# 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

No doubt you’ve heard one piece of advice more than any other when it comes to test-taking: “If you need to guess on a multiple choice test, always pick C.”

But is the popularity of this strategy an indication of its efficacy? Do you have a better chance at gaining points if you guess C on your SAT questions in comparison to any other guessing strategy? And if not, what can you do to improve your odds when guessing?

Let’s look at the facts.

The ACT is a complex test that requires both an understanding of how the test works and a strategic approach to beat. The more you know about the secrets of each section, the better you'll be at maximizing your overall point-gain and getting the scores you want. And today we're here to walk you through how to do your very best on the ACT math section.

Each subject section requires its own unique approach, and the ACT math section can give even some of the highest math achievers a run for their money. But luckily we’re here to help! We'll take you through the most important strategy you’ll need to know and teach you how to conquer the ACT math section once and for all.

You likely had your first taste of working with fractions sometime in elementary school, though it's probably been a while since you've had to deal with how they shift, change, and interact with one another. To refresh, fractions and ratios are both used to represent pieces of a whole. Fractions tell you how many pieces you have compared to a potential whole amount (3 red marbles in a bag of 5, for example), while ratios compare pieces to each other (3 red marbles to 2 blue marbles) or, more rarely, pieces to the whole amount (again, 3 red marbles in 5 total).

If this sounds complicated to you right now, don’t worry! We will go through all the principles behind fractions and ratios in this guide. If this seems easy to you right now, definitely check out the practice problems at the end of the guide to make sure you have mastered all the different kinds of fraction and ratio problems you’ll see on the test. The SAT likes to present familiar concepts in unfamiliar ways, so don’t let your mastery of fractions lead you to make assumptions about how you’ll see fractions and ratios on the test.

No matter how comfortable you are (or are not) with fractions and ratios right now, this guide is for you. Here, we will go through the complete breakdown of fractions and ratios on the SAT—what they mean, how to manipulate them, and how to answer the most difficult fraction and ratio problems on the SAT.

In a way, single variable equations are some of the most common and least common types of questions on the SAT math section. Why? Because it’s rare to find more than one or two single variable equations per test, and yet knowing how to solve and manipulate single variable equations is a basic requirement for solving most all SAT math questions.

Even though you won’t often see single variable equations by themselves, it is crucial that you know how to set up, use, and manipulate them. You cannot solve the more complex expressions like quadratics, multiple variables, and so on, without first understanding single variable equations.

This guide will be your complete walk-through of single variable equations for the SAT--what they are, how you’ll see them on the test, and how to set up and solve them.

Polynomial problems will show up in some way, shape, or form on the ACT two or three times per test. And since polynomials are so deeply connected to other ACT math topics, like operations and functions, it's even more important to take the time to understand them before test day.

Luckily, you probably know a lot more about polynomials than you think, and if you're currently rusty on the subject, just a little review will have you knocking out your polynomial questions left and right.

This will be your complete guide to polynomials on the ACT—what they are, how you'll see them on the test, and the best way to solve your polynomial problems before time is up.

Understanding how to do your best on the ACT math section means understanding how the math section is structured and where you can get the most points for your time and energy.

We’ll walk you through how each ACT math section is organized and how you can use this information to your benefit, both in your studies and as you take your official ACTs.

Though the majority of ACT math problems use diagrams or simply ask you to solve given mathematical equations, you will also see approximately 15-18 word problems on any given ACT (between 25% and 30% of the total math section). This means that knowing how best to deal with word problems will help you significantly when taking the test. Though there are many different types of ACT word problems, most of them are not nearly as difficult or cumbersome as they may appear.

This post will be your complete guide to ACT word problems: how to translate your word problems into equations and diagrams, the different types of word problems you’ll see on the test, and how best to go about solving your word problems for test day.

You will usually see one conic section question (though no more than one) on any given ACT, but just what is a conic section and how do you solve it? Luckily for us, though conic section questions are rare, they are generally straightforward and can get you an easy point if you take a few minutes to study them.

This will be your complete guide to conic sections—what they are, how you'll see them on the test, and the best way to approach these types of ACT math questions.

The ACT allows for guessing without penalty (no negative points here!), but how can you turn guessing into the best strategy to maximize your ACT math score? The more you can increase your guessing odds, the better off you’ll be. And we’re here to show you how.

We’ll go through when and how to guess strategically on the ACT math section as well as show you examples of how to guess most effectively in action.

So you’ve been staring at one math problem for what feels like forever, or maybe you’ve gone through your solve and none of the answer choices match what you found. Or maybe you just feel like somewhere along the way you made a huge mistake….

Well, never fear! Right now you might be stuck on a math problem, but we’ve all been there and there is always a way to recover. We’ll walk you through both how to recognize when you’re stuck (it’s not always obvious until too late) and what to do about it when it happens.

You’ve lined up all your SAT math study material, but now how do you use these questions to their best effect? Getting the materials to study is only half the battle—making an effective study plan and knowing how to best execute it is the second, crucial step.

We’ve put together a comprehensive plan on how to make use of the study materials you have at hand. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to best use your math practice problems and how to make the best study plan possible to boost your SAT math score.

If you put to a vote whether the ACT Math test or the SAT Math test is easier, there's going to be heavy contention on both sides. Some will swear up and down (and sideways) that the SAT Math section is easier. Others will not be moved by any force in the world away from the position that the ACT Math section is the simpler one.

But which faction is right? And more importantly, which test should you take? We’ve broken down the ins and outs of each math test to tell you which is easier, depending on the type of test taker and math student you are.

Now that you’ve gathered together all your ACT math study materials, it’s time to put together a plan of attack. Having the right study materials is key, but understanding how to use them to their best effect is just as important. (What good is a tool wielded improperly, after all?)

We’ve put together a comprehensive plan on how to make use of your ACT math study materials and boost your math score. We’ll walk you through how to best use your math practice problems and how to make the best study plan possible to prepare yourself for test day.

On average, you’ll need to use an SAT math formula once every four to five questions. This accounts for approximately 20-25% of the combined math sections, which means it is crucial that you understand how and when to employ your formulas on the SAT.

We’ve put together the list of your need-to-know SAT formulas (prioritized in the order from greatest to least that you’ll see them on the SAT) as well as how to best use them for test-day.

Coordinate geometry is one of the heavy-hitter topics on the SAT, and you'll need to be able to maneuver your way through its many facets in order to take on the variety of questions you'll see on the test. Luckily, though, coordinate geometry is not difficult to visualize or wrap your head around once you know the basics. And we are here to show you how.

There will usually be two questions on any given SAT that involve points alone, and another 2-3 questions that will involve lines and slopes and/or rotations, reflections, or translations. This makes up a significant portion of your SAT math section, so it is a good idea to understand the ins and outs of coordinate geometry before you tackle the test.

This will be your complete guide to points and the building blocks for coordinate geometry—how to find and manipulate points, distances, and midpoints, as well as strategies for solving these types of questions on test day.