GET READY FOR THE SAT & ACT
I have guided both international (including ESL students) and U.S. students through over 50 official SAT exams and 30 ACT exams over the past seven years. This means that I am experienced with a variety of student profiles, exam questions prior to 2016 when the SAT was scored on the 2400-level, the recent decision to implement computer-based ACT testing rather than paper-testing overseas, and results concluding in how college admissions teams factor your standardized test score (or scores) into their final admissions decisions.
As a one-on-one tutor for more than 400 students, I have noticed three important factors in maximizing successful preparation:
Realistic test questions
Proper time management
Understanding both correct and incorrect answer explanations
While some of my students score in the top percentile on the SAT, 95% of my students achieve above-average score gains from their initial practice tests with more than 100-point gains on the SAT and 4 additional points on their composite score on the ACT.
However, not all students are great test-takers. Even so, students who are initially below average scorers due to language and/or content difficulty have passed the national average and benchmarks. We rely on my experience with diverse types of students, and guidance with test-optional schools both in the U.S. and abroad to still access opportunities in higher education, taking into account that the right college fit should not always define you by your test scores.
Colleges and universities do not prefer the ACT over the SAT, or vice-versa—they are two large test companies that are popular depending on the region where you live. While there are some benefits to taking one exam over the other, I strongly recommend you take the exam you feel is best for you. Begin trying out some of the practice questions for each exam. Then, as there are only six exam dates offered for each exam internationally, look at your calendar and decide when works best for you. Plan on 10-12 weeks of serious dedication to your test preparation before your chosen exam date.
I hold a 10-12 week course before every SAT and ACT to help you plan out your practice and make your test preparation effective. We focus on understanding both correct and incorrect answer explanations to the 154 questions that are currently on every SAT and 215 questions on every ACT. Write or call me if you’d like to work one-on-one toward the best your best standardized score.
These are my top resources to maximize your SAT score. Note: I own and have worked through all of the books that I recommend below—that’s tens of thousands of practice exercises and explanations, my friends. I am always open to book recommendations, so please write me if you have a suggestion.
SAT Practice Test Questions – Online practice questions great for warm-up and directly from College Board, the company who creates SAT questions.
Khan Academy SAT Practice. To be used in conjunction with College Board Exams (including the 8 Test Book & all available QAS exams).
QAS Exams. While I can’t endorse these exams on my website, find copies on a Google search such as this one.
Magoosh SAT test prep
An excellent self-paced online platform for students in all score ranges. Magoosh provides both text and video explanations to questions and review of key concepts. Increase your score by 100 points or your money back! My students who have used this program effectively when retaking the SAT have experienced fantastic score increases and greater insight into the exam’s questions and answers.
Alternatively, these exams can be downloaded/printed here. Strongly recommended as the top resource for exam preparation. Stick to the most recent exams—Tests #5 through 10—if you’re short on time.
Recommended for students scoring already at the 600-level in Math and seeking a perfect score.
Run out of writing practice? These are your go-tos. Great explanations of grammar rules too.
Recommended for students scoring at the 500-level in Math and seeking a 600-800.
My students have loved this book. For 550+ scorers
Walk through answer explanations of the first four College Board exams with this easy-to-read guide.
Use this resource in conjunction with the College Board exams.
My former mentee Nicolle S, dos Santos in Brazil created this wonderfully helpful eBook as she prepared for her SAT. The math questions from the first four official SAT exams are categorized by type, which is extremely helpful to build your knowledge by concept. Obrigada, Nicolle!
Basics about the SAT:
What’s a good SAT score? Understand your SAT score by informing yourself about Score Percentiles.
Be sure to receive your answers to the SAT through the QAS service. Note: only offered in May for international test-takers.
While there are many ACT Resources available for purchase, I highly recommend primarily taking advantage of the material ACT.org offers, the creators of the ACT. Also, most of the information from the SAT overlaps in content, so you can use most of the resources for your SAT review to supplement your ACT review.
ACT International Computer-Based Practice Test Questions (free). Try timed and untimed questions from the creators of the ACT.
ACT ® Prep in Just 20 Minutes a Day with Magoosh
An excellent self-paced online platform for students in all score ranges. Magoosh provides both text and video explanations to questions and review of key concepts. Increase your score by 4 points or your money back! My students who have used this program effectively when retaking the ACT have experienced fantastic score increases and greater insight into the exam’s questions and answers.
Basics About the ACT
The SAT and ACT in the News:
“UC violates civil rights of disadvantaged students by requiring SAT for admission, lawsuits say,” Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2019.
SAT-Only Admission: How Would It Change College Campuses? Georgetown University, 2019.
“ACT Change Will Allow Students to Retake Individual Sections,” The New York Times, October 8, 2019.
“SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2019.
“An account of exactly how students cheated on SAT in Asia,” Washington Post, October 30, 2014.
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