studied in high school – stuff like properties of numbers, basic geometric shapes, algebra, word problems, data interpretation and so on.

You can safely assume the following about numbers and figures in the Quantitative Reasoning section:

  • All numbers used are real numbers
  • Geometric figures, such as lines, circles, triangles and quadrilaterals, are not necessarily drawn to scale
  • You should assume that all geometric objects are in the relative positions shown. For these questions, do not on estimate quantities by sight or by measurement
  • Coordinate systems, such as xy-planes and number lines, are drawn to scale; so, you can estimate quantities in such figures by sight or by measurement
  • Graphical data presentations, such as bar graphs, circle graphs, and line graphs, are drawn to scale

The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test provides an insight into the topics likely to appear on the GRE’s Quantitative Section. Going through this is very highly recommended.

What are the types of questions that are asked?

According to the ETS’ official website, the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section comprises of 4 types of questions:

Quantitative Comparison questions

Usually seven or eight in number, these questions appear at the beginning of each section. Every question contains 2 columns – each of which evaluates to a value. The two values then need to be compared and the option which correctly represents the relationship between the two values is the right answer.

Multiple choice questions with ONE correct answer

As the name suggests, every question contains five answer choices – one of which is the right one.

Multiple choice questions with ONE or more correct answer

Such questions require you to select one or more answer choices from the list of choices provided. The choices are represented by square boxes rather than the regular ovals. The right answer is either a single option or a combination of options. Note that in order to score full points in such a question, all correct options must be chosen and all incorrect options must not be selected. There are no part points for such questions.

Numeric Entry questions

These type of questions do not provide any answer choices – the test taker is expected to solve the question and write the answer, in integer or decimal format, in the box provided. In case of fractional answers, enter the answer in two separate boxes – one each for the numerator and the denominator.

All questions are not of the same difficulty – some are harder than the others. You’re likely to lose more points if you incorrectly answer an easier question than a more difficult one!

So that brings us to the big question:

How do I ace this section?

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a “math” person to do well in this section. This section tests your ability to grasp basic (I mean very basic) mathematical concepts and apply these to arrive at the right answer. With some practice (and maybe a teeny weeny bit of luck), you too can master the math section!

In the next article, I elaborate on some of the tips, tricks and hacks which helped me ace the Quantitative Reasoning section. Stay tuned for more!

About the Author:

Aditya Natarajan is the Ivy Aspire  GRE expert and will share a series of articles to help you crack the GRE!


What to do during your Summer Vacation

When students come to 10th, their attention is only on exams and the fact that they are now in 10th. They rarely think beyond 10th and what to do after they finish their board exams. When the final exams get over, most students don’t believe it’s over. They still feel like they’ll have to go home and start studying for the next exam. Most students also waste their summer vacation, simply sleeping or by doing nothing of value.

Relaxation Time: Of course there is nothing wrong with relaxing after the trials and tribulations you must have faced while studying for the board exams and 10th in general, but turning the entire duration of your holiday into an endless cycle of eating and sleeping is quite unproductive and wasteful. Most people aren’t willing to jump back into the grind as soon as they’ve finished 10th, best compromise is to take a week or two and relax, then jump into more productive things to do.

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Community Work: After your week of relaxation, it’s time to get to work. One possibility for the summer is involving yourself in community work. This work can be anything from something small like collecting newspapers and plastic from around the neighbourhood to something big like going out to schools and teaching underprivileged children. Community and charitable work is an excellent addition to a college application. It also just feels morally right to help those who haven’t been given the same opportunities as us.

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Starting a New Hobby: Picking up a new hobby is another great way to spend time during the summer. A hobby can include anything from painting, learning a musical instrument to writing short stories or essays. Learning something new is often very fun and a change of pace. It is also a good time killer. For example, but learning a programming language, one can keep themselves occupied for hours and pick up a useful skill that can help them in their future.

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Start Studying Early: When many students enter 11th, they are immediately overwhelmed by the amount of work and pressure put on their shoulders. They are unable to cope with the increased portion. This leads to complications further down the line. So another activity to do during the summer is to flip your books a bit and try to start some basics. 11th is a difficult year, so some preparation would not be amiss. Going the extra mile here will have a major difference on your experience in 11th.

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Internship: A summer well spent should ideally include an internship. There are many summer internship programmes. Internships have a wide array of benefits. An internship is something that colleges and universities like to see on applications. Students gain exposure to real-world problems and learn problems solving skills. They gain exposure to the real world. They get a boost in their teamwork skills. Student will also get a taste of the trade they wish partake in the future.

Look Towards the Future: Since there is plenty of free time during summer it is an excellent time to think about the future. Attending a good university or college is a good way to beef up a resume while applying for a job. You can use the summer to think about, do research on and maybe decide what colleges to attend in the future. Once you have a goal in mind, it is easier to work towards it.

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By doing these activities you can guarantee yourself a summer vacation well spent. You are making optimal use of your summer vacation and building up a future college application or profile. The most important thing is to take pleasure in these activities, because it is of no use if you’re forcing yourself to do it; that being said, enjoy your summer vacations.

About the Author

Keval Anekar is a 16 year old student. He aspires to study abroad. He writes  to share what he has learnt with confused students to be of some help. He is a student at Ivy Aspire

Guidelines to PSAT



PSAT or the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is as the name suggests is a preparatory or pre-version of the SAT. To be taken in the junior years of 10th and 11th, this examination does not only help prepare for the SAT and the ACT, but it also opens your doors to the National Merit Scholarship Program and many more scholarship programs. If not for the highly rewarding scholarship dollars, this examination can also be taken as a practice for your SATs that will count on your resume or college application.


