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

SAT 1 vs SAT 2: What's the Difference?

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Jun 19, 2021 1:00:00 PM

SAT Subject Tests, SAT General Info

You might have heard of something called the SAT II (or SAT 2) and wondered what it could be. A secret, harder version of the SAT, perhaps? The reality is less dramatic: the SAT II is just an old name for the SAT Subject Tests.

This guide will explain the current form of the SAT II, outline the differences between the SAT 1 vs SAT 2, and help you determine which of the tests you should take.

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What Do Ivy League Schools Think of the ACT?

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Mar 15, 2021 7:30:00 PM

SAT versus ACT, ACT General Info

As an ACT tutor, I often fielded questions about whether the test would be looked down on by admissions officers, especially those at Ivy League schools. Because the SAT was the dominant college admissions test for so long, many students and parents worry that—at least in the Northeast—schools still prefer the SAT over the ACT. However, that time has definitely passed, and schools will now accept either test equally.

Read on for a more in-depth explanation of how Ivy League schools view the ACT today, and learn the differences in testing policies that might affect your decision to take the ACT or SAT.

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Average ACT Scores: What They Mean For You

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Oct 18, 2020 7:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target, ACT General Info

The average ACT score for US students is a 20.6. The middle 50% of students score between a 16 and a 25. The following chart breaks down the nationwide average by section:










However, when you’re thinking about college admissions the nationwide average isn’t important: what really matters is the average score of the students you’re being compared with.

If you’re a high achieving student applying to very selective schools you’ll need a score much higher than the national average. If, on the other hand, you’re applying to certain state schools, a 20 is a totally acceptable score.

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Average SAT Scores: What They Are and What They Mean

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Oct 10, 2020 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 2019, the average SAT score was a 1051. I’ve created a chart by section below.

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What Is the ACT? A Complete Explanation of the Test

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Jan 19, 2020 10:44:00 PM

ACT General Info

If you've found this article, you've probably vaguely heard of the ACT (and if you hadn't before, well, you have now!). Maybe you have some idea that it has something to do with college, but you're still pretty confused about what exactly it is. I'm here to help!

The ACT, like the SAT, is a standardized test used for college admissions. If you're planning to apply to college in the US, you'll almost certainly have to take one of these tests (and you might still need to even if you're planning on going to school outside the US).

This article will take you through everything you need to know about the ACT, including why students take it, what it tests you on, and when you should plan to take it yourself.

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

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Oct 6, 2019 4:31:00 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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Pronoun Agreement on ACT English: Tips and Practice

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Jun 22, 2019 4:00:00 PM

SAT Writing, ACT English

Pronoun agreement errors are an especially confusing type of ACT English question because people often misuse pronouns, especially when you speak. In fact, I just made a pronoun mistake: can you spot it?

Take a closer look at the second half of my first sentence: "people often misuse pronouns, especially when you speak." Who is "you" referring to here: "people." However, the correct pronoun for the third person plural is "they." The correct version of the sentence is "people often misuse pronouns, especially when they speak."

On the ACT English section, you'll be expected to spot these kind of errors in a variety of different contexts. I'll go over both the basic rules for pronouns and the common mistakes you'll see on the test, so that you can approach the test with confidence.

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What Is the SAT? A Complete Explanation of the Test

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | May 26, 2019 4:45:00 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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Everything You Need to Know About Commas for the ACT

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Dec 9, 2018 4:10:00 PM

ACT English

Nobody likes commas: they're weird and confusing and possibly pointless. My brother decided to boycott them entirely in his senior year of high school, leaving his lists running together and his appositives undefined. Even veteran copy editors sometimes struggle with where exactly to place these reviled punctuation marks. 

Even so, if you want to succeed on the ACT English, you'll have to learn how to expertly employ commas. The good news is that there is a fairly limited set of comma rules you'll need to know for the ACT. But before we get into the nitty-gritty technical stuff, let's establish one very important principle.

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The Ultimate Study Guide for ACT English: Tips, Rules, Practice, and Strategies

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Jun 18, 2018 12:00:00 PM

ACT English

This guide collects the best ACT English prep material on the internet. We've created everything here from scratch, and we think it's the best guide available anywhere.

In writing it, we pored over real ACTs, consulted the best existing books, and thought deeply about what you'll need to excel on ACT English. Our subject guides closely reflect what you’ll see on the actual test and our strategies have all been used successfully by our past students. We’ve covered everything you need to know about ACT English.

This post is a table of contents, designed to lead you through the different articles you’ll want to study in a logical order and explain how to get the most out of them. It starts with the big-picture, high-level ideas that will get you thinking about the best way to approach ACT English. Then it moves on to our coverage of the skills and concepts you’ll see on the test. The last section includes a variety of ACT English tips and strategies that can help you create a study plan and learn to attack the test in the most efficient way.

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

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Feb 26, 2018 12:00:00 PM

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've 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 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 take you through the different parts of the SAT Writing section.

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Should You Take the ACT or the SAT?

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Feb 19, 2018 12:00:00 PM

SAT versus ACT, New SAT

If you're in high school, you may be wondering whether you should take the SAT or the ACT. In general, the two tests have gotten much more similar since the SAT was revamped in 2016, but there are still a few differences that may sway you towards one or the other.

In this guide, 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.

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The New SAT vs. the ACT: Full Breakdown

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Jun 8, 2017 9:00:00 AM

SAT versus ACT, New SAT

For the past decade or so, the SAT has come under increasing scrutiny for its confusing structure, trick questions, and obscure vocabulary. Meanwhile, the ACT is often seen as the fairer test, more closely based in what students learn in school.

As you might have heard, the College Board undertook a radical overhaul of the SAT that went into effect in March 2016 and, in many ways, made it much more similar to the ACT. Adding to the confusion is the fact that ACT, Inc., also made some minor changes to the ACT.

What are the main differences between the current versions of the two tests? The short answer is that the SAT and ACT are now quite similar. The changes have eliminated many of the two tests' major differences in both style and content. Nonetheless, there remain important variations—some long-standing and some newly introduced.

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Please Complete Our Brief PrepScholar Blog Survey!

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Mar 26, 2016 1:00:00 PM

Here at PrepScholar, we're always striving to determine how we can write even better articles that will be both interesting and helpful for our readers. To that end, we've created this very brief survey to find out a little bit more about all of you and what kinds of articles you're most interested in. Please take a few minutes to fill it out so we can keep expanding our subject matter to cover the topics that matter most to you!

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What Are CEEB Codes? Your Questions Answered

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Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 18, 2015 5:09:20 PM

SAT Logistics, SAT General Info

Between college applications and standardized testing, you’ve probably heard CEEB codes mentioned at some point during your high school career. You may have even wondered what they were other than mysterious four digit numbers.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about CEEB codes.

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