How to Organize Your Summer Test Prep Reply

The summertime is upon us! While every high school student deserves some rest and relaxation, it’s also the perfect time to kick your SAT and ACT prep into gear. With no academic obligations on your plate and a long runway to improve your testing performance, now is the time to start setting yourself up for college success. In this brief guide, I’ll show you exactly how to make the most of your summer and walk into the fall ready to knock these tests out of the park.

Summer Prep Tip #1: Cancel the Cramming and Covet Consistency

The most underrated ingredient in any successful test prep program is long-term effort. You can’t cram for the SAT and the ACT – they test large banks of information applied in unique ways, and they test process more than they test knowledge. If you give your brain the time to develop thick, well-developed pathways for these processes and facts, you’ll have an incredibly easy time tackling these exams.

With that in mind, your focus should be on small bits of steady, everyday effort. If you can put in 20-45 minutes a day throughout the summer, you won’t just be making things easier on yourself – you’ll also be using your brain the way it’s meant to be used. Don’t put off your prep and then try to get in eight hours on a Sunday – instead, try to focus on small, consistent study sessions on a daily basis, and feel free to split them up! If you can do twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the afternoon, you’ll be in amazing shape.

With that in mind, make sure to pick a program that allows you to study on your own schedule! Most SAT and ACT classes and tutors have somewhat restrictive scheduling limitations, which won’t allow you to optimize your summer prep. Instead, find a way to study that allows you to do small bits of work on your schedule, whenever you have the time.

Summer Prep Tip #2: Make Sure You’re Studying for the Right Test

Things in the testing world have gone topsy turvy. The PSAT is now in the New SAT format starting this fall, the SAT is going to switch in March of 2016, and the most recent versions of the current SAT have had their fair share of problems over the last few months. Fortunately for you, this makes life easier, not harder.

As far as I’m concerned, your best bet is to pursue one of these two paths:

  1. Study for the ACT, which will kill two birds with one stone. Because the New SAT is almost identical to the current ACT, by studying for the ACT, you’ll be able to knock out the ACT, the New SAT, and the New PSAT (I guess that’s three birds…).
  2. If you vastly prefer the current version of the SAT to the ACT, you should study up and take it before it changes in March.

Summer Prep Tip #3: Pick a Flexible Program

Summertime is marked by totally unpredictable schedules. You never know where you’ll be, when, or for how long. With that in mind, it’s essential that you pick a program that works wherever you happen to be, and that doesn’t rely on a set-in-stone schedule. As we already discussed, consistency is key, so choosing a program that accommodates the flexibility of your summer schedule will be essential.

Classroom courses are the worst offenders. If you have to be in a specific place at a specific time week in and week out, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. If you work with a tutor, make sure that he or she can work with you online via Skype or video conferencing software, and be sure that he or she can work on different schedules throughout the summer.

The most flexible way to prep is usually through an online course (a reason why online SAT and ACT prep programs are rapidly increasing in popularity). As long as you have a laptop with you, you can prepare whenever you find the time and wherever you happen to be. All you’ll need is the discipline to log into the program after a day at the lake or the beach (sometimes, it’s easier to study before you’ve been out in the sun all day).

No Matter What, Starting Early is Essential

No matter which program you use, and no matter which test you decide to take, the best thing you can do for your performance is to start preparing today. The longer the runway you give yourself to prepare, the less work you have to do on a daily basis, the more breathing room you have, and the more effectively your brain will be able to retain information. Even if you only put in ten minutes a day, starting now will be the smartest decision you can possibly make!

Thanks so much for reading my guide! Have a great summer, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Anthony-James Green is a world-renowned SAT and ACT tutor with over 13,000 hours of experience teaching these tests, crafting curriculum, and training other tutors to teach their own students. Business Insider recently named Anthony: “America’s Top SAT Tutor

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of or its parent company Nelnet.

The New SAT: What to Do, When, and How 1

As if the college application process wasn’t enough to worry about, the College Board has decided to layer on an entirely new complication: the announcement of the New SAT, arriving March, 2016 in school gyms near you. Fortunately, while the reasons for the launch of the New SAT are a bit complicated, the actions you should take to deal with it are not.

