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

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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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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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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Circles on SAT Math: Formulas, Review, and Practice

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Mar 7, 2018 1:00:00 PM

SAT Math

Though triangles are far and away the most common geometric shape on the SAT, make sure not to underestimate the importance of circles. You will generally come across 2-3 questions on circles on any given SAT, so it’s definitely in your best interest to understand the ins and out of how they work. And this guide is here to show you the way.

This will be your complete guide to SAT circles, including areas, circumferences, degrees, arcs, and points on a circle. We’ll take you through what these terms mean, how to manipulate and solve for various aspects of a circle, and how to tackle the most difficult SAT circle questions you may see on test day.

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The Ultimate ACT Math Prep Guide: Strategies, Topics, and Tips

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Nov 29, 2017 8:00:00 AM

ACT Math

We at PrepScholar believe in providing you with the highest quality ACT study material. We've put together a detailed, entirely free guide for your ACT math prep right here. This is the best, most comprehensive guide to the ACT Math section available anywhere. To make this article, we brought all of our top ACT Math guides together in one place.

The path to mastering the ACT is challenging, but if you're dedicated to doing your best on the test and are ready to commit your time and energy to improving your score, using our guides can help you reach your greatest potential!

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Coordinate Geometry on ACT Math: Strategies and Practice

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Nov 13, 2017 4:00:00 PM

ACT Math

Coordinate geometry is a big focus on the ACT math section, and you’ll need to know its many facets in order to tackle the variety of coordinate geometry questions you’ll see on the test. Luckily, coordinate geometry is not difficult to visualize or wrap your head around once you know the basics. And we are here to walk you through them.

There will usually be three questions on any given ACT that involve points alone, and another two to three questions that will involve lines and slopes and/or rotations, reflections, or translations. These topics are tested by about 10% of your ACT math questions, so it is a good idea to understand the ins and outs of coordinate geometry before you tackle the test.

This article will be your complete guide to points and the building blocks for coordinate geometry: I will explain how to find and manipulate points, distances, and midpoints, and give you strategies for solving these types of questions on the ACT.

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Functions on SAT Math: Linear, Quadratic, and Algebraic

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Nov 8, 2017 11:00:00 PM

SAT Math

SAT functions have the dubious honor of being one of the trickiest topics on the SAT math section. Luckily, this is not because function problems are inherently more difficult to solve than any other math problem, but because most students have simply not dealt with functions as much as they have other SAT math topics.

This means that the difference between missing points on this seemingly tricky topic and acing them is simply a matter of practice and familiarization. And considering that function problems generally show up on average of three to four times per test, you will be able to pick up several more SAT math points once you know the rules and workings of functions.

This will be your complete guide to SAT functions. We'll walk you through exactly what functions mean, how to use, manipulate, and identify them, and exactly what kind of function problems you'll see on the SAT.

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Inequalities on ACT Math: Strategies and Practice

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Nov 7, 2017 12:00:00 PM

ACT Math

Inequality questions come in a variety of shapes and forms on the ACT, but, no matter their form, you will see approximately three inequality questions on any given test. This means that inequality questions make up 5% of your overall ACT math test. Now, 5% of your test might not sound like a lot, but with only a quick brush-up on inequalities, that's an additional 5% of your questions that you're bound to rock!

This will be your complete guide to inequalities on the ACT: what they are, the different types of ACT math problems on inequalities, and how to solve them.

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Sequences on ACT Math: Strategy Guide and Review

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Oct 31, 2017 11:00:00 AM

ACT Math

Sequences are patterns of numbers that follow a particular set of rules. Whether new term in the sequence is found by an arithmetic constant or found by a ratio, each new number is found by a certain rule—the same rule—each time.

There are several different ways to find the answers to the typical sequence questions—”What is the first term of the sequence?”, “What is the last term?”, “What is the sum of all the terms?”—and each has its benefits and drawbacks. We will go through each method, and the pros and cons of each, to help you find the right balance between memorization, longhand work, and time strategies.

This will be your complete guide to ACT sequence problems—the various types of sequences there are, the typical sequence questions you’ll see on the ACT, and the best ways to solve these types of problems for your particular ACT test taking strategies.

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