SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Alex Heimbach

Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.

Recent Posts

5 Fun ACT Test Facts For a Study Break

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 13, 2015 12:30:00 PM

ACT General Info

As stressful as the ACT can be, you shouldn’t take it too seriously. It’s an important test, sure, but just a test all the same.

Here are five weird facts about the ACT to help you feel less overwhelmed by studying.

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8 Fun SAT Test Facts to Give You a Break from Studying

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 13, 2015 12:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

Unfortunately, studying for the SAT isn’t much fun. There’s really no way to make reading passages or dissecting math problems super entertaining — and believe me, I’ve tried.

But if you’re looking for a quick break from studying, check out these 8 random SAT test facts. You may even learn something helpful!

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Average SAT Scores: What They Are and What They Mean

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 12, 2015 1:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

When they first start tutoring, almost all students ask the same question: what is the average SAT score? 

The answer varies a bit every year, but for students in the class of 2013, the average SAT score was a 1497. I’ve created a chart by section below.

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Do You Need ACT Scores to Transfer Colleges? A Guide

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 12, 2015 12:00:00 PM

ACT General Info, College Admissions

One of the most complicated parts of transferring colleges is determining what the requirements are, especially when it comes to standardized tests. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the question of whether you need to take the ACT as a transfer student, but this guide will walk you through how different schools policies vary and explain how much SAT and ACT scores count when applying as a transfer.

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The 12 Best Creative Writing Colleges and Programs

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 12, 2015 11:00:00 AM

College Info

Finding a dedicated creative writing program at a school you're excited about can be a real challenge, and that's even before you start worrying about getting in. Nonetheless, there are some great options. In order to help you find the best school for you, this list rounds up some of the best colleges for creative writing in the United States.

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Should You Really Be A Creative Writing Major?

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 6, 2015 11:59:13 PM

College Info

So you’re thinking about majoring in creative writing! Completing an undergraduate creative writing program can be a great way to explore your love of fiction or poetry and hone your craft.

As edifying as a creative writing major can be, it may not be what you expect. Dedicated creative writing majors are also quite uncommon, so if you're committed to getting your degree in that subject, you'll have a narrower pool of possible colleges. This post will help you decide whether a creative writing major is right for you. 

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How to Teach the ACT: A Guide for Tutors and Parents

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 2, 2015 8:30:00 AM

ACT General Info

I spent four years as a test-prep tutor, working with students on all aspects of the ACT and SAT. When I started out, I knew how to take the tests, but I wasn't that good at teaching them. Over the years, however, I've learned a lot about how to be an effective teacher, and it's largely not about the kinds of tips and tricks you might expect. 

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Do You Need to Take the ACT for Community College?

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM

ACT General Info

Do you have questions about applying to community college? I have answers!

For starters, most community colleges do not require ACT scores. In fact, the vast majority are open enrollment: as long as you meet a few basic requirements (the main one is generally having a high school diploma or GED), you’re in.

The exception to this rule is if you're interested in more selective programs in science or law enforcement or if you're planning to transfer to a four-year university. In these cases, you may need to take the SAT or ACT.

In this post, I’ll explain the application process for community colleges in more depth and what steps you’ll need to take to apply.

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ACT Admission Ticket? What It Is, How to Print, and What to Do If You Lose It

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 29, 2015 4:19:39 PM

ACT Logistics

If you’re planning on taking the ACT, you may know that you’ll need an admission ticket (and photo ID) to get into the testing center. Because ACT, Inc. makes such a big deal about these tickets, figuring out how to get it just right can be one of the most stressful parts of registering for the test. But don’t worry—the process isn’t as complicated as it seems.

This guide will walk you through exactly what the ACT admission ticket is, how to get one, and what to do if you lose yours (it’s not as bad you think!).

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SAT Admission Ticket: What It Is, How to Print It Out, and What to Do if You Lose It

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 29, 2015 4:16:00 PM

SAT Logistics

If you’ve signed up for the SAT, you’ve probably heard that you need an SAT admission ticket to get in on test day. The College Board makes a big deal about these tickets, and it can be stressful to figure out how to input all your information, get the right picture, and find a way to print the ticket.

Don’t worry! This guide will walk you through exactly what the admission ticket is, how to print it out, and what to do if you lose it.

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Which States Require the SAT? Complete List

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 21, 2015 9:00:00 PM

SAT General Info, New SAT


The College Board offers a program called SAT School Day, which, as the name suggests, allows schools to offer the SAT to students during the week, generally for free.

In some states, all high school juniors are required to take the SAT under this program, while in others only some are. Read on to learn more about this program and what it means for you.


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Do You Need to Take the SAT for Community Colleges?

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 21, 2015 5:55:07 PM

College Admissions

If you’re thinking of applying to community college, you might be wondering what the application requirements are. Do you need a certain GPA? Will you have to take the SAT?

I have good news! The vast majority of community colleges are open enrollment, which means that they accept anyone who applies, as long as she has a high school diploma or GED. They generally don't require standardized test scores.

However, if you're interested in certain more selective programs like nursing or planning to transfer to a four-year university, you may end up needing SAT or ACT scores.

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What is the SAT? A Complete Explanation of the Test

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 21, 2015 5:44:48 PM

SAT General Info

If you’re thinking of applying to college, it’s vital that you know what the SAT is and how it will affect your application process.

So what is the SAT? It’s one of two standardized college admissions tests in the US. (The other is the ACT.) It's run by the College Board, a non-profit that also administers the PSAT and the AP (Advanced Placement) program.

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The Complete Prep Guide for SAT Writing: Grammar, Strategies, and Practice

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 17, 2015 8:00:00 AM

SAT Writing

This complete guide includes everything you need to know about SAT Writing. As experienced tutors, we’re all too familiar with the shortcomings of most test prep materials, so we created our own free guide to SAT writing, which we believe is the best available (even compared to expensive books from big-name companies).

To create this guide, we carefully analyzed real SATs, read the best SAT books we could find, and thought carefully about what you actually need to know to succeed on SAT writing.

Rather than trying to condense all of the info we came up with into one page (which would be insanely overwhelming!), we’ve created this article to serve as a table of contents and guide you through the different parts of the SAT writing guide. The first section covers high-level ideas about the test, like general structure and important big-picture concepts. The second outlines every grammar skill you’ll need to know and the best strategies for approaching questions about each one. The final section rounds up all kinds of strategies and tips that you can use both on the test and as you study. It also includes detailed explanations of how to plan your prep time and suggestions for where you can find further practice tests and study material, should you need them.

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Should You Take the ACT or the New 2016 SAT?

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Aug 15, 2015 9:00:00 AM

SAT versus ACT, New SAT

If you're graduating in the class of 2017, you may be wondering whether you should study for the redesigned SAT or the ACT. In general, the two tests have gotten much more similar, but there are still a few differences that may sway you towards one or the other.

Normally, I would recommend that you try both tests to determine which is better for you, but there's not yet enough data to to convert a new SAT score to an ACT score. Instead, I've outlined some of the key factors you should keep in mind when deciding which test to focus on and created a quiz that can help you determine which test will be better for you.

Before I get into the specific points about the individual tests, I want to mention to more general points that might affect your decision making.

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