Saturday, December 31, 2011

University of California Now Accepting More Out-of-State Applicants

If you want to go to any of the UC (University of California) campuses and you are not a California resident, the scale has begun to tip in your favor. According to Bloomberg news, UC has now begun to admit more out-of-state students (and allocating less spots for in-state students.)

The reason behind this is purely financial. UC in recent years can no longer depend on funding from the state. Since out-of-state students pay almost twice as much as in-state students, UC is now beginning to admit more out-of-state students to make up for the decreased funding from the state.

Now, this is a complete change from their previous long standing tendency of favoring the admission of in-state applicants. I of all people know this first hand. As an out-of-state student (from New York), I attended UC in the 1990’s, and I had worked after graduation at three different UC’s working closely with a variety of students.

I now work in CUNY (City University of New York) and have come across a few students trying to get admitted to UC. Of all the people I know from New York applying to UC (as out-of-state students), only two (including myself) have been admitted. Three years ago, I was tutoring a student in CUNY who applied to several UC campuses and to Columbia University. He was rejected by all the UC campuses to which he applied, but he was admitted to Columbia (which should be more difficult to get into). This really shows UC’s long standing policy of admitting a smaller percentage of out-of-state students. However, this has now begun to change completely as UC needs the extra money from out-of-state students.

For potential out-of-state applicants, I want to clarify that this change in UC policy by no means indicate that it’s easy to get into UC. Students and parents residing in California have known that UC is the best state university system in America and it is not easy to get in, even when they previously favored in-state residents. So, I want clarify that I am not saying it is easy, but it is now a bit easier if you are applying from out-of-state.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Video and Happy Holidays!

Here's my video holiday greeting. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Day Before a Standardized Test (such as ACT, CATW, SAT, or GRE)

On the day before a standardized test, know that you have the ability to do well and you will do well, as long as you simply apply everything I've taught you in this blog (and also in class if you are my student.)

On the day before a standardized test (such as the CATW, CATR/ACT Reading, Compass Math Exam, SAT, ACT, and GRE), you should not be studying or practicing - as I've mentioned at:

On the day before a standardized exam, it's good to relax and do some inspirational reading (not related to the exam). The following are some recommended inspirational readings:

From Me
Facing Uncertainty - Opportunity in Disguise (Part I)

Facing Uncertainty - Do Not Fear the Unknown (Part II)


Facing Uncertainty (Part IV)

How Do I Forgive

Dealing with People at Work

I'm Dying

Follow Your Heart, Don’t Live Someone Else’s Life

Habitual Thoughts Determine What

Not Imprisoned by Our Past

Don’t Leave the Great Project

Is There Room in Your Cup

From Other Teachers

Funny or Fun

Monday, December 12, 2011

CUNY ACT Reading - Getting Familiar with Computer Format

Here’s a link to a site where you can get familiar with the format of the test on the computer. Be sure to go through the practice tests to be completely familiar with the format so you know your way around inside the virtual environment (inside the computer). For example, be sure to click the down arrow to read the WHOLE passage.

Also, this site is good in allowing you to get a feel for the computer format, but it doesn’t provide all the important strategies you’ve learned from me and from your professor. DO NOT THROW OUT THE STRATEGIES WE’VE TAUGHT YOU! Apply them in the computer test.
To get familiar with the computer format, go to the tutorial at:

If you want to do well, review my ACT Reading Protocol again at:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CUNY ACT Reading Practice Exams

More CUNY ACT Reading material at

For many of you (who are my students), you are taking the ACT Reading next week. Below are additional ACT R practices. Do them following all the steps below (if you want to pass):

CUNY ACT Reading Practices (Click these links and print them out)

Exam Practice A9

Exam Practice A9 Answers

Exam Practice A36

Exam Practice A36 Answers

Steps in Doing the CUNY ACT Reading Practice Exam Packets

- DO NOT LOOK AT THE ANSWER KEY. Give the answer key to a friend, a spouse, or someone helping you with this.
- Start doing the practice exam applying the protocol at
- Have that someone with the answer key check you answers. For the questions you got wrong, he/she should put an X next to your wrong answer choice, BUT THEY MUST NOT PROVIDE YOU WITH THE CORRECT ANSWER.
- DO NOT LOOK AT THE ANSWERS YET. They should give the test back to you and YOU SHOULD DO THE QUESTIONS YOU GOT WRONG ON YOUR OWN. Read the ENTIRE passage from beginning to end before answering again each question you got wrong.
- Now you can check the answer key on your own.
- If you still can't figure out why you got some questions wrong, feel free to ask me at -

Other free teachings from Amadeo Constanzo can be found at

ACT Reading, CUNY ACT Reading, Kingsborough, Hunter, Baruch, CCNY, Queensborough, Brooklyn College, BMCC, Reading Comprehension, Kingsborough ACT Reading, BMCC ACT Reading

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

English 91 Departmental Reading Exam

For your departmental exam (timed exam) this week, I think most of you can pass IF you remember to annotate the reading when you read such as by summing up each paragraph in a phrase. However, you should not be spending a lot of time annotating since the test is timed. It should take only a few seconds to write a phrase or a sentence on the margin for each paragraph.

