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

Every AP Literature Practice Test Available: Free and Official

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Jun 9, 2019 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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How Are SAT Subject Tests Scored?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 19, 2019 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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SAT Subject Test Math 1 vs Math 2: Which Should I Take?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 19, 2019 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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The Best (and Worst) Online AP Courses, Reviewed

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 5, 2019 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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Are the SAT Subject Tests Changing?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | May 5, 2019 8:00:00 AM

SAT Subject Tests, New SAT

The SAT was redesigned in 2016—a huge revamp that has been linked to the Common Core and attempts to re-secure market share lost to the ACTThis may leave you wondering: what about SAT Subject Tests? Are they changing? Will there be new SAT Subject Tests modeled after the main SAT redesign?

In a word, no. At least, not now.

So what does this mean? Well, for starters, it means that SAT Subject Tests will now be even more different from the regular SAT than they were before the SAT redesign. 

In this article, I’ll go over the implications of the “mismatch” between the redesigned SAT and the SAT Subject Tests. How are the formats different, and how should you approach these differences? I’ll also go over how the SAT redesign has changed how Subject Test content overlaps (or doesn’t) with the regular SAT. Finally, I will engage in some wild speculation (okay, fine, evidence-based speculation) about where the SAT Subject Tests may be going in the future. 

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Where to Find the Best DBQ Examples

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Mar 24, 2019 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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How to Send SAT Subject Test Scores: 7-Step Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Jan 1, 2019 4:00:00 PM

SAT Subject Tests

 

While you are studying diligently for all of your SAT Subject tests, you probably aren’t thinking too hard about how and when you are going to send out all those scores to your dream schools. I get it—taking the test is the hard part, and you want to focus your energy on that.

To help you out, I’ll lay out everything you need to consider in terms of score-sending logistics and strategy: how to send SAT Subject test scores (with or without Score Choice), sending the four free reports you get with registration, special ordering circumstances, and how to cancel scores. It’s all in here!

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When Should You Start Studying for Your AP Exams?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 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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What is a DBQ? The Document-Based Question Explained

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 11:09:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

The dreaded DBQ, or “document-based question,” is an essay question type on the AP History exams (AP US History, AP European History, and AP World History).  For the DBQ essay, you will be asked to analyze some historical issue or trend with the aid of the provided sources, or "documents," as evidence. 

The DBQ is an unfamiliar type of in-class essay for many students, but it does not need to be a source of dread or panic. In this guide I'll go over the DBQ's purpose and format, what the documents are and how to use them, how this type of essay is scored, and how to prepare. I'll tell you everything you need to rock this unique type of essay! 

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What Is AP Self-Study? Should You Do It?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 10:53:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)


Did you know that you don’t have to take an AP course to take the associated exam?  Some people think this means all they need is a prep book, the registration fee, a pencil, and a dream.  Are they right?

In this article I will go over all the essentials of self-studying for AP exams: what it means, why people self-study, whether or not you should self-study, and five important tips for any self-studier.

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A Complete History of AP Classes and Controversies

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 10:44:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

You probably imagine the AP exam program as one of the mysterious primordial forces of the galaxy, along with gravity and taxes. But, in actuality, the AP program is only about 60 years old. From its unabashedly elitist beginnings to its present attempts to democratize advanced high school coursework, read on to discover a brief history of AP classes and exams, some current AP controversies, and some thoughts on the program’s future.

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How to Find the Best AP Practice Tests

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 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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AP English Literature Multiple Choice: Complete Expert Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 9:46:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

Does the thought of spending an hour answering multiple-choice questions on complex prose and poetry passages strike fear into your heart? The challenge of the AP Literature multiple-choice is enough to give even the most adept reader hives, but don't stress! This guide will serve as your complete roadmap to success on the AP English Literature and Composition multiple-choice section.

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The Expert's Guide to the AP European History Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 9:45:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

The AP European History course and exam cover the history of Europe from 1450 to the present. That means you'll be asked about everything from the Renaissance to the European Union — it's a lot! Not to mention, the exam was just revised in 2016, making everything a bit more complicated.

If you need guidance for the AP exam, read on. In this article, I’ll give an overview of the exam, go in-depth on each of its sections, go over how the exam is scored, offer some preparation tips, and finally explain some key things to keep in mind on test day!

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Expert Guide to the AP Language and Composition Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Nov 4, 2018 9:42:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

With the 2016 AP English Language and Composition exam approaching on Wednesday, May 11, it’s time to make sure that you’re familiar with all aspects of the exam. In this article, I’ll give a brief overview of the test, do a deeper dive on each of the sections, discuss how the exam is scored, offer some strategies for studying, and finally wrap up with some essential exam day tips.

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