Cliche but Not-So-Cliche Tips for a Successful School Year

Nervous about the new year? Have no fear! Here are seven tips directed towards just KIS students that will start you with a cringe but end you with nods of agreement and readiness.

  Regardless of whether you’re a fledgling freshman flying through the exciting doors of high school for the first time or you’re a stressed-out senior already irritated by the Common App essay deadline that awaits you, whether you’re new and lost or completely sick of this school, the beginning of the school year is usually intimidating. You’re given a blank canvas: a blank Powerschool, blank knowledge on most of your courses, a blank piece of paper that every teacher hands out, asking you to make a name tag because they’re not good with names—but something more that too. You’re given a clean slate on which you can not only draw out a new roadmap for your school year and plan accordingly to your new teachers and courses, but also diverge from your initial scheme and go totally different directions, experiment, and adjust to change in the new school year.

Every year Buzzfeed and Youtube and advice columns provide you with “Back-to-School” advice on how to survive high school relationships, how to boost your self-confidence, what to wear on the first day, what workout routines you should put yourself into to amaze everyone on the first day (of course),  but these tips are often nebulous, abstract, and hard to relate to. But have no fear! Here are 10 cliche but not-so-cliche tips from a senior directed towards just KIS students that will start you with a cringe but end you with nods of agreement and readiness.

1.pngLunch: that word just stimulates my good spirits. If you grab a student in high school randomly in the H3 hallway and ask “When’s your favorite time of the school day?” he or she will most likely say “Lunch” or perhaps “Autonomous”. This is natural, because lunch is like an oasis, setting you free from the exhaustions of A,B or E,F blocks, and recharging you to full battery before the heat of later blocks overcome you until the end of the day. Most people spend their lunch time devouring a nutritious meal, but that’s not your only option. You can grab a rice cup from the deli and chill with your friends at the back of the library. If you want to be the diligent student you are even during lunch, you can seek available teachers for help or study quietly in the new second floor area. Whatever you do is up to you, but make sure you recharge because lunch time is golden time.


2.pngA traffic jam that can be compared to that of Los Angeles is the KIS High School traffic jam. Due to the inundation of people in the hallway as soon as the bell rings, passing time is a nightmare for most. However, if you choose your route wisely, not only will you save time, but also prevent yourself from being stepped on by a herd of students. The most handy methods of getting to class are using the back stairs, entering the G3 back door, and walking outside. Back stairs of the high school and G building are incomparably less dense than the main stairs; however, one thing to note is that those stairs are famous for attracting couples who seek privacy—if you want to see less people but more PDA, the back stairs are just for you. Entering the G building through the G3 back door is often useful because instead of having to storm up the steep G building stairs, you can easily stroll up the hill. Walking outside is a similar idea: along with avoiding a human stampede, you can save your energy by walking on a flat surface instead of a set of inclined stairs, and also maybe feel the tickling breeze or the tingling sunlight.


3.pngSouth Korea—it is ranked one of the highest in the world in terms of the best education system. With an established education system comes competition. Although KIS is not a Korean public school, competition among students is found ubiquitously in all aspects—grades, athletics, awards, etc. As much as competition is essential for personal motivation and ultimately academic success, comparing yourself with others is never healthy. You are you, and she is her. She is her, and he is him. You may think she’s more attractive, he’s better at AP Physics than you, she plays three Varsity sports while you play none, she received two awards at the end of the year, and the list goes on, but you have characteristics that make you special. Those characteristics are definitely different, but those characteristics are definitely there. After all, every star is unique, but they all shine at one point in time.


4.pngIn my opinion, the single most cliche statement I hear all the time is “Find something you’re passionate about”. Not only is the phrase cliche and overused, but my initial response to that statement as a teenager was “How?”— “How can I suddenly find what I’m passionate about?”. But it really clicked when I actually started involving myself in various different activities; you may or may not be enthralled by it, but you must give it a try in order for you to decide. Try out for the tennis team. Enter the Poetry Out Loud Competition. Sign up for Patio on Fire. Beyond the walls of the school, look for service opportunities and do what you enjoy. When the time arrives, you’ll catch yourself fully absorbed in something you can finally call your “passion”.


5.pngThat we humans crave routine is a fact supported by numerous psychological studies. We are animals of routine, accustomed to conducting a series of actions repeatedly due to the comfort the familiarity provides. Establishing a morning or night routine benefits our lifestyle in many ways, but the biggest advantage is an improvement in time management and control of our life in general. Consider this: between Maria who gets home from cross country practice everyday, showers at 6pm, eats dinner at 6:30 pm, starts homework at 7:30pm, and goes to bed at 10, and Jennifer who gets home from volleyball practice and watches TV at 6pm on some days and starts sleeping on others, who lives in a more organized, structure manner? Flexibility is a key component that we have to embed into our lives; however, a balance between routines and flexibility is what will open the doors to a healthy high school life.


6.pngHaving piles and piles of friends is great, but if your relationship with them are shallow and disconnected, what is the point? High school is a time for change and new discoveries; whether you like it or not, you are prone to go through a transformation of some sort, whether it be in terms of  personality, physicality or  interests. Finding a friend who will support your choices, encourage the changes you make, and appreciate you as you will go beyond the traditional role of a friend. Having many relationships may increase the number of likes on your Instagram picture or the number of snapchat streaks, but the need to maintain and manage those relationships will add to your exhaustion already piled up from school work. Hence, devote yourself in a few strong relationships with people whom you can rely on, you are comfortable with, and you know will always be on your side. Quality over quantity.


