Requesting ACT Accommodations

Requesting ACT Accommodations

If you’re a student prepping for the ACT and need accommodations for the test, make sure you prepare well in advance since ACT has changed the way accommodations are submitted. In the past, students have submitted a request through ACT.  However, to request accommodations now, students need to work with a school official since accommodations requested need to be similar to the accommodations students currently receive in school. Accommodations must still be approved by ACT BEFORE the test date. 

1. Register for the test.

Login into MyACT and register for the test. Keep in mind, you will need to link a valid high school into your account before you register to allow ACT to communicate your registration to the associated school official in TAA. You can search for your high school by zip code.

After you have started the process, select ‘Yes’ when prompted to confirm you need accommodations. If you selected ‘no’, you will need to contact ACT as soon as possible to update your registration if you need to test with accommodations. 

2. Submit your request for accommodations to your school official.

Once you are registered, you will receive an email that need to be forwarded onto your school official. You also need to complete a Consent to Release Information to ACT (PDF) form.

Your school official will need to submit your request for accommodations in TAA before the late registration deadline for your specific test date. This request can take up to 10 days to process.

Note: If you have approved accommodations, you do not need to submit a new request.

3. Review the notification with your school official.

Stay in contact with your school official. You can review the decision notification with your school official and if the request was denied, you have until the late registration deadline to submit an appeal.

If you haven’t received an update within 10 days, please contact your school official directly.

4. If you are approved for special testing, plan accordingly.

Students are expected to make arrangements with their school official to test within the special testing window at their own school. If your school cannot administer the test, please contact ACT to make other arrangements.

5. Be sure to print your admission ticket.

All students must upload a photo by a certain date, so be sure to do this and review your admission tickets to ensure it shows your accommodations. Double check your testing center to be certain the location provides your accommodations.

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Building a High School Resume

Building a High School Resume

A high school resume is not just a document; it’s a reflection of your journey, experiences, and potential. Building a strong high school resume can open doors to college admissions, scholarships, and future opportunities. In this blog, we’ll explore the essential steps to create a compelling high school resume that showcases your skills, achievements, and character.

Start Early

Building a high school resume is a gradual process that should begin as soon as you enter high school. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to accumulate experiences and shape your narrative. It’s never too early to set goals and plan your path to success.

Academic Achievements

Your academic achievements are the foundation of your high school resume. Maintain a strong GPA, take challenging courses, and strive for excellence. Highlight any honors, awards, or recognition you receive, such as being on the honor roll, winning academic competitions, or receiving scholarships.

Extracurricular Activities

Participation in extracurricular activities can demonstrate your interests, leadership skills, and commitment. Join clubs, sports teams, or student organizations that align with your passions. Leadership roles, like club president or team captain, can make your resume stand out.

Volunteer Work

Volunteering not only contributes to your community but also adds depth to your resume. Document your volunteer work, emphasizing the impact you’ve made and the skills you’ve developed. Consider volunteering in areas that relate to your future goals, whether it’s healthcare, education, or environmental conservation.

Work Experience

Part-time jobs, internships, or summer employment can provide valuable experience and skills. Describe your roles, responsibilities, and achievements in each job, emphasizing skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.

Personal Projects

If you have personal projects, hobbies, or passions that are relevant to your future aspirations, include them on your resume. For example, if you’re an aspiring filmmaker, mention any films you’ve created, film festivals you’ve participated in, or workshops you’ve attended.

Leadership and Achievements

Highlight any significant accomplishments or leadership roles in your activities. Whether it’s winning a debate competition, organizing a charity event, or leading a community project, these experiences showcase your character, initiative, and potential.

Skills and Abilities

Incorporate a section that lists your skills and abilities. This can include language proficiency, computer skills, artistic talents, or any certifications you’ve earned. These skills can set you apart and make you a well-rounded candidate.

Awards and Honors

Don’t forget to showcase any awards or honors you’ve received. This could be recognition for academic excellence, community service, or achievements in specific areas like music, sports, or science competitions.


Include references from teachers, mentors, or supervisors who can vouch for your character and abilities. Their endorsements add credibility to your resume.