  • The PSAT is the only way to qualify for the national merit scholarship that can change your path for college admission or application
  • Your score indicates your potential SAT score. A good score indicates a potential for good SAT result
  • It is a great confidence boost and experience and good prep for the SAT
  • It is a good way to judge your effort, knowledge and expertise


The National Merit Scholarship Program is a United States academic scholarship competition for recognition and university scholarships administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation since 1995. Every year, it awards scholarships to high scorers of the PSAT test of approx $180 million dollars. The conditions for qualifying for the scholarship are:

  • The student must attempt the examination during your junior year (9th – 12th)
  • The student must be an American citizen.

* If you’re not an American citizen, you are not qualified for this scholarship but there are many more scholarships that the PSAT test offers. This test can simply also be a great learning experience and practice for your SAT and ACT.


  • The PSAT can be divided into three simple parts:

Evidence-based Reading – 48 Questions (60 minutes)

Writing and language – 44 Questions (35 minutes)

Math – 47 Questions  (25 mins–no calculator, 45mins-calculator)

  • The PSAT is 2hours and 45 minutes long with the highest score being 1520
  • There is no negative marking hence guessing a question is always better than leaving it
  • In evidence-based reading, the passages can be from world literature/ history/ sciences/ social study
  • Writing and language consists of Basic English conventions and expressions
  • Math consists of charts, data analysis, algebra, trigonometry, advanced math and problem-solving


  • PSAT can be taken only once in a year. It is usually scheduled in the month of October
  • You can register from your high school. If your school does not register for this exam you can contact your college counselors who will help you register with the schools in your district that do conduct them.


  • There are a lot of practice tests for PSAT/ NMSQT; these include the PSAT 8/9 and the PSAT 10
  • These help to prepare you for the PSAT, NMSQT and the SAT

Register for all of them beginning in grade 8 because only practice makes a man perfect

About the Author

Ashna Agarwal is a student at Ivy Aspire.



How to deal with Exam Stress


With the CBSE’s removal of the CCE pattern of examinations, students have a lot to ‘stress’ about. An exam with the full textbook as portions and controlling 70% of the total grade is enough to scare any CBSE student. One thing always comes with exams and that is stress. However exam stress is common and can be easily managed.

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There are many causes for stress in students. In fact recent statistics have shown that 66% of students are under some form of stress. One of the major reasons for this is the advent of exams. Exams are the chief bug bearers of a student’s life. Students get stressed out and it has an adverse effect on their performance in their exams.

  • Societal Pressures: One of the many reasons students suffer from exam stress is because of parental and societal pressure. Almost everyone you’ll meet will tell you to study hard and do well, because it’s 10th grade. This puts unnecessary pressure on students. Students get stressed by studying continuously trying to live up to the expectations of their family and society. Best way to deal with this is to take it in your stride and do your best not to let it affect you. Create your own goals and try to hit them the best you can.

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  • Regular Breaks: Another way to deal with stress is by taking regular breaks. The brain is not a machine. It needs rest. Continuous study helps no one. Taking a break does more help than harm. 15 minutes of relaxation can do wonders. When you study continuously, the brain becomes incapable of comprehending what you are trying to study. This leads to frustration and a rise in stress levels. Taking a break helps reset the mind allowing you to reduce stress and study for longer


  • Physical Exercise: Playing a sport is another way of alleviating stress. Sports keeps you fit and helps keep the mind sharp, once you get in the flow, all worries are forgotten. A good one hour of any physical activity is a great help and can leave the mind refreshed for another round of studying.

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  • Reading: In case sports isn’t your thing, reading is another great way to bust stress. During a long break or after studies, reading a book of your choice is an excellent idea. Books often lead you to another world where you get engrossed in the lives of the characters, leaving all worldly thoughts behind, including thoughts about exams and studies. While reading your stress slowly dissipates. Reading also has the double benefit of improving your vocabulary.

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  • Have a Hobby: Indulging in a hobby of your choice also works. Painting, drawing, playing an instrument etc. All of these take your attention away from studies and upcoming exams. Drawing and painting is very soothing and refreshes the brain.

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  • Avoiding All-Nighters: A bad habit many students have is pulling an ‘all-nighter’ to complete portions. This is a terrible idea. All-nighters do more harm than good. Most people forget they learn during an all-nighter. In fact it is during sleep that short term memory gets converted to long term memory, i.e. sleep helps you retain retain what knowledge you acquired during studies. However when students begin to pull ‘all-nighters’ they begin to forget what they’ve learnt, which again leads to stress, which has a terrible effect on exam performance.


  • Electronics are a Hazard: While taking a short break in between studies is encouraged. Using electronics and social media during these breaks is a bad idea. With electronics, a 15 minute break can become an hour.

Exam stress affects all students but it’s nothing to worry about. There may be other ways of reducing stress that are more comfortable for you, do what you feel is right for your situation. Following these tips will help you alleviate stress. Be sure to balance your stress busting activities with your studies and not let one grow greater than the other.

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About the Author

Keval Anekar is a 16 year old student. He aspires to study abroad. He writes  to share what he has learnt with confused students to be of some help. He is a student at Ivy Aspire

How to crack Grade 10

For those coming from ninth grade, tenth must be a daunting task, a challenge, something that seems insurmountable, but  the truth is, tenth is actually quite easy. It’s just another ordinary school year, but this time you have an important exam at the end. Even the exam is similar to the ones you write in school. Just a different venue and some nice paper to write it on. You’ll be surrounded by friends and classmates, making the environment friendlier. With the removal of the CCE pattern of examinations, that final exam carries 70% of your final grade not 30%. So without any further ado, let me give you some tips on how to crack class 10.