7.pngIn the tip above, the emphasis is placed within the parentheses. Play hard within reason. The balance between working and playing is important—it is an irrefutable fact—but realization of your current position is critical as well. At this age, at least in Korea, you are expected to learn: that’s how society has been shaped over the several decades. Rather than complaining and rambling about your status, simply embrace it. Remember you’ll only be a high schooler once in your life, but also that you’ll only be applying to college once! Make the most out of it.

Whatever choice you make, wherever you take yourself, be brave and bold. After all, whatever you decide to put on the new canvas given to you, regardless of whether it’s a straight line or a scribble, when you look back, it will be art–a spectacular work of art.–

– Hannah Kim (’18)

Graphics by Neo Pak (’19)

The Courage to be Vulnerable

What does it mean to be vulnerable in Korean society?

“You are terrible at this. Why are you even here?”

“You are not good enough to do this.”

These are some of the most common comments from our peers that make us feel uncomfortable and self-doubt. As students, we face criticism and shame from people on a daily basis. Consequently, many students attempt to either hide their true selves or ignore the criticism.

Brené Brown, who is a researcher and author, proposes the revolutionary claim that we need to accept our vulnerabilities and imperfections in order to connect with others and live wholeheartedly. In her widely acclaimed novel Daring Greatly and Ted Talk, Brown explains the gifts that come with embracing vulnerability and building shame resilience, such as the three components to a wholehearted life: courage, compassion, and connection.


As the academic competition and expectation in South Korea are consistently high, students are always under pressure to perform well at school. One notable way of measuring the competitiveness is shown in the annually increasing high school student suicide rates. In fact, the Voice of the Youth Organisation reported that suicide is the leading cause of death in Koreans aged 15-24 years old.

As a student who attends an international school in South Korea, I find that the problem with cultivating shame resilience and accepting our imperfections is from the high expectations in academic excellence. For instance, if a Korean student gets less than 95% on an exam, this means that they are inferior to the friend who received a 96%, which leads one to conclude that the latter student will go to a better college than will the former student. Therefore, the former student’s self-esteem will diminish in response to the misconception.




In an image analysis conducted by Yang Liu, easterners tend to be less confident with themselves compared to westerners as depicted in the image below. One reason for this gap between the two ethnicities lies on the idea of how we view our imperfections and faults; westerners tend to accept their mistakes while easterners usually take them more seriously.


This accounts to why I have seen my Korean peers often act artificially in front of teachers in order to maintain their status, just to hide that they are imperfect. These acts no doubt portray how determined and eager students are to work hard to achieve their goal of attending a prestigious university. However, these acts are making the community disconnected, preventing opportunities to build meaningful connections and impacts. If we want to connect and learn from one another, we need to reveal ourselves authentically and vulnerably and believe that we are enough. 


This is not to say that we should all not aim to be as perfect as we can be; rather, it is to advocate that sometimes we need to be vulnerable. If students start to embrace their imperfections, they will begin to understand who they are and what they need to work on. By doing so, we can not only grow as a courageous, compassionate, and connected students but also as changers in our world. So students, start showing yourselves—be vulnerable and proud.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

*Featured Image: Hannah Kim (’19)



Daring Greatly & The Gifts of Imperfections by Brené Brown

To Current Juniors, From Current Seniors: Advice on Second Semester

Don’t slack off, but don’t stress out too much; find the perfect mixture of having fun and pursuing high achievement in academia.

You know what they say; junior year second semester is always the worst. Of course, one may beg to differ, but never mind that. It might not be the most difficult thing you must encounter in your life, but it definitely is a time in which a student has no choice but to be stressed out about not only academics but also maintaining a social life as well as getting enough sleep, whilst managing multiple extra curricular activities at the same time, and not to mention having to already think about college. Can it get any worse? Well, I don’t know about that, but there sure are ways to make the best of what’s headed towards you. Fear not, and keep your heads up high, juniors! Here are some ultimate tips and words of wisdom from seniors who have once been in your shoes. Let’s see what they have to say about enduring junior year second semester!


“Try not to exert yourself with too many activities, and stay healthy! There is a certain limit to the amount of workload you can take, so give yourself some time to keep things in balance, and keep your condition up!” – Stacy Jo (’17)

“Don’t let stress get to you, because if you’re regularly feeling hopeless and overwhelmed, it’ll be even harder to find the motivation to push through the semester.” – Alex Shu (’17)

“Finish ur SAT Subject tests related to your AP courses in your junior year, or else you’ll have to struggle to remember the content in your senior year because you pushed it until the last minute.” – Nancy Koo (’17)

“During junior second semester, it’s important to maintain your GPA. No matter what people tell you about standardized tests, although they are very important and you should finish them during first/second semesters, your GPA will be the main factor of your college application. To maintain it, start organizing your daily schedule so that you can stay on task. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made during junior first semester was not recording my class assignments on my calendar. If you write all assignments and test/quiz dates on a calendar or even a piece of paper, you will get better results. I’ve learned my lesson on that and got a higher GPA during my second semester! It’s all about not procrastinating and staying on task. You really have to get the hang of pushing yourself to do your assignments on the day that it was given, because once you become a senior it will benefit you in terms of doing college applications. You really don’t want to finish apps at the last minute!” – Emily Lee (‘17)

Emily Lee (’17) (PC: JD Choi ’18)


“Teachers’ classrooms during auto are a great library alternative for those who want a quiet study hall. Plus, you can ask the teacher questions and even ask them to proofread work if they aren’t too busy.” – Alex Shu (’17)

