A Quick Word on Consistency

A quick word on consistency.

Whether you’re taking the April 23rd ACT or the May 3rd SAT, now is the best time to begin your study of the SAT or ACT.  When we meet with students for a test one month in advance, we advise two to three meetings a week of 2 hours. Consistency is key, because if you’re not studying for the SAT or ACT consistently, it’s easy to forget the information you’ve learned in previous sessions.
Sometimes students excel 2 or 3 months before exam day, but because their schedules are tricky in the month prior to the exam, preparation falls off. When preparation falls off, students’ performance on test day is never what it could have been.

Conversely, students who come to us only two weeks before exam day in the hopes of cramming excessively for the exam often end up disappointed with the results. The reason is you’ll need time to absorb information and learn how to apply in a test taking situation.

So, rest assured that you’ve picked a great time to begin test preparation for either the ACT or SAT. If you’d like to study with the best tutors in the business, drop us a line.  Our curriculum is the perfect balance of one-on-one private tutorials, practice tests, and analysis. Our students often see improvement of 300 points on the SAT and 5 points on the ACT.  That’s far more than the average score improvement for the big guys like Kaplan and Princeton Review.

Send us an email and we’ll be happy to meet you for a free session to determine your needs, as well as the best way to help you succeed on test day and at large in the college application process.


The New Overhauled SAT

Here’s the deal with the new SAT:

We’re very excited the College Board has gotten wise and changed the test for 2016.  The old test is a pain in the @$$!  They plan on abolishing the absurd vocabulary questions on the old exam.  The test makers are also cutting out the essay completely, as well as the grammar sections.   Because we’re only left with a Critical Reading test and a Math test, the old scoring system is coming back.  That is, in 2016 a 1600 will be a perfect score.  Students will receive two scores ranging from 200-800.

The College Board also announced that they have partnered with Kahn Academy to provide free “world-class” online test prep.  But, don’t believe David Coleman, the slick salesman-like CEO of the College Board, when he says they’re doing so for altruistic reasons such as “leveling the playing field.”

This is a classic Coke vs. Pepsi marketing battle between the ACT and SAT.  Because more students took the ACT than the SAT in 2012 and 2013, the SAT is responding, and mimicking the ACT in the process. The CEO of the College Board is trying to win back popularity.  When he say’s they’re creating a test that will eliminate the need for private test prep companies, he’s trying to win back families who have switched to the ACT.  The bottom line is, any standardized test, ACT or SAT, MCAT or LSAT,  is predictable and beatable.  Why?  Because they’re STANDARDIZED!  With standardization comes predictability.  When one can predict the style and content of a test, one can learn how to beat that test.

Here at Higher Learning, we’ve learned how to beat standardized tests.  All of them.  We don’t appreciate millionaire salesmen calling our cutting edge study methods “tricks and gimmicks.”  We teach students the math, reading, grammar, and test taking skills that are necessary to beat this dude’s test. It’s preposterous to state that companies like ours prey on students and families.  Quite the contrary:  We help students and families achieve success on a difficult exam.  It’s even more preposterous to state that test prep doesn’t significantly increase students’ scores.  This guy clearly hasn’t heard of Higher Learning Test Prep.  We guarantee 150 points improvement.  We average 250 points improvement.

We think it’s great that under privileged students will receive free SAT prep through Kahn Academy.  In fact, Higher Learning Tutors work with under privileged students in inner city classrooms pro bono.  So, College Board, welcome to the club.  It’s good to have you on, err… board.

Moreover, the price of quality test preparation is minimal compared to the price of one semester at a top rate university.  The cost of a complete course with Higher Learning is equivalent to thirty percent of a single course at Harvard, or roughly six percent of the cost a normal semester at Yale, or, seven percent of an entire semester at University of California for out of state students.  We’ve helped lots of students get scholarships that drastically lower their overall cost of college.

