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My top tip for improving performance on the ACT
The ACT can be a tough experience. There are tons of questions and little time to complete them. They often seem confusing and misleading, and it’s even easier to become confused when you’re rushing to finish on time. But like all other standardized tests, the ACT relies on a formula. To succeed, you just need to crack that formula.
How to make the college admissions process less stressful and more rewarding
Let’s put it bluntly: the college admissions process can be taxing. Between standardized tests, constant deadlines, and the dreaded personal essay, there are myriad sources of stress facing every college applicant. But while studying for any particular exam might provoke some degree of automatic anxiety, the process itself can be rewarding. ...
The key to cracking standardized tests
On May 7, 2002, a sportswriter questioned NBA superstar Allen Iverson about his dedication to his team and his alleged failure to attend team practices. The next few moments would go down in NBA history as one of the most iconic interview responses ever given, and produced the now-infamous line: “We talkin’ about practice!”
To ACT or to SAT? That is the question. 
“Do colleges like one test more than the other?” “Isn’t the SAT harder?” “What if I’m terrible at science?!” “But all my friends took the ACT!”
How to study for standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, and SSAT
Study actively, not passively. In order for your brain to truly remember something, you must make your brain work. Reading your textbook or class notes is a good start, but studying actively will always improve your memory (and your scores). Try answering questions out loud or writing down answers as you go along to make your studying a more ...
Three Key Lessons from a Lifetime of Test Taking
As someone who’s spent over twenty years in school and is currently pursuing both MD and MPP degrees, I’ve taken my fair share of tests. For as long as I can remember, tests have been both milestones and gatekeepers. The first “high-stakes” tests I took were the SAT and ACT in preparation for college admissions. After many midterms and finals in ...
Stellar verbal scores on standardized tests are about shifting your perspective
Many students find the verbal sections of standardized exams hard, maybe even impossible. The source of these feelings is typically one of two mindsets: either the student believes that there is an infinite and unmanageable amount of content to cover (grammar rules, vocabulary, etc.); or, my students feel like the test and test makers are “out to ...
How to tackle nerves on the ACT
So you’ve decided to take the ACT! As an experience tutor of this test, one common pattern I see in my students is a fear of taking the exam. After all, for many people, this is the first large standardized test they’ve ever encountered. Although it might seem daunting, with some hard work, the test can be manageable. Here are some tips to help ...
The Standardized Test Super Power
If I could give my students just one superpower—besides magically knowing all the right answers—it would be knowing the meaning of every word on their test. Be it the SAT, GRE or LSAT, vocabulary is perhaps one of the most underrated skills, underestimated both in its usefulness and its attainability. Anyone who claims to be a good test taker or ...
Don't fear the Splice! Mastering ACT English's "gotcha" questions
Comma Splices: The word “splice” connotes something almost foreign. First off, we don’t see it very often. And when we do, it’s usually in the context of a horror movie, or an English class. Same difference, right? Well, actually comma splices aren’t that tricky. They’re one of the most basic and frequent errors that a writer can make—and, ...
Tips for studying effectively for the SAT and ACT
It can be overwhelming to think about studying for the SAT or ACT. Where do you even start? In this post, I’ll outline a few key strategies to guide you through your test preparation.
The ACT Reading Test: Understanding (and moving up) its Bell Curve
In the seven years I have been instructing the ACT and SAT, I have heard many parents express the opinion that standardized tests are not a reflection of an individual student’s intellectual or academic abilities, but are rather a reflection of his or her test-taking prowess. I think there is some validity to this perspective, especially within ...
3 Ways to Empathize with the Writers of Standardized Tests for Exam Day Success
Hey everyone -- I'm Zack, an experienced GMAT and SAT tutor at Cambridge Coaching. I'm excited to use it to share some key tips with you about making the most of your standardized testing experience. Here are 3 key tips that I have for you that apply for almost any standardized exam, whether it's SAT, GMAT, or whatever else you might be studying.