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  • Nothing Replaces Classroom Teaching: The first one is a fairly simple one – pay attention during class. Most of you must think that this is fairly obvious but most people take teaching periods easy, from sleeping to talking in between class. Here lies your first mistake. Paying attention really does help. If you pay attention your workload for studying reduces drastically, no need to go for tuition to redo everything done in school because you weren’t paying attention in school.image 2
  • Regular Studies: Another tip is to study a little every day. Studying for exams is like tackling a large project, you can’t do it in one go, you need to do a little every day and go about it methodically. If you study every day, you understand where you are lacking and what you have to work on to improve yourself. Once you understand where you are weak, you can clear it up and not leave anything for the last moment. Trying to do everything a week or two before the exams will almost always fail. This may sound difficult at first, but over time this becomes easy and becomes a habit. Studying every day is important for subjects like Mathematics and Social Science.image 3
  • Student’s Best Friend, Question Papers: The best way to study for an exam is by solving question papers, be it last year’s paper, sample papers, practice papers, they all help. Papers get you used to the boards way of questioning.  Many-a-times questions are repeated across question papers, if you’ve already learnt or attempted the question before while studying. Papers also allow help with time management during an exam. There are many reference books with questions papers and solutions available in the market. There also many websites providing papers for download, such as – ,

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  • Regular Breaks: However all studies and no relaxation helps nobody. The mind needs time to relax and de-stress. One of the ways of doing this is by developing a voracious appetite for books. Books also help in developing an excellent vocabulary. This helps not just in exams but also in the future as well. Another way of relaxing is by playing sports. As the saying goes ‘a healthy mind rests in a healthy body’, sports keeps you fit and keeps the mind sharp. However in the rush of playing sports one cannot neglect studies. A balance is necessary.

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  • Textbook is the Most Important: Many people often buy reference books like guides and question banks etc. while these do have their uses, but the textbook is the final authority. Nothing will come from outside the textbook, if one knows the textbook well, they are all set. Questions can come from any obscure corner of the textbook. The Board will only reference their prescribed textbook while creating questions. This doesn’t mean to completely ignore reference book. Some books are very useful, like the RD Sharma textbook for math is a very well-known textbook and has helped many a student over the years, but always give preference to the school textbook.image 6

Following these steps is not the only way to achieve success in grade 10 and it is definitely not a sure fire method of success, but following these steps will help you do better. Good luck and all the best for your 10th.

About the Author

Keval Anekar is a 16 year old student. He aspires to study abroad. He writes  to share what he has learnt with confused students to be of some help. He is a student at Ivy Aspire






The ACT and the SAT are both exams required for college admission. Many students wonder which is better or which one college’s prefer more. Colleges actually don’t prefer one over the other. Neither of the two is fundamentally better than the other; however one of the two might be more suited to certain students than the other.

act v sat                                                us map by exam

  • Miscellaneous Differences: The SAT takes place in the months of October, November, December, January, March, May, and June. The ACT takes place in the months of September, October, December, February, April, June and from 2018 in July also. Both the SAT and ACT are long exams, who’s length crosses hours each. The SAT is 3 hours 50 minutes long with the optional essay, without the essay it is 3 hours long. The ACT is 3 hours 40 minutes long with the optional essay, without the essay it is 3 hours long. The ACT also has an additional Science section that the SAT does not have. They both have different registration fees. The SAT is $54.50 with the essay and $43 without. The ACT ranges from $34-$49.50.
  • SAT Math V.S ACT Math: The Math section of the two exams is slightly different. The way that the ACT math section is broken up is simple. There are 60 multiple choice questions to be answered in 60 minutes. The portion for the ACT Math section is as follows, algebra, which includes 14 pre-algebra questions, 10 elementary algebra questions, and 9 intermediate algebra questions. The portions also include geometry, which has 14 plane geometry questions and 9 coordinate geometry questions, lastly, there are also 4 questions based on trigonometry in this section. The use of a calculator is allowed throughout the section. The ACT does not give basic Mathematic formulae at the beginning of the section. The SAT Math section has 58 multiple choice questions to be answered in 80 minutes. The portion includes algebra I/II, arithmetic, probability, coordinate geometry, data analysis, and trigonometry. The SAT Math section consists of 2 sub-sections, the calculator and no-calculator sections. The no-calculator section is 25 minutes long with 20 multiple choice questions, the calculator section is 55 minutes with 38 questions. Both sections contain grid-in questions. The SAT however does give basic Mathematical formulae at the beginning of the Math section.exam photo                                        exam photos 2
  • SAT English V.S ACT English: The ACT English section generally focuses on testing the students editing skills. The student has to fix grammatical and punctuation errors. There are a total of 5 passages to edit. In total there are 75 questions that have to be answered in 45 minutes. The SAT English consists of an evidence-based reading section and a writing and language section. The reading section consists of 5 passages with a total of 52 multiple choice questions with a time limit of 65 minutes. The passages cover a variety of topics from History, Art, Literature, Science, etc. The writing and editing section has a total of 4 passages, with 44 multiple choice questions and 45 minutes to answer them. The questions are grammar, vocabulary, and editing based.
  • SAT Essay V.S ACT Essay: Both the SAT and the ACT offer an optional essay. Since most colleges require the essay, students are encouraged to take it. The ACT essay has a 40-minute time limit. Students are given 1 prompt and 3 perspectives based around the prompt. The student’s goal is to analyse the given perspectives and develop their own also. They have to explain the relation between their perspective and the given ones. The SAT essay is different. The student has 50 minutes to write. They will be given 1 prompt text to read, they then have to describe how the author of the text builds a persuasive argument.
  • ACT Science: The Science section of the ACT is unique. This section has 7 Science-based passages, 40 multiple choice questions, and a total of 35 minutes to answer them. This section tests the student’s ability to glean info from the passage. The passages may also have tables, graphs and illustrations added to them.
  • SAT Scoring V.S ACT Scoring: Each section of the ACT is scored separately, but is brought together for a composite score, which is basically the average of each individual score. The composite score is from 1-36. The SAT is scored out of 1600 points, where each section is of 200-800 points.

