SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Courtney Montgomery

Courtney scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT in high school and went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Cultural and Social Anthropology. She is passionate about bringing education and the tools to succeed to students from all backgrounds and walks of life, as she believes open education is one of the great societal equalizers. She has years of tutoring experience and writes creative works in her free time.

Recent Posts

SAT Math vs ACT Math: What's the Difference?

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Jun 16, 2019 2:00:00 PM

SAT versus ACT, ACT Math, SAT Math

Which is better/easier/faster—the SAT Math section or the ACT Math section? How does each stack up over the course of the entire test? Most importantly, which math section is right for you?

We’ll break down both the similarities and differences in this SAT Math vs ACT Math guide and help you decide which standardized test suits you better.

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Complete List of FREE SAT Math Practice Problems

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Jun 9, 2019 12:00:00 PM

SAT Math

Need to study for the SAT Math section but don’t know where to start? On a budget, too? Not to worry! In this article, we've put together a comprehensive list of all the best (and free!) SAT Math study materials and guides currently available online.

Note: For info on the best SAT study materials you have to pay for, check out our picks for top SAT prep books.

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Lines and Slopes in SAT Math: Geometry Strategies

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | May 16, 2019 4:00:00 PM

SAT Math

In our SAT guide to lines and angles, we dealt with parallel lines, perpendiculars, and the many different ways to find angle measures with two or more lines. Now, we’ll look at the other aspect of lines, namely their slopes and equations.

This will be your complete guide to lines and slopes—what slopes mean, how to find them, and how to solve the many types of slope and line equation questions you’ll see on the SAT.

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Guide to ACT Calculators: Expert Tips

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | May 12, 2019 11:00:00 PM

ACT Math

Knowing when where and how to best use a calculator on the ACT can be tricky. You are allowed to bring a calculator on test day (none will be provided for you), and it can mean the difference of several points on the ACT to have a calculator versus having none.

But what kind of calculator should you bring and how should you make best use of it during the test? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about calculators on the ACT, from when you're allowed to use them, to what kinds are allowed, to how to avoid the most common ACT calculator mistakes.

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The 21 Hardest ACT Math Questions Ever

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Apr 27, 2019 9:00:00 AM

ACT Math

You’ve studied and now you’re geared up for the ACT math section (whoo!). But are you ready to take on the most challenging math questions the ACT has to offer? Do you want to know exactly why these questions are so hard and how best to go about solving them? If you’ve got your heart set on that perfect score (or you’re just really curious to see what the most difficult questions will be), then this is the guide for you.

We’ve put together what we believe to be the most 21 most difficult questions the ACT has given to students in the past 10 years, with strategies and answer explanations for each. These are all real ACT math questions, so understanding and studying them is one of the best ways to improve your current ACT score and knock it out of the park on test day.

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ACT Trigonometry: The Complete Guide

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Apr 21, 2019 8:00:00 AM

ACT Math

Trigonometry is the branch of math that deals with right triangles and the relationships between their sides and angles. (The word "trig" is related to the word "triangle," to help you remember.)

There will generally be around 4-6 questions questions on the ACT that deal with trigonometry (the official ACT guidelines say that trigonometry problems make up 7% of the test). They may seem complicated at first glance, but most of them boil down to a few simple concepts.

This article will be your comprehensive guide to the trigonometry you’ll need to know for the ACT. We’ll take you through the meaning of trigonometry, the formulas and understandings you’ll need to know, and how to tackle some of the most difficult ACT trig problems.

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The Ultimate SAT Math Prep Guide: Tips, Formulas, and Practice

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Mar 3, 2019 12:00:00 PM

SAT Math

It's entirely possible to train for the SAT Math section. The more you understand how it works, the better you'll perform on test day. Here, we'll give you absolutely everything you'll need to know to master SAT Math.

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Systems of Equations in SAT Math: Algebra Prep and Practice

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Jan 6, 2019 1:26:00 PM

SAT Math

Sure, you’ve done your paces on single variable equations and now they’re no problem, but what do you do when presented with multiple equations and multiple variables at once? These are what we call “systems of equations” and, luckily for us, they are extremely predictable types of problems with multiple methods for solving them. Depending on how you like to work best, you can basically choose your own adventure when it comes to system of equation problems.

But before you choose the method that suits you (or the individual problem) best, let’s look at all the various options you have available as well as the types of questions you’ll see come test day. These questions will always show up once or twice on any given test, so it's best to understand all the strategies you have at your disposal. 

