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AP, Subject Tests, Standardized Tests

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STRESS-FREE SAT on a Shoestring...How to get a perfect score cheaply and without Sweating it

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PSAT / NMSQT:  Pre-SAT & Scholarships













AP Tests:  Get College Credit with the Right Score





























SAT Subject Tests:  Some universities require an additional SAT subject test





ACT:  Some universities prefer the ACT over the SAT
PSAT books
AP Test books
SAT subject prep books
ACT study guides
SAT study guides

When Should I Start Studying for the SAT?

No later than the summer after 8th grade -  By the 8th grade, most students have the foundation to understand & practice many of the skills on the test.  SAT & ACT based summer enrichments improve scores, reinforce foundations & develop new skills that will both help in school and on the tests.  Many students have already taken a PSAT in 7th grade.  


When Should I Start Studying with a High Intensity?

- since the stress of school does not interfere.  The quality of SAT & ACT study is much higher in the Summer, and therefore retention and understanding are at their highest.  Minds tired from the school day do not retain and understand at the same level.Junior year should be riddled with SAT & ACT tests.  Summer is the best time to prepare Summer after 10th grade


How Often Should I Study Once I Complete Sophomore Year?

Summer:  4 - 20 hours per week

Junior School Year: 4 - 10 hours per week, increase intensity/ frequency 2-4 months before test


How Many Practice Tests Should I Take?

- Most practice manuals come with 10 practice tests.  I strongly recommend taking all 10 tests and correcting answers.  The absolute best way to practice taking a test is to really take one.  The best practice Aim for 10, minimum 3resemebles the actual event as closely as possible.  Even taking a real test is good practice.  You can take up to 10 real tests.  Also, not all tests are created equally.  You may very well find that one test more closely resembles your academic background than a test given at a different date.


When Should I Plan to be Done with All SAT & ACT Testing?

- There is usually only one SAT and one ACT offered in the Summer (usually the 1st and 2nd weeks in June).  The next tests are not offered until June (after Junior Year) year has already started (usually September).    If you are not happy with your scores by June after Junior year, you have to continue studying all summer long just to maintain your current SAT & ACT Seniorknowlege or much will be forgotten.   You will have to spend the first part of Senior year working hard to improve score.


What Study Manuals Do You Recommend?

SAT – College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide (blue cover) 

ACT – Peterson’s Real ACT Prep Guide (red cover)



Math: Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, College Algebra, Statistics


English/Writing: Editing, Rhetoric, Grammar, Punctuation, Phrase Placement, Parallelism, Avoiding Redundancy, Concise Wording, Subject-Verb Conjugation, Pronoun Usage, Active Voice, Avoiding Passive Voice


Reading: Increasing Speed, Comprehension, Retention, Maintaining Focus, Utilizing Essay & Paragraph Structure to Answer Questions, Finding Evidence, Quick Referencing


Essay Writing: Organizing Ideas, Applying Standard Essay Format, Applying Standard Paragraph Format, Providing Evidence to Back Up Thesis, Providing a Smooth Transition of Ideas, Using Active Voice & Concise Wording, Grammar, Punctuation, Clear Opening/Closing of Ideas, Staying On-Topic


Science (ACT): Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Earth Science, Astronomy, Aquatics, Technical Reading, Graphical Analysis

SAT study tips

  1. Vocabulary - More college & career-friendly words

  2. Reading - Finding evidence in the text to back up a certain position

  3. Essay - Analyzing the author's ability to build his or her argument and level of persuasion (instead of taking a side and arguing your position on a topic)

  4. Math - Focus on the most common types of math used in college & career (problem-solving, data analysis, algebra, advanced math)

  5. Evidence-Based Reading & Writing - analyzing & interpreting tables, graphs, & charts

  6. Reading, Writing & Language, Math - all sections will include History & Social Science topics

  7. Reading - includes more U.S. Founding topics such as Declaration of Independence 

  8. No Penalty for Wrong Answers


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Critical Reading Study Tips

Heavy Conversation Essays

Follow steps in order:

