# Learnist: Basic Algebra on the ACT and SAT

Expert Katie Cantrell over at Learnist offers a great look at the fundamental algebra concepts on the ACT and SAT exams. Refresh how to isolate variables, solve basic equations, and apply the order of operations on Test Day!

This video in particular covers several ways to conceive of variables, how to solve linear equations with fractions, and how to check your work to ensure that you have found the correct answer.

# Learnist: ACT Science and Data Representation

The Data Representation format on the ACT Science Test will ask you to understand and interpret information presented to you in graphs or tables. Occasionally there will also be charts, scatterplots, and diagrams.

As the video below outlines, it’s important to REALLY analyze all the data you’re given. The point of Data Rep is to determine your ability to pinpoint and extract conclusions from a series of data. 38% of the ACT Science passages will be in this format.

Making sure you have a strong understanding of the data will save you lots of headache when you read the questions. The questions will be so much easier if you spend just a few minutes focusing on the data. Check out tutor Jim Jacobson’s strategy for just how to do that in this video!

Need to see a passage in action? Sparknotes reviews some basic strategy, then shows you a passage exactly like one you’ll see on Test Day. Start with the intro, then when you get to the chart, you should glance over it to make sure that you know what’s being measured and that, in general, you feel comfortable finding information in the chart.

Now try some ACT Science Test Data Representation questions on your own on Learnist!

# How to Manage the Application Process

So you’ve got your list of “safety,” “match” and “reach” schools and you’ve done your homework on each program and campus, now what? To effectively handle the entire process of filling out applications, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.

Get organized!

It may sound obvious, but even the most organized student can get overwhelmed by the amount of papers flying about so you’ll have to work extra hard to stay on top of all of the deadlines. I recommend going to Office Max or Staples and purchasing a dry-erase school-year calendar. Put it on your bedroom wall and immediately fill in all of the application due dates. Let’s say you are applying to 8 schools. Don’t expect to fill out each application a week before they’re due. Give yourself at least a week to complete each one. That means for 8 apps, you should be getting starting with the applications a minimum of two months before the due dates. This will give you plenty of time to get your supplemental information (transcripts, letters of recommendation, resumes, etc.) in order. You don’t want to rush yourself.

For the physical applications, create a file folder labeled with each school’s name and keep them together in a file box. Many students also make a checklist for each of the application’s components and attach them to the front of each application with a paperclip. As you add a transcript or a personal essay to each application, check it off and note what else needs to be completed.

Give yourself a person due date for each application. Aim to have each fully completed one-two weeks before the actual due date. This is will give you plenty of time to re-read each piece of information for errors before you submit the final application. Photocopy the entire application before you mail it and when you go to the post office, make sure to send it by certified mail so you can get confirmation that it was delivered.

I applied to 13 schools as an undergrad and somehow managed to keep all of the applications organized – if I can do it, so can you!

Getting Letters of Rec

Many students feel shy or embarrassed about asking for letters of recommendation but it’s important to remember that your teachers are there to help and support your dreams. If anything, they should feel flattered that you’re asking!

Check to see what the requirements are for the letters of rec. Usually teachers are preferred but sometimes counselors, community leaders or family friends are acceptable. Obviously you want to choose the people who know you best, but there are ways you can help your recommender write the best possible letter.

When asking, check to see what information your teacher would like to aid them in writing. If you can, provide them with copies of your resume, personal statement and transcript. Explain to them why you are applying to each specific school and how you’d like to come across to the admissions department. Give them a deadline for the letter but try and give them at least 3-4 weeks to write it – they’ll probably have lots of others to write as well). When they complete it, make sure to give them a thank-you card and keep them posted in the spring on the status of your applications.

The Personal Statement

Keep in mind is that you will be writing more than one statement, so it’s important to keep a folder on your computer desktop with each school’s essay clearly titled. As you print off drafts label them ‘Draft #1’, ‘Draft#2’, etc. You will probably be able to recycle the same 2 or 3 essays to fit each school’s prompt, but it’s important to get started early. You don’t want to wait until the week before and then write something slapdash. The personal statement should be the first thing you start working on when you print your application since it will take much time to draft and revise.