A well-crafted high school resume is a powerful tool for opening doors to your future. It not only helps with college admissions but also lays the foundation for success in your personal and professional life. As you work on your high school resume, remember that it’s not just about the quantity of activities but the quality of your experiences and the stories you can tell. Start early, stay committed to your goals, and let your resume reflect your unique journey and potential. Your high school years are an opportunity to build a resume that will help you achieve your dreams. If you need guidance building a high school resume, we have tutors who are here to help you every step of the way. 

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National Average ACT Score

The Struggles of a Shrinking ACT Score

The Struggles of a Shrinking Average ACT Score: Adverse Effects on College-Bound Students and how Test Prep Can Help.

The landscape of college admissions has recently seen a significant shift, with the average ACT score plummeting to 19.5. This change has brought about unforeseen challenges for students preparing to embark on their college journeys. While we’ll explore the adverse effects of this new norm on aspiring college students, we’ll also review the benefits of test preparation in more aspects than just the ACT.

Reduced Competitiveness:

With the average ACT score declining to 19.5, many students may feel that they need to work even harder to stand out in the increasingly competitive world of college admissions. Lower average scores could create the illusion that admissions have become less selective, pushing students to improve their applications and seek out additional extracurricular activities to compensate for lower scores.

Less Clear Benchmark:

Standardized tests like the ACT have traditionally provided a benchmark by which students could gauge their readiness for college. A lower average score can confuse students about what is considered a competitive score for their desired institutions, leading to increased uncertainty and stress during the application process.

Increased Reliance on Other Factors:

As standardized test scores become less prominent, colleges will likely place more emphasis on other factors like GPA (even inflated GPA), letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities. While this may seem beneficial, it can also create a more significant burden on students to excel in these areas and make it even more challenging for them to differentiate themselves from their peers.

Impact on Scholarships and Financial Aid:

Scholarships and financial aid packages often consider standardized test scores when awarding funds. A lower average ACT score might result in fewer opportunities for merit-based aid. Students who could have qualified for financial assistance may find themselves with limited options due to the reduced importance of standardized test scores.

Educational Preparedness:

The lower average ACT score could be seen as an indication of declining educational preparedness. While the test’s validity has been questioned, it has historically aimed to assess students’ knowledge and readiness for college-level work. The lower average score might raise concerns about the quality of pre-college education.

Get Smarter Prep Students:

While the average ACT score continues to drop, students who have come through GSP for ACT prep have seen more than just an increase in their own ACT scores. When preparing for the ACT, students build knowledge in English, Math, Reading, and Science which in turn helps their overall ability to score better in their core subjects in high school. Overall, students are more likely to increase their high school math scores, write more affluent essays, and test more confidently since applying test taking strategies. With multiple options for ACT Prep including our ACT Prep Course, Semi-Private or Private Tutoring, Get Smarter Prep students have a much higher rate of increasing their ACT scores. 

The new average ACT score of 19.5 reflects a changing landscape in college admissions. While it may ease the pressure on some students, it introduces a new set of challenges, especially for those who aspire to attend selective institutions or those who want to attain scholarships. Ultimately, a comprehensive approach to college admissions should consider not only standardized test scores but also a student’s entire academic journey, experiences, and potential to thrive in a college environment.



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Planning Ahead

Planning Ahead

In a prior blog, we wrote about what we at GSP consider the Top 10 Test Prep Traps that students and parents can fall into. The first item on that list was “taking the test too early” – before the end of sophomore year. But, understandably, as many parents (and students!) find themselves overwhelmed with the whole junior and senior year process, parents vow to start earlier next time. “You’ll see!”, they think. “Davey will start preparing for the ACT in 7th grade!”

It sounds reasonable, at first. Planning ahead is a responsible thing to do. Taking one’s time with a project or task is generally more enjoyable than saving it until the very last minute, and there’s so much going on during junior year that it might feel like there’s not nearly enough time to do the necessary work.

The main reason we cited in our previous post for not beginning so early is that students generally haven’t had the necessary coursework tested by the ACT and SAT before the end of their sophomore year. But that isn’t the only reason. It’s also important to consider that the tests do change periodically – sometimes in small ways, sometimes via larger overhauls.

