SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Ellen McCammon

Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

Recent Posts

Is ACT Writing Important? Expert Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 29, 2016 8:00:00 AM

ACT Writing

The Writing portion of the ACT has always been an optional portion of the exam. However, it was significantly revised in fall 2015 with the aim of better testing the kinds of analytical writing skills that are necessary for college work. Some colleges require or recommend that students take it for their application, and others don’t.

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What Is an AP Scholar? Advantages and Requirements

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 22, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

You might think the term “AP Scholar” just refers to anyone who takes studying for AP exams really seriously. But it’s actually an awards program offered by the College Board. In this article, I’ll go over what an AP Scholar is, what you need to achieve to become one, what it means to be one, and some tips on getting the award if it’s something you’re interested in.

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6 Critical AP Exam Tips to Ace Your Tests

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 5, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

The most important thing you can do to maximize your chances of getting a 5 on an AP exam is to learn the material. However, it is a standardized test, and there are strategies you can use to maximize your chances of success and make sure your hard work pays off. Keep reading for my top AP exam tips!

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The 55 AP Language and Composition Terms You Must Know

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 4, 2016 9:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

One of the competencies you need to develop for AP Language and Composition is a thorough understanding of rhetorical strategies and techniques. This is because you will both be expected to identify these strategies and techniques in the writing of others and to use them in your own writing.

But given the huge number of rhetorical terms there are, how do you know which ones you need to know and understand? Do you need to know what anaphora is? What about synecdoche?

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Every AP English Language and Composition Practice Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 4, 2016 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

With the AP English Language and Composition exam coming up, it’s important to find the best practice resources, and that includes practice tests! The AP Language and Composition exam has two sections: a multiple-choice section with 52-55 multiple questions, and a free-response section with three essay questions—one synthesis prompt, one analysis prompt, and one argument prompt.

But not all AP Lang practice tests are like the real exam, and they aren’t all of equal quality. In this guide, I’ll break down where you can find official College Board AP Language and Composition practice test resources, other free resources out there, and paid practice tests and questions. I’ll also break down which resources are high-quality and how to best incorporate AP English practice tests into your exam preparation.

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Expert Guide to the AP Language and Composition Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 4, 2016 7:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

With the 2016 AP English Language and Composition exam approaching on Wednesday, May 11, it’s time to make sure that you’re familiar with all aspects of the exam. In this article, I’ll give a brief overview of the test, do a deeper dive on each of the sections, discuss how the exam is scored, offer some strategies for studying, and finally wrap up with some essential exam day tips.

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When Are AP Tests? The Complete AP Exam Schedule

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 30, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

As the school year starts to wind down, you may be wondering: when are AP exams, anyways? In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the AP exam schedule: when they usually happen, the specific schedule for this year, what to do if you find yourself in an AP schedule mishap, and how you can leverage the schedule to best plan your studying.

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AP Literature Reading List: 127 Great Books for Your Prep

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 29, 2016 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

A lot of students wonder if there’s a specific AP English reading list of books they should be reading to succeed on the AP Literature and Composition exam. While there’s not a designated College-Board AP reading list per se, there are books that will be more useful for you to read than others as you prepare for the exam. In this article, I’ll break down why you need to read books to prepare, how many you should plan on reading, and what you should read—including poetry.

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Every AP Literature Practice Test Available: Free and Official

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 22, 2016 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

When you’re studying for your AP Literature Exam, you’re going to want to use practice tests and questions to hone your skills. But where can you find AP literature practice tests? And are all practice exams equally useful for you? 

The real exam has 55 multiple-choice questions and three free-response questions, but there are practice tests with every conceivable number and combination of question types. 

In this article, you’ll learn where to find every official College Board AP English Literature and Composition practice exam, free unofficial tests, and paid practice test resources. You’ll also find out which tests are high-quality and how you can best use different practice exams to fulfill your studying needs.

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How to Self-Study for AP Exams: 7-Step Plan

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 16, 2016 9:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

AP self-study is when you study for an AP exam on your own and then take the AP test without taking the class. This is possible because the College Board does not actually require you to take the class associated with a given AP exam to take the test!

You might be asking yourself: why do people self-study? Is self-studying right for me? Then, once you've decided to self-study, and you’ve chosen the AP exam you want to study for, you may find yourself wondering how to go about preparing for the test on your own. Where should you start? What do you need to cover? What materials should you use?

Never fear, intrepid self-studiers! My seven-step approach to self-studying, from deciding if self-studying is right for you to taking the exam, will explain exactly how to self-study for an AP test and help you tackle the task ahead of you in a way that is manageable, makes sense, and prepares you for the exam. Onward and upwards!

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Expert's Guide to the AP Literature Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 16, 2016 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

If you're planning to take the AP English Literature and Composition exam, you'll need to get familiar with what to expect from the test. Whether the 2017 test date of Wednesday, May 3 is near or far, I’m here to help you get serious about preparing for the exam. In this guide I’ll go over the test's format and question types, how it's graded, best practices for preparation, and test day tips. You’ll be on your way to AP English Lit success in no time!

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How to Study For AP Exams: 5-Step Plan

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 15, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

Preparing for AP exams can feel like a Sisyphean task. On top of keeping up with the demanding coursework and all of your other obligations, you have to prepare for a 3-hour, multi-part exam?

Yes, you do, but, more importantly, you can! If you don’t know how to study for AP exams, this is the guide for you. I’ll cover all the major steps to AP success: content review, exam skill-building, and prepping for success on test day!

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Process of Elimination on the SAT: 11 Key Tips

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 14, 2016 10:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies

With the guessing penalty eliminated for the redesigned SAT, you should guess on any question you can’t answer, because you won’t be penalized for wrong guesses. However, that doesn’t mean that guessing completely randomly is a good idea. You should always use the process of elimination as much as you are able to increase your chances of getting the right answer.

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Does the SAT Essay Matter? Expert Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 14, 2016 8:00:00 PM

SAT Essay

In days of yore, the SAT essay was very different. For starters, it was a required portion of the exam, scored as part of the writing section. You had a measly 25 minutes to give and support your opinion on such deep philosophical issues as the importance of privacy or whether people perform better when they can use their own methods to complete tasks.

Things are very different now. Along with the SAT itself, the SAT essay has been completely revamped and revised. Among other things, it is now an optional portion of the exam. In light of this SAT essay renovation, many schools will no longer require that students take the SAT essay when they take the exam.

But what do all these changes mean for you? Is the SAT Essay important?

Read on for a breakdown of the new SAT changes, some information on what schools continue to require the SAT essay, why schools do and don’t require this portion of the exam, and how to figure out if the SAT Essay is necessary or important for you.

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The 6 Best SAT Prep Games

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 14, 2016 7:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies

You may have heard of a new trend in test prep: games. That’s right—studying for your SAT by playing computer (and even phone) games! 

If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Most of the SAT prep games out there are pretty bad. However, there are a few games that may genuinely help you with some aspects of your test prep experience—although they won’t do much other than supplement your more typical studying activities like taking practice tests and doing practice problems.

In this article I’ll break down the SAT prep game trend, explain why most prep games won’t help you, describe what makes a good prep game, offer some recommendations for games that will help you, and offer some advice on how to use them.

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