“Talk to each other! Everybody’s pressured about their academic life and talking it out is the best way to relieve all your stress. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one who feels pressured. It’ll help you to get through all hardships together, maybe even get a bit closer to them.” – Emily Lee (‘17)

“I relied on what I loved, which was music and dance. Luckily, those things were included in the clubs that I led or participated in, so I was able to stay spirited in school.” – Stacy Jo (’17)

Stacy Jo (’17) (PC: JD Choi ’18)


“Try to do what you love in the midst of all those hard classes and long nights of studying! It makes going through junior year so much faster and more enjoyable, regardless of how high your scores on tests are. Don’t abandon an activity to simply study for something!” – Stacy Jo (’17)

“It’s a cliché, but don’t procrastinate. Just because you could pull off a last-minute all-nighter first semester doesn’t mean it will work again second semester! Also, attend college visits when you can. It’s never too early to start getting an idea of where you might want to apply next year :).” – Alex Shu (’17)

“Hang in there, you only have a year left! Have some fun, go on trips, make some valuable memories. You only have a year left to create some of the most memorable experiences in your high school career. You might get a little depressed sometimes, but always remember there are people around you who feel the same way. They will always be there to support you. Start your common app early. Please don’t procrastinate.” – Emily Lee (‘17)

“Ask your teachers for recommendation letters before it gets too late or they’ll get stressed.” – Nancy Koo (’17)

“Looking back at it now…it feels like a short period of time to just survive. There’s always light at the end of every tunnel. So as long as you remember that…don’t ever lose hope and hang in there. It’ll all be over soon.” – Scott Kim (’17)

Nancy Koo (’17) (PC: JD Choi ’18)
Scott Kim (’17) (PC: JD Choi ’18)


“- It’s going to be tough if you leave things to the last minute. You will eventually not make it.

– Get your standardized tests done ASAP.

– Don’t forget that you’re going be applying to college. Go to college meetings during junior year. Going senior year isn’t helpful.

– Comparing yourself to others won’t get you anywhere.

– Don’t overdramatize your junior experience. Trust me, it’s not as hard as senior year first semester. Junior year is what you make of it.

– When you study, use the Ghibli piano soundtrack… It helps.

– Go to teachers for help. Stop wasting your time during autonomous block and go to those teachers.

– Utilize your resources: personally, videos on YouTube help[ed]. Especially for chemistry.

– Keeping your room clean can help you focus.

– Stop BSing your way through homework.

– Create an effective study group. This does not mean find a friend who will do everything for you.

– Making connections will help you memorize things better (ie: draw diagrams).

– No naps longer than 20 minutes.

– Already have the colleges you want to go to and write a couple of essays. Don’t write about why you are perfect. Colleges want personality (this can also be shown through the style in which you write it in). Also, just because it’s a top notch college doesn’t mean it’s your best fit. Moreover, watching vlogs of people who go to that specific college can help you understand the environment of the school.

– Get your teacher Recs. ASAP.

– Focus less on standardized tests during your summer. You can’t learn and magically improve your score. If you have been taking SATs for more than a year and your scores haven’t changed, stop.

– Know your priorities.

– Don’t get angry at those who have college consultants write their essays. They won’t get far in life. Getting into a good college isn’t everything.

– Don’t judge other people based on what college they are applying to. They have their reasons and you have yours.

– Don’t judge where people get in either. Not everyone is confident about college.

– Don’t let your parents force you to apply to a specific school. Just take it into consideration. If you don’t like it, don’t apply. It’s a waste of money.” – Grace Kim (’17)

Believe me, it does get better. Second semester just flies by, and you will find yourself sitting in the seniors’ section during pep rallies. Sooner or later, you’ll be walking down the aisle during the graduation ceremony, waiting for your name to be called to receive your diploma. It’s important to pursue high achievement in academia, but don’t forget about the one and only high school experience you get. Try to find time to spend with your friends or your favorite teachers, seek help when you need to, and don’t pull all nighters – they don’t help. Good luck, and always know you can talk to upperclassmen when you’re in need of encouraging words.

– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Featured Image & Banners: Crescentia Jung (’19)

7 Things To Do Over Thanksgiving Break

Be productive, relaxed, and entertained this Thanksgiving break!

Yep, I know what’s going on. You’re in your room, at your desk, trying to study. After all, we’re pretty much drowning in a pool of summative assignments: tests, projects, you name it. It’s like teachers purposefully plan on making a specific week a hell week for students to suffer. But fear not, because Thanksgiving break is coming up soon. November 24th, a Thursday, is a half day, and we don’t have school the following day. A 3.5 day holiday; just what we need. Don’t waste this time off just like you did with your entire summer break. Here’s a list of 7 things you can do during the holiday to make it the best, and most productive one you’ve spent yet.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Ah yes. What everybody intends on doing over break, but ends up cramming Sunday night. Let’s not repeat the same mistake over and over. Start on Thursday and get over the workload so you won’t have to suffer contemplating whether you should watch that TV show you’ve been wanting to, or finishing the AP chemistry lab you’ve been putting off until the last minute. It’ll make life so much easier, and you won’t be the last one staying up among your group of friends.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

