Quick Tip #2

Quick Tip #2

Nothing is Important (Until you’re asked)

No, the Higher Learning crew isn’t a bunch of nihilists. In fact, we believe pizza is very, very important.  And of course, if you’re reading this, then we both believe your SAT or ACT score is important.

However, if you’re trying to raise reading comprehension score on either exam, or if you’re trying to raise your ACT science score, or both, your new mantra should be…

“Nothing is important until they ask me about it.”

Whether you’re studying for the reading section on either the SAT and ACT, or the science section of the ACT, remember that the test is loaded with extra information.  There’s no way the test makers can ask you about every detail of a passage, or every nuance of an experiment.  So, why would you spend valuable time reading through the whole thing?

Actively skim the information you’ve been given, and get your bearings.  Don’t worry if every detail isn’t clear.  Once you’re sure what each question is asking for, go back and locate the important part of the passage, and then look closely at the pertinent information.  At this point, it’s important to answer the question in your own words.  If you’re not sure, read the question, and the important stuff in the passage again.  Once you’re sure how you would answer the question in your own words, compare it to the answer choices you’ve been given.  Using process of elimination you can usually figure out the best answer, even if it’s not exactly what you had in mind.

So there you have it.  Nothing is important until you’ve been asked about it.  After years of hearing all the crazy strategies students have picked up from Kaplan or Princeton Review, or just from school, we here at Higher Learning felt the need to set the record straight: Don’t get bogged down in the minutia of each passage. (Minutia is a great SAT word, so look it up if you don’t know it!)  Skim to get your bearings, and zero in on the important stuff to answer each question.

Oh yea, and the most effective, flexible, and comprehensive ACT and SAT tutoring is a click away. http://higherlearningtestprep.com/contact-us/ or just email us directly at director@temp.higherlearningtestprep.com (pun most certainly intended) or call the office at 720-523-3361

Happy Halloween Eve!  FYI…Tutors will usually work for candy.

If you're gonna cram...

If you’re gonna cram, cram right!

The best way to study for the SAT or ACT exam is to take your time.  Nothing can replace hours of studying at your desk with a great Higher Learning tutor.  With that being said, we understand that, if the exam is coming up, and your DeLorean is in the shop, or your flux capacitor is busted… (Back to the Future anyone?) you’ll probably have to settle for a couple cram sessions.

Here’s where the difference between a mediocre tutor and a great tutor (a.k.a. Higher Learning tutor) really shows itself.  You’ve got to find the common threads that run through the entire math section, or reading section, or science section.  The SAT and ACT exams are predictable.  You needn’t study everything you’ve seen in math class for the last ten years.  Just get to the point where you can know what to expect.  Ask good questions, and try to isolate the most difficult aspect of each problem.  Most times, the most difficult part of any ACT or SAT question is making sure you understand exactly what the question is asking.

Don’t let the test makers fool you.  The ACT and SAT are largely tests of reasoning and logic.  The math isn’t the hardest part of any math question.  The wording of the question is the trickiest part.  So be careful, and make sure you understand the question.

Blind cramming, trying to cover as much material as possible is not a great way to prepare for the test.  Get a copy of the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide, or the Real ACT Study Guide, and jump straight to the exams.   It’s tempting to read through their preliminary subject review sections, but the test maker’s assessment of their own exam is misleading.  They make everything harder than it has to be.  Go straight to the exams, and take note of the different kinds of questions they ask.  Notice where you have difficulty and why.  Avoid Kaplan and Princeton Review study guides as well.  Those companies create replica tests, which simply are not the real thing, and may be easier or more difficult than the real thing.

Oh yea, and give us a call or drop an email.  While the best way to study for the ACT or SAT is to take our Complete Prep Course, we’ll help you do the best you can with the time you have.

Happy studying, and remember, college is really cool and worth all this hassle.