Those are the major differences between the SAT and the ACT. Again, colleges don’t prefer one over the other, so pick one that suits you best. Good luck with whatever you choose.

hard work
About the Author

Keval Anekar is a 16-year-old student. He aspires to study abroad. He writes to share what he has learned with confused students to be of some help. He is also a student at Ivy Aspire

5 Steps to Cracking the 10th Grade


A) Set Goals

You will probably have more than one set of exams in the year, so setting goals for every set will help you keep track of your progress, so that you can make sure that you’re showing consistent improvement.

Writing down your goals for every subject and putting it up by your desk, or somewhere you can see it everyday can help keep you focused. You could also write down how you plan to reward yourself once you achieve your goals like a day at the mall, or movie you want to watch once your exams are over, etc.

You can find a lot of cute printables online, on Tumblr and Pinterest

B) Plan your time

time table

  • Approximate the amount of time you need to spend learning or revising each chapter of each subject, and then assign tasks for each day.
  • Don’t make your schedule so difficult that you can’t keep up, but at the same time don’t make it too easy.
  • Decide when you’re going to start revising for your upcoming set of exams well in advance, realizing you needed more time after your exams is the last thing you want.
  • Make sure to leave a few days to catch up on your schedule, just in case you fall behind.Save the bigger chapters for the weekend.
  • Don’t save the hard chapters for the end. Force yourself to be done with them first, it will make your last few days of preparation easier and stress free

You can use a white board, a calendar or printables to plan your month.

C) Turn of your phone (and all your other devices)

Though you may only plan to reply to one message, you might find yourself checking all your other apps once you pick up your phone while studying. Your phone can prove a major distraction if it keeps ringing during your study time. Try turning it off or leaving it in another room so you can completely focus on the task at hand.

If you still find yourself distracted by certain apps or websites, disable them for a few weeks. You may think that this is unnecessary, but if you only planned to spend 10 minutes on your phone while taking a break, but ended up spending an hour, it’s a sign that you need to get rid of the distractions.

D) Find your way to focus and absorb


Different people find different ways to focus, but if you still haven’t figured out what works for you, try:

  • Listening to music while you work
  • Getting some light exercise before you start, like a quick walk
  • Taking a quick shower before you sit down to study, this can help wake you up.
  • Take regular breaks depending on your attention span. For example, you could take a 5 minute break for every 25 minutes you study, or take a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes you study.
  • Figure out what time you focus best, whether its first thing in the morning, after you come back from school, or before you go to sleep.
  • Use this time to study new content, as that tends to require your full attention.
  • If sitting in the same spot for too long distracts you, try sitting in different rooms every few hours, fora change of environment.

If you have trouble remembering what you read/study then:

  • Try reading aloud
  • Write down key points while you’re reading. It doesn’t have to be neat notes, just scribbling is fine if it helps you remember better.

While some people find colorful notes helpful, many find them distracting. If that the case then just use 2 or 3 highlighters to color code your notes. For example, use yellow for definitions, blue for important points and green for key examples.

E) Plan your breaks

If you don’t have anything planned for your beforehand, then you might end up picking something that you can’t finish in your limited break time. Try to pick a pass time that can be limited to a short period of time, like:

  • a 20 minute episode of a lighthearted show that is not addictive
  • a short walk
  • a quick meal
  • Practicing a musical instrument

Exercise, music and a full stomach can help you be more focused when you come back to your books.If you decide to watch Tv during your breaks, avoid watching shows that tempt you to keep watching at the end of every episode.

Cracking the IB



Worried about acing the IB?

International Baccalaureate or also known as IB Diploma is one of the most rigorous curriculum’s of the world. It poses lot of difficulties for students. From numerous assignments, tests to Extended Essays and Internal Assessments. There is never a time when IB students are not preparing for an exam or working on a project/assignment.

I shifted from CBSE to IB in 11th grade and this was extremely challenging. Balancing CAS along with academics, managing time between my HL and SL subjects while preparing for upcoming exams was extremely arduous in the beginning with so many deadlines to meet.

Here are few tips to make IB a little easier for current and future students:

  • Make sure to set realistic time management goals. Study for 3 hours but utilize that time genuinely and then take a break for few minutes. Ideally it is good to take a break every 2 hours so as to absorb what you have read before starting a new chapter or continuing with the same as before.
  • Choose your Higher Level subjects wisely. It is advisable not to choose three tough HL subjects. This is will affect your grade and consume most of your time for studying. Example you could take one/two out of three tough HL subjects.
  • The summer before 11th grade, take help from a senior and go through first few chapters/topics of your six chosen subjects. Start thinking about your Extended Essay subjects. Which subject are you most passionate about? Is it biology? Is it computer science? Do not worry if others say the subject is too tough because what matters is your passion. When I chose Mathematics as my EE subject, many teachers advised that I should change it as it would put too much pressure on me. On the contrary I enjoyed writing my EE and it was one of the best ones at my school.
  • Use your breaks in doing your CAS activities. They are the best times to volunteer at orphanages, launch your initiative, participate in charity events etc. Additionally, make use of your breaks to think about possible Internal Assessment topics. Discuss regarding IA’s with your seniors. To improve in English, read novels. Request your English teacher to give a list of novels which could improve your critical thinking and analyzing skills.
  • Do not wait for the IB board exams to practice from past papers. As soon as teachers finish a topic in a subject, practice questions related to the topic from past papers. They are excellent sources to prepare you for the final exam.
  • Work on your mistakes from the beginning. Exams, class tests and assignments are opportunities to learn from your mistakes. Take help from teachers or friends. Clarify your doubts if you have any. Set aside at least an hour a day to improve your weakness. Most importantly, Start Early!
  • Do not panic when asked to meet too many deadlines to meet. Speak with your parents or teachers to help you create a schedule following which you can complete all your assignments on time qualitatively.

