SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Allen Cheng

As co-founder and head of product design at PrepScholar, Allen has guided thousands of students to success in SAT/ACT prep and college admissions. He's committed to providing the highest quality resources to help you succeed. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and earned two perfect scores on the SAT (1600 in 2004, and 2400 in 2014) and a perfect score on the ACT.
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Recent Posts

How to Get a 4.0 GPA and Better Grades, By a Harvard Alum

Posted by Allen Cheng | Jan 17, 2018 9:00:00 AM

College Admissions, Coursework/GPA

On the 4.0 scale, an unweighted 4.0 GPA means perfection. You need straight As in every classnot even one A- is allowed. In college applications, this carries a lot of weight. You’re essentially telling the college, “High school classes are a cinch. I’ve taken a tough course load, and I’m more than prepared for what college has to throw at me.”

In high school, I got a 4.0 GPA with a course load featuring 10 AP courses. I got straight As and 12 A+'s. This strong course load, along with a strong application, got me into Harvard and every college I applied to.

While it's flattering to say, "Well, Allen's just a smart guy," in reality I relied a lot more on high-level strategy and effective academic habits. These were the same strategies I applied to my undergraduate work at Harvard and that led me to graduate summa cum laude with a 3.95 GPA. This is the guide I wish I had my freshman year of high school.

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How to Sign Up for the ACT: Tricks and Tips

Posted by Allen Cheng | Jan 4, 2018 11:00:00 PM

ACT Logistics

Registering for the ACT seems like a pretty straightforward part of the testing process. But the signup process is much more convoluted than you think, and some things matter a lot more than others. You also want to make sure to avoid important mistakes that can be costly.

In this article, we’ll discuss step-by-step how to sign up for the ACT. In the half-hour long process, we’ll discuss which sections matter a lot, and which ones not at all. Finally, we’ll share helpful tips to choose the best location and save money.

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How to Calculate Your ACT Composite Score, Plus 5 Strategies

Posted by Allen Cheng | Dec 31, 2017 6:00:00 PM

ACT General Info, ACT Strategies

Your ACT Composite Score is an important part of your college applications. In this guide, we show you how exactly to calculate your ACT Composite Score from each of your section scores. More importantly, we give you custom strategies on how to use your Composite Score to adapt your ACT prep. Read on...

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Best SAT Prep Books 2018

Posted by Allen Cheng | Dec 28, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies, SAT General Info

There are a lot of “Best SAT Books” lists out there, but we think that most of them aren’t very good or thorough. As a result, I’ve tried to write a much better guide here.

In this article, you’ll learn which books are absolutely critical for your SAT prep, which books to use to improve your individual section scores, and which books you'll need if you’re aiming for a top score. More importantly, you’ll learn how to use these SAT prep books for effective studying.

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How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League, by a Harvard Alum

Posted by Allen Cheng | Dec 1, 2017 4:00:00 PM

College Admissions

Getting into elite schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and others is a goal of many high school students. How exactly to accomplish this is often a mystery to students and parents going through the admissions process. Lots of unhelpful and vague advice abound, especially from people who have never gained admission themselves to these schools.

In high school, I got into every school I applied to, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford, and I attended Harvard for college. I also learned a lot about my classmates and the dynamics of college admissions in ways that were never clear to me in high school. Now, I'm sharing this expertise with you.

I’ve written the most comprehensive guide to getting into top schools. I’m going to explain in detail what admissions officers at Ivy League schools are really looking for in your application. More importantly, I’m going to share an actionable framework you can use to build the most compelling application that’s unique to you.

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The Ultimate SAT Study Guide for SAT Prep

Posted by Allen Cheng | Nov 30, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies

At PrepScholar, we've written the largest set of high-quality SAT guides available, covering pretty much everything you need to know to improve your score on the SAT. They're all free and online, right here on our blog, and we think they beat any book you can purchase.

This guide, our Ultimate SAT Prep Study Guide, combines our most important SAT guides on one page. If you master all of the concepts linked to on this page, use them in your own practice and studying, and stay motivated to work hard, you'll have an amazing shot at improving your SAT score. Essentially, you'll have a huge advantage over students who don't know this information and lack the motivation to employ it in their own studying.

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What Is the Average SAT Score?

Posted by Allen Cheng | Nov 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

If you've taken the SAT, you're probably curious about how your score stacks up against average SAT scores. There are lots of different ways to look at averages on the SAT. What is the average SAT score overall? How many types of average SAT scores are there? And which averages are important for you?

We'll answer all of these questions and more to tell you which SAT average scores actually matter for your future.

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How to Get a Perfect 1600 SAT Score, by a 2400 Expert Full Scorer

Posted by Allen Cheng | Nov 8, 2017 5:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies

Updated for the New 2016 SAT!