The #1 strategy when approaching the ACT Science section
The Science section of the ACT is often the section that kids find the most frustrating before they prep. It always comes down to one simple issue. How can you read 6-7 studies, analyze their respective graphs, and answer 40 questions all in just 40 minutes?
SAT or ACT? An Opinion Article From a Standardized Test Prep Expert
One of the questions I am asked most is why do I recommend prepping for the ACT over the SAT (particularly when the baseline scores for the SAT seem stronger)? Simply put: ACT questions are easier and the format is as well.
7 essential tips for ANY standardized test
Whether you’re applying to college, graduate school, law school, medical school, or even some jobs, standardized tests are often part of the process. They can be intimidating, long, arduous, and confusing, but with some practice, you’ll learn how to overcome any test-taking anxiety and stay focused. Here are a few tips and tricks for going into a ...
How Test Prep Works (and doesn’t work): A primer for mainland Chinese parents and students
The American education system and the Chinese education systems are structured in very different ways, and the standardized tests which are used to evaluate college applicants reflect those differences. If the Gaokao is a test (of memorized knowledge), then tests like the SAT and ACT are best labeled evaluations (of broad fundamental abilities). ...
The top strategy for the math section of the SAT and ACT
Complicated algebra is the last thing many students want to deal with on a high-stakes test like the SAT or ACT. Yet it seems like there is no way around it, with the alphabet soup of variables scattered throughout the exam. Thankfully, there is a strategy for those problems where your algebraic manipulations are leading nowhere. It’s called ...
What I Learned When I Retook the ACT and SAT
My blog posts usually focus on the content of the ACT and SAT: what information is on the tests, how to think strategically about taking the tests, and how to maximize your score. This month, I decided to take a step back from the details and look at the bigger picture, so I sat down and took practice ACT and SAT tests, back to back. I realized a ...
A quick list of ACT literary devices
Welcome back to my SAT/ACT reading section blog. The topic for today: literary devices. These terms come up infrequently but often enough that it’s worth giving them a look over before the test to be sure that you have them down. If they come up, you can get another question right, and if they don’t, you can save what you learned for a future SAT ...
Tips for getting a perfect score on a standardized math test
SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, GRE. What do these acronyms all have in common? Well, they’re all standardized tests, but more importantly, they all have multiple-choice math test sections. Despite whether or not they’re accurate indicators of student performance in the classroom, lab, or office, they are all essential for entry into some educational career ...
How to Strengthen Your Reading Sections on the SAT and ACT Test
Welcome back to another blog post about the SAT and ACT tests! This post continues on my earlier posts on practicing reading and ACT and SAT reading questions. If you haven’t read them, be sure to circle back and check them out.
My strategy for a perfect score: ACT Reading and MCAT CARS
If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re looking to improve your reading score on either the ACT or the MCAT and ideally, you’re in one of two boats: You are consistently a few points shy of that 36 on the ACT Reading or 132 on MCAT CARS and are looking to bridge that last gap Are struggling with the reading section in general, and are looking for ...
How to Read for the SAT and ACT: Three Methods
One of the hardest sections to prepare for on the SAT and ACT is the reading section. For the other sections, like math and English, there is particular content to learn. For the reading section, however, the exam is testing how well you understand and interpret what you read. Most importantly in this section, you need to manage your time well. ...
How do I use Punctuation on the ACT and SAT Exams? Part II
College entrance tests require that you know the rules of punctuation. There’s no way around it, so let’s get right to it.
The key to selecting the right answer on the SAT & ACT: part 2
Welcome to part 2 of my post on English strategies for the SAT and ACT! If you didn’t read part 1, you can check it out here. Picture it now: you’re breezing through the ACT English Language Arts or SAT Writing and Language section. Every question come easily to you, as you follow what your ear tells you is right. You didn’t need to learn grammar ...
