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From Quora: My Answer to "If I’m an American who grew up in a foreign 3rd world country and now lives in the US again, will it help my chances at college admissions?"
Detailed answer: Yes, especially if you faced hardships or learning experiences (those are often, but not always the same thing) and actually learned from them. Learning often comes from pain, deprivation, and suffering, since people having problems to solve often find creative ways to solve them. However, you can learn in a very pleasant environment (otherwise, most elite colleges and universities wouldn’t spend so much on “student life,” since it would be a better idea to make students suffer ;-) ). So Jack Gerdes’ answer is good, but a bit incomplete.
You don’t have to have lived in a grass hut, eking out a living through subsistence farming, to learn from having lived in a Third World country. Did you learn another language (e.g., Spanish, Tamil, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese)? Was that a hardship, or simply a pleasant and enriching experience? Did you live in a city or the countryside? How did they differ from U.S. cities and rural areas? Did you experience “culture shock” when you moved here? That could be a hardship or simply a minor difficulty, depending on your point of view.
While “simply coming from a place probably won’t help you,” as Mr. Gerdes put it, all that means is you have to show you had some meaningful experience as a resident of whatever foreign country before you moved back to the U.S., or that the move back to the U.S. itself was a meaningful experience you wouldn’t have had if you’d always lived here. If you lived in a compound where no one spoke any language but American English, you never ate local food, learned the local language, did anything that was part of the native culture (e.g., sports, arts, dance, theater, etc.), then Jack is right- that experience won’t help you.
Emphasize what you learned about that country’s culture, your interactions with natives of that country (did you attend school with them? Participate in charitable activities with/for them?), and how that makes you a valuable addition to the college’s community. Cultural diversity is a good thing, and extremely valued by any (good) college or university. Seriously, look at any college’s prospectus, application, etc., and try not to find a statement about how the institution welcomes and actively seeks diverse applicants. You can’t do it, and they mean business. Basically, that’s a good general rule for any applicant to an elite college: “How do I differ from other applicants in a good way? What makes me special?” Then write about how you’re so happy you had this wonderful opportunity to grow up in another culture, then return to your homeland, and you hope you’d be able to enrich the culture of [Whatever Institution] while being educated there. Hope this helps.
From Quora: My answer to : "Was the University of California right to drop the SAT or ACT application requirement?"
Since it was something UC was considering before the virus outbreak (see The Test & the Art of Thinking), yes. The SAT and ACT are far from perfect for evaluating student potential, so if they have alternate methods to determine who should and shouldn’t be at a UC school, they were right. Since they were considering doing that in 2014 at the latest, they almost certainly do have such methods (e.g., they can just look at students’ GPAs and adjust them by the difficulty of the school and the curriculum - e.g., a kid who took organic chemistry and multivariable calculus at a highly competitive prep school and had a 3.0 GPA might be taken more seriously than someone with a 4.0 average, but took easy courses at a mediocre high school).
From Quora: My answer to "Can a poor student with good grades go to Harvard for free?"
Yes. The best colleges in the US are generally “need blind” to the point that a student from a poor enough family could get a “free ride” at Harvard. I recall some kid who grew up on a goat farm somewhere in the Rocky Mountains who applied to Harvard because even state schools were simply too expensive (goat farming in the middle of nowhere probably doesn’t bring in much cash). A poor student would certainly be expected to work a work-study job (anyone on financial aid is expected to) and most likely have to take out some kind of student loans (hopefully just federally subsidized loans- I think private student loans should be illegal), but it depends on a number of factors (for example, how badly Harvard wants the student).
From Quora: "Do the Math and English+Reading parts in ACT differ so much from SAT's? I prepared for SAT exam before and couldn't take it because of the pandemic, now I'm taking ACT instead (it is the only option in my country, Belarus)."
No - the reading and English sections of the SAT and ACT are almost identical these days. The ACT English test is the same as the SAT Writing test. The main difference in the reading section is the ACT gives you less time to do it, so you have to really pick and choose which passages to do first, and you almost always should skip to the questions, then scan the passages for the answers, whereas you don’t necessarily have to do that on the SAT. SAT reading passages have more high-level, analytical questions, but not as many as they used to have, since the SAT has really worked to be more like the ACT (the ACT’s been taking away the SAT’s market share in recent years).
The difference in the math sections is that the ACT has only one 60-minute math section, and it mostly gives you easier questions to do more quickly than on the SAT. The ACT has 60 questions to do in 60 minutes, so one per minute; the SAT gives you slightly more time per question than that - like 1.25 minutes per question. The SAT has two math sections (one allows calculator use; the other doesn’t) that have more “trick” questions (you have to read them carefully to avoid making stupid mistakes and/or there’s a quick shortcut you can use to avoid really tedious calculations). The ACT has some things I haven’t seen on the SAT (e.g., questions about matrices), but they’re a tiny portion of the ACT math test (maybe one or two questions).
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The best way to cheat is not to cheat. You’re screwed if you get caught - practically no college will take a known (stupid) cheater. While the official policy of the SAT and ACT is NOT to report cheating to colleges, and just to cancel the score(s), it becomes a very ugly situation if the cheating isn’t discovered until after you’ve reported the scores to the colleges to which you are applying. See, for example, What Happens if I Get Caught Cheating on the SAT or ACT? . I can’t see how the colleges either wouldn’t be told why the scores were cancelled, or simply “read between the lines” and figure out why.
And you’re defeating the purpose of the test, which is to establish a baseline for colleges to see if you’re generally up to the academic standards of their institutions. While the SAT is hardly perfect at measuring academic ability, it’s good enough that faking a score of 1540 when you could have scored, at best. about 1000 honestly risks your being admitted to a college too rigorous (i.e. hard) for you to handle.
Then you’re stuck with the choice of working unbelievably hard and possibly still failing (if you’re lucky, or really are just “bad at standardized tests,” fine, you may do well if you work hard), or having to cheat in most of your coursework and exams. Asking for help could lead to some “Um, how exactly did you get in here if you don’t know that?” type comments, but even if it doesn’t, you’ll have to spend a lot of time learning things other students at your college already know. Just don’t.
From Quora: "Can a homeschooler take the SAT exam instead of the GED if they want to complete their high school education and attend college?"
Probably not, since the SAT is meant for college admissions, but doesn’t cover everything you’re expected to learn in high school (e.g., history, physical science, etc. aren’t covered by the SAT). You really should check with your state’s department of education to find out what test a homeschool student needs to take to receive a GED or whatever certificate or diploma is given to homeschool students where you live.
From Quora: My answer to "Are multiple choice questions the best way to test student's skill?"
No. Asking the student to generate the answer himself/herself is much better than giving him/her a multiple choice question that can either give the student a hint when he/she doesn’t know the answer, or distract the student from the correct answer that he or she would have reached on his/her own.
Author: John Linneball Who did you think? ;-)
I'm the proprietor and only tutor for this business; that's why I named it after me.