Higher Learning Crew

Quick Tip #1

Quick Tip Week

Tip # 1

SAT and ACT Math

Whenever you are faced with an algebra problem with variables in the answer choices, the best thing to do is pick real numbers to replace the variable or variables in the problem.  For instance, “x freshmen feed y gorillas” becomes “10 freshmen feed 20 gorillas” Now, when the SAT or ACT asks, how many freshmen are needed to feed z gorillas?”  You fill in for z something like 30.  Now, if it takes 10 freshmen to feed 20 gorillas; then it takes 15 freshmen to feed 30 gorillas.


This is the kind of question that stumps lots of smart kids on the SAT and ACT.  Not because the question is difficult, but because algebra is easy to mix up.  On a timed test it’s easy to mix up one of the three variables.  It’s a silly mistake that costs you points.  It’s easy to chalk it up as a fluke, but no matter how careful you are, if you approach the problem algebraically, you’re likely to miss some easy points every once in a while. So, pick numbers, minimize these types of errors, improve your overall score and maximize your chances of getting into your top choice for college.  Yes, you too could be one of the few, the proud, the Pittsburg State University Gorillas.

Why You Should Have a Goal Score In Mind

The importance of a goal score cannot be overestimated.

“But, shouldn’t I just try to get as many questions right as possible?”

Unless you need an 800 in SAT math or a 36 in ACT science to get into the school you’re interested in, the answer is no.

Most students swing for the fences when they take the ACT or SAT.  But consider this:  you could score a 600 by answering 37 out of 54 questions correctly on the SAT Math Section.  For ACT Science, you could get a 30 and skip an the hardest passage.  Odds are, with some studying, you can be sure to score at an acceptable level by working carefully on less problems.

The first step is to set a goal score.  Figure out exactly what score you’ll need to get accepted to each of your top schools.  The statistics for average SAT or ACT scores are usually listed somewhere on the school’s website.  Aim high, but be realistic. Take into consideration where your score is currently, and talk to your Higher Learning Tutor about your expectations.

After you’ve determined your goal score, figure out exactly how many questions you’ll need to answer correctly in order to get that score.  Plan on answering a few more questions, just in case you get a couple wrong.  No matter what you do, if you’re aiming at around 600 in any section of the SAT, or 30 in any section on the ACT, do not answer all of the questions!  Focus on answering the easy and medium questions correctly, and guessing strategically.  Answering all of the questions will simply mean wasted time and energy spent on difficult and unnecessary questions, and diluted efforts on the easier and more important questions.


For the best SAT and ACT preparation on the planet, from anywhere on the planet, email us at director@temp.higherlearningtestprep.com to set up your free first meeting on Google Hangouts or Skype.  We’ll meet over coffee, and maybe across oceans.  We might just figure out how to get you into the college of your dreams.



Higher Learning Crew

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: Online SAT and ACT Prep vs. Traditional Tutoring

Online SAT and ACT Prep vs. Traditional Tutoring


Online learning has come a long way.  It’s convenient, and cutting edge. But, as the saying goes, “There’s nothing like the real thing.”  That is, while pre-recorded online education programs are great, nothing beats practicing one on one with a great tutor.


Higher Learning Test Prep combines the best of both worlds.  Nowadays, if you’re studying ACT science and living in Germany you’ve got the world’s best ACT tutor available via Google Hangouts or Skype, whenever you’d like to meet.


If you’re in Honduras, and studying SAT Math, you’ve likewise got a great tutor, and an interactive online blackboard to boot.  If you’re in rural Georgia or Alaska or Maine, and studying SAT or ACT reading comprehension… well, you get the idea.


Our online tutoring program is second to none because we combine the best tutors with the best possible preparation tools.  That is, you’ll be tutored by one of the owners of our company, not by a random college kid.  While Princeton Review and Kaplan tutors mean well, at the end of the day they don’t care whether you improve or not.  They’re paid either way, and spend the money on beer.  If, after working with your Higher Learning tutor, you do not reach your goal score, we’ll work with you for half price until your score increases.  Because we care.  Because we own the company.  Because our own success is contingent upon your success.  Oh yea, and why are our tutors better?  Because teaching SAT and ACT prep is our livelihood.  Not a part time job during college.