The truth is, college admissions are more competitive than ever.  And they just got more competitive.  Free test prep for all means it’ll be harder than ever to gain an edge.   We’ll keep working hard to ensure that our students have the best shot at top-notch colleges and universities.

Drop us a line:  director@temp.higherlearningtestprep.com



Lastly, let’s look at ACT Science versus SAT… Wait, er…never mind.  There is no SAT Science section.

It’s best to think about the ACT Science section as a “Science Reading” section.  Remember, all the information needed to answer a question should be contained within the passage.  So, don’t sweat it.  You needn’t cram for some crazy Biology/Chemistry/Physics test.  It’s just some reading passages with scientific topics.

That concludes our comparison of the ACT and SAT.  Now, if you’d like to study for either test with best tutors in the world, drop us a line:


SAT Writing vs. ACT English

The Difference between the SAT and ACT English/Grammar sections

Welcome to the third leg of our comparison of the ACT and SAT.  I’m sure you’re psyched.  After all, everybody loves standardized tests, right?

The first major difference between the SAT Writing section and ACT English section is format.  The SAT has two multiple-choice sections.  One section has 35 questions to complete in 25 minutes.  The second section has 14 questions to complete in 10 minutes.

Within these two sections, there are three separate formats:  Sentence correction, Error Identification, and Paragraph Correction.  Each of these sections has different strategies.

SAT Grammar can be very tricky.  Most students are a bit shaky on their grammar rules, and rely on their gut to answer these questions.  However, if you simply pick the answer that sounds right, you’ll most likely end up with a lack luster score.  Most of the mistakes on the SAT are common errors in speech that go unchecked.  For example, can you find the mistake in this next sentence?

Everybody at the party said they had a great time.

Everybody is singular.  Yep, every (one) body should be replaced with the pronoun he or she.  The correct version would read as follows:

Everybody at the party said he or she had a great time.

Just don’t go around talking like that at parties.  You’ll lose friends, guaranteed.  Unless of course you happen to be at a SAT Party.  Pronoun agreement is a big hit at that type of shindig.

So, for the SAT, you’ll really need to get your grammar rules cleaned up.  But, remember:  The SAT tests students on a very narrow range of grammar rules.  Don’t study random grammar rules.  Identify the type of mistakes that come up, and study the pertinent grammar rules for those mistakes.

The ACT is, as always, a bit simpler.  The English test is only one section.  This section contains 75 questions to answer in 60 minutes, but they’re all the same format.  The ACT will give a series of 5 passages.  Each passage is a poorly written essay in which they’ve underlined 15 seemingly troublesome phrases, words, or full sentences.  Your job is to pick the best replacement, or leave it alone if the original is the best.  While you should still be up to date with your grammar rules, lots of these questions just come down to picking the simplest and clearest answer.  In fact, one could score in the mid twenties on most ACT English tests by simply picking the shortest answer in the list.  The ACT likes simplicity. Nine times out of ten the simplest answer is the best.  That means the correct answer usually has less commas and less fancy language than the wrong answers.

If you’d like help studying for either of these sections, never fear.  Higher Learning is here!  And by here, we mean all over the world via the interweb.  I mean, the world wide net.  I mean, in your computer.  Yea, that’s it.  We live in your computer, and we only come out when you need the best ACT and SAT tutelage known to man or machine.  Yea, tutelage is a word.  We know lots of fancy words.

Drop us a line:  director@temp.higherlearningtestprep.com

SAT Reading vs. ACT Reading

The Differences between the SAT and the ACT

These days, most students take the SAT and the ACT.  We thought it’d be a good idea to compare the two tests.

Yesterday we discussed the differences between the ACT and SAT Math Tests.  Today we’ll tackle the ACT Reading and SAT Reading sections.

The SAT breaks their reading test into 3 sections with a total of 67 questions.  Each section begins with between five and eight sentence completion sections designed to test your vocabulary.   Next, you’ll see two short passages, each no more than a few sentences, with two questions for each passage.