Practicing for the SAT years before taking it is akin to attempting to write college essays years in advance – not only is it unlikely that a student has the necessary experience and knowledge to be successful, it’s also nearly certain that the requirements will actually change, meaning that much (if not all) of that effort would be wasted.

We at GSP have had some conversations about this concept of “too early,” and how to answer the question, “but what should we do, then?”. Here are some tips and suggestions we’ve come up with for how younger students – and their parents – can best prepare for the standardized tests of the future.

1. READ!

Every tutor I spoke with listed reading as the number one thing students should focus on. Here’s what some of them said about the importance of developing good reading habits:

“Just read regularly. Can be books, news, magazines, or whatever. […] Most test taking strategies are about time use, but if you can’t understand what they’re saying then there’s little point.” – Logan Terry

“[Students should] read whatever they can get their hands on for reading comprehension, to see how proper punctuation and grammar are used, and to familiarize themselves with vocab words.” Madison Huber-Smith, former tutor

“The best thing a 7th grader can do to prepare for the ACT/SAT/PSAT/LSAT/MCAT/GMAT/LIFE is to read everything and anything. The more varied a kid’s reading experiences, the better prepared they are to do well on standardized tests. Reading is so important for every section of standardized tests — even math and science. […] Test prep works best for students who have a solid grasp of reading comprehension and the ability to make mental leaps from step A to B to C in a multi-step problem. All the test taking strategies in the world won’t help if you can’t understand the words you are reading and can’t problem solve. ” Gina Claypool

2. Encourage “a spirit of curiosity and learning.”

From Gina,: “Read with your kid. Discuss books, magazine and news articles (that way, you know if your kid is comprehending what they are reading), documentaries, etc. If your kid shows an interest in a subject you know nothing about, say “let’s learn about that together”. I’m kind of a nerd, but, in the summers before going to work, my mom would leave a logic puzzle for my sisters and me to solve, and I loved it. I think doing fun logic puzzles was a key factor in my enjoyment of math and science.”

3. Address difficulties with math as they arise.

It’s not unusual that students have forgotten some of the math they’ve learned by the time start preparing for the ACT and SAT – and that’s OK! Reviewing that content is part of what we do. But it’s more time-consuming to address math topics that a student didn’t really understand the first time around. Madison: “I have students complain that they had bad teachers for certain classes, and it affects them when it comes time to review for the ACT. A strong, early grasp of algebra is so key!”

4. Relax!

“Don’t worry about it too much. Do your homework, stay in school, and get involved in things that interest you. The ACT isn’t going to determine how successful you become. It’s just one of the first hoops you have to jump through in life.” – Caleb

Audrey Hazzard is a Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.

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ACT Percentiles

ACT Score Percentiles

The ACT is one of the most popular standardized tests in the country, and its scores are used by colleges and universities to determine whether you are eligible for admission. Once you receive your scores, you may be wondering how you compared to everyone else who took the ACT. 

ACT percentile rankings are based on a simple calculation. When you take the ACT, your score is calculated against the scores of all other students who have taken the test at a given time. The lowest possible percentile rank is 1st, which means that you scored better than 99% of all test-takers. The highest possible percentage rank is 99th, which means that you scored better than 99% of all test-takers.

For example, let’s say you scored a 19 (a 19.8 is the national average) on your ACT. That typically means you did better than 53% of test-takers. A score of 28 would be better than 90% of all test-takers.

The chart below is a good visual to compare ACT Score National Ranks. 

National Distributions of Cumulative Percents for ACT Test Scores ACT-Tested High School Graduates from 2023 & 2024

As a reminder, your ACT score and national rank are a piece of what colleges are looking at when you apply. Each college will be different and there are other factors as well such as GPA, challenging high school curriculum, extra-curriculars, leadership skills, well-written & thoughtful essays, demonstrated interest, letters of recommendation, etc. Get Smarter Prep has tutors available to help guide you through the process. Learn more about our College Counseling

Not every student needs to score in the 30’s. Let’s say you are interested in attending University of Kansas. KU has an acceptance rate of 92%. Students that get into KU have an average ACT score of 21-29, which is between 64%-92%. Now let’s take a look at Northwestern University in Illinois. Their acceptance rate is 7% and students have an average ACT score of 34-35, which is in the 98-99% of the ACT National Percentages.