Do not establish a perception that IB is tough, too difficult, unmanageable etc. Rather perceive it as an opportunity to grow holistically. Personally I would say that it is because of IB I discovered my critical thinking skills. I realized that I love research work and that I could write research paper. Moreover, I went on to start my initiative ‘Help a Child Now’. We all know that each of us have a special talent within us. It is IB that provides you the platform identity, nurture and bring out this talent within you. Remember to start early!

About the Author

Priyanka Mishra -from TISB, Bangalore,  is taking a gap year to explore her interests and herself. She has published 3 research papers and is excited to start college in the Fall. She already has many college offers to choose from. She is an Ivy Aspire student




Three Key tips to write Commentary Answers

pencil photo

Nowadays, almost every time we take an examination as IB students we need to write long essays and commentaries with 10 to 20 marks allotted to each. When taking an exam, time goes by extremely fast. So, it is beneficial or rather ‘necessary’ to have a plan of action to write a well-framed answer as efficiently as possible. Here are three key tips to help write quality answers in the shortest time.

#1 Planning

Whilst it is important to not waste any time in situations such as tests; where time is short-lived, this technique is the most helpful. A plan is essentially a format to keep all your ideas, thoughts, key terms and definitions in place. When planning, it is not necessary to make perfect tables and columns with straight lines, but, to sketch out an outline of all the thoughts that you would like to present in your answer.

This method not only helps you to organise your thoughts efficiently, but also reduces the possibility of every student’s worst nightmare: BLANKING OUT. It is a technique that sounds very easy and unproductive but can take you miles further in terms of progress. This leads to the next tip…

#2 Structure

When writing a long answer, make sure to always structure the answer with proper paragraphs, diagrams and quotations. This not only helps to connect your ideas well but also gives you a guide to do the final re-check. Yes, this seems like a very long and time consuming process, but, is in-fact more efficient from a student’s perspective.

Moreover, it gives an examiner an idea of the student’s thought, which often acquires those additional points that boost your score.

#3 Identifying key terms

After the previous tips, I’m sure you must be thinking ‘How is this any different?’ Well, when you read the question always make sure to look for:

  • The marks awarded
  • The type of question (explain, comment, discuss)
  • Any hint to a certain concept that can be included

This method solves the little problems that may occur during the planning stage, wherein you make take too long to know what concepts to include and what to not.

At first incorporating all these techniques may be a challenge itself and could be intimidating. Don’t worry. These tips can be perfected in your practice papers and revision time as even doing one, can help you progress and help write higher graded papers!!!


About the Author

Tanisha Desai from Poddar International School, Mumbai and is equally right and left brained. She is looking to study law and loves to paint and draw. She is an Ivy Aspire student.

Living in a Boarding School – What you should know


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If you are planning to join a boarding school next year, you maybe either excited or very apprehensive about your new independent life at school dorm.

You maybe excited to make new friends, live among your new school friends, study as well as achieve your target at the school etc. On the other hand, you would be worried about taking so much responsibility while staying far away from your close ones.

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You maybe one of those who is very introverted, and is consumed by the thought of staying away from parents. How will you live among a new set of people?  How should one behave at dorm? How to manage studies along with other responsibilities ? Should I participate in sports or extracurricular activities ? Or Should I only concentrate on studies ? What to do before going to a boarding school? Many such questions will trouble you but do not worry, if you are prepared well before boarding will become an unforgettable experience. With tips from my personal experience I am sure you can make it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

On a different perspective, boarding will also present opportunities to explore your potential. When you graduate, you will to look back at yourself and be amazed at how much you have developed holistically.

 Preparation before going to boarding school

You must very well know it that you will be staying away from home, parents, siblings and close friends. It is important to be mentally ready to accept this reality and think of ways to deal with homesickness. Talking to your parents once or twice a day would help you. Talk with your roommate or friends because you won’t be the only one feeling homesick.

Remember do not take lot of things along with you. Select things which are essential for you. Since you will be given a single cupboard, carrying apt amount of necessities will make it easy for you to mange your items without losing or misplacing them.

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Make sure that you take only a few books you would like to read because usually the school curriculum will consume most of your time. Nevertheless, the school library would provide you with the required books.

Making your boarding life enjoyable

In the beginning boarding school may look like the worst decision of your life. Do not get affected by such thoughts. You won’t be the only one in this position.

Speak with your roommate. Go and play basketball, soccer or any of your favorite sports.  Grab a snack for yourself and chat with your new friends. Do not depend on talking with parents everyday, this may make you homesick very often. Go for a walk outside your dorm. Engage yourself in multiple activities and make enough time to study everyday. This will prevent you from feeling homesick as well as help you balance between academics and extra-curricular activities. Most importantly get to know and understand your roommates. If you are disturbed by their activities, then speak with them to solve the issue. If you want to listen to music, use your headphone/earphones.

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Always listen to your houseparent’s because whatever they would be asking you to do is for your betterment. It may be tempting for you to disobey them but with time you will realize they were very correct.


Following are some of the most important points to bear in mind:

  1. Manage your time properly: After a month or so when you will be familiar with the timings of school and activities, make a timetable for yourself to follow everyday. Sometimes staying up until midnight may disturb your roommate’s sleep. Hence making a schedule would solve such problems.