Our preparation tools are second to none, because we work with actual SATs and ACTs.  Again, while Princeton Review and Kaplan might mean well, their replica SATs and ACTs are garbage.  A useful analogy might go something like this:  If you were training to climb K2, would you rather train in an expensive gym using technology that replicates the conditions of the mountain with a newbie fitness trainer? Or would you rather train in the Himalayas with an experienced K2 guide?


Kaplan and Princeton Review programs are the equivalent of the expensive gym that approximates the experience of climbing the mountain. Try as they might, any approximation fails to duplicate the real thing.  Moreover, their instructors typically have minimal experience.  Higher Learning’s program using real ACTs and SATs with experienced tutors is, well, the real thing.


Give us a call or shoot over an email.  Let’s get started!

Why The SAT and ACT are so (expletive) Difficult

Why The SAT and ACT are so (expletive) Difficult


Yea!  And why is my best friend’s hair so much nicer than mine?!  And why is cafeteria food so bad?!


The truth is, the SAT and ACT tests are both very beatable.  We promise.  Of course, you’ve got to prepare.  Studying with Higher Learning is a surefire way to raise your SAT or ACT score drastically.  Whether you’re struggling with reading comprehension, math, science, or grammar- we can help.  And as far as the hair, try some conditioner or something.  And at lunch, steer clear of any meat claiming to be a Salisbury steak.


Now that we’ve assuaged (great SAT word) your fears, let’s talk about what is actually challenging about the SAT and ACT exams.


Both the SAT and ACT are reasoning tests.  That means that the test makers are primarily concerned not with your math and grammar skills, but with your problem solving skills.  That means that your AP Calculus skills won’t give you any advantage over kids in lower math levels.  In fact, this is why really smart middle school students can ace the test.  The math, grammar, and reading skills you need are not esoteric (another great SAT word…look it up!) nor are they very advanced. Odds are, you’ve learned all of the necessary skills a few years ago.  So, you’ll not need to learn anything new.  What you will need to do, is the following:



  1. Review algebra, and geometry at a basic level.  Review basic grammar rules.  And for the ACT, review basic science knowledge.  If your fundamentals are lacking, you absolutely need to focus your attention on your weaknesses and fix them.  Don’t worry- our tutors can help.   And by the way, when we say basic we mean it.  None of the content is advanced.  You can do this.


  1. Familiarize yourself with the exam.  This is the big one.  For example: If you know what kind of geometry questions you can expect to see, you can focus on exactly those types of questions.  You don’t need to be an expert mathematician.  You only need to understand the very specific, predictable, and manageable geometry that the exam covers.  The same goes for reading comprehension, grammar, or science.  You don’t need to know every possible grammar mistake.  You need only to learn which mistakes come up on the exam, in what style the questions are asked, and how to get enough questions correct to get the score you need.


The best way to accomplish all of this is to give us a call, or shoot an email over to director@temp.higherlearningtestprep.com.  We are certain we can help you best this #@#*! (expletive) test.


p.s.  You’re too classy to swear, right?

Chip Away!

Chipping Away


Too often, as the SAT and ACT approach, students ask us for the best way to cram.  The truth is, the best thing to do, even if you only have 2 weeks before either the SAT or ACT exam, is to chip away.  Twenty minutes a day is better than 3 hours on Sunday night.  So, get your hands on a copy of the College Board’s Official SAT Manual, and plan to do at least one section each day.  Or, if you’re studying for the ACT, get the Real ACT Study Guide, made by the makers of the test.  Inside each of them, you’ll find full length practice tests.  While Kaplan and Princeton Review may claim to have real practice tests, their tests are approximations.  So, avoid Kaplan and Princeton Review and go right to the source.