Regardless of where you are in the ACT Score National Ranks, we are here to help. Get Smarter Prep offers one-on-one, Private Tutorials as well as an ACT Prep Course for every ACT test date. Start preparing now. Look at your course load, your extra-curriculars and see when you can best fit in ACT prep. We can help you choose the right test date for you and help you put your best foot forward. 


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Preparation is the key to success

Preparation is the Key to Success

Preparation is the Key to Success

Whether you’re taking your ACT, SAT, AP tests or your History final, when it comes to education and testing, preparation is the key to success.  Here are some ways to be prepared for any class or test:

1)      Get organized.

Have a dedicated binder or folder for each class you are taking. File each class’ notes followed by the assignments related to that material. By keeping your school work organized, you will be able to refer back to your class notes and materials to review the concepts. When you finish your assignment, put it in the appropriate binder to avoid forgetting to take it with you.

It’s also a good idea to keep a calendar at the front of your binder with all your assignment due dates written down. For long term assignments, set a reminder to go off on your phone 2 weeks, 1 week and 3 days before the assignment is due to avoid procrastinating on the project.

2)      Put pencil to paper.

While you’re in class, take notes. When you do your assignments, take notes and show your work. There’s no point in taking notes if you can’t understand them later.

3)      Prepare your materials.

When you do your homework, find an uncluttered work surface, and organize your materials before you begin. Have a pencil (or two) and an eraser handy. Make sure your calculator batteries are working. Get some scratch paper.

4)      Give yourself some time and some quiet.

I know you’re busy. Volunteer hours and extracurricular activities don’t leave as much time for homework as you might like. Write a homework appointment in your schedule, and don’t stand yourself up! By setting aside time for homework each day, you won’t overbook yourself. (Share your calendar with your parents, so they know not to schedule activities over your homework time).

When it’s time to do your assignments, turn off the TV. Silence your phone. Focusing on one thing at a time is a lost art in our multi-tasking, over-stimulated culture, but focusing on one task at a time and eliminating distractions makes you more efficient. Because we aren’t used to focusing on one thing for an extended period of time, this might be hard for you at first. Try this: set a timer for 15 minutes, and work diligently during that time. When the timer goes off, set another timer for 5 minutes, and take a break. Repeat. When focusing for 15 minutes gets easier, gradually increase the work time by five minute increments.

Since everyone has a different learning style, your best method of preparation might look a little different than this. You can learn what your learning style is and learn how to best apply that style to all your classes throughout high school (and on into college) with one of the many Study Skills Tests found online. Study skills like time management, organization, and homework planning will serve you throughout high school and college, and will even be great skills when you enter the work force. Study skills can also cover speed reading, reading comprehension, and writing skills.

For more information about Get Smarter Prep, contact one of our tutors

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Short-falls of Test Optional Policy

Short-falls of Test Optional Policy

Short-falls of Test Optional Policy – Data Driven Approaches Benefit All Students

The newly popularized test optional policy seems super enticing to the average high schooler. No more testing anxiety, or stress over getting the highest score possible, or countless hours devoted to studying and taking practice tests. But despite the test optional policy’s appealing traits, the cons outweigh the pros. There are so many more reasons why standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are, ultimately, our best bet for creating a more equalized and fair college admissions process.


One of the biggest short-falls of the test optional policy is the lack of objectivity. The college admissions process has never been fully objective, but without an ACT or SAT score, universities are left to rely solely on extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, essays, and grades. Letters of recommendation and essays are great for measuring a student’s character, but don’t contribute as accurately to a measurement of a student’s academic readiness for university. And every high school has a different grading system, with different levels of grade inflation and deflation, and different classes offered. Many schools in lower-income areas, for example, don’t have the capacity or the demand to offer as many AP and honors courses as a school in a wealthier area. This affects measures of class rigor and GPA.