Quickly review my example of annotating and turning the annotations into a summary at:

Again, if you want to do well, you should at least remember (if you remember nothing else) to:
1. Annotate while you read.
2. Simply turn your annotations into a summary (for the question asking you to summarize).
3. Make sure the first sentence of the summary has MAT (main idea, author, and title)
4. If you have time left at the end, re-read the passage several times and check your answers to the questions. Also, check or edit your summary.

If you remember to do all these, you will be fine.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

CUNY ACT Reading Approach

Most students have the ability to pass the CUNY ACT Reading Exam, but some students with the ability to pass may fail because of bad habits. If they apply a few pointers in their approach to this test, they can pass. I’ve been mentioning these pointers to my students throughout this semester, as I have in previous semesters.

First of all, what does not work is the habit of reading the passages hastily (quickly and carelessly) and reading only once.  Also, not taking the time to check your answers does not work. This mentality (common in students who fail the ACT Reading Exam) of quickly getting it over with does not work. This is evidently true to me and other teachers who’ve seen students fail with this ineffective approach.

If you have this ineffective tendency or habit, you must change it. If you rush to finish quickly, you will fail quickly, leading to prolonged misery (in being held stagnant in your college career not allowed to take many of your core classes until you pass the ACT reading exam. You would be spending unnecessary extra time and money.) For those who still refuse to change, it has been said that it is absurd to do something same way again and again, and expect a different result. Clinging to the same habit that led to your failure will put you back in the same place.

Here’s the approach of students who pass the CUNY ACT Reading exam. This approach involves working in a fashion that may be tedious, but it is better to “suffer” in the short-term than to fail the CUNY ACT Reading again, and suffer in the long term. The effective approach in passing the ACT Reading can be summed up in one sentence:

Have the discipline and endurance to read to obtain an in-depth understanding of the passage (not neglecting any details.) Be meticulous, not hasty.

Here’s how. The following is a specific list of what you should do to increase ACT Reading comprehension (which would result in a higher reading score), in addition to the common sense advice of getting to the test early:

1. Ask for scrap paper.
2. Read passage CAREFULLY at least twice. Sum up each paragraph in one phrase/sentence on scrap paper (and label it with the paragraph number.)
3. Write in one sentence the overall message, or main idea, of the author.
4. Write in one sentence also the attitude or tone of the author (toward an issue, a character, or toward whatever the passage is addressing).  For example, does he have an objective tone or an opinionated tone? Is he strongly for or against an issue covered in his writing? Write down the tone or attitude (or at least do it in your head) before you move on to answer the questions for the passage.
5. Begin answering the questions. For each question, re-read from the beginning of the passage up to the point where you believe the answer is located. (If you do this and you have the author’s main idea/overall message in mind and have his attitude or tone in mind, you will do well.)
6. BE SURE YOU ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS CAREFULLY AND CHECK THEM OVER BEFORE YOU MOVE ON TO THE NEXT SCREEN. You may not be able to go back to previous screens. (Leaving a question blank is the dumbest way to get a question wrong!)

Different Types of CUNY ACT Reading Exam Questions
The following are various types of questions commonly found in CUNY ACT Reading Exams:
  • Vocabulary questions. When you come across a vocabulary question, go back to the passage and re-read the passage from the beginning up to the place where the word is found in the passage. Do this even if you know the definition of the word (since the word in the context of the passage may be different from the definition of which you know.)
  • Main idea questions. When you come across a question that requires you to know the main message (or main idea) of the passage, re-read the entire passage.
  • Questions about the author’s attitude or tone. Re-read the entire passage before you answer.
  • Questions about the attitude of a character in the story, or passage. When you come across a question about the attitude of a character in the passage, re-read the entire passage.
  • Questions about a specific point in the passage.  Often, you may still get this type of question wrong even if you find the location of that point in the passage if you do not keep in mind the overall main idea of the entire passage.
  • Whenever you are in doubt about a question, re-read the entire passage.
From my experience, students who started to apply these pointers drastically improved in answering the vocabulary questions correctly. Students who refused to do so continued to get these common types of questions wrong, and they continued to fail the ACT Reading.

By the time you are done with the entire exam, you should have read the passages at least three times (but probably more.) If so, you’ve greatly increased your chances of passing this exam.

If I am to simplify this lesson into one word, that word would be – RE-READ. Speed counts for nothing (in the CUNY ACT Reading), as this exam is not timed. Having the discipline to endure in the short-term to get in depth understanding will lead to passing the ACT Reading Exam.

When you do practice tests, apply everything I’ve mentioned here (so that they become habit.) If you are my student, all of these should just be a review.

Also, I highly recommend reading the CUNY ACT Reading Protocol and preparation recommendations on the day and days before a standardized test (such as the ACT Reading Exam) at  if you haven't done so yet.  (Feel free to print them out.)

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Copyright: © 2009, 2011. This document is the sole property of Amadeo Constanzo. You may use this article for free on your web site, blog, or other publication if and only if you include this entire copyright notice including the following links and statement. Other free teachings from Amadeo Constanzo can be found at and

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