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  1. Socialize: Make lot of friends. Be friendly with everyone. You may not find everyone’s behavior good. Some may be mean to you too. However still be nice with them. If someone troubles you talk it out with them or speak regarding this matter to your house parents.


  1. Take advantage of opportunities off-campus: For example, community service trips, movies, outdoor trips, model united nations abroad etc.


  1. Complete your assignments on time: Start you projects early and complete it on time. If assignments get carried over, you will not be able to complete it qualitatively.


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  1. Make use of weekends: If you have projects or exams coming up complete it during the weekends.


  1. Follow the rules: Never disobey the school or dorm rules/regulations. It may put you in big trouble. Disobeying can get you suspended or expelled.


Boarding school is the first step to prepare for life. Make it a memorable, fruitful and learning experience. Just like I transformed after two years in boarding, I hope you have an amazing time at your boarding school too.


About the Author

Priyanka Mishra -from TISB, Bangalore,  is taking a gap year to explore her interests and herself. She has published 3 research papers and is excited to start college in the Fall. She already has many college offers to choose from. She is an Ivy Aspire student


Creating a Study Schedule

The most crucial part of doing well on the SAT is thorough preparation. After all, you don’t want to suddenly realize the week before the test that you haven’t started studying. To avoid this, it is useful to create a study schedule, so that you can be sure you’re doing the right amount of preparation and you’re ready for each part of the SAT.

When you’re making your study plan (whether on a laptop, on a whiteboard, or on paper), keep these tips in mind.

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

The SAT requires some dedication over a period of time, in order to build up your skills. So, it’s important to start preparation early. Once you figure out when your test date is, try to begin studying at least 3 months before. This will give you enough time to work on everything you need to. Do your preparation bit by bit over the 3 months, rather than cramming all of it into a few weeks. This will also reduce your stress much more in the long run.

Tip #2: Practice Regularly

If you’re starting your SAT prep early, then there’s no need to do it every single day – this will only bore you. However, it is helpful to stick to a regular pattern of doing SAT practice, for at least 1.5 hours per week. Around 3-4 practice sessions, each week would probably be ideal. However, feel free to make a schedule that suits your time commitments.

Tip #3: Make Time for Full-Length Tests

I cannot stress the importance of doing full-length tests enough. Spending 3 hours (and 50 minutes, with essay) on one practice SAT may seem like a lot, but it is worthwhile. When you’re designing your study schedule, make sure you block out enough time to do these practice tests. The aim to finish as many as you can over a period of time.

Tip #4: Make Your Schedule Specific

 Once you’ve finished making your schedule, you should have certain days of the week that you’ve allotted for SAT prep, as well as full-length tests. Now go one step further: specify which component you are going to focus on for each practice session. It can be Reading, Writing, Math (Calculator), Math (Non-Calculator), or the essay. By doing this, you ensure that you are spending enough time on each part of the SAT. Schedule a little more time for the components that you find more difficult so that you can work on improving your weaker areas.


About the Author

The author Rithana Srikanth, scored 1560/1600 on the SAT. She is an Ivy Aspire student.


Taking a Gap Year – Lessons I have learnt


taking a gap year photo

My gap Year was not only a  break after school but also an important opportunity to come across numerous important experiences for a lifetime. Not only was I able to build my very own android app, I also ended up learning some very important life lessons as I travelled to different parts of the world where I had the chance to meet diverse individuals many of whom ended up influencing me significantly. Moreover, after researching universities and looking up their alumni I have understood one thing: our passion is greater than any professional or undergraduate degree in the world. If we have the zeal no target is impossible to achieve. Following are some of the most important lessons I learnt during my gap year which perhaps approximately 14 years of schooling could not teach me.


  • With confidence one can overcome great fears: On one of my flights to Abu Dhabi, I was astonished when one of my co-passengers with a smile said that she was going for a bypass surgery. I was amazed at how confident my grand-ma like co passenger was! She also seemed very excited to meet her daughter after a long time. This short meeting left a huge impact and taught me the importance of being confident and looking at life positively, thus inspiring me to face my challenges fearlessly.


  • Mistakes should be understood and analyzed in detail: There are times when I think about my mistakes. What went wrong? Was I not focussed enough? While building my android app- iDocare, I faced several challenges. I used to sit 9 hours at a stretch in a day decoding and one small typo would create a huge bug in the program. Similarly, in life, regardless of the magnitude of our mistakes, it is pertinent to understand and detect them properly and on time.


times management

Time Management

  • Managing time practically: There are various articles on time management to balance academic as well as co-curricular activities. During my year off, I have become accustomed to managing my time between multiple tasks. From revising my research paper and traveling abroad to writing my college essays. Balancing sports with academics is nothing in front of managing real life tasks along with college/academic work. Be scrupulous about your mistakes.
  • We need to present ourselves with challenging opportunities to explore our potential: Getting involved in classroom teachings, completing assignments on time, planning out my projects etc. I never had the time to explore my potential to its utmost extent. While pursuing IB Diploma, there were quite a few opportunities but I still felt I could do something more. Amazingly in the last four months with three of my research papers published in International Journals I have unravelled the researcher in me. On the other hand, as I learnt more about apps it cultivated in me a desire to build my own android app, an app that would help a large section of  society. With the help of online courses, videos on ‘building an android app’, I built iDocare, an app that provides instant medical consultation services 24/7 by connecting doctors with patients in countries with poor or no healthcare services.


being postiive

Being Positive


  • We must always focus on positive things in life: All of us are faced with problems and as usual most of us have a tendency to fixate on our problems. Try noticing each and every happy moment in your life, I am sure you will lead a better life. When we dwell too much on our problems, we forget to enjoy and cherish the positive aspects of our life.