The maximum score on the SAT is a 1600. Out of the 1.7 million students who take the test every year, only about 300 get the highest possible SAT score. This elusive perfect score catapults you to the top of high school academic achievement and can be a big boost to your college applications.

I scored perfect scores on the SAT. I actually scored two perfect scores - a 1600 in 2004 when I was in high school, and a 2400 in March 2014 when I took it ten years later.

Most of the advice out there about how to get a perfect score come from people who didn't get perfect scores. In this exclusive article, I'll be breaking down exactly what it takes, and the ruthless techniques I used to get a perfect score.

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How to Improve Low ACT Math Scores: 9 Tips From a Perfect Scorer

Posted by Allen Cheng | Nov 8, 2017 9:00:00 AM

ACT Math

Are you struggling with ACT Math scores between 14-24? You're not alone - hundreds of thousands of other students are scoring in this range. But many don't know the best ways to break out of this score range and get 26+ on the ACT.

Here we'll discuss how to improve ACT Math score effectively, and why it's so important to do so. Put these principles to work and I'm confident you'll be able to improve your score.

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Printable ACT Practice Tests PDFs: 5 FREE Official Tests

Posted by Allen Cheng | Nov 7, 2017 2:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

No matter how you prep for the ACT—whether you have a tutor, take a class, or study by yourself—you must get access to official, printable ACT tests. These tests are released by ACT, Inc., and contain real questions given to actual students on previous test dates. Although all of these questions have been removed from circulation (meaning you won't ever see them on the real ACT), their quality is second to none when it comes to realistic ACT practice. 

In this post, I'll tell you where you can find all official, printable ACT practice tests with answer keys. I'll also give you key strategies to help you make big improvements on each practice test.

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Best ACT Prep Books 2018

Posted by Allen Cheng | Nov 7, 2017 12:00:00 PM

ACT General Info, ACT Strategies

There are numerous “Best ACT Books” lists out there. But we think most of them aren’t very good or thorough, so I’ve tried to write a much better guide here. You’ll learn which books are absolutely critical for your ACT prep, which focus on improving individual sections, and which you'll need if you're aiming for a top score. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to use these top-notch ACT prep books for effective studying.

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New SAT Conversion Chart: Old 2400 to New 1600 (Official)

Posted by Allen Cheng | Oct 29, 2017 3:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

In March 2016, the SAT underwent a massive redesign, part of which included a change to its scoring system: it shifted from a 2400-point scale to a 1600-point scale. But how do you compare a new SAT score with one on the old SAT 2400 scale? What scores are colleges looking for since some still don't have data on the new SAT?

The official new SAT to old SAT conversion charts below offer the most accurate score conversions from one SAT to the other. If you need to convert your new SAT score to an old SAT score, or vice versa, simply use our handy conversion tool below to find your score.

After you get your SAT conversion, keep reading—I tell you why it's easier to get a higher SAT score than before due to the new SAT scoring advantage (the new SAT score is higher in certain score regions!).

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How to Get 800 on SAT Writing: 9 Strategies From a Perfect Scorer

Posted by Allen Cheng | Oct 19, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies, SAT Writing

Are you scoring in the 600–750 range on SAT Writing? Do you want to raise that score as high as possible—to a perfect 800?

Getting to an 800 SAT Writing score isn't easy. It'll require near perfection and a mastery of both grammar rules and essay writing. But with hard work and my SAT writing strategies below, you'll be able to do it. I've consistently scored 800 on Writing on my real SATs, and I know what it takes. Follow my advice, and you'll get a perfect score—or get very close.

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How to Get 36 on ACT Math: 8 Strategies by a Perfect Scorer

Posted by Allen Cheng | Oct 16, 2017 5:20:00 PM

ACT Strategies, ACT Math

 

Are you scoring in the 26-34 range on ACT Math? Do you want to raise that score as high as possible - to a perfect 36?

Getting to a 36 ACT Math score isn't easy. It'll require perfection. But with hard work and my strategies below, you'll be able to do it. I've scored 36 on Math on all my ACTs, and I know what it takes. Follow my advice, and you'll get a perfect score - or get very close.

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How to Improve Your ACT English Score: 9 Tips From a Perfect Scorer

Posted by Allen Cheng | Oct 15, 2017 9:02:00 AM

ACT English

Are you struggling with ACT English scores between 14-24? You're not alone - hundreds of thousands of other students are scoring in this range. But many don't know the best ways to break out of this score range and get 26+ on the ACT.

Here we'll discuss how to improve ACT English score effectively, and why it's so important to do so. Put these principles to work and I'm confident you'll be able to improve your score.

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