No matter whether you choose a math section, a reading section, a writing section or a science section, start first by taking as long as you like.  Your job is to get familiar with the test, not to rush through it.  After you finish the section, correct your test, and note which questions gave you a hard time.  You might even jot down what went wrong next to each question.  For example “Misunderstood the question” or, “Forgot to distribute the negative sign”.  Once you’ve done so, try to find any common threads that run through your mistakes.  Are you having trouble with Geometry?  Are adverbs kicking your butt on the grammar section?  Isolate the problem first, and then you can correct it.   It’s much better to think specifically (i.e. ‘I need to get better at word problems’ as opposed to ‘I need to get better at math’)


As your next SAT or ACT exam date approaches, Chip away.  These exams are easy to beat, if you know what you’ve got to improve at.  So, study smart, not hard!

The Thick of It!


It’s that time again.  We’re now in the heart of ACT and SAT season.  So, get studying!  Higher Learning’s team is here to help answer all of your questions regarding the exams.  Whether you need help with the SAT Math, or you’re looking for strategies for the ACT Science section, we’ve got you covered.  If you’ve got the math and science stuff down, let’s focus on improving your reading comprehension and grammar skills.  Both the SAT and the ACT are very beatable tests, because they are the same time and time again.  But, the only way to get the score you need is to study diligently with the best tutors in the business.   We guarantee score improvement because we’re certain we’ll help you achieve to the highest of your capability.  Chances are, you can score much better than you have so far.  So, drop us a line!

Knowledge vs. Information

The world of education is changing dramatically.  The existence of a completely online SAT and ACT prep company like Higher Learning is a case in point.  No longer are students studying for the SAT or the ACT limited to the finite possibilities of their specific location.  Nowadays, students can choose from online tutorials, virtual classrooms, and private tutors from around the world.


Ah, the glory of the information age.


Around here, we like to remind ourselves, our tutors, and our students to make a distinction between information and knowledge.  Knowledge, of course, is infinitely more powerful.


We live in the age of information.  We do not live in the age of knowledge.  In the information age, we have access to an unfathomable amount of, well, information.  Some of it is well-intended.  And some of it is well intended and ill-conceived.  Some information just takes up valuable space and time in your mind.  Think:  hours of YouTube, commericals, and bad SAT advice.
Knowledge, on the other hand, is much more powerful. Knowledge of the how SAT works, knowledge regarding what kinds of questions occur again and again, and the know- hot to beat those questions will get you a great score.  Information is only the beginning.


So:  If you are just beginning your search for the knowledge you’ll need to ace the SAT or ACT exam, congratulations!  You’ve come to the right place.  If you have been long at sea, so to speak, searching and searching through oceans of information, none of which has proven ultimately valuable, welcome to shore, sailor.  And congratulations as well.  You’ve been thinking critically- a skill of the utmost importance on these exams.  Most importantly, you’ve found the SAT/ ACT wellspring, if we do say so ourselves.


We are a small company of professional SAT and ACT tutors.  It’s all we do.  We believe that the best tutors for the SAT math section are not simply the genius math students at MIT, or actuaries that crunch numbers all day.  We believe the best tutors for the SAT Math section are people who focus on SAT Math everyday,  along with the problems that students have with this section.  We believe the best ACT Science tutors are not chemists, or PhD biology students, but instead are the people with tons of experience working through hundreds of hours of ACT Science questions.


Oh yea… and you have to be pretty cool too.  Cool enough to gain the respect and attention of 17 year olds.  Which of course, is the age at which almost everybody is pretty cool.


If you’ve read this post,  and think we might be right, please contact us with every possible question you can think of regarding SAT and ACT tutoring.   We’re happy to help you sort through all the information out there, and turn that information into clear, unadulterated knowledge.   Send us an email if you like.  But if you’d rather, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.  Our office number forwards your call straight to our Director.  (Where ever in the world he happens to be at that moment!)  That means you’ll get expert guidance, straight from the source.  We know the answers, and we’re happy to share them with you.




The Higher Learning Crew