SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Ellen McCammon

Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

Recent Posts

Where to Find the Best DBQ Examples

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Mar 29, 2021 6:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

One of the best ways to prepare for the DBQ (the "document-based question" on the AP European History, AP US History, and AP World History exams) is to look over sample questions and example essays. Doing this will help you to get a sense of what makes a good (and what makes a bad) DBQ response.

That said, not all DBQ essay examples are created equal. I’ll briefly cover what makes a good DBQ example and then provide a list of example essays by course. Lastly, I’ll give you some helpful tips on how to best use sample essays in your own preparation process.

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Every AP Literature Practice Test Available: Free and Official

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Mar 28, 2021 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

When you're studying for your AP Literature Exam, you're going to want to use practice tests and questions to hone your skills. But where can you find AP literature practice tests? And are all practice exams equally useful for you? 

The real exam has 55 multiple-choice questions and three free-response questions, but there are practice tests with every conceivable number and combination of question types.

In this article, you'll learn where to find every official College Board AP English Literature and Composition practice exam, free unofficial tests, and paid practice test resources. You'll also find out which tests are high-quality and how you can best use different practice exams to fulfill your studying needs.

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AP Literature Reading List: 127 Great Books for Your Prep

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Mar 1, 2021 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

A lot of students wonder if there's a specific AP English reading list of books they should be reading to succeed on the AP Literature and Composition exam. While there's not an official College-Board AP reading list, there are books that will be more useful for you to read than others as you prepare for the exam. In this article, I'll break down why you need to read books to prepare, how many you should plan on reading, and what you should read—including poetry.

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How to Study for AP Exams: 5-Step Plan

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Mar 1, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

Preparing for AP exams can feel like a Sisyphean task. On top of keeping up with the demanding coursework and all your other obligations, you have to prepare for a three-hour, multi-part exam?

Yes, you do—but more importantly, you can! If you don't know how to study for AP exams, this is the guide for you. I'll cover all the major steps to AP success, including content review, exam skill-building, and prepping for triumph on test day.

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How to Find the Best AP Practice Tests

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Feb 25, 2021 10:34:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

As you begin to prepare for your AP exams, you’ll need to consider which kinds of study tools will help you make the most of your prep time and help you meet your target score.

One of the most important study tools in your arsenal is the AP practice test. This is true no matter which AP exam you’re taking. In this article, I’ll go over why you should use AP practice tests, what roles they can serve in your studying process, and how to find the best AP practice exams for any AP.

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The 5 Easiest AP Exams to Self-Study

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Feb 21, 2021 5:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

Once you've decided to self-study for an AP, you'll need to choose an exam that's right for you. With dozens of potential choices, it might seem overwhelming.

I can demystify the choice for you. First, I'll give you four important factors to consider when you make your choice. Then, I'll list the five easiest APs to self-study for. After that, I'll touch on some other solid self-study choices before wrapping up with a few AP exams you should not try to study for on your own.

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When Should You Start Studying for Your AP Exams?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Feb 21, 2021 11:13:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

 

So you’re taking a couple AP classes, they’re going well, and you feel pretty good about most of the material. The exam in May seems a long way off. Do you need to start studying? The answer is, that depends! Every student and every exam is different.

However, my general advice is to start studying no later than the midpoint of the school year. (That would be after winter break for most of you.) Why the midpoint of the year? Keep reading to find out!  

I’ll also discuss how many hours you should plan to prep based on how the course is going and what score you are aiming for. Then I’ll present some strategies for determining how you should balance general conceptual review of the material and dedicated exam prep like taking practice exams. Finally, I’ll make suggestions as to when and how you should study based on overall course subject (math, science, foreign language, and so on.)

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Does the SAT Essay Matter? Expert Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Dec 26, 2020 8:00:00 PM

SAT Essay

In days of yore, the SAT Essay was very different. For starters, it was a required portion of the exam, scored as part of the writing section. You had a measly 25 minutes to give and support your opinion on such deep philosophical issues as the importance of privacy or whether people perform better when they can use their own methods to complete tasks.

Things are very different now. Along with the SAT itself, the SAT Essay has been completely revamped and revised. Among other things, it is now an optional portion of the exam. In light of this SAT Essay renovation, many schools will no longer require that students take the SAT Essay when they take the exam.

But what do all these changes mean for you? Is the SAT Essay important? Read on for a breakdown of the new SAT changes, information on which schools continue to require the SAT Essay, why schools do and don’t require this portion of the exam, and how to figure out if the SAT Essay is necessary or important for you.

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What's the Minimum SAT Score for College?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Oct 10, 2020 7:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target, SAT General Info

Preparing for college applications can feel confusing, overwhelming, and demanding. If you're nervous about the SAT (or college admissions in general), you might be worried about how low of a test score you can afford to get to still have a shot at college. You might even be wondering how low of a score on the SAT is even possible.

In this article, we'll discuss the lowest possible SAT score and why it's unlikely to happen to you. We'll also offer advice on determining the lowest SAT score you can get to still have a reasonable chance at a given school, and what that means in terms of choosing which schools to apply for and what score to aim for. Finally, we'll go over some things you can do if your score seems too low for any of the colleges you want to attend.

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SAT Subject Test Math 1 vs Math 2: Which Should I Take?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Oct 8, 2020 8:30:00 AM

SAT Subject Tests

If you're considering taking SAT Subject Tests and math is a strong subject for you, you'll need to decide which SAT Subject Test in math to take. There are two Math SAT Subject Tests: Math 1 and Math 2 (also written as Math Level 1 and Math Level 2, or Math I and Math II).

Math 2 is meant for students with more high school math coursework and covers a broader range of topics than Math 1 does. Other than that, the two tests are pretty similar: both have 50 multiple-choice questions and a 60-minute time limit.

In this article, I'll go over what's covered in Math 1, what's covered in Math 2, their similarities and differences, whether Math 1 is easier than Math 2, and how to choose which Subject Test to take.

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What Is the Minimum ACT Score for College?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Oct 7, 2020 6:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target, ACT General Info

There are tons of numbers associated with college applications: GPA, class rank, standardized test scores, maybe some AP tests. It can be a lot to take in. If you’re taking the ACT, then you might be worried about how you’ll do on it. What’s the worst ACT score you could get? What’s the worst score you could get and still have a shot at getting into your dream program?

In this article, we'll break down the lowest possible ACT score and explain why you’re not likely to actually get it. We'll then discuss the minimum ACT score for college admissions, how to choose colleges based on your score (whatever it might be), how to set an ACT target score based on your colleges, and what you can do if you think your ACT score is too low for your desired schools.

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Expert's Guide to the AP Literature Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Oct 4, 2020 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

If you're planning to take the AP English Literature and Composition exam, you'll need to get familiar with what to expect on the test. Whether the 2021 test date of Wednesday, May 5, is near or far, I'm here to help you get serious about preparing for the exam.

In this guide, I'll go over the test's format and question types, how it's graded, best practices for preparation, and test-day tips. You'll be on your way to AP English Lit success in no time!

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How Are SAT Subject Tests Scored?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Sep 29, 2020 8:00:00 PM

SAT Subject Tests

Picture this: you sit down to take an SAT Subject Test. You answer somewhere from 50 to 95 questions in an hour. A few weeks later, you log on to your College Board account and see a score for your test on a scale of 200-800. Somehow, the results from your multiple-choice test got turned into this final scaled score. But how did this happen? How are SAT Subject Tests scored?

In this article, I'll discuss how your raw score for the exam is calculated, how this is converted into your final score, and what SAT Subject Test scoring means for you in terms of setting—and meeting—a target score.

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64 Great Colleges That Don't Require Essays to Apply

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Sep 12, 2020 12:00:00 PM

College Info, College Essays

If the thought of writing a college essay fills you with terror, you might be wondering: are there any colleges that don't require essays?

The answer is yes, there are! This guide will give you an overview of colleges that don't require admissions essays, how to find these schools, and whether you should apply to one or not. We'll wrap up with a list of 64 colleges with no essay requirement that you can apply to.

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The Best (and Worst) Online AP Courses, Reviewed

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Aug 23, 2020 5:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online AP courses. So how are you supposed to find the best one for you?

To help you sort through your options, I'll quickly go over what makes a good online AP course. Then I'll discuss the best-reviewed online AP courses, some popular online AP class providers, and wrap up with some classes that you should avoid.

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