SAT and ACT Prep

A lot of juniors and sophomores are probably thinking about the upcoming SAT and ACTs.  I’m sure you have a lot of questions.

Which test is easier?

That depends.  They are very different.  Honestly, it’s hard to determine which one is easier unless you take both.  There are free practice official tests online.  Take one of each timed, score it, and see which score is better.  You can easily convert your scores here.  CollegeBoard provides free SAT exams and here are free ACT exams.

When should I take the SAT / ACT?

It depends.  Most students take these tests for the first time spring of their junior year.  However, if you’re ready – the earlier the better!  Junior year get very busy quickly.  The earlier you start thinking about these tests, the more time you will have to prepare.  I usually recommend starting studying after the 10th grade and taking the first round of tests fall of Junior year.

How many times should I take the test?

As many times as you’d like!  There is no perfect number.  If you think you can improve your score with more studying, definitely take it again.  A lot of schools offer scholarships for high SAT / ACT scores, so taking the test again might be worth your while.  Also, many school will superscore the SAT, so even if the score of one section decreases, your superscore could increase, which will improve your chances of admission and scholarships.  Superscoring means they’ll take the best sections from across all of your test dates.  Here is a list of schools that superscore the ACT and SAT.

What is a good score?

It depends on what you’re aiming for.  Different schools have different expectations.  If you Google “[college name] average sat scores” you’ll find what kind of scores you will need for admission.

Can you study for these tests?

Yes!  Definitely.  Generally, the more you study, the better you’ll do.  A combination of self-studying, getting an ACT / SAT tutor, and enrolling in a course will definitely get you prepared for these exams.  Khan Academy is a great resource too.

If you have any other questions, please comment!

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a happy holiday and New Years.  A popular resolution is to stop procrastinating.  There are many ways to do so.  One of my favorite ways to get a headstart on SAT studying is “SAT Question of the Day.”  Practice makes perfect, and with the SAT, every little bit helps.

Each day there is a new question of the day, alternating critical reading, math, and writing questions.  After you answer it, they’ll provide an explanation.  If you go on vacation and miss a couple of days, you can go to past questions.

I highly recommend this to any high school or even late middle school student who plans on taking the SAT.  CollegeBoard also has an iPhone/iPad app for the Question of the Day!

Trig Trig Trig!

Common Core Algebra II is often thought of as the hardest required high school math course. There is a lot of material to memorize. I learned this chart many years after high school. Unfortunately, the only way for remembering the sine, cosine, and tangent for 30, 45, and 60 degrees is memorization.

1. Start with sin and cos. Write 1, 2, 3 across for sin and 3, 2, 1 across for cos.
2. Put all of the numbers under 2.
3. Square root (or as I like to say, give all of the numerators a hat) all of the numerators. The 1s do not have a square root, because the square root of one is itself. Now you’re done with sin and cos!
4. Tangent is just sin/cos. To figure out the tan values, just divide each sin value by the corresponding cos value. As you can see these values are the same for 45 degrees and any number divided by itself is 1.
This chart will be very helpful for pre-calculus and calculus. On the AP Calculus AB/BC exam, you’re not allowed a calculator for half of the exam – knowing this shortcut will help tremendously.