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Almost every college or university requires students to submit an ACT or SAT score.  This score affects not only your admission application but also scholarship opportunities and which classes you will be able to enroll in.  The vast majority of students do little to no preparation work before taking these exams.  They may feel that all their hard work in high school should have prepared them already.  Although this is partially true, it is actually quite easy to raise your score a large amount by just putting in a little bit more work.  Students can see composite ACT scores raise 5 or more points and SAT scores raise 300 or more points.  Why is this?   1)  Both the ACT and SAT test many of the same concepts repeatedly and by learning these core concepts, you will easily get a higher score.     2)  You will get more familiar with the format of the test and start to see patterns in how they ask questions.  Once... read more

During the school year, my students balance classes, sports, social lives, and sleep. Their schedules are hectic. During tutoring lessons, students often only have time to focus on the immediate assignments at hand in their classes. We usually have little time for test prep unless the student and parent has specifically requested that we focus solely on the SAT or ACT. So, when is the best time to study for the SAT or ACT? You guessed it. Summer vacation.    Many of my students have a summer schedule that gives their school year calendar a run for it's money. However, their busy summers do not contain nearly as many academic activities as their school year schedules. Most have summer sports, camp, or jobs. This is the perfect time to balance those physical and social activities with test prep. In addition, students can learn the ropes of the SAT or ACT better when they are not juggling other classes and tests. Every kind of standardized test is unique and it takes... read more

There are many great texts, blog posts and other resources to help students prepare for the SAT, ACT and similar examinations. For my own part, when working with a student who is trying to prepare for a test of this nature, we approach the battle from two fronts; test-taking strategy and subject skill.   The first thing to do -- and this should be done at least a year in advance -- is to visit the website of whichever test one is taking and learn about the test, itself. The testing organization sites contain important information about the test content, sample questions, as well as general advice for successful testing. Many either contain or at least link to complete (and free) practice tests.   When preparing for a test of nearly any kind, the preparation should mimic -- and, if possible, exceed the difficulty of -- the anticipated test. Time yourself strictly, working through sample tests with realistic questions. That is, do the practice sessions as if... read more

To everyone out there in WyzAnt Land,   I've been doing SAT/ACT test prep for many years, and I've developed some techniques that are helping my students increase their scores by an average of 30%. I've done research and found that these techniques are supported by studies done by neuroscientists. They are also unique, in that I've not been able to find them in any other SAT/ACT study guide or help book on the market, so I've written my own book.   Now the fun part begins. I've published magazine articles, but I've never published a book before now. There are a ton of options out there, so my question is, have any of you published a nonfiction book? If so, what would you recommend regarding self-publishing versus traditional publishing (or something in between)? Can you share any experiences that will keep me out of trouble?   I would very much appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks!

I have been involved education as long as I can remember. My parents were educators. They helped start a school, were on the board of another, and were founding board members of the North Dakota Home School Association. I started teaching at the age of thirteen, as a volunteer. I have taught professionally, for over fourteen years. I have coached soccer. I co-founded a school and taught a wide array of subjects there for three years, including Latin, Rhetoric, General Science, and History. For nearly twelve years, I have been an education consultant, tutor, and mentor. I am prepared to tutor students in all subjects through high school, and I am well-versed in ACT and SAT preparation. I also do some college-level tutoring, particularly in English, Writing, Study Skills, and other humanities-related subjects. Feel free to ask for more details. I tutor adult students in a variety of subjects, and I have also had success in the past working with students who have a variety of... read more

Back in the day, where you wanted to go to college dictated which standardized test you took. Colleges in the midwest generally required the ACT, while those on the coasts wanted the SAT. These days, the score conversions are commonplace enough that most colleges will accept either one. So how do you choose which one to take? Well, there are a few differences to keep in mind. Format Most of the differences between the tests are matters of format. The SAT is comprised of ten sections ranging from 12 to 35 minutes each. The sections alternate between reading comprehension, math, and writing, and the whole test begins with a 25-minute timed essay. One of the ten sections is an “experimental” section, which is not scored as part of your test and is a chance for the test-makers to try out new ideas on a group of students. The ACT, in contrast, is four 75-minute sections, one for each subject. The ACT does not include an essay, but it does include a “science” section (which... read more

A few good questions and thoughtful answers can make tutoring an actual learning process. This is substantially different from cramming sessions, emergency sessions to pass a class and homework 'completion'. I ask parents and students (where it is age/capacity appropriate) to explain their goals and expected outcomes. This question serves three significant purposes for the student and myself. (1) Is the student interested in learning or in getting by? (2) Does the student have commitment/perseverance or are they looking for an easy out? (3) Setting realistic expectations for outcomes. If the student is not interested in learning and will not be committed, I am not the correct tutor for the job. There are tutors who specialize in cram sessions. Setting expectations appropriately prevents surprises from happening to ardent wishes. An example of expectation setting is explaining to parents the following examples and being clear on this information: (http://talk... read more