  1. Use pencil as you read

  2. Read Italics 

  3. Read 1st sentence of every regular paragraph 

  4. Write lines--- and brackets [  ] { } to label conversation, pay attention to indenting - every time someone else speaks, the next line has to be indented

  5. Circle or underline specific names 

  6. If you need more clarification of who is speaking, assign each character a symbol (such as an “o” or “x”) and put the symbol to the side of their words

  7. Read the entire essay

  8. Answer questions

  9. Use your lines, brackets [, circling and underlining to help you refer exactly to the right part of the passage


Main Idea Questions (all passages):

To find the main idea of a paragraph, read only the 1st and last sentences of the paragraph.  Do not read the body of the paragraph.



  1. READING: COMMAND OF EVIDENCE - determining best evidence, interpreting data/graphics, how arguement expresses evidence


  3. INFORMATION & IDEAS - comprehension of author's message, finding evidence, recognizing themes & main idea

  4. RHETORIC - how the author uses the language to convey a message

  5. SYNTHESIS - comparing mulitple texts & quantitative information

  6. WRITING & LANGUAGE: EXPRESSION OF IDEAS - interpreting data/graphics & improving structure, support & focus, editing

  7. WRITING & LANGUAGE: STANDARD ENGLISH - sentence structure, punctuation

  8. ESSAY-analyzing another author's work, leaving your own opinion out of arguement

ACT study tips

Science Section

  • 7 sections (5 minutes per section)

  • Graphs, charts, diagrams, tables most important

  • Only read the short introductory paragraph (2-5 sentences).  Read more only when the question makes you

  • Technical Reading section (all reading, no graphs available) - use the basic paragraph structure to find your answers.  Main ideas will always be in the first and last sentences of paragraph, details in the body

  • Tables - look for patterns in the numbers, ask yourself:

    • increasing?

    • decreasing? 

    • no relation?

  • Be able to plot (x,y) points using columns from different parts of a table

  • Circle all italics

  • Skip the reading about the tables; analyze the tables instead

  • Before going to the first question, spend time analyzing all the charts, graphs, tables

  • Only emphasize the reading when the question makes you 

  • Pay attention to the labels on the x-axis and y-axis:

    • As you go to the right, what increases?

    • As you go up, what increases?

    • What happens to the line as x increases?

  • Relate information from one graph to another

  • Pay attention to what is changing in the experiments, what is the variable?

  • Remember that a reliable experiment only has one changing variable and all others must be constant.  For example, if you are testing what is the best volume of water to use on corn plants, you cannot change anything else (such as amount of sunlight, quality or amount of soil, temperature)

  • Circle labels in the tables to make sure you see specifically what that table shows 

  • Remember that it does not matter if you know specifically what the chemicals, bacteria or scientific names are - be able to recognize what the data says about them


ACT Critical Reading Strategy

  • Overview (step 1)

    • Read the 1st sentence of every paragraph

    • Read the thesis (last sentence of of 1st paragraph)

    • Long paragraphs - read the 1st & last sentence of every paragraph

  • Read (step 2)

    • Underline the subject of the 1st and last sentence (to hold your focus and strengthen comprehension)

    • If you miss the subject, keep moving forward.  Going back is wasting time.

  • Write Key Word to the Side of the Paragraph (step 3)

    • After finishing a paragraph, write the 1st word that comes to your mind.  Keep it simple.  Do not waste time over-analyzing.  Use the first word that comes to mind.

    • Key words aid in retention (remembering what you read).

    • Key words direct you to the right paragraph when refering back to the passage.

  • Questions

    • Main Idea

      • Main idea of essay - introduction (especially the thesis) and conclusion paragraphs

      • Main idea of paragraph - topic sentence & conclusion sentence (do not read body of paragraph)

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