Before we jump in, let’s take a very quick look at the reasons why the College Board has decided to change its exam for the second time in a decade:

  1. The ACT has become more popular. The College Board is losing market share. The ACT is now taken by more students each year, and the trend away from the SAT and toward the ACT is getting steeper by the season.
  2. The SAT is now seen as the “more complicated” test. Which it is. The ACT and the SAT are both equally as difficult, but the ACT is more straightforward and As a result, the College Board is trying to craft an exam that’s much more like the current version of the ACT.
  3. People hate the current version of the SAT. Switching from 1600 to 2400 points, requiring an essay that no one reads, and disrupting the familiar format of the exam were all very unpopular moves. The new (2005) version of the test was a flop (and largely responsible for the ACT’s surge in popularity), and so the College Board is recognizing their need to change.

What’s going to change on the new test? You can find the entire list of changes here. It’s a lot to digest, so here’s an extremely brief summary:

  1. The test is going back to a 1600-point format. No more 2400-point scale – the test will go back to the familiar 1600-point scale we all know and hate, with two sections: one for math, and one for “verbal.”
  2. The essay will be optional, rather than required. Just like the ACT.
  3. Vocabulary will be less of a concern. There will still be some “in context” vocab, but for the most part, the “pure vocabulary” elements will get nixed.
  4. No more “wrong answer penalty.” Just like the ACT.
  5. More emphasis on “digesting and analyzing graphs and real-time information.” Just like the ACT.

Basically, the test as you know it is gone. For all intents and purposes, it’s going to turn into an ACT with a slightly different structure and a 1600-point grading scale.

The biggest question is this: what do you do about it?

1. If you’re taking either test before March 2016, it’s business as usual. If you want to take the SAT, take the SAT. If you want to take the ACT, take the ACT. To figure out which one you should take, use my free guide here.

2. If you’re taking your standardized tests between March 2016 and June 2016, stick with the ACT. We don’t know exactly what the new SAT will look like, or how well the College Board will roll it out, or how the grading curve will look. If you want to be a guinea pig for the College Board, then by all means – take the March, May, and June 2016 versions of the exam. Otherwise, let them work out their kinks and focus on the ACT instead. The ACT is reliable and predictable – best to stick with the devil you know.

3. After June 2016, we’ll all have a much better idea of what the new SAT looks like, acts like, and “grades” like – from there, pick whichever test works best for you. In June 2016, I’ll be launching a new, free guide to help you decide which test you should focus on.

4. If you’re planning on taking the 2015 PSAT (which will be in the “New SAT” format), study for the ACT! Currently, there aren’t enough materials out to study for the new SAT (the College Board is yet to release their guide, due in mid-June). But the New SAT will be in almost exactly the same format as the current ACT – if you prep for the ACT now, you’ll basically be killing two birds with one stone – knocking out the ACT and prepping for the PSAT. When the new PSAT materials come out this summer, you can just check those for a quick brush up and alteration before you head into the exam.

Not so bad, right? Just follow the four steps above and you’ll be all set. The New SAT is certainly a thorn in our sides, but it’s far from the end of the world. Now that you know what to do, the best piece of advice is to start prepping as soon as you possibly can! The earlier you begin this process, the sooner you’ll have it off your plate, and the more time you’ll have to improve your scores.

Anthony-James Green is world-renowned SAT and ACT tutor with over 10,000 hours of experience teaching these tests, crafting curriculum, and training other tutors to teach their own students. He is also the founder of CNN recently named Anthony: “The SAT tutor to the 1%

College Applications and Essays: Last-Minute Tips Reply

DeadlineWith deadlines past or looming, the holiday haze still hanging over most of us, and applicant stress levels nearing maximum, I thought that today’s post would be a perfect opportunity to provide some tips for those who find themselves rushing to get everything about their applications, essays included, finished and submitted within the next several days or weeks. Even if you complete your essays at the last minute, consider the following five tips before pressing the “Submit” button or sealing the envelope: More…

The Only Admissions Q&A You’ll Ever Need? * Reply

online1I’ve read a lot of advice about college admissions over the past few weeks. While most of it has been good, it’s also left me feeling like we at Peterson’s could do an even better job informing our readers about the intricacies of this complex process. So, I rounded up some application authorities to conduct an in-depth interview. Let’s meet our distinguished panel: