The Fat Envelope
A Discussion Of All Things College Admissions and Test Prep
I freely admit to being an Evernote addict. I use it for keeping so many aspects of my life organized that I’ve gotten to the point that I’d be crippled if it ever disappeared! (Did you hear that Evernote? I’d be CRIPPLED.)

If somehow Evernote hasn’t made it on to your radar screen, here’s the low down. Evernote is a multi-platform app that allows you to permanently store notes, voice recordings, photos, videos, etc. in the cloud. It works with Apple, Android and Windows based phones, tablets and computers. It can easily follow you everywhere, and you’ll want it to! But here’s the’s free. Ok, there isn’t really a catch.

In my business life, I use it to keep track of words I want to add to Word-Nerd, ideas for blog posts, notes about my tutoring students and people I want to contact. I’m also thinking about using Evernote to share some of my own notes and resources with my students, and I’ve been keeping clips of College Board “SAT Questions of the Day” that could be useful for those who’ve exhausted all of the other available official practice tests. Personally, it’s great for listing ideas for future travels, clipping recipes and restaurants and remembering mundane facts like the size of filters for my home furnace.

So all this obsessing over Evernote has led me to this post. Evernote is an amazing and convenient way to keep up with all the drama of college admissions. When I went through the process myself, I had stacks of college catalogs and applications a mile high in my room. If only the internet had existed back then! Here are a few tips:
  • Create an account in Evernote for all interested parties, then make your college notebooks shareable. You may want to consider upgrading to Evernote Premium accounts so everyone can edit each others notes, and you’ll have plenty of space to upload videos and photos. The premium service is only $5 a month, so it’s still well worth it.
  • Create notebooks for all of the various aspects of your search. These could be scholarship applications, your top schools, ideas for test prep, financial aid information, travel details for your visits, etc. The list is endless. You can then create “stacks” of your various notebooks into broader categories.
  • Then, get to work! Take notes with ideas when they come to you. Voice record presentations from admissions staff then upload them. Take photos on campus of your favorite buildings, campus life, or the cute tour guide you want to remember. You can forward important emails from the College Board, your guidance counselor or your first choice school directly into Evernote using the personalized email address you receive when you register.
  • Download a few of Evernote’s other apps, too. Skitch allows you to draw/write on photos and PDFs. It’s useful for noting certain features of a photo you want to remember (or drawing mustaches on your parents). Add Evernote’s web clipper to your browser to send webpages, or just web links, straight to your account. I also like Evernote Clearly for saving articles as simple text (without all the ads cluttering up your screen) for later reading.
So there you have it. I suspect you’ll find Evernote helpful throughout your college years, too. If you have other ideas or tips, please add them to the comments section below!
I'm the new Dallas SAT Prep Examiner for and here's my first article.  The ACT is largely unknown in Texas, so I'm hoping to convince some students to give it a try!
There are two very different schools of thought on guessing on the SAT.  Both sides have good arguments, and there really isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, so I talk about it with students on a case-by-case basis.  One side advocates guessing if you can rule out at least one wrong answer.  This is statistically prudent given the 1/4 point guessing penalty on the SAT.  The other side is against guessing, even when you can rule out some answers simply because the nature of the SAT encourages students to jump at plausible, but wrong, answers.

However, I recently read about some new research that makes me think that the anti-guess faction may have it right.  This study found that people under stress are more likely to think that their decisions will have a desirable outcome, and that they may have more trouble controlling impulsive decisions because they expect things to turn out positively in the end.

So what does that have to do with guessing and the SAT?  Well, it should be obvious that the SAT is a stressful situation.  Since students are stressed, they may feel more confident about their guessing ability than they should.  So, they may be more likely to guess on questions when it's really in their best interest to skip.

This effect may be even more pronounced in students with ADHD.  One symptom of ADHD is impulsivity.  In other words, ADHD students are more likely to act or make decisions without thoroughly thinking them through.  So in a stressful situation, they may be even MORE likely to guess when they shouldn't.

My own observation has been that students tend to guess much more in their best subjects. One of my tutoring students was quick to skip math questions she didn't feel confident enough to answer.  But she answered every reading passage question despite answering many of the harder ones incorrectly.  Feeling more confident than you should could lead to poor guessing, too.

In the end, it's up to each student to make a good decision about guessing on test day.  Just keep in mind that your guessing skills may be a bit compromised when you're stressed, so proceed with caution!

Note:  There is no guessing penalty on the ACT, so you should always guess even if it's a shot in the dark!  Add one more reason that the ACT is a better choice for many ADHD students.