The Key to Selecting the Right Answer on the SAT & ACT: Part 1
Here I bring you a two-part series about methods for the English/Writing and Language sections of the ACT and SAT. Many students approach the English sections of the ACT and SAT with the mindset that they will go with whatever answer sounds right. Everyone who is taking college entrance exams already has a high aptitude in English. Isn’t this ...
How do I use punctuation on the ACT and SAT exams?
Punctuation usually comes up in questions that ask you to choose from among a collection of different pieces of punctuation. Think about the use of each punctuation mark, and find which one has the use that is needed for the particular sentence. Pro tip! Don’t forget to read the entire sentence, not just the underlined part. You need to know the ...
ACT testing tip: how to identify main and subordinate clauses
For the ACT English exam, it is essential that you can identify and, if necessary, fix problems with main and subordinate clauses. Why? Because many grammar and punctuation rules require you to recognize your main subject and main verb.
Academic Tutor: Enhancing Vocabulary and Recognition of Themes
A month back several of my ACT, SAT and PSAT tutoring students asked me to read books that they had to read for school. Why? They wanted to discuss the themes and content of the book with someone from outside of school. Secondly, they wanted to learn to apply the critical thinking skills they use to mine such content and themes in their ...
Do Top Colleges Care If Students Take Both the ACT and SAT?
Do top colleges care if students take both the ACT/SAT? Do colleges have a preference for one of the tests over the other (i.e. Do some schools prefer the ACT, while others prefer the SAT?) Will an applicant who has taken both the ACT and SAT be favored over one who has only taken one of the exams? Different answers and opinions were revealed to ...
Pattern Recognition and the ACT English Section: ACT Tutor
In this blog, I am going to do a quick and deep dive into the structure, content and mechanics of the ACT English section. I will also share some key verbal tips for standardized test preparation. This section comes first if you are taking the ACT without the Writing portion; conversely, if you do take the Writing portion, the English section is ...
ACT Tutoring: Anatomy of the Science Reasoning Section
To improve anything, whether that thing is a test or an academic subject, the first necessary step is to understand the structure of that thing. By understanding the framework in which a subject is organized we help our mind take in information. In particular, for test taking, the better we can take in information the more efficient and accurate ...
Standardized Test Preparation: Essay Writing on the SAT or ACT
Now that the standardized tests are increasingly adding writing section to the exam, some students may feel nervous at the thoughts of writing a complete essay in 25 minutes! As you complete your standardized test preparation, you've probably noticed that timing/pacing/strategy are key to every section of the test. Essays are no different.
Is Cramming a Legitimate way to ace the ACT or SAT?
First of all, like most things there is not a one size fits all answer. Therefore, my general answer is that while I don’t recommend cramming given good planning and ample time to prepare, if you or your child have waited until the last minute or have just become aware of the importance of an exam such as the SAT or ACT, then by all means CRAM!
ACT Tutor Tips: Prep Materials for the ACT
If you have decided to take the ACT, read these pointers on the best test prep books and materials out there to aid your standardized test preparation. Materials, Materials, Materials
4 Musts and One Maybe from an ACT Tutor
Today, I wanted to give you a primer on everything ACT. At the least I want you to leave knowledgeable about the structure, content and scoring of this former ‘test of the Midwest’ so you can make the most of your ACT preparation. The ACT has four mandatory sections and one optional section. The four mandatory sections are English, Mathematics, ...
Standardized Test Preparation as a Conduit to Enhanced Metacognition
What is metacognition you may say (unless you have been exposed to the growing literature and popularity of this word in recent years)? Metacognition, at its most basic can be described as knowing how you think.
Part 1: Should I Take the ACT or SAT?
“Should I take the ACT or SAT?” is a question that many high schoolers from coast to coast find themselves asking each year. Several years ago this may not have been the case depending upon where someone attended high school. Traditionally, students on the East and West Coasts primarily took the SAT, either because that is all they knew, they had ...
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