This is a continuation from the whole school work thing. Whether we decide to admit it or not, finals are coming up pretty soon. It’s so weird; the year’s already coming to an end. Cramming for an exam is the worst thing you can do, so you should low key start studying during the break. And I don’t mean start making an entire study guide for US History or AP Biology. You’ve probably forgotten a lot of the things you’ve learned at the beginning of the year. Flip through a couple of pages per night so you’re not completely doomed mid December.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Treat yourself. A spa trip is a great way to fully recover from the disastrous amount of schoolwork you’ve been enduring. Although it might end up being quite pricey, if not now, when? You deserve a spa trip, no matter how much it costs. So get a friend to join you on a majestic journey to a super relaxing spa. You’ll feel all ready to go back to school on Monday, and less I-want-to-die-please-take-me-home like the rest of the school.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

You’re probably going to be doing this anyway, but still. Don’t be sleeping in until, what, 3 P.M., because you’re basically wasting your precious time off. You could be doing so many things instead of staying under your warm covers (that does sound great, though). But you don’t have to wake up at 6 A.M. either, because that’s for when you go to school. Recharge during this Thanksgiving break and make sure to get lots of sleep before going back to school.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Everybody loves baking. Cookies, brownies, muffins…what more can we ask for? Eating those baked goods is one thing, but actually being able to make them is another. Since you have lots of free time over the break, consider learning how to bake. It does nothing except benefit you, and maybe you can use your new super cool baking skills to seduce “the one”.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

There’s lots of must-watch movies out at the theaters right now, and you definitely don’t want to end up torrenting them. There’s just that something about watching movies on the big screen with your popcorn and drink. Laugh at the funny moments, and cry at the sad ones; go reserve a seat at your favorite CGV/Megabox theater!

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

A sleepover has been long overdue for all of us. It’s no longer like middle school when we used to ask each other who we “like-liked” or when we thought staying up until midnight was so cool (but ultimately failed). However, this Thanksgiving break is definitely the best time to catch up with your friends and talk about anything; basically life in general. You won’t regret it!

To be honest, I’m already finding myself counting down until the moment school ends on Thursday so I can go straight home and take a nap until the next day. Stay strong, because Thanksgiving holiday is so close; we’re almost there!

– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Featured Image: Made by Crescentia Jung (’19)

Tips for Online Searching

Struggling to search effectively? Check these tips out!

“ What homework do you have?”

“ I have to research for my paper. It’s going to take forever.

As students move to higher grades, they face one of their enemies: research. One of the major barriers that make research seem so onerous for students is the way in which they search for their information and the time they have to dedicate. However, it seems that the reason why it is so difficult lies in the ineffective use of search engines. Yet fear not, for Blueprint is here to give you some tips on making your search more efficient!

  1. Keep track of your info with Diigo

A bookmarking application that allows users to annotate, highlight, and keep track, Diigo is one of the main apps that the KIS EdTech recommends for effective research. A problem that most students encounter is reading online; an anonymous student stated that it is “inconvenient to read articles online because it is hard to keep track of the facts [she] wants to use.” However, Diigo enables users to highlight information on any website wherein they can revisit to view the information that they want to use in their research paper or presentation. It will for no doubt enhance your reading flow and help you to customize your research. To obtain this app, it’s simple: go to Google Chrome Store and download it! 

Check out the link to find out more: “Diigo Extension for Google Chrome” by Ileane Smith 

  1. Get in-depth articles with Google Scholar


Google Scholar is a search engine for those who are looking for scholarly articles, findings, and/or opinions. Here, you can find anything from the oldest published text to the latest news article about a topic, from authors of various discipline, ranging from science to cooking. Google Scholar is especially advantageous if you want to learn about a topic of interest in depth, since most of the articles are detailed and analytical.

  1. Get specific with  “ “

Looking for a specific topic/ issue? Then quotation marks will be your best friend! If you want to find sources that use a certain term or phrase explicitly, then you can insert quotation marks around the desired search word. By doing so, Google collects websites that use the exact phrase in their works–a potent method of narrowing your search.

  1. Narrow down with + and –


Another efficient way to constrict your search results is to add an addition sign after a phrase. When doing so, the search engine recognizes that you want to include the term after the addition sign as well. This will greatly reduce your search time as you will be given more accurate results. Likewise, if you insert a hyphen, you will get results that exclude the word after the hyphen. For example, as one of the EdTech teachers gave, if you support Donald Trump and don’t to read anything negative about him, you could put in your search tab “Donald Trump -racism.”

  1. Find the line you are looking for with *


Often called the “asterisk wildcard”, the use of asterisk is useful in that it leaves a placeholder that will be filled in by the search engine. This is particularly helpful when you don’t remember the lines of a famous Shakespearean line or even song lyrics. Simply put, all you have to do is type in: “to*or*to*:*is*question.” And guess what? In a split second you’ll get one of Shakespeare’s famous lines: “to be or not to be: that is the question”

  1. Get similar website results by “Related:______”

When you want to use a variety of sources but want sites that are similar to the one you are reading, one way is to use type in “”, __ being the link that you want the results to be similar to. For instance, if you put “related:”, Google yields links that give you sites congruent to So next time when you want to find something that’s outside of eBay, try using this trick!

Researching online can be challenging. However, with these simple six tips, the time you spend on Google will dramatically decrease and give you more accurate results. So start utilizing these tips to enhance your research!

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Featured Image:

*Many of these online search engine tools are derived from existing online tips pages

What to Do the Day Before the SAT

Just in a week… the long-awaited October SAT presents itself to students. Are you afraid? Well, fear not. Blueprint’s got you covered with some best tips that will boost up your scores last minute.

September is coming to an end. Two months into school, right when we finally seem to be adjusting to school, the deathly of the deathly is approaching. Yes, you guessed it right. The October SAT. Every year, the three letter haunts students down. Are YOU the victim of this doom? Well, fear not. Although last minute studying will DEFINITELY not help you out (don’t even try), here are some suggestions as to what you could do the day before the SAT to boost up the score with the little hope you have.