Extracurriculars are a difficult measurement as well- many after-school activities cost students and their families a lot of money. Sometimes this looks like spending thousands of dollars a year on sport costs, like a team or club fee, equipment, out-of-town tournaments, etc. But sometimes it is simply that a student spending hours after school playing a sport or acting in a musical or taking part in a science olympiad isn’t feasible due to familial responsibilities. Students might have to work to support their family, or babysit younger siblings. These are the kinds of things that interfere with a student’s ability to create the “perfect” college application. They are also things that wouldn’t necessarily hinder one’s ability to do well on the ACT or SAT.


Another one of the short-falls of the test optional policy is the issue of a lack of transparency in colleges’ and universities’ motives. When a school goes test optional, they are able to raise significantly their average ACT and SAT score ranges. You’ll see a school post that their average ACT range is 29-32, when in reality the average is much lower, but the students scoring lesser are simply going test optional. Higher scores make a school seem more elite, and thus desirable. This earns the university more applicants, resulting in a lower acceptance rate (and more money from application fees!), which furthers this cycle. Going test optional also makes the application process for the student seem a little more accessible.

Schools that someone might have never considered before due to low test scores are suddenly within reach. While there are obvious pros to this, the reality is that thousands of other applicants are thinking the same thing. Students begin applying to more and more schools, spending more money on applications and lowering more schools’ acceptance rates. It makes the entire process so much more competitive. While colleges love the test optional policy, it’s not because they love their students. As with most things in life, the test optional policy tends to benefit the systems, businesses, institutions, corporations, etc. and not a whole lot else.

The truth is that, despite the inevitable stress, standardized tests are really the lesser of college application evils. Through fee waivers, extended time options, tests hosted in schools, and grading on a curve, the testing companies work hard to provide equal access to everyone. And they only take up a few months of a student’s life, as opposed to the years that extracurriculars or clubs might consume. There are few options for completely standardized measures of academic readiness, and while we should always continue to look forward and keep improving, I don’t think we should cross off the ACT and SAT just yet.

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College Summer Prep

Summer College Prep

Summer College Prep! For many students summer means swimming pools, barbecues, camping trips, and general relaxation. For the class of 2024, however, summer is the ideal time to write essays and complete college applications.

Imagine, if you will, going back to high school in August. It’s your senior year. You’re the top dog on campus. It’s your last chance to participate in pep rallies, school plays, and high school sports teams. Your friends start to ask you where you’re going to school next year. Your teachers start to ask you where you’re going to school next year. You still don’t know where you want to apply. Your friends start to get acceptance letters. You start to freak out. Now, in addition to homework, tests, and all your extracurricular activities, you need to find time to complete your college applications.

Now imagine going back to school in August. It’s your senior year. You spent part of the summer deciding which schools would be a good fit for you next year. You honed your essay writing skills. When college applications were available on August 1st, you were ready to go. By the time school started, you were well on your way to completing your applications  Now with pep rallies, school plays, sports and volunteer work vying for your attention, you’re so glad that you have your college applications done  By the time winter break rolls around, you already know where you’re going to school next year. You no longer dread the question “where are you going to college?” because you know the answer.

Which student would you rather be?

Get Smarter Prep can help you navigate the college application process with ease. Learn what majors and careers are a good fit for you. Get help narrowing down your college list to the top schools that fit your personality. Learn to write a college essay that admissions officers won’t easily forget.

By starting early on your applications, you not only reduce your potential stress levels, but you also have a better shot at getting the money you need for the school you want. All financial aid has a deadline, and some aid is given on a first come, first served basis. Plus, a lot of scholarships require an essay submission, so it is beneficial for you to have an essay you can be proud of.

You can still hit the pool this summer, but don’t forget to take a break for your college applications!

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Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Affirmative action in college admissions has been a topic of debate and discussion for many years. With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina cases, affirmative action in college admissions has been decided. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of affirmative action, its purpose, and the arguments for and against its implementation in college admissions.

