How to Improve Your Score on the SAT and ACT (and everything else)

Higher Learning Test Prep students typically improve their SAT scores by 300 or more points. Our ACT students usually improve by 4 or more points. So how do we do it?

a. Magic, plain and simple
b. Advanced telepathy
c. Grueling, hellish, torturous study plans
d. Surgically implanted cerebral microchips
e. None of the above

If you answered “e”, congratulations. You’re correct. If you answered “a”, or “b”, cool. We like where your head is at. And we’re working on it. If you answered “c”, or “d”, chill out. There’s a better way.

In order to improve your score on the SAT or ACT, you’re going to need to learn how to learn. If that last statement made you dizzy, we’ll explain, but roller coasters may not be your thing.

The SAT and ACT are predictable and therefore beatable. You’ll need a great tutor. If you’re working with us, you can check that one off. You’ll also need great study materials. We’ve got the best materials in the world- Real SAT’s and ACT’s. And we’ve got a lot of them. But most importantly, you’ll need the right mindset.

Why do some students improve by 500 or 600 points on the SAT and some students only improve by 100 points? Mindset. The right attitude will dramatically improve the efficacy of your study. It’s like magic, plain and simple. So, actually, if you answered “a” at the top of the page, you were also correct. Good going.

When you’re studying for the ACT and/or SAT, treat every mistake as an opportunity to learn something about the test. Be thankful for every missed problem. Seriously. Look as closely as you can at the question. Analyze every possible aspect of the question- the wording of the question, the language of the answer choices, the kinds of logic, techniques, and critical thinking that are necessary to obtain the correct answer. Take a deep breath and look again. Review everything you’ve learned about the question and then decide to never make the same mistake again. Yea that’s right, decide. Because you can. Move slowly, intentionally, and with great patience. Don’t get mad. Don’t get frustrated. If you do, take a deep breath and remind yourself what you’re doing, and why.

What you’re doing is studying for a very beatable test. And you’re doing so because your improved score is going to help you go to a great school, study awesome stuff, and do something great with your life. All of which is pretty cool. The SAT and ACT do not stand in your way. Each of these exams is an opportunity to showcase a different aspect of your intelligence to colleges and universities. Be patient, finding a mistake is the first step to improving your score. Studying frantically and angrily will not help you improve your score, so don’t do it.

Here at Higher Learning, we are certain that given enough time, we can get anybody the score they need to get in to the college or university of their dreams. Because sooner or later, students realize that the principle of learning described above is universal.

As stated above, we’re working on the telepathy thing, and the magic thing. And you can rest assured that there’s some scary people working on the cerebral micro-chip thing. In the meantime, remember: You can and will improve at anything, including your preformance on the SAT or ACT, with the right mindset. Seriously. Try it.

Of course, having a world class tutor goes a long way too. Drop us a line if you need any guidance in the world of SAT or ACT prep. Send an email to or, alternatively, if you’ve got the telepathy thing figured out, send a message directly to our minds.

Happy Studying!
The Higher Learning Crew

Higher Learning is on Facebook and Twitter!

Yea, took us long enough. We’ve just been too busy tutoring students for the best possible scores on the SAT and ACT. But, we’ve finally got around to establishing Facebook and Twitter pages for Higher Learning Test Prep. We’ll be using these pages to give you the latest updates on our Skype and Google Hangouts tutoring services, answer questions from students, suggest study tips for the exams, post videos describing solutions for SAT and ACT problems, and create a way for students to correspond with our tutors and fellow students. Get in touch!

Twitter: @HLTestPrep
Facebook: Higher Learning Test Prep

Happy Studying!
Paul Donaldson

Studying with Skype and Google Hangouts

Back in the old days, the Higher Learning Test Prep crew burned up fossil fuels and wrestled with traffic on the way to and from homes and coffee shops for SAT and ACT lessons with our students. During the summer, one of our SAT students had some traveling to do. Her parents asked if we would be willing to continue our tutoring using Skype.