  1. Dress comfortably.

As soon as you come back from school, get comfy. The last thing you’re worried about at the moment is how you look. Get into the most comfortable position, comfortable outfit, and comfortable state. Who cares if you look like a zombie. Now is the time for you to pull off that score you so desperately wanted.

  1. Eat dinner.

Well, you might think now. Why does dinner even matter? Don’t I just have to eat my breakfast on the day of the SAT? No. Eating dinner now will not only keep you at a healthful state, but your brain will also be kept alert from the nutrition you take in the night before. Make sure to eat healthy, too.  It is important that you keep a good balance of vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein.  An idea dinner would perhaps look like broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and beef. After all, nutritious food is where your brain and body will get their power source from!

  1. Review.

Yes, review. Don’t even bother learning the new stuff now. Trust me; by the time you enter the testing center, your mind will go blank with the materials you learned afresh. Let’s stick with what we know, and make the best out of it. Believe it or not, reviewing is the key to success. As long as you are able to correctly answer the materials you learned so far, you will be fine.

  1. Don’t panic.

Okay, I know. It’s hard not to panic, especially if this is your first SAT. Well, if you panic, things are going to get worse. Panicking now will get you nowhere. It will only keep you going in a deathly circle of cries and worries. We have a lot to review. There’s no time for panic.

  1. Sleep early.

This is perhaps the most important out of the five tips. No caffeine allowed the night before the SAT. Maybe in the morning, but definitely not the night before. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nocturnal person. Too bad. The College Board decided to have test on the morning, so as of now, you will have to adjust your body system according to what the College Board scheduled for you. At the latest, get to bed by 10 PM and make sure you get a healthy 8 hours of sleep. This way, you will not feel sleep-deprived, sick, or tired.

Juniors, seniors, and to whomever this may concern:

SAT does not define you as a person, nor does it define your whole high school career. Great, if you manage to pull out the perfect score you aimed for. But, don’t worry if you aren’t able to. Let’s at least get the best out of it. We are now a week into the SAT, and that means doomsday for all of you. Let’s not panic, and try to stick to these amazing tips that will give you the best score you could get!

– Eunica Na (’17)

Featured Image:

How NOT to Study for the SAT II’s

October’s finally here, and you know what that means: the beginning of SAT season! As you’ve probably learned by now, if you’ve been studying for the SATs, none of us really know how to study for any standardized test; especially the SATs. You can ask as many people as you’d like about how they studied for the SATs but in the end, it’ll come down to you asking yourself this question: “Did you study, or did you procrastinate?”

But don’t worry: it’s a high school student’s nature to procrastinate, and you won’t always know precisely what to do when studying for the SATs. That’s why, rather than scrambling around and looking for the best tips and tricks to ace those SAT Subject Tests, I’m here with a collection of things that you absolutely SHOULDN’T do when you’re studying for those pesky SAT II’s

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)
PC: CollegeBoard

Imagine you’re back in June 2016, and you just finished the AP Chemistry course. You took the AP Chem exam about a month ago, saw that you got a 5 (WOW), and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. In fact, you feel so confident for the upcoming SAT Chemistry Subject Test in October that you think, “Oh, I’ll be fine,” and don’t want to study for the SAT Chem test. So, you catch up with your friends over the summer, get reacquainted with teachers and classes in August, and then BAM – it’s October 1st, and you’re sitting in a classroom with the SAT Chemistry booklet in front of you, no idea what the heck you’re looking at. This is exactly what’ll happen if you don’t practice before the SATs. All of that knowledge from your AP classes disappeared by the first week of summer, so you better make sure you’re buying those SAT Subject Test prep books and completing as many mock tests as you can; trust me, you’ll definitely need the practice.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)
PC: Bar Exam Toolbox

This is a pretty similar situation to #1. You’re either pretty confident or you’re completely stressed out and intimidated by the very notion of SAT Subject Tests, and so you neglect starting to study until a couple of weeks before the test date. Two or three weeks is NOT enough time to be where you want to be for the SAT 2’s; plan ahead, set yourself up a week-to-week, even a day-to-day schedule if you want, and make sure you stick to that timetable.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)
PC: Amazon

Oh, you claim you can just use mental math on the SAT Mathematics Level 2 Subject Test? Yeah, good luck solving those 4×4 matrix operations and trigonometric functions. Even if you could somehow work out complex pre-calculus concepts in your head without technological aid, you most definitely will not finish the Math 2C in the time given. In case you didn’t know this about the SAT already; TIME. IS. EVERYTHING. Sure, you might be a genius with IQ level 160; none of that matters when you can’t finish the Math 2C test in time and unnecessarily lose valuable points that you might’ve received if you’d utilized a calculator.



PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Well, since time is everything, then you should probably speed through the SAT Subject Tests and try to solve all of the questions as quickly as you can, right? WRONG. Yes, pacing is important, but you don’t want to fall into the trap of rushing through the test and missing key details in the questions. Remember, the SATs are designed to confuse you. Learn how to read questions quickly but carefully, looking for any key points or hints that can steer you in the right direction.

PC: U.S. News & World Report
PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)
PC: McDougal Littell

For those of you who’ve taken APUSH or AP World, you know that if you abandon your textbooks, you’ll be neck-deep in trouble. Even if you haven’t taken these courses, definitely put in the effort to find appropriate resources and actually read the material that you’re going to be tested on. Historical trends and broad ideas are a big part of these tests, but you’ll only be hurting yourself if you neglect to read and understand the small details. After all, you’ve heard those stories about memorizing literally centuries of history for SAT US History, yes? They’re all true. All of them.



PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

If you want to tire yourself out and study the SATs all the livelong day (and literally, night), then go for it. Just remember; a tired mind almost always performs worse than an alert one. I can guarantee that you’ve heard at the very least once from someone that you should get some sleep before a test. Well, for the SAT Subject Tests, there’s honestly no better advice for test day that exists. You do NOT want to have to sit through an hour of non-stop multiple choice right after you’ve pulled an all-nighter cramming for that test. Chances are, you’ll probably be taking more than one SAT Subject Test on the same day anyway, so a decent amount of sleep is doubly, perhaps even triply important in that case.

Female college student tired from studying
PC: Brainscape
PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

What kinds of apps do you have open in front of you right now? I’m not asking about just your laptop, but your phone, your iPad, and any other electronic

PC: The High Performance Blog

devices you own. If your answers are dominated by social networking or gaming apps, then you’re clearly doing something wrong. While some people can actually multitask and use this skill to their advantage, multitasking when studying for the SATs often isn’t the brightest idea. Still having doubts? Ask yourself this: do you really think that talking with five other people about where you guys are going to go for a trip over the winter will help you with studying Mendelian genetics and the law of cosines? Hopefully, you’ll answer no to that question.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

What if you have a question regarding projectile motion in the SAT Physics Subject Test or Jacksonian democracy in the SAT US History Subject Test? You’ll definitely want to create

PC: Magoosh

some sort of a study group and get together once in a while to make sure you’re all still on track. Besides, you’ve always heard from teachers that the best way to test whether you know your stuff or not is to see if you can teach others what you’ve learned. Having a study group and holding Q&A sessions every now and then is a great opportunity to do a self-check of where you really are in your SAT studies.

PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Let’s say you got three or four questions wrong on a SAT Math 2C practice test. Those few questions may not seem like much, but reviewing what you got wrong will definitely help you in the long run. It’s not like you know how many questions will come out from each topic on the test, so those three or four incorrect questions may turn into eight, nine, or even ten incorrect questions on the actual test if you don’t review your mistakes.

PC: FiveThirtyEight
PC: Crescentia Jung (’19)

What is “cheating” when you’re studying for the SAT Subject Tests? In the worst case scenario, you’re partaking in illegal business and actually cheating on the day of the exam. However, cheating when you’re still in the process of ‘properly’ studying for these tests is another story altogether. It may seem like I’m restating the obvious, but when you take

PC: The Sun

practice tests, make sure it feels as though you’re taking the real test. Put yourself in a quiet environment, set your timer, and solve away! Make sure you’re not peeking at any answer sheets or study guides when you’re conducting these ‘mock exams’ because that just won’t get you anywhere. All you’ll learn is how to copy answers and fool yourself into thinking that you actually understand the question. But please, for the love of Collegeboard, don’t cheat on testing day; you’ll find that you’re hurting others as much as yourself.

In all seriousness, this list of tips of what not to do when studying for SAT Subject Tests can really assist you when you’re trying to figure out just what kind of a study route you should take that’ll work best for you.

But remember, SATs aren’t everything. If you get a score below of what you had hoped for, so what? You might be a little disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world. So try to relax, don’t stress yourself out too much, and take the process of studying for SAT II’s just one step at a time. With any luck, these tips will help you out and you’ll get those 800’s you’ve always hoped for!

– Daniel Park (’17)

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

How to Survive Finals 101

The clock is ticking, the notes are piling, the sleep is lacking, the motivation is slipping… Spring finals are almost a week away, so here are 7 tips to do to prep for those nasty finals.

The school year is spiraling to an end, so now what? You guessed it. Our mortal enemy, final exams, awaits us. As it is the second semester of the year, students who take AP classes are exempt from finals for those classes. But the sad truth is that most, if not all, of us have a couple final exams to tackle.

Are you dusting off those notes you haven’t laid hands upon since the test you took on Chapter 5? Or are you going to cram all eight units the night before? Whichever path you decide to partake, here are some tips to at least have a not-so-bad week. May the odds be ever in your favor!


Fashion disaster? No problemo, rock that hobo look.

School is not a fashion show, especially during finals! Rock those baggy t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatpants. Honestly, you’re coming to school to ace your exam, not to impress. No need to look handsome for that one cute girl, or beautiful for that guy in your chemistry class. It’s important to be as comfortable as possible when you sit a test, especially for a whole hour and thirty minutes! Embrace your just-woke-up look!





You’ve heard this a thousand times, but you never listen. So let me tell you again. Don’t skip on breakfast. Don’t skip on breakfast. Have I mentioned, DON’T SKIP ON BREAKFAST? Seriously, you have no idea how much of a difference it makes. Especially if you’re taking an exam in the morning, there’s nothing better than to eat a delicious, filling meal to help increase your concentration. Eating breakfast will keep you awake, alert, and full. Aren’t you tired of hearing your stomach rumble in the dead silent classroom? Eat food that will keep your brain and body focused and fueled up! Blueprint recommends energizing food choices like bananas, almonds, fish, spinach, and broccoli. These dietary choices are protein-rich, and will lead to greater mental alertness.




Don’t even think about pulling an all-nighter…

Don’t even think about pulling an all nighter. This method rarely works, unless you’re some kind of nocturnal person. Sleeping at 3 A.M. before an important test will not only make you sleepy the following day, you’re testing performances will definitely be affected negatively. You may think the numerous cups of coffee you drink to force yourself awake will help. Nope! By morning, you’ll feel sleep, deprived, sick, and of course, exhausted. According to graduate students Paula Haynes and Bethany Christmann at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, memory neurons that work inside our brain convert short-term memory to long-term memory most effectively when a person is asleep. In short, cramming all night does not help. You still have a few days left, might as well start reviewing now before it’s too late!



“What do I need to study the most?”

If you’re a KISian, it’s most likely that you have at least a few finals you need to tackle. Take a look at the finals schedule. Most of us are likely to have more than one finals clashing on a single day, which means we have two tests back to back. Don’t be overwhelmed by this situation. It’s unfortunate, but it’s important to evaluate what you need to study for the most. You shouldn’t be spending time memorizing Chinese vocabulary words when you have a 99 in the class. Rather, you should be looking over the notes you took for that US History class you have a B+ in. The finals is only worth 15%, but it could still raise a B+ to an A-. Which means, it’s really important to make valid choices on what to study for more, and what less!




It’s quite annoying to stay glued to your desk for hours, staring at the same wall, sitting in the same position. The human brain usually needs at least fifteen minutes of rest after working for an hour, showing that our concentration doesn’t last as long as we think. This is especially the case if you’ve been in the same room for hours and hours. Take a look. You could be studying in a nearby cafe sipping on a smoothie, a public library, or even in your living room (just not on your bed or couch!). Consider the possibilities of where you can go. Just by simply switching where you study, more things come and stick into your brain.




Just do yo thang.

Are you an auditory learner, visual learner, neither, or both? By now, you should know how you learn the best. If you know you like listening to lectures, check out Crash Course on Youtube. Hank Green makes lecture videos about science, while his brother, John Green, makes lecture videos about history. They’re quick, simple, and great to watch right before finals. If learning from watching videos isn’t no your forte, try writing the facts over and over, making flash cards, or even just straight up reading the textbook again. Figure out how you study the best to perform your best during exams!




Studying alone can be pretty stressful, and quite frankly, boring. If you can no longer take it, grab a friend to study with. You can quiz each other, or even make study guides together. But be careful not to pick your loudest friend – you need someone who keeps you on track, and doesn’t distract you from memorizing those geometry theorems. Plus, you can always gain off of your friend’s knowledge! With the right study buddy, you can motivate each other, and survive this hellish week together!



Hey, but remember. Like I said before, finals count for only 15% of your overall grade. It’s unlikely that your perfect A will drop to an F (unless you don’t try at all). Relax, chill, and don’t overstress about the exams. If you’ve tried hard over the semester and maintained satisfying grades, you don’t have to worry about the finals at all. However, if you know you have to at least do some studying, take these tips into consideration and get that !


– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Header by Yunji Lee (’16)

Five Tips on Saving Money in Everyday Life

Lets face it: most of us are constantly looking for more ways to save money. Unfortunately, we get so wrapped up in ways to save on outings, products, and activities that we just end up overlooking the budget investments we can easily make in our everyday lives.

It’s simpler than we think to save on things we want to, and it’s also important to save on the things we have to. Saving money is just one of those inevitable pet peeves, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a mundane task. Set your good old piggy bank in the back of the closet, because these five nifty ways of cutting back will make the whole ordeal at least ten times less painful.


  1. Extract Cash


Thinking up of a budget can be a pain in the butt, but there are definitely ways to do in a more enjoyable manner. Instead of relying on your debit/credit card for transactions, take out some cash at the beginning of the week for a fresh start. First, decide on a specific amount you are willing to spend per week. After you are ready, extract the cash, and leave your account alone for the rest of the week, let alone even think about it. This method will keep you from overspending any time soon, which can easily be done with a debit card (never underestimate the power of the debit card – ever). Not only that, but also it will help you make sound decisions on what to/what not to spend on. With limited weekly funds, eating out four times a week won’t seem so appealing anymore. Think money, think rational.


  1. Pay for Bad Habits


Not surprisingly, this is probably a tactic that may not appear as fascinating to some people. The whole idea is quite simple – once you’ve taken out the cash, decide on a denomination to save. To start off, choose a habit you cannot break but you’d like to get rid of. Have a jar and label it with that bad habit, then choose a denomination to put in the jar every time you find yourself partaking in the particular habit. Take swearing, for instance. If you want to correct this habit by cutting down on profanity, label the jar “Cursing Habit”, and deposit $1 in the jar every time you catch yourself dropping the f-bomb. Hopefully, you’ll earn a reasonable amount of profit that way and get rid of the habit as well. After all, who wouldn’t want to kill two birds with one stone?


  1. Do-It-Yourself Household Cleaning Supplies


The DIY lifestyle is rapidly dominating the media and the boundaries of homeware industry, and the rising culture is there for a reason. If you’re fed up with reaching for cleaning products of heavy price tags and names you can barely pronounce, then head to your local grocery store for several basic materials, and just make your own! From oxygen bleach to dry fabric softener, you’ll be astonished at how effortless these DIYs are to pull off. To top it all off, the homemade supplies cost pennies per concoction to create, with better results. Through some research and the help of Pinterest, the making of cleaning supplies is extremely cost-effective, and totally eco-friendly.


  1. Use Your Points Wisely


Many of us cannot live without a credit card safely tucked in our pockets. Sometimes, it’s better to just satisfy your cravings rather than getting stressed about not having them. So if you plan to use your credit cards, make sure to actually take advantage of the given rewards. Most card companies have a point system that you can use to earn free goods, gift cards, and even cash back. Use your credit or debit cards for what you’d normally spend on- snacks, school supplies, books, etc. A note of reminder here is to never put off paying back your credit card bills. Place the cash aside to pay off the credit cards immediately, and you save yourself from interest charges while still getting the free points. One word, eight letters: s-o-l-u-t-i-o-n.


  1. Take Advantage of Public Transportation


Although it might be a clichéd idea that is stressed upon everyone all the time, it’s never wrong to go back to the basics. Public transportation can save you a bundle on commuting costs because you won’t have to spend money on parking spaces, gas, and auto maintenance. Plus, you can probably get a lower insurance rate for driving less (a little advice for all the commuting teachers out there). So rather than pestering your parents for a car ride, take the subway or the bus to get to your desired destination. If that is not possible, remember: at least two heads are better than one when it comes to commuting. To reduce gas costs, you can always carpool around with your friends. However, if all fails, walking is always an option, too. It’s never too late to go green and save your bank account along the way. Hop on the bus, Gus!


Everybody loves a good deal, but they don’t want to sacrifice comfort nor quality at the same time. So try out these five tips on how you can cut your costs – without having to compromise your standards!


– Ashley Kim (‘18)

KIS Winter Survival Guide 101

We’re done with autumn; now it’s winter time!

November literally flew by, and we’re already into December. And you know what this means; it’s the beginning of the ever so dreaded long, loong, looooong, freezing cold winter of everybody who lives in South Korea experiences. Are you ready to fight the extreme temperature drop, the freezing sky bridge walks, and of course, the classrooms with barely-working heaters? If not, here’s a survival guide to help you through KIS winter; may the odds be ever in your favor!


1. Varsity jackets? Padding jackets?

Let’s start with the basics: your outerwear. As a KISian, you’ve probably seen 90% of the students wearing their varsity jackets during the winter. Honestly, varsity jackets keep you extremely warm. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry. You’ve also probably seen countless students from Korean schools wearing their padding jackets. Down jackets are usually quilted and filled with down feathers, which are great for thermal insulation. With the extreme winter that hits South Korea every year, many famous brands such as Descente, The North Face, and Adidas all come out with brand new lines of padding jackets. So whether it be your varsity jacket or padding jacket; make sure to wear what keeps you warm!

Heesun KIm ('17) and Lynn Baik ('17) know how to stay warm!
Heesun Kim (’17) and Lynn Baik (’17) know how to stay warm! (JohnDavid Choi, ’18)

2. Warmers

Warmers, or scarfs, whatever you want to call them; they’re pretty much vital to survive the winter. Keeping your neck warm makes a huge difference in the overall warmness of your body, and you really don’t want to be the only one with chattering teeth. Plus, they come in so many colors and styles. Whether it be red, black, or white. Whether it be an infinity scarf, or a wrap scarf. I guarantee you’ll find the perfect combination you’re looking for. Hunt around places like Gangnam, and get the warmer that will help you survive the winter!

Bryan Kim ('18) feels sleepy, but warm!
Bryan Kim (’18) feels sleepy, but warm! (JohnDavid Choi, ’18)

3. KIS Go-to-places

Some places in KIS are extra warm, and this list just might help you overcome the winter. First off, Mr. McClure’s room is always exceptionally warm (maybe even a little too warm). I don’t know what’s up with his heating system but students usually find themselves sweating in his class, and end up taking off their jackets. But he sometimes opens his windows, and that drops the temperature right back down, so be careful with that! The individual practice rooms can also potentially keep you warm because you can control the temperature on your own (with the heater), and you’re confined in a small space where the heater can quickly take over. Other than those two rooms, I also recommend the theatre room, and of course, the beloved cafeteria.

4. Uggs

I know, uggs are so last year. But what can I say; they’re so freakin’ warm. You’re better off wearing uggs in the winter over sneakers. Also, avoiding chilling your feet isn’t simply a matter of whether you’re warm or cold. According to Ronald Eccles, Ph.D, of Cardiff University, “chilling the feet causes vasoconstriction in the nose”, and “[this] has two common cold-producing effects”, which are the reduction of “immune cells available in the nasal epithelium”, which, inevitably, allows infectious viruses to easily attack our vulnerable bodies. Complicated terms and language aside, cold feet can lead to sickness, and we really want to avoid this; winter cold can get you pretty bad, and it can weaken your body a lot! Basically, the lesson here is: wear uggs!

Stephanie Cha (’18) with her fluffy uggs. (JohnDavid Choi ’18)

5. KIS Must-avoid-places

Of course, KIS also has the complete opposite, absolutely freezing places. The quite obvious one are the two sky bridges; they’re absolutely freezing. You’ve probably encountered the cold breeze that you have no idea where it came from when you’re walking over to the H building from the G building. With the windows on both sides of the bridge, it’s inevitable for the sky bridges to be cold; so walk through them as quickly as possible before you start shivering. Other places to avoid (if you can) include the conference hall area, the first floor of the H building, and the gyms. Of course, if you’re actually exercising and playing sports, the gym will likely not feel cold. But if you aren’t, it’s definitely not the best place to go to if you want to stay warm!

The winter we experience as KISians may not always be the winter wonderland we yearn to be in. However, we’re lucky enough to be treated by Student Council with hot chocos, hot packs, and the winter ball. See, winter isn’t so bad. Plus, you have this survival guide; so have no fear. Make the best of the season, and stay warm so you don’t catch a cold! Happy Winter!

– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Featured Image: Tumblr