Posts Tagged ‘ACT’

SAT Test Preparation: How to Make Educated Guesses on College Entrance Exams

So, on multiple choice tests, the right answer is always there. The obvious problem is you may not always know what that correct answer is.  But in some cases, it’s worth taking an educated guess, especially when you can limit your answer choices. Below are a few things you should know that will help you make educated guesses on the SAT and ACT.


  • On the SAT, there are penalties for wrong answers, so avoid random guessing (that is, guessing when you’re completely clueless as to what the correct answer is).
  • Educated guessing, however, is a good option. You only lose ¼ of a point of raw score for wrong answers, but you earn one full point for each right answer. So on the SAT, it’s statistically advantageous to make an educated guess if you can eliminate 1 or 2 (preferably) answers.
  • If you’re investing time on a question, it’s worth taking a risk and making an educated guess. Don’t waste time working on a problem and then not make your best guess.


  • On the ACT, there are no penalties for guessing/wrong answers, so never leave answers blank!
  • Each answer choice (A, B, C, D etc.) shows up about 20-25% of the time as the correct answer; it’s best to be consistent and designate one letter as your guessing answer.
  • As a strategy for picking your optimal guessing answer (because each answer choice does show up roughly 20-25% of the time), look at your scantron’s bubbled-in answers and choose the letter that appears the least.

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Of course, you never want guessing to be your first option. It’s always best to go into a test like the SAT and ACT as prepared as possible, equipped with strategies to help you solve problems and answer as many questions correctly as possible. But there are always those instances where we encounter tough questions that we just can’t figure out, and wasting time trying to work through them usually isn’t worth it. So in some cases, it’s certainly worth taking your best educated guess.

*For a laugh and how NOT to guess, check out this link:

If you enjoyed these suggestions, and for help being prepared with all the vocabulary you’ll need-so you don’t have to guess-CHECK OUT VOCAB VIDEOS!


College Admissions: Navigating the Common Application

During the college admissions process, it’s wise to be able to navigate the Common Application (  A good number of the colleges that you’re applying to could accept the Common App, so using it instead of filling out a school’s individual application could save you time and effort.  And when you’re almost certainly stressed out preparing for your SAT, writing your college essays, and gathering letters of recommendation—why wouldn’t you want to save some time and energy? Here are some basic, but useful things you’ll need to know when getting started with your Common Application:

  • General Information: What may seem like the easy part of the application is, in fact, quite simple if you can answer certain questions about yourself and your family. The “Applicant,” “Demographics,” and “Family” sections of the Common App ask some basic information of you. What’s your name? Your address? Are you a US citizen? What are your parents’ names? If you can answer these questions easily, which hopefully the majority of you can, you won’t have much of a problem getting through this first part of the Common Application.
  • Academics: Seeing that you’re in school and applying to college, filling out this portion of the Common App also shouldn’t be too complicated, but there are a few things you should be sure to know before taking it on. The first, is some basic information about your guidance counselor—you will need his or her name and contact information. At this point you’ve probably made your way to the Guidance Office a few times, seeking assistance in the college application process, but in case you don’t have this information, make sure to find it out for before filling out your Common App. You’ll also need to know all the courses in which you’re currently enrolled, and any academic honors or distinctions you’ve received throughout high school.
  • Tests: It’s  college application season, so be sure to know all your standardized test information. Which standardized tests scores will you be submitting to colleges: your SAT scores, your ACT scores, your SAT Subject Test scores (SAT IIs), all of the above? For whatever tests you’ve taken with scores you plan to submit, make sure to: know when you took each test (month/year), and what your scores were (for the SAT and ACT, you’ll need to know the scores for each section as well as your overall score).
  • Activity Resume: A portion of the Common App involves detailing the activities and work experience that you’ve been involved in throughout high school.  The list provided allows you to add up to 7 extracurricular activities. You’ll need to briefly describe your involvement in each activity, list the grades in which you participated, and include the time spent on the activity (in terms of hours per week & weeks per year). Your work experience is to be entered in a separate chart. To successfully enter this information, you’ll need to list the specific nature of the work, your employer, the approximate dates of employment (month/year-month/year), and the number of hours per week working
  • Writing: The writing portion of the Common App is two-part. The first question requires a brief response (of no more than 150 words), and asks you to elaborate on one of your extracurricular, personal, or work activities. You have some options when it comes to choosing the longer essay topic. Some of these options include writing about a significant life experience, an issue of concern or importance to you, a person that has had a significant influence on you, or choosing a topic of your choice.  Because you do have a wide range of options, make sure you choose a subject matter that is meaningful to you; the essay, after all, is your chance to express yourself to admissions counselors.

