SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Is Test-Optional Over? Why Test Scores Still Matter

In 2024, several elite colleges dropped their test-optional admissions policies and returned to requiring SAT/ACT scores as part of the admissions process. 

This is a major change in college admissions–and one that may be adopted by other colleges and universities in the future. With more college admissions changes potentially on the horizon, how can you plan your college application process? How do you know which colleges are test optional and which colleges require SAT/ACT scores?

Our expert admissions counselors are weighing in and giving you the tips and insider knowledge you need to know so you’re prepared for a changing college admissions landscape. Keep reading to learn more!

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How to Cram for the ACT: 10-Day, 4-Point Prep Plan

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Posted by Dora Seigel


If you’ve found this article, I assume it’s crunch time, and your ACT test date is in the next couple weeks. If you do not fall into this category (you have a bit of time—one month or more—before your test date), you can still read this guide for some study strategies, but I recommend you take advantage of all the time you have by spreading your ACT preparation out. Don't wait until the last 10 days to cram.

Though quality matters in your ACT prep, quantity is also important: you have to invest a lot of time if you want to see big improvements. You can make a lot of progress in 10 days, but you need to dedicate the necessary time to improve your ACT score. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps to raise your score by up to four points in just 10 days.

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37 TOEFL Idioms You Must Know

Does thinking about TOEFL idioms make your blood run cold, or do you think they’re a piece of cake? If this sentence has you scratching your head, we’re here to help!

This guide will explain idioms, which are phrases that mean something different than what you might think at first. We’ll go over how idioms are tested on each section of the TOEFL, give you a list of the 37 idioms you should know for the exam, and end with the best methods for studying idioms. Let’s get this show on the road and start learning about idioms for TOEFL!

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How to Improve Your SAT Reading and Writing Score: 8 Strategies

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Posted by Allen Cheng


Are you struggling with an SAT Reading and Writing score between 300 and 500? You're not alone—hundreds of thousands of students are scoring in this range. But many don't know the best ways to break out of this score range and get a 600 or higher.

Here, we'll discuss how to improve your SAT Reading score specifically and why it's so important to do so. Unlike other fluffy articles out there, we'll be focusing on actionable strategies. Put these 8 strategies to work and I'm confident you'll be able to improve your SAT Reading score.

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8 Steps for How to Pass the TOEFL With a Stellar Score

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Posted by Hannah Muniz


Knowing how to pass TOEFL test day is critical for international students who want to an attend English-speaking school. But what does "passing the TOEFL" really mean? Is there a certain TOEFL passing score everyone must get?

In truth, a TOEFL passing score is any score that's high enough to get you into the schools you wish to attend. Therefore, the score you need to pass the TOEFL will vary depending on where you're applying.

In this guide, we explain why you can’t technically pass (or fail) the TOEFL. We also give you tips on how to find your TOEFL passing score, how to increase your odds of passing the TOEFL, and what to do if you’re struggling to reach your passing score.

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Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth End Test-Optional — Will Other Schools Follow?


In February 2024, Dartmouth and Yale — two Ivy League universities — announced that they were returning to their previous policies of requiring SAT or ACT test scores as part of their admissions processes.

Brown followed suit in March 2024, announcing their decision to return to requiring standardized tests as well.  

For the past few years these schools have been “test optional,” meaning students could choose to send test scores, but they weren’t required for admission. This signals a major shift in the college admissions landscape as other U.S. universities weigh if they should follow suit. 

So how does this change impact students applying to Brown, Yale, or Dartmouth? And does this signal a larger trend in the admissions landscape? 

Let’s find out. 

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8 Top TOEFL Reading Practice Resources to Help You Study

In order to understand the passages you'll see in the TOEFL Reading section and accurately answer questions about them, you’ll likely need to do some studying before test day. If you’re not sure how to study for TOEFL Reading, we’re here to help!

In this guide, we explain the format and types of questions you’ll see on TOEFL Reading then explain the materials you need to do well on this section. We then go over all the best TOEFL Reading practice materials available, including free and official resources. We end with final tips to keep in mind during your studying in order to feel prepared and confident on test day.

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The Best TOEFL Writing Practice: 300+ Topics to Study With

Writing is the last section you’ll complete on the TOEFL. You’re so close to finishing, yet you still have two essays to write before you can celebrate completing the exam. In order to finish the test on a high note, you’ll need to be prepared for this section.

In this guide, we explain the ins and outs of the Writing section and the materials you need to do well. We then go over all the best TOEFL Writing practice resources available, including free and official practice Writing topics. We'll end with final tips to keep in mind in order to ace the TOEFL Writing section.

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The 8 Best TOEFL Speaking Practice Tests

The Speaking section of the TOEFL is often seen as one of the most challenging parts of the exam. You can’t just circle an answer and hope for the best, and any mistakes you make can’t be crossed out — they’ll all be part of your recorded response.

This means that good practice is key to doing well on this section. In this guide, I’ll explain what preparation you need in order to do well on this tricky section, go over the best TOEFL Speaking practice materials out there, and give you tips on how to get the most out of your studying.

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How to Ace the TOEFL Writing Section: 7 Expert Tips

Want to know all the information you need to write two great essays and ace the TOEFL Writing section?

This guide has all the tips you need to do well on TOEFL Writing. We’ll explain exactly what you can expect to see in this section, then give TOEFL Writing tips tips on how to answer both essay types, how you should study, and what you should do on test day to make sure you ace this section.

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How to Ace TOEFL Reading: Tips, Strategies, and Practice

Nowhere else on the TOEFL will you be expected to read so much English and know such a wide variety of vocab words as on the TOEFL Reading section. And on top of that, you’ll have to answer dozens of questions on what you’ve read. No wonder many TOEFL students feel intimidated by the Reading module.

However, TOEFL Reading is actually one of the more straightforward sections of the exam, and knowing what to expect will make it a lot easier to ace this section on test day. Read this guide to learn exactly what types of questions you’ll see on this section and how to answer them. We also outline the best TOEFL Reading strategies to supercharge your prep and the TOEFL Reading tips that can help you get a top score on test day.

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How to Ace the TOEFL Speaking Section: 6 Key Tips

The TOEFL Speaking section is a rapid-fire 20 minutes of reading, listening, jotting down notes, and (most of all) speaking. There’s a lot to do and keep track of during this section, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, we’re here to help.

In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to ace TOEFL Speaking. First, we’ll break down the TOEFL speaking questions you'll see and give tips on how to answer each question type. Then we’ll go over the best way to prepare for this section and the TOEFL Speaking tips you should keep in mind on test day.

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The Best TOEFL Practice Tests and Questions (Free and Online)

One of the best ways to prepare for the TOEFL is to take regular practice tests and quizzes. Taking TOEFL practice tests lets you estimate how well you’ll do on the real test, shows you the areas you need to focus your studies on, and helps you become more familiar and comfortable with the exam.

There are many practice TOEFL tests available, but not all of them are created equal. Taking a poorly written practice test can give you a false idea of what the real TOEFL will be like and cause you to study the wrong things.

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The 5 Best TOEFL Books to Prepare for the Exam

Are you preparing for the TOEFL but aren’t sure the best way to study? Maybe you’ve heard that prep books can be helpful, but you don't know which one to get. A good TOEFL book can be your most useful resource for preparing for the exam, and this guide will help you choose the best TOEFL prep book for you.

In this post, I discuss five of the top TOEFL books, plus offer guidance on who each book is best for. I'll explain what you should look for when choosing a good prep book, and I'll share other resources you should use to study.

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What Is the TOEFL Test? Why Do You Need It?

If you’re a non-native English speaker and you're thinking about studying in an English-speaking country, you may have heard about a test called the "TOEFL." But what is the TOEFL test, exactly, and what do you need to know about it?

If you've got questions about the TOEFL, then you've come to the right place! This guide will take you through what the TOEFL is, how it works, whether or not you’ll need to take it, and how to prepare for it.

So let's get started.

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