It didn’t take us long to get wise. Skype and Google Hangouts allow us to work with students whenever they have the time to study, regardless of their location. We use screen share and a chalkboard app to give students an interactive chalkboard experience. We use real SAT and ACT materials to ensure students get the most accurate SAT and ACT preparation possible. Using Skype and Google Hangouts for tutoring has revolutionized our students’ experience, and our business.

If you have any questions about our innovative use of Skype or Google Hangouts, our tutoring curriculum and methods, or just the best ways to improve your SAT or ACT score, drop us a line at…

Happy Studying!
Paul Donaldson
Director at Higher Learning Test Prep

SAT and ACT: Why you should take both.

Yesterday, we wrote about the differences between the SAT and ACT. After studying the differences between the SAT and ACT, you may wonder: Should I take the ACT or SAT?

The answer is yes. Wait, what was your question?

You should take both exams. Why?

1. Studying for the SAT will help with the ACT (and vice versa)

While there are certainly major differences in format for both the SAT and ACT, there are many elements of the tests that are the same. For instance, the skills you need to succeed in the SAT Reading section are very similar to those you’ll need to get a great score on the ACT Reading section, and surprisingly, you’ll be well prepared for the ACT Science section as well. If you know everything you need to know to improve your score in the ACT Math section, you’ll see significant improvement in the SAT Math section. Once you’ve mastered all the skills necessary for a perfect score in the SAT Writing section, you’ll be ready to do your best on the ACT English section.

2. It’s impossible to know for sure which test is better suited for your skill set.

Sure, Higher Learning tutors can help you decide which test to take first, or, if you’re in a crunch, whether the SAT or ACT will most likely match your skill set. However, the only way to know for sure is to take both tests. Maybe you like the simplicity of the ACT’s format. But, perhaps the tight time restrictions don’t suit your pace. Perhaps you like the SAT’s shorter sections, but then the vocabulary questions rock your world (in a bad way). You’ve dedicated thousands of hours to your studies so far. Spend a few extra giving yourself the best chance to get in to the college or university of your dreams.

Studying for the ACT and SAT is easier than ever. If you’re reading this post, one-on-one private SAT and ACT tutoring is a couple clicks away. We meet with our students one-on-one using Skype and Google Hangouts. Video-conference technology allows us to reach students any where in the world. So, drop us a line: or just find us on Skype. Search for “Higher Learning Test Prep” or just little ol’ me, Paul Donaldson. We’ll be happy to set up a meeting on Skype to get you set up with the perfect tutor.

Happy Studying!
Paul Donaldson
Director at Higher Learning Test Prep

The Differences between the ACT and the SAT

The SAT and ACT are different tests. How different? Well….
-The SAT tests students less on pre-requisite knowledge than does the ACT.
-The SAT math section does not cover some of the advanced concepts tested on the ACT math section.
-The ACT asks questions in a simpler manner. The ACT does not attempt to trick students with confusing word problems.
-The ACT time restrictions are much more problematic than SAT time restrictions. If time management is an issue for you, the ACT will present challenges.
– The ACT has a fourth subject: Science. The science section is mostly a reading comprehension section with charts and graphs.
-The ACT English section has only one format. The SAT Grammar section has three.
-The SAT has 9 multiple choice sections, the ACT has 4 multiple choice sections.
-Both the SAT and the ACT have an essay, though the topics are usually much different. The SAT topics are broader and more philosophical. The ACT topics are more specific and usually related to school issues.
-The SAT has vocabulary questions. The ACT does not.
-SAT reading comprehension passages are not labeled by subject. ACT reading passages are labeled as follows: Literary Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science. Always in that order.

Phew… Naturally, studying for the SAT is different from studying for the ACT. But don’t fret. Higher Learning Test Prep’s brilliant team of tutors is equally qualified to help you with both.

We’d be happy to help you decide which test will give you the best chance at the college of your dreams. Drop us a line: