The college application process was, without a doubt, one of the most stressful times in my life. There’s a cruel sense of vulnerability when a successful student has no control over the path ahead. At the time, test taking was my greatest challenge. I suffered with time management and severe anxiety. Although my results were good, I couldn’t help but feel that a lack of preparation fed my anxiety and contributed to the panic that destroyed my focus. My parents bought me special test books and paid for expensive private courses. I read review books. I practiced in multiple workbooks. And yet, my anxiety increased with every additional review chapter. After more than 20 years in higher education, I finally understand the root of my test anxiety: I studied the exam rather than practicing for it.

Since 2015 the state of Illinois prefers SAT testing over the once more common ACT, and in many ways these tests are more important today than ever. Application numbers have hit record levels, and international applications continue to increase. While the SAT is only one component of the application process, it also often feels like the only wildcard in the long list of criteria colleges have for desirable candidates. SAT scores can be the decisive factor distinguishing among applicants. In fact, after having been on the other side of the table, I know that faculty often use test scores to narrow the candidate base. They are quick, quantifiable and standardized. They are often the only means of assessment that remains uniform across a diverse applicant pool. An applicant is nothing more than a file with an ID number. The first cut is made according to a compilation of scores. The next cut is often based on a closer look at individual subject-specific aptitude scores. After that come letters of recommendation, transcripts and personal essays. The truth is, we all know that these tests don’t measure aptitude or even correlate strongly with later college success, but they are hugely important. 

After critically evaluating SAT prep alternatives in the area, CodeCraze wants to do more to support our youth and enhance their test performance. We want to use tech and all of the advances that coding enables to give our high schoolers that extra leg up in the testing and application process. As we move toward Fall, we have established an entire series devoted to polishing your online presentation. We break our program up into two strands: First, we want to relieve your test anxiety and direct you to an effective study strategy. Second, we want to help you polish your applications in a regular seminar series. Our program is unique for a multitude of reasons: We are not trying to sell you review materials based on some corporate concept. We provide review through regular, full-length test taking of official SAT exams. Our instructors are university lecturers with experience in prepping in-coming undergrads for the college experience. Every other Sunday, we offer a monitored, test-taking environment and promptly graded test experience. We have the ability to map your errors to specific topic areas to help make your review more efficient. We have trained assessors grade your essays according to official marking criteria to give you a careful and most accurate estimate of areas and aspects that you could improve on. We believe that repetition and carefully tracking your progress is the best relief for test anxiety and most efficient system of review. 

Our early evening application prep series will address (1) essay writing tips with a critiqued evaluation of your sample, (2) an introduction to LinkedIn and explanation of how to improve your online resume presence, (3) a critical look at Facebook, Twitter and other social media to explore how much admissions can learn about your private life and how you can adjust or filter your social media presence accordingly, (4) how you can use Github and other online depositories to demonstrate your skills and create an online portfolio to display your creativity, and (5) a critical look at scholarship opportunities and application strategies to maximize your educational funding.

Come join us and explore how we can help you reach the college education of your dreams! Our series is open to anyone aged 15 and above and is included in our flat-rate punchcard system of $20 per session.

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