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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

I generally start by examining the kinds of questions a student missed on the PSAT, and we make a plan based on the SAT or PSAT score report. I usually need to teach lessons on the most common grammatical concepts covered by the test: subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, misplaced and dangling modifiers, parallel structure, and pronoun case. These five skills probably account for half of the most-missed writing questions. We practice and drill - the only way to get better at something is to keep doing it! For the critical reading questions, I like to have older students do passages from the Advanced Placement exams; they are similar in format to the SAT passages and have slightly more challenging questions. Questions on the SAT are categorized as easy, medium, or difficult, and students generally don't have trouble with the easy ones! Practicing with difficult questions makes them feel more confident on test day. We’ll also examine... 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

When beginning to tutor a student preparing for the SAT, there are a couple steps that will lead to greater student success than just working through practice problems.   1. Explain what types of questions will be asked on the exam The SAT is an exam that works by using the same certain types of questions. For example, in the Reading section there will be types of questions that focus on the main idea of a passage or others that ask the reader to compare and contrast two shorter paragraphs. Getting your student familiar with the types of questions that will be used on the exam is a very effective way to practice and avoid any test-day surprises.   2. Identify which questions your student struggles with the most Once you cover what types of common questions are on the exam, you can determine which your student finds the easiest and which need some work. It isn’t helpful to study questions that aren’t difficult for your student, so find the types of... read more

1. Repeating themselves.    In high school (and sometime beyond) there are unhelpful rules from teachers relating to number of paragraphs, minimum lines per paragraph, and number of quotes per paragraph. Page length, word count, and more fit under this heading as well. Too many times I've seen students try to say the same thing in a different way in order to puff up their writing to hit a word count. It's easier to just think some more about the subject matter!   2. Trying to sound academic (or something).    Many a time I'll talk to a student and ask their opinion about some topic or relevant subject. They'll explain themselves clearly and concisely, and sometimes even with some with and humor. Then, when it's time to write, they start saying things like: "This subject is truly fascinating, as I believe that it is truly relevant for children in our society to become educated about many of these diverse and sundry topics".... read more

ANSWER KEY 1. B 2. D 3. C 4. A 5. B 6. C 7. D 8. B Q1 is an Attitude/Tone Question Q2 is a Vocab.-in-Context Question Q3 is a Purpose Question Q4 is a Detail Question Q5 is a Vocab.-in-Context Question Q6 is a Suggest/Infer/Imply/Agree Question Q7 is a Suggest/Infer/Imply/Agree Question Q8 is a Detail Question

1. The author’s tone can best be described as: (A) Indifferent (B) Triumphant (C) Skeptical (D) Dismissive 2. As used in line 6, “blasphemous” most nearly means: (A) Someone who is deeply religious & a devoted follower (B) An individual who is highly respectable (C) Cheap and abusive (D) Someone who does not show reverence or respect for the holy or sacred 3. The author mentions “Costello, Lennon, Can, & the Cure” (lines 25-26) in order to: (A) Diminish the importance of They Want my Soul (B) Assert that Spoon will never be as great a band as these. (C) Give the reader a reference for the album’s sound. (D) Illustrate a contrast 4. According to the author, They Want My Soul is: (A) Better than Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight, & Transference (B) Trying too hard to be something it’s not (C) Highbrow, and therefore too difficult to understand and enjoy (D) A bitter... read more

Here is the body of the Pitchfork article, copied and pasted from: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/19514-spoon-they-want-my-soul/   Spoon They Want My Soul Loma Vista; 2014 By Ryan Dombal ; August 4, 2014 8.6 BEST NEW MUSIC All these soulsuckers, they're among us. They're stealing our privacy, our convictions, the very essence of our being, and leaving behind little more than a "for sale" sign and some vague, constant hollowness. In music, a dwindling whirlpool of funds only spurs on these parasites as they scavenge 5 for scraps of humanity wherever ears can hear. Their thirst is real. And artists—those blasphemous and holy conduits for truth, liberty, and whatever else is missing from our lives—can't help but succumb. To last more than 20 years in rock'n'roll without sacrificing a lethal amount of one's soul requires a certain vigilance; to navigate around the pitfalls of  10 both punk and ambition... read more

