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

What Harvard's Asian Admissions Lawsuit Reveals About How You Should Approach College Applications

Posted by Allen Cheng | Jun 29, 2018 6:01:46 PM

College Admissions

The hottest news in college admissions these days is the release of documents from the lawsuit filed against Harvard University for unfair admissions practices against Asian-Americans. For the first time in recent memory, an elite institution's opaque admissions practices have been laid bare. More than 90,000 pages of internal Harvard admissions documents have been made available for use in the lawsuit, with excerpts made publicly available in court filings.

In this article, I'll summarize what this lawsuit is about and what we learned about how top-tier schools like Harvard choose which students to accept. (Spoiler: most of it confirms what I wrote about in my How to Get Into Harvard guide. If you haven't read that, I suggest you open it in a tab right now, and read it after you finish this article).

Most importantly, we'll cover what this means for how YOU should be preparing for college admissions.

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How to Improve ACT Science Scores: 7 Tips From a Perfect Scorer

Posted by Allen Cheng | Jun 4, 2018 12:00:00 PM

ACT Strategies, ACT Science

Are you struggling with ACT Science 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 your ACT Science 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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How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League, by a Harvard Alum

Posted by Allen Cheng | May 24, 2018 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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Printable SAT Practice Tests PDFs: 16 FREE Official Tests

Posted by Allen Cheng | May 4, 2018 2:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

In this article, I'll tell you where to find all official, printable SAT practice tests and answer keys. This comprehensive guide gives you access to more SAT practice tests than any other online guide. In addition, you'll learn key strategies that'll help you make big improvements on SAT practice tests you can print out.

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Complete Official SAT Practice Tests, Free Links

Posted by Allen Cheng | May 1, 2018 10:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

Official SAT tests released by the College Board are the absolute gold standard for SAT practice questions. Each official practice test contains real questions given to actual students at previous administrations of the SAT. 

In this article, I'll show you where to find all official SAT practice tests online. This comprehensive guide gives you access to more practice tests than any other guide out there. Most of these tests are free and great practice to get started with your SAT prep. We'll also discuss how to use these practice tests to help you get the most improvement possible out of them.

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My Successful Harvard Application (Complete Common App + Supplement)

 

In 2005, I applied to college and got into every school I applied to, including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT. I decided to attend Harvard.

In this guide, I’ll show you the entire college application that got me into Harvard - page by page, word for word.

In my complete analysis, I'll take you through my Common Application, Harvard supplemental application, personal statements and essays, extracurricular activities, teachers' letters of recommendation, counselor recommendation, complete high school transcript, and more. I’ll also give you in-depth commentary on every part of my application.

To my knowledge, a college application analysis like this has never been done before. This is the application guide I wished I had when I was in high school.

If you’re applying to top schools like the Ivy Leagues, you’ll see firsthand what a successful application to Harvard and Princeton looks like. You’ll learn the strategies I used to build a compelling application. You’ll see what items were critical in getting me admitted, and what didn’t end up helping much at all.

Reading this guide from beginning to end will be well worth your time - you might completely change your college application strategy as a result. 

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What Does ACT Stand For? The Complete Story

Posted by Allen Cheng | Apr 3, 2018 4:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

The ACT is now the most popular college admissions standardized test in the US, with the number of test-takers exceeding that of the SAT.

But what does ACT actually stand for, and why does this actually matter? We answer all your questions in this guide.

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

Posted by Allen Cheng | Mar 12, 2018 12:00:00 PM

ACT Strategies, ACT Science

We've written the best ACT Science guide available anywhere. This is not an exaggerationwe've studied dozens of ACT prep books and online resources, both paid and free, and we believe this is the best resource available right now, by far.

In this guide, we cover every question type on the ACT Science section and give you strategies to attack them. In addition, we provide you with our best ACT Science tips and teach you how to get the most out of your ACT Science practice and ACT prep.

If you're serious about raising your ACT Science score, read through every link. By mastering all the key concepts, engaging with realistic practice questions, and reviewing your mistakes, you'll dramatically improve your ACT Science score.

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The Best Way to Study SAT Vocab Words

Posted by Allen Cheng | Mar 1, 2018 4:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies, SAT Reading

Studying SAT vocab is a confusing topic for most students. It's unclear how many words you should memorize, which words to learn, and how to actually memorize these words without wasting time. If you think you need to memorize a list of 2,000 SAT vocab words you found on the internet, stop right there. We're about to save you a lot of time while delivering the same results.

In this guide, we'll discuss which words you should memorize and go over a reliable way to commit these words to memory.

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

Posted by Allen Cheng | Feb 15, 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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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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