  • Doing the right thing at the right time is extremely important: Regardless of it being your college application, homework, assignment, project etc. Everything has a time and it is this timeline which should not be ignored.


In conclusion I would say that this year was a chance to realize the importance of my school years, what it has taught me and to look forward excitedly to my academic and professional years that lie ahead of me. While many consider a ‘gap year’  a waste of time, or perhaps an unnecessary break after high school, for me it has been a much needed eye opener.

About the Author

Priyanka Mishra -from TISB, Bangalore,  is taking a gap year to explore her interests and herself. She has published 3 research papers and is excited to start college in the Fall. She already has many college offers to choose from. She is an Ivy Aspire student

Steps for Writing a Research Paper


Research paper is an in depth study of a particular topic in a subject. While many think that research is knowledge, hard work, but it is much more than that. The passion to pursue your topic of interest. Before you begin, be confident and believe in yourself, because this will help you in your research work – a positive belief to conclude your topic. What matters is your perseverance and passion.


research paper image


Following is a step by step plan to write an effective research paper:

  • Choose your subject of research – Example Math, English, Physics- Focus on limit aspect. Avoid topics which are too specialized or too difficult for you to understand. Select something that you can manage to do.

Choose a Problem to solve through research – look through the internet, read existing research papers, speak with your teacher concerned with that particular subject, gather a lot of information regarding the problem before embarking on your research. If it is common man problem, then perhaps talk to your parents, relatives or friends about it. Understand the problem deeply and then start looking for ways to solve the issue using your subject of research.

  • Look for information related to your topic: Surf the net. Look for more research papers on the same topics, analyze their approach towards the topics. Read through their limitations as well as further scope since it is a very important part of papers. Especially read the ones from reliable websites- look closely at domain names (.gov, .edu) – sites that belong to Universities. Read through research papers in International Journals – make sure it is original. One of the most important sources are books. Talk to your specific subject teachers if they know of any book related to this topic. Go through the examples in those books.
  • Write down the research statement- It mainly states the research question or topic of your paper and clarifies what is it that you are solving and how are you solving it?
  • Now make an outline – a rough one for your reference which will give an idea as to how will you go about conducting this research. A must to include Introduction, body and conclusion.

In your Introduction begin with discussing your problems and how you are going to go about solving. It is a summary of your paper. Explain the points you will be covering. However, do not the reveal the solution or conclusion.

Body: Here describe your research work elaborately. Present your workings, references, notes that you have taken from various sources.

Conclusion: Restate your thesis statement /research topic. Explain your conclusion to it.

  • Once you have found the solution to your research question/ research paper, start organizing your notes, workings in order. Organize your notes, points, sources that you have collected from various books and websites. You can make a flowchart, a short one, just to make sure you know the sequence of writing your research paper. Do not include information which is not tnecessary or unfathomable by you.
  • Start writing your research paper: Make sure that you are able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights and research findings to others. Assume someone who does not know about the topic is trying to read your paper. Every new term must be explained. If there are diagrams or pictures, label and explain them. Refer to them in your paper for better understanding. Write it completely in your own words. Footnote all borrowed ideas and quotes. Find out a way to organize your notes. List it out in the form of numbers or letters accurately.
  • Revise your outline and draft multiple times. Look for content errors. Double check facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline. Reorganize your outline if necessary. Check your calculations multiple times. Cross check with Grammarly. Reread the research paper again. Ask the specific subject teacher to review it.

Finally type out the final draft of your research paper. To ensure accuracy, read through for any small mistakes. Make sure you finish the paper 3-4 days before the deadline. It will allow to revise and edit any other minute mistakes in the paper.

And your paper is ready for submission or publication!

The most important part is…what did you learn from writing this research paper?

Hard work definitely pays off. I have written three research papers and they have published in International journals. With proper planning and dedication, writing a research paper becomes a successful and joyous experience.

About the Author

Priyanka Mishra -from TISB, Bangalore,  is taking a gap year to explore her interests and herself. She has published 3 research papers and is excited to start college in the Fall. She already has many college offers to choose from. She is an Ivy Aspire student

The Relationship Between IB and Sleep- Exposed


Dark circles; a cup of coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other; an expression of extreme stress.

IB Student

These seem to be the qualities of an IB student archetype. It’s funny…but is it true?

Does the IB diploma come free with sleep deprivation and a caffeine addiction?

As an IB student in my first year, there’s a lot I have to say about this.

First of all, this stereotype has a lot of truth to it. IB is a great course. It pushes you to think critically, gives you a vast array of knowledge and prepares you for the real world. That being said, it’s not easy. It is no secret that IB is an extremely rigorous course with new assignments coming your way every day. When you agree to do the IB, you’re entering a long-term relationship with deadlines, word limits, MLA citations and much more.

As a proclaimed expert at procrastination myself, I have seen many sleepless nights of staring at a screen and typing for hours and hours until my eyelids slowly win and I fall asleep. But is this always the case? No, not at all. Even though the work load is high, there is nothing that you cannot overcome with good time management skills. So then, the real question becomes- How Does One Manage Their Time Well While Juggling Between Cas, Ia’s, Ee’s And Much More?

It definitely isn’t easy, but there are simple ways to start.

For me, it was understanding that I too, am human, and have a limit. How many times have you had a test the next day and said to yourself, “I am going to study from 4 to 10 today”? Well, truth is, in most cases, that doesn’t end up happening. You feel tired and worn out by the third (or even second) hour and end up becoming saturated.