In all of my lessons, I like to ask my students about their interests, and then I tailor the lessons to them! Yesterday my student and I went over Princeton Review's "5 types of Reading Comprehension Questions." These are: 1. Detail, 2.Purpose, 3. Suggest/Infer/Imply/Agree, 4. Vocabulary-in-Context, and 5. Tone/Attitude. We did one of the drills from the book, but I didn't think it would be sufficient practice. Since this particular student loves music, I copied and pasted a music review from Pitchfork.com into a Word document, then wrote my own SAT Prep questions! It went over well; the student said that it was a good exercise because it actually held his interest. He's not a big reader in general, but music reviews are something that he "actually likes to read." So, if you have a student who really loves music, then here's a copy of the Pitchfork article and my questions!   ~Bethany G.

Some basic tips for students preparing for the SAT exams.    If your goal is to score high on the exams (and who doesn't want to score high) then you must start preparing early and spend the time. The preparation must be organized into a daily study schedule with a detailed list of tasks. A high score on the SAT translates directly into money in your financial aid package in college.   How to organize the preparation: 1. Study time should be scheduled for the time when you are most alert. For most people, this is the morning hours and it is entirely possible to study an hour before the start of the school day - if you go to sleep early. 2. Cut back or eliminate other social activities to properly prepare for the SAT 3. Purchase a preparatory book (used from Amazon is ideal) and use that book to organize a daily schedule for studying 4. Read printed material that you DON'T like - especially newspapers like the New York Times, Washington...

1. Encourage students to read the newspaper daily-If you meet once a week, assign 2-3 articles from a difficult paper.   2. Rather than memorizing thousands of vocabulary words on index cards, re-teach the basics[I.E. the root word, pre-fix, suffix, etc.]. Many of the level five questions include difficult vocabulary and this skill set will offer an alternative to guessing.   3. If you're not sure of a word, allow yourself to be vulnerable and show them that no one's perfect. Then, break down the word or phrase and walk them through your thought process. Students respect a teacher/tutor who admits that they don't know every vocabulary word on the exam.   This strategy has yielded immediate results. Of course, the student must be willing to do the work and you'd need about two weeks of focused study.   Hope this is useful.

Schedule for SAT Crash Course: Lesson 1: Test Basics, Sentence Completions (singles and doubles), Short Paragraphs Lesson 2: Long Passages (Narrative, Expository, Persuasive) Lesson 3: Double Passages, Difficult Passages, Essay Lesson 4: Grammar Basics (Voice, Parallelism, Continuity, Conciseness) Lesson 5: Verb and Pronoun Errors Lesson 6: Modifier, Comparative, Idiom, Confused Word Errors SAT English Basics Reading Section: (70 minutes) Sentence Completions 19 Questions Worth 30% Reading Passages 48 Questions Worth 70% Writing Section: (60 minutes)  Grammar: Worth 70% Identifying Sentence Errors 18 Questions Improving Sentences 25 Questions  Improving Paragraphs 6 Questions   Essay (25 minutes) Graded from 2-12 Worth 30% 1 point given for each question answered correctly. -¼ point for each question answered incorrectly. No points for unanswered questions. Tips... read more

I remember how nervous I was during every major test in my life. The SAT, AP Tests before undergraduate school. Then there was the dreaded GRE required for admission to graduate school. Fast forward: my master's degree test involved a full day of writing (with no notes or books). My doctoral exams involved a full day of writing, three times a week for one week (also with no notes or books). Talk about torture! And then there was the faculty review ... whew! But you know what? I needn't have been nervous and neither should you, because "testing" begins the minute you walk into the classroom door. If you pay attention in class, do your homework, stay focused (you can always "play" later), take good care of your mind and body -- exercise a little to relieve stress and stay healthy -- and create a peaceful environment in which to study a little bit every day during the school week, you should be able to retain information and write to the best of your... read more

Well, the new school year has started, and that means SAT test dates are fast approaching. In fact, the first one is this coming weekend. To anyone taking the SAT on Saturday, good luck! Remember to get a good night's sleep on Friday! If you are thinking about applying to college in the next few years, it might be time to schedule an SAT date! Remember, you can retake the test as many times as you need to, so don't be afraid to schedule an early date. Also, remember that the big SAT Redesign will be kicking into effect in the Spring of 2016, so if you are in the class of 2016 you may want to start your testing early, to make sure you have time to retake the current style of test and not have to relearn everything for a completely new test the following year. This semester's SAT test dates and registration deadlines are as follows: October 11th – Registration ends September 12th November 8th – Registration ends October 9th December... read more

Test anxiety can impact everyone.  However, with a few strategies, you can overcome these anxieties and excel on your next standardized assessment.   Should you guess? This is a choice you will need to make based on the assessment you are taking.  For certain tests, such as the Praxis, you are scored based only on your correct answers.  However, keep the guessing to a minimum. On the SAT, you lose 1/4 of a point for an incorrect answer, but if you leave it blank, you lose 1 point.  So guessing should be used as a last resort.  Obviously, you should not guess on too many questions. Which leads me to...   Should you omit questions? Only skip questions you find extremely difficult.  Use other strategies to help you determine if you can, in fact, answer these questions before omitting them.  However, do not spend too much time using these strategies, as time is limited.   Should you... read more

In my experience tutoring students in both essay writing and test prep, one of the most difficult and tiresome challenges for both student and tutor is vocabulary improvement.  Because the ideal way to improve one's vocabulary includes reading a variety of sources over a long period of time, the optimal strategy for vocabulary improvement is often not available to students who have a very compressed schedule in which they must improve.  Many of my students have needed to show marked improvement in vocabulary within 2 weeks to a month, due to a looming deadline, so I have had to get creative to find efficient, effective techniques in vocabulary training.   One of the most important lessons when it comes to vocabulary is that multiple approaches are key.  Students should engage with the material using as many senses as possible.  This means not only reading a word and its definition silently, but also reading them aloud, hearing them read by someone else,... read more

Practice is the key to SAT mastery. No matter what preparatory course you take, what tutor you hire, or what study guides you purchase, all of your resources are for naught if you don’t devote significant time and effort towards practice exams. Knocking out a healthy load of practice tests is particularly important for standardized exams. Why? Because standardization means that the test makers (a.k.a. the College Board) are bound by an obligatory adherence to consistency. As such, from year to year, while the precise questions vary, the core subjects and concepts are constant. Moreover, the style of questions is uniform. Translation: the more questions you see, the fewer curve balls can be hurled your way. With enough practice, you can familiarize yourself with the majority of possible question types, which will (1) improve your test taking abilities and (2) bolster your confidence come test day. Another reason why practice tests are so important is that they are... read more

Many of my students second guess themselves or tend to speculate. So I devised the Beth Cof strategy to help students eliminate wrong answers.   There are five possible answer choices on the SAT; four on the ACT. Therefore, it's crucial to be comfortable when choosing the right answer.   B stands for too broad. E stands for extreme answers. T stands for true for the passage as a whole but not for the lines in question, and H stands for half-right, half-wrong.   C stands for could be true but not enough info. O is off-topic, and F is factually true but not stated in the passage.   Students who applied this strategy tended to get the answer right. The only downside is it can be time-consuming, so don't use it for every single Critical Reading question. Be selective - and be right!

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 news broke recently that the College Board is once again changing the SAT. These new changes, scheduled to be implemented in spring 2016, represent a pretty large departure from the SAT of the past. The College Board states that this new SAT will “ask students to apply a deep understanding of the few things shown by current research to matter most for college readiness and success.” Here are the changes that will have the biggest effect on test preparation, as I see them: An Increased Focus on Evidence-Based Analysis The new SAT will place a higher priority on analysis based on evidence. In the critical reading and writing sections students will now be asked to support their answers with evidence, including citing portions of the passages. In effect, the new SAT will require students not only to know the correct answer, but to be able to explain why the answer is correct, and point to specific evidence in the passage that supports their choice. The essay will... read more

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