The following are key strategies and insights that can be applied to the ACT and SAT – current or new. Share them with your teen. Don’t hesitate to contact me if there are any questions or if you would like me to elaborate on any of the tips. (If not indicated, the strategy discussed will apply to all three exams).
I am excited to be working with my colleague, Paul Rivas, who will be offering his extremely popular and highly effective Study Skills Boot Camp for High School Students at the Breakthrough Test Prep center. Class size is limited to 4 students so let me know if you are interested as soon as possible. Get the details following the 10 strategies and insights below.
  1. Studies have shown that students who engage in leisure reading for at least 15 minutes a day not only do better in school, but score higher on any standardized test.
  1. When you’re down to 2 options on the critical reading, make sure you read each option with the question. This usually will provide you with the clarity and focus you need to hone in on the better answer.
  1. Knowing the point of the reading passage helps students answer the questions with more accuracy and rapidity. The easiest way to do have that happen: Read the first sentence of each paragraph as well as the very last sentence. Then create a title based on that information.
  1. Current SAT: On the sentence completion question, make sure you plug in your choice(s). Information is revealed from context that is not known unless you plug in.
  1. Current SAT: Remember you are penalized a quarter point for every incorrect answer. That said, if your aiming to (realistically!) score 680+ in the critical reading, guess out of two; those aiming lower SKIP!  (Not sure what a ‘realistic’ goal is for your teens skill  level?  We can help you there!)
  1. The ACT essay has a new format introduced the September 12 administration. It will be graded based on 4 different categories. This essay involves not only persuasion but analysis of 3 short commentaries. The score will be 1-36 as the multiple choice is.
  1. ACT and new SAT: There is NO penalty for an incorrect answer. That said, never skip a question. Find a your constant ‘guess letter’ and use it whenever you know you are guessing.
  1. The PSAT just administered in October is mirror image of the new SAT. In fact, 2 of the 4 multiple choice sections – writing/language and no-calculator math – have the exact same number of questions. That said, your results will give a pretty true reflection of a potential (new) SAT score.
  1. The redesigned SAT has a very common question which can appear at least twice per passage, “Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question”. Many students who read this question seem to ‘get lost in the weeds’, so rephrase it as, “Which lines in the passage told you the answer to the previous question?”
  1. Focus on what you know, not what you don’t. For example, if you see a word in a sentence you don’t know cross it out and focus on all of the words you do know!



Your high school experience is only as good as your study habits. Be the student who’s super on top of it! Learn the study skills you need to get high grades fast so you can hang out with your friends, do fun stuff, and prepare to make the most of your college experience.

Study Skills Boot Camp students will learn how to actually learn by planning ahead, doing their schoolwork in the most efficient way possible, and reviewing course material regularly so that they never have to “study”.

Study Skills Boot Camp is a six-hour course designed to help high school students earn better grades in less time, covering:

·         Academic Personality Assessment

·         Time Management

·         Note-taking

·         Reading Difficult Material

·         Studying Effectively

·         Multiple Choice vs. Essay vs. Math/Science Exams

·         Writing Papers

Date: February 6 and 13 or February 21 and 28, 11am-2pm

Tuition: $597

Study Skills Boot Camp will be led by Paul Rivas, of Smith Rivas Academic Coaching and Consulting (, who  passed four AP tests, took 13 college classes in high school, and worked 20 hours per week as a senior. He got a full academic scholarship to UC Santa Barbara, where he triple majored in Math, Sociology, and Spanish, studied abroad, and worked 15-50 hours per week.

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