Why does this happen? Because we have a tendency to overestimate our own capacity. A big step to planning effectively is acknowledging your own limit. If you can study for only half an hour at a stretch, there is no point making a timetable with a four hour study period with no breaks because you will never end up following it. Instead, set breaks of about 10-30 minutes between each study session.

If you feel like you are unable to focus on one thing for more than an hour or so, don’t be scared, it is normal to have a short attention span. I’d suggest using IB’s most hated trait, of having too much to do, to your advantage. If you want to work for 2 hours, divide into 4 half hour periods and alternate between doing work for your subjects and CAS work. This way you get a lot more done and don’t have to focus on one thing for too long. That being said, hard work does not have to correlate with time. If you are trying to study, quality matters the most. Make sure you are using effective study methods and optimising the time spent.

More than anything, try your best to have a good sleeping pattern. I know this is hard, trust me, but by managing your time and getting things done, it is possible.

About the Author

Shania Sharma, is a vivacious 17 year old at Oberoi International School, Mumbai. Her interests range from Drama to MUN’s.  She is an Ivy Aspire student.

College Interview Tips & College Interview Questions from the College Interviewers

College applications have been submitted and just as the frenzy of the submissions dissipates the college interview requests come pouring in. There is a never a dull moment during the college application process. I am sharing my college interview tips and college interview questions after having served on the interview committee of an Ivy League college as well as advice from other college interviewers.

Structure of a College Admissions Interview: (typically 15- 30 minutes long)

  • Welcome – Brief introduction of interviewer
  • Ice breaker questions – small talk about school, how you are doing
  • Main Focus of Interview- questions to understand you better
  • Invitation for questions for the interviewer
  • Conclusion – a brief note of thanks

Questions asked frequently in a college interview

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What do you do for fun? / What are your hobbies and interests?
  • Why do you want to attend this particular institution? What excited you most about our school?
  • What efforts have you made to learn more about our school?
  • How you will you contribute to our school?
  • What do you want to study and why?
  • Have you had any experience relevant to what you want to study?
  • What other schools are you applying to?
  • Why should our school accept you over the other well qualified applicants?
  • Talk about your greatest achievement?
  • Talk about a failure and what you learnt ?
  • How do you want you use your education when you graduate? Where do you see yourself 5 years after you graduate ?
  • Describe a recent leadership/ team work experience ( this will be specific to what experiences you have)
  • Tell me about one of the hardest decisions you have had to make?
  • Tell me 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses?
  • What is the main weak point of your application?
  • Why did you choose the subjects you chose for grade 11 and 12?
  • How would your friends and family describe you ?
  • Why do you want to study abroad?
  • What is the ideal learning environment for you ?
  • If you had a day with no commitments what would you do?
Shaista Baljee, Founder Ivyaspire Education Counseling

Shaista Baljee,  Founder – Ivy Aspire Educational Counseling

  • Don’t let the nerves kick in, you are well spoken and can easily answer questions asked.
  • Be confident and self-assured; start a firm hand shake, sit up-right and make eye-contact. Do not appear obnoxious
  • Be well prepared for the questions you can anticipate ( list shared above) this will reduce the nerves too
  • Practice in front of a mirror or better still record yourself to see your nervous ticks so you can control them
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Interviews for Stanford and Princeton

    • I much prefer depth versus breadth be it for academic or extracurricular topics. Students who can speak about interests at length with passion v/s hearing about a lot of interests at a superficial level


Interviews for MIT and Notre dame

      • Be clear WHY you made the choices you made. I am less interested in what you did but why you did it. For example which MUN’s you attended is less important than WHY you participate in MUN’s in the first place


Interviews for the University of Pennsylvania

      • Talk naturally, repeating rehearsed answers can be very off putting
      • Do your research on the specific aspects that appeal to you about the University as well as the program you are applying to.


Interviews for the M&T Program (Management and Technology) at the University of Pennsylvania

      • I can quickly tell the level of involvement and understanding of the activities you have undertaken. Make the effort to understand the space you are in talk intelligently about it and your role in the activity
      • Have a clear reason of why a certain program and how studying it a particular school is essential to your gaols if you are applying to a very selective program within a university


Interviews for Northwestern and LSE

      • Be honest, an interviewer has been through the drill of interviewing many times over and can immediately tell when you are over exaggerating, . That is a real turn off. Even if you haven’t been very successful, be honest about your struggles and showcase how you worked hard and never gave up and what you learnt from your experiences.

Interviews for New York University

      • Non-verbal communication is equally important as what a candidate says, if a candidate is shifting too much in his seat, cannot maintain eye contact or appears distracted , I immediately question their commitment and passion for the school
      • Don’t be smug and try and show off, even if the interviewer poses an opposing view or presents incorrect data , it can be done to see how a candidate conducts himself. No one likes a show off or someone who makes themselves look good at the expense of others

Interviews for Dartmouth College

      • Be on time and be appropriately attired, this might seem like a given, but you will be surprised to see how often students show up late or in sneakers
      • Don’t try to strike a casual conversation with the interviewer about how the interview went or your chances of acceptance. I see this often now.

Is there an age limit to apply for GRE?

GRE stands for Graduate Record Examinations. It was founded by Educational Testing Services (ETS) in 1949 a non-profit organization in the U.S. The GRE is required to pursue your Masters in the USA. A large number of business school are also now accepting the GRE in place of the GMAT. The GRE is the most widely accepted graduate admission test worldwide. The GRE brings you one step closer to achieving your career goal. And now, with the new ScoreSelectSM option, you can approach the GRE test with even more confidence knowing that you can send institutions the scores you feel shows your personal best. The GRE revised General test, introduced in August 2011, features a new test-taker friendly design and new question types. GRE more closely reflects the kind of thinking you’ll do in graduate or business school and demonstrates that you are ready for graduate-level work.