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

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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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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The Ultimate SAT Literature Subject Test Study Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Aug 21, 2020 7:00:00 PM

SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Test in Literature, formerly known as the SAT II Literature Exam, is one of the most popular Subject Tests. This might be because you don't necessarily need specialized knowledge, such as foreign language fluency, to do well on it. However, it also has a reputation for being a fairly difficult test.

Luckily, I—800-scoring sorceress of the SAT Literature Subject Test—am here to take you through all the particulars of the exam. We'll go through whether the exam is right for you, its format and content, its question styles, study hacks, practice resources, and test-day tips. Let's get the magic started!

Here is a quick guide for those who'd prefer to skip around:

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The Best College Essay Length: How Long Should It Be?

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Aug 10, 2020 12:00:00 PM

College Essays

Figuring out your college essay can be one of the most difficult parts of applying to college. Even once you've read the prompt and picked a topic, you might wonder: if you write too much or too little, will you blow your chance of admission? How long should a college essay be?

Whether you're a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.

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The 20 Best Graphic Design Schools in the US

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Aug 6, 2020 8:00:00 AM

College Info

Graphic designers are involved in nearly everything we look at, watch, or read, from the designs on books, to the way websites navigate, to halftime commercials, to logos on business cards. Graphic designers are the visual wizards who make sure every concert poster and app user interface has an impact and communicates a desired message.

If this sounds appealing to you, you might wonder how you can become a graphic designer. Well, you go to school! In this article, I'll discuss what a graphic design program is, how I created this list, the best graphic design schools, and how to choose the right program for you.

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Every AP English Language and Composition Practice Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Jul 19, 2020 8:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

With the AP English Language and Composition exam coming up, it's important to find the best practice resources, and that includes practice tests! The AP Language and Composition exam has two sections: a multiple-choice section with 45 questions, and a free-response section with three essay questions—one synthesis prompt, one analysis prompt, and one argument prompt.

But not all AP Lang practice tests are like the real exam, and they aren't all of equal quality. In this guide, I'll break down where you can find official College Board AP Language and Composition practice test resources, other free resources out there, and paid practice tests and questions. I'll also break down which resources are high-quality and how to best incorporate AP English practice tests into your exam preparation.

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When Are AP Tests? The Complete AP Exam Schedule

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Jul 19, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

As the school year starts to wind down, you might be asking yourself: when are AP exams? In this article, I'll break down everything you need to know about the AP exam schedule, including when they usually take place, the specific schedule for this year, what to do if you find yourself in an AP schedule mishap, and how you can leverage the schedule to best plan your studying.

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The Expert's Guide to the AP European History Exam

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Jul 19, 2020 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! In addition, the course has had recent updates, making everything a bit more complicated.

If you need guidance for the AP European History exam, read on. In this article, we'll give you an overview of the exam, take a close look at each of its sections, offer some key preparation tips, and explain some important 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 | Jul 19, 2020 9:42:00 AM

Advanced Placement (AP)

With the 2021 AP English Language and Composition exam happening on Wednesday, May 12, 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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How to Prepare for the ACT: Ultimate 10-Step Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Jun 2, 2020 9:00:00 AM

ACT Strategies

So you need to take the ACT, but you don't anything about it. What now? How do you go about preparing for the test?

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

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Mar 25, 2020 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. But are they right?

In this article, we'll 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 key tips for any self-studier.

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