Cracking the Code: Things SAT and ACT test creators will never tell you

Parents and students are freaking out about the changes in the SAT test starting in March.


(NBC – Western Massachusetts)

Check out the Four Things the SAT and ACT Test Creators Will Never Tell You. Alexis Avila, Founder of Prepped & Polished, Tutoring and Test Preparation told us more.
1. You can learn to beat the test. By practicing and learning test-taking strategies (such as back solving questions on the math section or answering reading questions as you read the passage), you won’t only improve your test score, but can ace the test. Prep books for taking the ACT could be the best way to hone your knowledge and help retain helpful information. According to, “The ACT has four sections (English, Math, Reading, Science) and each of them is scored between 1 to 36. The average of these four scores is referred to as your composite score.” Prep Books are reviewed and available on their site so go ahead and check them out.
I had a student who practiced SAT problems each day, got tutored, and took the test 5 times, and then after super scoring his results (combining his best sections from multiple sittings), he improved close to 500 points and got into Brown University.
2. The essay graders spend no more than several minutes reading and grading your essay. The SAT graders are trained to do a masterful job of glancing through hundreds of essays in a sitting. Therefore, it’s critical that you make a great first impression on the judges by taking care of the basics.

Qualities of a cosmetically appealing essay include:

-Neatness:Legible handwriting (not cramped, enough spacing between words)

–No cross-outs (erase all mistakes)

— Structure: 3 to 5 indented paragraphs (introduction, one to three supporting paragraphs, conclusion)

–Length: The longer the better (minimum 1.5 pages. In general, scores decrease as the length decreases)
3. The SAT is probably a harder test than the ACT test.

   For years, students have come to my office to take my Test Prep Selector Practice Test which is an ACT SAT Hybrid Test comparing your ACT score to your SAT, and find that the majority of students do better on their ACT sections than on SAT sections. Why is that? The ACT is a more straightforward, less trickily worded exam; with fewer answer choices, no guessing penalty, and best overlaps with the school curriculum.

   The SAT, which is getting redesigned starting March 2016 is trying desperately to look more like the ACT. The SAT got rid of the guessing penalty, there are fewer answer choices, and made the essay optional, but still the SAT exam questions look harder than ACT questions! So when applying for colleges, consider taking the ACT.
  By the way the typical 2016 college student will graduate with $35 thousand in debt.

America’s growing student-loan-debt crisis


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