These are some of my most valuable tips and strategies.  When teens begin practice (testing) at least 6 weeks prior to taking an SAT or ACT and incorporate them into their practice, they see their scores rise!

  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.
  2. Knowing the point of the reading passage helps students answer the questions with more accuracy and rapidity. The easiest way to 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.
  3. On the English (ACT) and Writing/language (SAT) grammar questions, make sure you plug each option into the ENTIRE sentence, not just the couple words before or after the underlined word(s).
  4. To ensure that you understand the reading comprehension question, flip it into a ‘w’ question. If it’s already in interrogatory format, rephrase into YOUR language. Students get questions wrong because they are more focused on the options rather than the question!
  5. The ACT essay is graded on 4 different categories ranging from 2-12. Students will receive an overall score as well. This essay involves not only persuasion but analysis of 3 short commentaries.
  6. 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.
  7. The PSAT administered in October is a 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. Your results will give a pretty true reflection of a potential (new) SAT score. (The maximum score per section is 760; SAT: 800 per section.) It is recommended that serious test preparation begin the summer before junior year.
  8. The SAT has a question which usually appears 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?”
  9. Focus on what you know, not what you don’t. For example, if you see a word in a sentence or question you don’t know cross it out and focus on all of the words you do know!
  10. 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. (Check out our Recommended Reading List.) Students should embark on incorporating daily reading into their day at least 6-8 weeks before taking the ACT or SAT to have a significant impact.

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