Schedule for ACT Crash Course: Lesson 1: Test Basics, ACT Reading Strategies Lesson 2: ACT Reading Question Types Lesson 3: Difficult ACT Reading Passages Lesson 4: Punctuation and Sentence Structure Errors (Basics, Commas, Apostrophes, Run-Ons) Lesson 5: Grammar Errors (Verb, Pronoun, Modifier, Comparison, Coordination) Lesson 6: Rhetorical Skills (Strategy, Organization, Style) and Essay ACT English/Reading Basics: Scored out of 36   Reading Section: (35 minutes) 40 Questions 4 Passages Prose Natural Science Humanities Social Studies English Section: (45 Minutes) 75 Questions Usage/Mechanics Punctuation 13% Grammar/Usage 16% Sentence Structure 24% Rhetorical Skills Rhetorical Strategy 16% Rhetorical Organization 15% Rhetorical Style 16% Writing Section: (30 minutes) 1 essay prompt Scored out of 12 and combined with English score 1 point given for each... read more

It's the fall season, which means students are back in school! Don't let the rush of new classes and uniting with friends stop you from preparing for upcoming college entrance exams. Seniors, this is your last chance to improve your scores if you want to start college next fall, and, Juniors, get a jump start on some awesome scores with test prep tutoring and at-home practice tests.     Helpful Hint: Set aside 10 - 15 minutes a day for SAT and ACT words and definition quizzes -- it will pay off in a big way!

It's time to look ahead and plan your weekends.  You can still register for the September test this week.  This information is found on the ACT website.  Do you need a course of study to get ready for the ACT?  I offer personalized study plans to motivated students, so that you can get going the right direction, on your timeline, even if you decide not to use a tutor.   Test Date: September 13, 2014 Registration Deadline:  August 8, 2014 (Late Fee Required):  August 9–22, 2014   Test Date: October 25, 2014 Registration Deadline: September 19, 2014 (Late Fee Required): September 20–October 3, 2014   Test Date: December 13, 2014 Registration Deadline: November 7, 2014 (Late Fee Required): November 8–21, 2014   Test Date: February 7, 2015* Registration Deadline: January 9, 2015 (Late Fee Required): January 10–16, 2015   Test Date: April 18, 2015 Registration... read more

You can take a free ACT test through this link: http://www.4tests.com/exams/examdetail.asp?eid=13.   It is very good to understand your starting point, and only then to make the decision if you need a tutor or not, and for which of the modules.   You may take this free test and score badly - don't be discouraged! Scoring low may be because of the time pressure (to respond very quickly) or because of anxiety on taking tests.   When you take the test you can learn about what's in the way of getting a high score that will get you into your dream college: - is it test anxiety and skills to take a test? - is it that you can respond correctly but you need more time?  - is it that you don't know how to respond to bunches of questions? Then identify if it's geometry or algebra or grammar, or what is it you need help with.   You can now see how much info you can get from taking a test at home! And if you did well, congratulations,... read more

Summer is the best time to start studying for college/career entrance exams. Since there is no school and homework, you will not feel overwhelmed when it is time to study. Studying for just an hour a day, 5 days a week, will increase your chances of getting a higher score and you will still have time to enjoy the summer. Alternate subjects weekly. Familiarize yourself with all the subjects on the test. Purchase a test preparation book to get question examples. By the end of the summer, you should have done every problem in the book, including the practice exams. If you need additional help, ask your tutor. Study with others. You will be more motivated to study this summer if you are involved in a study group. Find students that are taking the same exam. Ask your tutor to for a group study session. Knowing that there are other students with the same goal as you can help your study sessions be less stressful. Know your calculator. If a calculator is permitted... read more

Should I take the ACT or SAT? The quick answer is that there is no universal answer. Students should take the test on which they score higher. For many years, I had to assure parents that the school their child was considering actually did accept the ACT. I had to send parents to admissions websites where the clear black letters explained that “either ACT or SAT scores are acceptable” and even then, these same parents were cowed by the received wisdom of other parents, who heard from someone’s grandpa’s uncle’s sister who 5 years ago worked in admissions at Dartmouth, you know, that they preferred the SAT. How much things have changed. Now some students are hearing from the student grapevine that the ACT is not just a better test, but the preferred one. Again, we have to step in to intervene. We understand why there may have been this swing. ACT has worked hard for years to overtake the SAT, and in 2012, they did. Awareness of the ACT test has crested, and now... read more