This will be your complete guide to systems of equations questions—what they are, the many different ways for solving them, and how you’ll see them on the SAT.

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The 31 Critical ACT Math Formulas You MUST Know

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Dec 10, 2018 2:26:00 PM

ACT Math

The two biggest challenges of ACT Math are the time crunch—the math test has 60 questions in 60 minutes!—and the fact that the test doesn’t provide you with any formulas. All the formulas and math knowledge for the ACT comes from what you’ve learned and memorized.

In this complete list of critical formulas you'll need on the ACT, I'll lay out every formula you must have memorized before test day, as well as explanations for how to use them and what they mean. I'll also show you which formulas you should prioritize memorizing (the ones that are needed for multiple questions) and which ones you should memorize only when you've got everything else nailed down tight.

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How to Improve Reading Comprehension: 8 Expert Tips

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Nov 4, 2018 10:48:00 AM

Coursework/GPA

Reading is a skill many people take for granted, but the act of reading and properly comprehending a text is a complex and interactive process. It requires several different brain functions to work together and most often requires one to puzzle through multiple layers of context and meaning. 

Because reading comprehension is so complicated, we can often find ourselves understanding the most basic interpretation of a text, but missing the emotional core or the “big picture.” Or we might just find our brains spinning with no clue at all as to what a text is attempting to convey.

But luckily for everyone who struggles in English classes, on standardized tests, or in daily life, reading comprehension can be improved upon (and it’s never too late to start!). In this guide, I explain step-by-step how to improve reading comprehension over time and offer tips for boosting your understanding as you read.

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Complete List of 100+ Free Online High Schools

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Nov 4, 2018 10:41:00 AM

Coursework/GPA

Online high schools can be a way for students to take high school classes and graduate at their own pace, without having to adhere to strict schedules and the distractions of a traditional school. So if you feel that an in-person school isn't right for you for whatever reason, an online school might be the perfect fit. 

We’ll give you a list of all the (tuition free!) online high schools available in the United States, as well as how they work, and how and why an online high school could be right for you. So let's get started!

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How to Study Better in High School: 16 Expert Tips

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Nov 4, 2018 9:52:00 AM

Coursework/GPA

Studying is about finding a right balance between concentration, understanding, retention, and rest. And, just like any task that taxes your energy—be it physical or mental—it is often just as difficult to get started as it is to engage in the task itself. 

But don't despair! Whether you need to study for just one test, or want to learn how to study over the long haul and retain a whole term's worth of information, we've got you covered. We’ll explain exactly how to study better, helping you revamp both your daily and long-term study habits and giving you the best study tips for managing your time and keeping your focus as you actually study. 

And, once you've mastered these study techniques, we’ll also show you how to prepare yourself for test day so you can do your very best when the chips are down. So let’s get to it!

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The Complete Guide to SAT Math Word Problems

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Jun 1, 2018 8:00:00 AM

SAT Math

About 25% of your total SAT Math section will be word problems, meaning you will have to create your own visuals and equations to solve for your answers. Though the actual math topics can vary, SAT word problems share a few commonalities, and we’re here to walk you through how to best solve them.

This post will be your complete guide to SAT Math word problems. We'll cover how to translate word problems into equations and diagrams, the different types of math word problems you’ll see on the test, and how to go about solving your word problems on test day.

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Most Common Answer on the ACT: Guess C?

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Apr 17, 2018 9:00:00 PM

ACT Strategies

Everyone knows that, when guessing on a multiple-choice test, the best answer to choose is C...right? A friend of a friend swears by it, it’s served you well in the past (maybe?), and it’s become such a commonly known “fact,” such an undisputed strategy, that you may feel as if you were born knowing it—”when in doubt, pick C and move on.”

But does this time-honored tradition of picking C when in doubt actually work on the ACT? And if not, what can you do to improve your odds when guessing? Let’s look at the facts.

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How to Stop Running Out of Time on SAT Math

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Mar 29, 2018 12:00:00 PM

SAT Math

The SAT is designed to be taken by every high school student in the country, which means it can only test math concepts that every student has had experience with. The way the creators of the test make it hard is by presenting questions in unusual ways—ways that you never see in your math classes—and by putting you on a strict time crunch.

If you've ever started freaking out at the end of an SAT Math section, unsure how you're ever going to get through the entire section, you know exactly what we mean.

But don't despair! In this guide, we'll walk you through the timing of the test and teach you how to beat the clock and maximize your time on the SAT.

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