Good luck getting through your Common Application, and on your college application journey!

If you found this entry helpful, be sure to explore Vocab Videos for standardized test prep and other useful tips!


SAT Preparation: Tips for Handing College Entrance Exam Stress

Be sure to get a good night's sleep before your SAT!

Any test can be stressful. Let’s think of a few—a calculus exam, your road test, THE SAT. None are particularly pleasant experiences—agreed?  But college entrance exams, like the SAT and ACT, can be even more overwhelming since they mean a bit more than your average test. It’s important to be able to manage the stress that comes along with the inescapable knowledge that the SAT and ACT play a significant role in getting you into the college of your choice. Here are a few tips for handling the stress:

  • Take Practice Tests: The more comfortable you are with the test, the more prepared you’ll be come the big test date. Take as many SAT or ACT practice exams as you have available to get familiar with format, question types, and your time management abilities.  If you practice enough, the official exam will feel like just another practice test.
  • Don’t Cram: It’s unlikely that that you’ll learn something while cramming the night before the SAT or ACT that will better your performance on the test. Don’t overwhelm yourself the day before the test with all the last minute tricks you can learn, or by taking another full exam. It’s not going to help, and you’re not going to want to be falling asleep during the actual test with your number 2 pencil in hand. Instead get a good night’s rest. You’ve prepared, and sleep will certainly benefit you more than cramming.
  • Eat a Healthy Breakfast: Your parents were right—breakfast is the most important meal of the day, particularly before such a big test! Get your blood sugar up and your brain functioning most efficiently with a healthy breakfast. Plus, you’ll be taking your exam for quite a few hours and you won’t want to be hungry, or for your stomach to be growling too loudly in that quiet testing atmosphere.
  • Read Directions and Questions Carefully: Don’t get so stressed out staring at your first real SAT that it all becomes a blur. Read the directions to get into focus; and, READ QUESTIONS CAREFULLY. Knowing what’s being asked of you is a simple way to avoid careless mistakes.
  • Think Positively: It may sound corny, but believe in yourself and go into the test with a good attitude. Negative, “I’m going to fail” thoughts will only destroy the confidence you’ve been building throughout your test preparation. At this point you’ve done all you can, and now it’s just a matter of applying everything you’ve learned and practiced. Take a deep breath, keep a positive perspective, and know that you’re going to do just fine.

Some stress before a test can actually be beneficial—it can push you to work harder and to put forth maximum effort, but too much test stress and anxiety will certainly take its toll on a student’s test-time confidence, so be sure to keep these tips in mind.

If you liked this advice, and want to reduce any test stress you might encounter by not knowing your SAT and ACT vocabulary—check out Vocab Videos!


SAT Vocabulary: Vocabulary Matters Long After the SAT Test!


Vocabulary is crucial in SAT test preparation as it can help raise SAT test scores significantly. Even if you’re not preparing for the SAT or ACT tests, a good vocabulary is beneficial to anyone who speaks the English language. Let me remind you of a few reasons vocabulary matters:

  1.  Speak well: Learn to articulate your impressive ideas using equally impressive vocabulary words. Blow a potential employer away at a job interview. Speaking well and intelligently is important both inside and outside the classroom.  
  2. Write well: Writing is a skill that you’ll likely need no matter what career path you choose. Whether you’re a presidential speech writer or just sending an e-mail to an employer, knowing how to write well is invaluable. Having a good vocabulary and an intimate knowledge of vocabulary words and language will help you get there.
  3. Read well: Better understand what you’re reading. Perhaps you’ll no longer require the dictionary at your side while reading the Wall Street Journal and the literary work your professor assigns. A thorough understanding of a vocabulary word’s meaning is an important part of reading comprehension.
  4. Score well: While a good vocabulary is useful for more than standardized testing, it also helps with SAT test preparation, ACT test preparation, ISEE test preparation, GRE test preparation and more. SAT Reading scores can increase up to 150 points by learning some big vocabulary words, SO LEARN THEM. It’s worth the effort.

Vocabulary really does matter, so make learning vocabulary a priority whether you’re in school or not. Sure, you can learn new vocabulary words using vocabulary flashcards or vocabulary books, but why would you?  Give Vocab Videos a try for a fun and effective way to speak, write, read, and score better.