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The Zinc Blog

Zinc’s Winter Book Picks

Favorite Reads from our Tutors and Staff

For many of us at Zinc, the winter break meant picking up new books, or finally diving into the ones we’d been piling on our desks and night tables. Scroll ahead for the Zinc team’s latest recommendations.

Stitches by David Small
Recommended by Karthik Chandrasekariah, CTO

“This graphic novel is intense, devastating but powerful. The story is beautifully told with words used sparsely and has many completely silent pages.”

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut
Recommended by Matt Bardin, Founder + CEO

“Many of you would seriously dig this ‘non-fiction novel’ that tells the stories of troubled geniuses who exploded our faith in ‘reality’ via twentieth century science/math.”

Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows
Recommended by Fibinse Xavier, Data Scientist, ZLL

“An interesting perspective to look at macro interactions in all kinds of systems around us.”

Severance by Ling Ma
Recommended by Zoe Mackey, Practice Test Coordinator, Zinc Ed

“A satirical novel, very topical to our pandemic times, yet written in 2018. The novel follows Candace Chen and a group of survivors after a worldwide illness called Shen Fever slowly destroys the United States.”

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Recommended by Lily Nathan, Zinc Ed

“Read the book and watch Station Eleven on HBO Max. It’s a rare, wonderful book adaptation, and one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long while.”

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Recommended by Rokya Samake, Proctor, Zinc Ed

“The book begins in the year 2024. The US has been in a state of collapse for twenty-plus years due to climate change, bad leadership, and greed. The story follows a young woman, Lauren, as she comes of age in this world of collapse and embarks on a journey to rebuild the world anew.”

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Recommended by Chris Marino, Tutor, Zinc Ed

“Incredible drama and characters from page one!”

Tales by E.T.A. Hoffman
Recommended by Cherry Brice Jr., Tutor, Zinc Ed

“I’m re-reading Hoffmann’s ‘The Golden Pot’—a manic-depressive, Romantic delight filled with suffering spirits flung headlong toward each other.”

The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow
Recommended by Raoul Meyer, Zinc Ed

“It sounds like hyperbole, but this book really does change everything about the way ‘prehistory’ is conceptualized. It introduces so many cultures and peoples that are almost never discussed in traditional history books.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Recommended by Dan Coogan, Tutor, Zinc Ed

“An honest and realistic depiction of a complicated relationship between two people during their teens and early twenties. Rooney put me back into that peculiar period of life with its deep insecurities, the search for oneself, and the challenge of beginning to understand romantic relationships. It’s a smooth and quick read, but there were moments that forced me to immediately stop and reflect.”

So… You Haven’t Started Test Prep Yet?

Here’s Where to Begin There’s no one right way to get ready for the SAT or ACT, and every student’s timeline looks different. If your New Year’s resolution involves getting started, we’ve got three things to keep in mind to make the process effective, sane, and yes—enjoyable! Diagnose and Study Strategically:Poring over endless practice tests […]

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Can Summer Programs Help Your Kid Get Into College?

Zinc’s Favorite Highly Selective Summer Programs for Teens It can be transformative for kids to have the experience of going away on their own. Summer programs, camps, and volunteer trips are great ways for them to flex their independence while digging deep into a topic or project that lights them up. We often recommend that […]

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Interpreting PSAT Scores

Results are in! Now what? PSAT results are in! These scores tell you a bit about where your child stands now, with minimal or no studying. Remember, colleges don’t see these scores! Unless they’re requested as part of a scholarship application (for example, the National Merit Scholarship), the results are just for your family.  So, what do the scores reveal? […]

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Teen Writers + Artists, Publish with Zinc!

Earn a publication credit + receive a gift card! Middle and high school students ages 13+ are invited to submit poetry, memoir, fiction, essays, and visual art. Selected pieces will appear on Filament and may also be featured on our online literacy platform, Zinc Learning Labs, a site visited by thousands of teens each day. If your piece is […]

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Falling in Love with the College Essay

Zinc’s Essential College Essay Advice With just 650 words to introduce yourself to a school, the college essay is a new kind of writing and can feel daunting at first. We asked several senior Zinc tutors (all of whom are also published writers) how to craft an outstanding college essay–and have a great time while […]

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What to Know about the PSAT

Most 11th graders will take the PSAT in October What is this test?A slightly easier version of the SAT, the PSAT provides a snapshot of where students are now, with minimal or no studying. It’s good practice, introducing them to what’s on the SAT and getting them used to taking standardized tests. Who takes it?In October, […]

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Writing Contest Winners

The Winning Pieces + A New Online Literary Journal We’re thrilled to publish the winning pieces from Zinc’s 2021 Teen Writing Contest. In fact, we received so many fantastic submissions that we’re creating a new, online literary journal for teens. You can check Filament, our new journal, and read the winning entries from the contest […]

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Zinc’s Summer Book Picks

Favorite Reads from Zinc Tutors and Staff Thanks to everyone who sent in a recommendation! Scroll ahead for your next plane/beach/staycation read. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean VuongRecommended by Jeremy Weiss, Tutor, Zinc Ed “It’s a beautiful mess… and it helps remind you that the world is too.” Conversations with Friends by Sally RooneyRecommended by […]

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Applying for SAT/ACT Accommodations

Applying for SAT/ACT Accommodations Start early to ensure approval before your test date. If you’re planning to apply for SAT or ACT testing accommodations such as extra time, now’s the time to get started. The official turnaround to approve documentation is 10-14 days for the ACT (for students already approved for accommodations at their school) and up to […]

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