Then the real fun begins.  Each section has one or two full-length passages.  The topics of these passages run the gamut from lunar landings to library fanatics, and everything in between.  Most will be well-organized essays, but over the course of the entire test, at least one passage will be an excerpt from a novel or short story.  The question style will vary with the style of the passage.  That is, the tone of the piece won’t matter nearly as much in an academic essay as it will in a prose fiction piece.  Keep in mind the subject matter.

All of the questions that ask about specific aspects of the passage will be arranged in chronological order.  So, if you’re wondering where to find the information you need, remember:  The SAT puts the questions in the same order as the passage!

The ACT, once again, lumps all the reading together in one test.  This single section is only 35 minutes, and only 40 questions.  That means each question counts significantly more towards your overall score than a single question does on the SAT, so, be careful!  The ACT, as usual, is well organized.  They’ve split their test into four passages, each of them with ten accompanying questions.  Each of the four passages has a very specific topic.  The first passage is Prose Fiction.  The piece will be an excerpt from a novel or short story.  You’ll be asked pertinent questions about the passage such as the author’s tone, the general sentiment of the piece, etc.  The second passage is Social Science.  Usually this piece deals with something you’d see in social studies class.  The third passage is Humanities.  This essay will have something to do with art and culture.  The fourth passage is Natural Science.  This piece will deal with biology, chemistry, or physics.

The ACT reading test is easier to manage because it’s so well organized.  Remember, unless you’re going for a perfect score, you need not answer every question.  In fact, you can get upwards of a 30 in the ACT Reading Section by only working on three passages and guessing on the fourth.  What subjects do you excel in?  If you’re a science person, perhaps you should tackle everything but the Prose Fiction piece.  If you’re a literary type, figure out whether you should skip the Social Science or Natural Science.  Remember to aim for a Goal Score!

If you’re wondering about strategy for these tests, check out this blog post: Reading Strategy

If you’re wondering how to maximize your study time, your score, and your enjoyment of this seemingly arduous process, send us an email at director@temp.higherlearningtestprep.com


We are a small group of the very best SAT and ACT tutors in the world, ready to meet one on one with students from every corner of the planet.  We know more about this exam than most everyone, including the over-priced tutors at Kaplan and Princeton Review as well as the under-experienced bargain basement tutors.  So, like, call us, maybe?

The Difference Between SAT Math and ACT Math

The Differences between the SAT and the ACT

These days, most students take the SAT and the ACT.  We thought it’d be a good idea to compare the two tests.

SAT Math vs. ACT Math

In terms of content, the ACT goes beyond the scope of the SAT.   But that doesn’t necessarily mean the SAT is easier. The SAT math section focuses mostly on geometry and algebra.  There are also questions testing your knowledge of averages, percentages, ratios, and reasoning.  The SAT math section is fairly basic in terms of content.  Instead of using difficult content, the test makers use complex word problems that confuse students.  The test makers figure that only the smartest students will be able to consistently answer these tricky questions accurately.

The ACT content is slightly more advanced, but less tricky.  The ACT contains geometry questions, algebra questions, percentage questions, average questions, etc.  But the ACT also asks one or two questions that deal with imaginary numbers, and a few trigonometry questions as well.  The wording of the questions is simpler.  You’ll still have to be careful, but you can rest assured that the math section of this test is less tricky, even if it is just as challenging.

There’s also a difference in format.  The SAT breaks their math test into three sections of 20 or 25 minutes. Each section has 16, 18, or 20 questions, for a grand total of 54 questions.  On the longest section, the second half is not multiple choice.  On these questions you’ll need to write your answers in, and fill in the appropriate bubbles on your answer sheet.  On the ACT, there’s only one math test of sixty minutes.  But, there’s more total questions (60).

The questions get progressively more difficult as you continue through each test.  So, make sure you get the early questions right!

Tomorrow we’ll look at the two Reading sections.

Drop us a line if you’d like to study for either exam, or both.   We’re really great at teaching this stuff.  So much so, that we have the best guarantee for score improvement in the known Universe.