What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action refers to policies and practices that aim to provide equal opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups, particularly in education and employment sectors. It is designed to address the disparities and inequalities that certain minority groups have faced historically. Affirmative Action was signed into law on March 6, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

The Purpose of Affirmative Action in College Admissions

The primary goal of affirmative action in college admissions is to promote diversity and inclusion within educational institutions. By considering an applicant’s race, ethnicity, or socio-economic background, colleges and universities aim to create a student body that reflects the diversity of our society. Proponents argue that diversity leads to a richer learning environment, fosters greater cultural understanding, and prepares students for a diverse workforce and globalized world.

Arguments for Affirmative Action

  1. Promoting Equal Opportunities: Advocates of affirmative action argue that historical injustices and systemic discrimination still put certain minority groups at a disadvantage. By giving preferential treatment to these groups, affirmative action seeks to level the playing field and provide equal opportunities for all.
  2. Diversity Benefits Everyone: Proponents argue that a diverse student body enhances the educational experience for all students. Exposing students to a variety of perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds fosters critical thinking, empathy, and cultural understanding, which are essential skills in an increasingly interconnected world.
  3. Compensating for Structural Inequities: Affirmative action acknowledges the disadvantages that minority communities have faced due to systemic racism, discrimination, and limited access to quality education. It aims to rectify these issues by prioritizing underrepresented groups in college admissions.

Arguments Against Affirmative Action

  1. Reverse Discrimination: Critics argue that considering race or ethnicity in admissions decisions can lead to reverse discrimination. They claim that qualified students from different races might be denied admission in favor of less qualified candidates solely based on their race or ethnicity.
  2. Merit-Based Admissions: Opponents argue that college admissions should be solely based on merit, such as academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities. They contend that affirmative action undermines meritocracy and places unfair emphasis on factors that may not be directly related to an applicant’s abilities.
  3. Stigmatization and Tokenism: Critics claim that affirmative action can often lead to stigmatization and tokenism, where minority students may feel that they were admitted only to fulfill diversity quotas rather than based on their individual merits and accomplishments.

What does this mean for students applying to college?

It’s too early to tell how colleges applications will be impacted, but students applying for colleges may see changes in the application process. For example, colleges may place a heavier focus on essays. Students are still able to note ethnicity and race in their essays. Although essays are on an individual level, students can craft well-written essays to indicate the effect that race or socio-economic background has had on their experience.

Objective Requirements

There are still objective requirements that most institutions will consider as part of the application process. These objective requirements typically include:

  1. High School Transcript: Colleges will request your high school transcript, which includes your academic records, grades, and course selections. This provides an overview of your academic performance throughout high school.
  2. Test Scores: Many colleges require standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, as part of the application. These tests measure your knowledge and skills in areas like math, reading, and writing. Some colleges may have specific score requirements for admission.
  3. Letters of Recommendation: Colleges often request letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or other individuals who can speak to your academic abilities, character, and potential for success in college. These letters provide insight into your strengths and achievements beyond your academic record.
  4. Essay or Personal Statement: Many colleges require an essay or personal statement as part of the application. This gives you an opportunity to showcase your writing skills, express your motivations for attending college, and provide context to your experiences and goals.
  5. Extracurricular Activities: Colleges are interested in your involvement outside of the classroom. They may request information about your extracurricular activities, such as sports, clubs, community service, or leadership roles. These activities can demonstrate your interests, skills, and contributions to your community.
  6. Application Fee: Most colleges require an application fee, which covers the administrative costs of reviewing and processing applications. However, fee waivers are often available for students who demonstrate financial need.

It’s important to note that these requirements can vary from college to college. Some institutions may have additional requirements, such as interviews or portfolios for specific programs. Additionally, colleges may have different weightings for each requirement, placing more emphasis on certain aspects of the application.           

Affirmative action in college admissions is a complex and controversial topic. It aims to rectify historical injustices and promote diversity in educational institutions. While proponents argue that it provides equal opportunities and fosters a rich learning environment, critics raise concerns about reverse discrimination and the undermining of merit-based admissions. The debate surrounding affirmative action is likely to continue, as the goal of achieving equal and inclusive educational opportunities remains an ongoing challenge.

Allow our professionals to help you make sure each portion of your applications is complete & ready to submit to your college list. No need to worry that you aren’t putting your best foot forward any longer! Start the process today!

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