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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

College admission essays: Helpful hints for writing a winner!

The majority of colleges and universities require students to submit an admissions essay along with their college application. Writing a college application essay can be pretty stressful, and it should be time-consuming. After all, you don’t want to give the admissions counselors at your dream school a bad impression based on a poorly written essay that you threw together the night before the due date. Proper planning is essential because you will need to give yourself plenty of time for adjustments, rewrites, and proofreading.

It’s no secret that your high school grades and standardized test scores will play a large role in admissions decisions, but colleges also like to get an idea of what their applicants are really like as a person. Essays are a good way for admissions committees to gain some insight about your interests and values. Essays also provide an easy way for the schools to see a first-hand example of your writing skills.

Writing Your College Admissions Essay: Five Easy Mistakes to Avoid
1. Don’t write an essay about the qualities of the college. You may think that writing about your dream career and how it will all fall into place when you go to school at XYZ University is a great way to woo the admissions counselors, but believe me: they already realize that you want to go to their school … you’re applying there, remember?
2. Don’t turn your essay into a resume. Your application already contains all the basic information about your grades and your extracurricular activities; there’s no need to repeat everything. While it’s fine to write about your experience of becoming a better athlete by joining the track team or talking about the way your part-time job helped you learn time management skills, it’s not a good idea to write one big life story in hopes of impressing the person who reads your essay.
3. Follow the essay guidelines that were specified on your application. You don’t want it to be too short or too long. Most schools allow typed essays, so they will probably have specifications for font size and spacing; others will request hand-written essays, so be sure to submit your essay in the format that is required.
4. Remember to proofread your essay. Ask others to proofread it, too – your English teacher is a great choice for this job, if they’re willing to help you out. An essay that is full of typos and grammatical errors will look sloppy and rushed.
5. It’s fine to use the same essay with minor revisions for more than one college application, so be sure to save your essay. Keep it on the hard drive of your computer, but burn it to CD or place it on an external hard as well. You never know when your computer may crash and cause you to lose everything. You can even email it to yourself as an attachment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Calling all student athletes!

Did you know that great scholarships are available for talented student athletes?  No matter your sport--tennis, baseball, equestrian, golf, track & field, etc.-- if you've got the talent, our partner, College Prospects of America, can get you on track for a scholarship to study your under-graduate degree in the United States.

Think you've got what it takes? Visit for more information.

Along with your athletic abilities, you'll also need to demonstrate strong English language skills.  That means you'll need to take the TOEFL exam.  Of course, Britt can help you with that.  In fact, as the official TOEFL trainer for CPOA, our prep programs are included in some of the CPOA packaged programs.  

We've had several student athletes successfully pass their TOEFL and get great (sometimes full paid!) scholarships with the help of CPOA.  They're Latin America's premier student athlete recruiting service and can absolutely help talented athletes make their dreams come true!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


ITP ...    PBT...    iBT...

                      So many TOEFL formats,  
                      So little time . . .
Welcome to TOEFL Formats 101, your express course in understanding the various TOEFL exam options.  It's really not that hard...basically we have the Institutional TOEFL (ITP) which we apply in the Britt institute.  It's usually accepted in Mexico for scholarship applications and graduation/admission requisites...Then we have two official tests for international college admission, the Paper-based (PBT) and the Internet-based (iBT).  To make matters a bit more confusing, you might hear about a "Computer-based" test (CBT), no longer administered in Mexico, and the "pre-ITP" an Institutional version for adolescent applicants.  And the score ranges can be a little confusing too.  The old official exam had a 650 range.  Then the CBT changed to 300.  Now the iBT is 120.  But for our purposes, just remember this:  the ITP and PBT are still in the old, original 650 range, while the iBT is at 120.    600=100, 550=80.

You can prepare for the ITP and PBT at the Britt institute by taking the same program.  The only difference in the 2 tests is the inclusion of an essay on the PBT.  But the iBT is quite different and requires a separate prep course.  We usually recommend that iBT students first take our basic ITP/PBT course before starting iBT prep, to make sure they have the grammatical foundation they need.

For those who need an official test, we sometimes suggest they take the PBT instead of the iBT.  It's probably an easier test for most, and easier to prepare for...and no Speaking section!  We've had many students even travel to cities outside the D.F. to take this format.

However, at the moment there are no PBT tests scheduled in Mexico.  Last year there were tests scheduled in Aug., Oct., Nov., then in 2010, Jan. Mar., May.  We have written ETS numerous times, asking if we can expect more PBT tests to be scheduled in Mexico...the most useful response from them was:

"Unfortunately, there are no PBT test dates scheduled in Mexico for the 2010-2011 testing year.
We do not know what will be scheduled beyond the 2010-2011 testing year."

So, for the moment, we just keep our fingers crossed that we will still have a few PBT's scheduled in the next year.  If you hear something, let us know!  We have to keep our eyes on the ETS web site,, where currently only iBT dates are listed.