The “silly mistake” is quite possibly the most mischievous and irksome of the math demons. It is a sly beast that lurks in the deepest recesses of your mind, emerging only periodically to sully your scores in a most disturbing way. Because of its crafty nature, it is able to lull you into the false belief that your thorough understanding of mathematic concepts will keep you safe from its clutches. But, as I’m sure you know, “silly mistakes” afflict even the most soundly prepared students. What exactly constitutes a “silly mistake?” Here are some common examples for standardized tests: Misreading the question (or failing to read the entire instructions) Filling in the wrong bubble on your answer sheet Making a slight arithmetic error Incorrectly copying down the original problem Turning a negative number into a positive number (or vice versa) I don’t care who you are, what your educational background is, or where you go to school… you have been... read more

ACT Prep - The Friday Before Test Day For those of you taking the ACT in the next couple days, your fastidious and dedicated preparation routine is coming to an end. Whether you studied five hours a day for three months, two hours a day for one month, or merely crammed the last week and a half, it doesn’t matter anymore. All of that is immaterial now. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale. Release any lingering rumination about what you could have done, should have done, or might have altered within your study routine. Let. It. Go. It’s nearly game time, and the only thing left for you to do is get yourself ready for the big test. Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of students preparing for both the SAT and the ACT. For some reason, I routinely encounter students possessed by the urge to study relentlessly the day before the test. This is NOT advisable for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the likelihood that you will absorb anything of value... read more

Having worked with hundreds of test-takers on standardized exams over the years, I have tutored students of all abilities and levels of commitment to their studies. Most students want to know how many hours of tutoring are necessary to achieve the results they desire. While there is no single number of hours uniformly required for all students, for all exams, I do recommend as a rule of thumb that you spend as many hours working on your own as you have spent working with your tutor. To maximize the benefit of working with a tutor for a standardized test, it is necessary to implement, and then practice, the strategies you've learned on your own. Ideally, a student matches the time spent studying independently hour for hour with the time spent tutoring (similarly, university courses typically advise a minimum of one hour of study for every hour spent in class). It is to your advantage to meet with your tutor frequently, and early, enough that the tools you acquire to succeed on your... read more

Hey folks,  I am sure many of you have plans of going to college or finishing up that last hectic year of school.  Well with these endeavors comes not only tests and quizzes created by books and your professors/teachers, but you also have to take nation and statewide test in order to pass and/or qualify for a position in a higher learning institute.  Such tests include the SAT, ACT, MCAT, etc.  What you want to remember about taking these tests is that these tests are testing you ability to locate small mistakes and easy to miss information.  They also want you to understand this material.  You have to be prepared for these easy to miss situations.  For example, I am sure you all have done a math question, felt like you did it perfectly correct only to find out that you actually got it incorrect.  Furthermore, the answer you got appeared as one of the answer choices!  Or you were on the right track to answering correctly, but made a simple... read more

The following article takes well known anecdotal evidence and makes it much more real - as if it were a punch to the stomach or whack to the head. Do not let it intimidate you in the least. http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/why-your-sat-score-says-more-about-your-parents-than-about-you/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost The issue is not about the money…..and this is the key point! It is not the actual tangible money - it is the BEHAVIOR of how people think and what they do which makes the largest difference. The issue is about EXPOSURE. Money can allow for wealthy families to have their children gain MORE EXPOSURE OVER LONGER PERIODS OF TIME to the material within the SAT and ACT. In reality, anyone can gain more exposure over longer periods of time. The idea of last minute test prep and cramming for these exams is where most families have it all wrong - even those with money. It is about the number of times... read more

For anyone that is preparing or thinking about preparing for one of the standardized 'high stakes' tests (you know which ones) -- the SAT, GRE, GMAT, ISEE, SSAT, and so on -- there's something you really should know about test development.   But first consider this. Wouldn't it be sensible for tests to discover what your strengths are and what you do well in?  Of course! But who said these tests or the test developers are sensible?  In fact, why should they be?  Here are two things test developers don't want you to know   1) Test developers usually (meaning not EVERY test is created this way, although most are) try to trick students into providing the wrong answer. Huh?    2) Standardized tests are intentionally designed so that many or even most students will not complete them within the given time limit.   Now why would these nice testing companies engage in these practices?  Select the best choice... read more

Yes, test stress is definitely an issue, and I don't want to be accused of adding to it.  However, in the spirit of cold, hard reality, this article from the Wall Street Journal on use of SAT scores by employers deserves some attention.  Whether you agree with this or not (and the HR department at Google has clearly decided to disagree, for example), there are still many big corporate employers who use the SAT as a convenient proxy for an IQ test, which relatively few Americans have ever taken.  Whether IQ is a good predictor of job performance is a whole other mess that you can put in a college essay if you've researched it, but which you really can't do anything about as a high schooler (or parent of one, unless you're also a Ph.D-level researcher in psychology or management science).   That said, when you break it down, the SAT has a lot in common with an IQ test, and that's worth knowing.  It's best not to really think about it as a test of... read more

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