SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Mary Ann Barge

Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.

Recent Posts

The Best Volunteer Abroad Programs You Should Try

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Oct 11, 2015 12:30:00 PM


By now you probably know that one thing colleges want to learn about you is how you spend your free time. Did you spend high school sitting around playing video games? Or did you get out, actively involve yourself in an activity and your community, and make a difference?

One way of doing just that has become increasingly popular over the past several years: volunteering abroad.

Read on for more on why students volunteer abroad, tips for choosing a volunteer abroad program, and our pick of some of the best volunteer abroad programs out there.

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No Extracurricular Activities? Here's What You Should Do

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Oct 11, 2015 8:30:00 AM

College Admissions, Extracurriculars

Extracurricular activities are one of the most important parts of your college application. After your test scores and grades, they are the best way for a college to get to know more about you and to understand what kind of student you might be on campus.

But what if you have no extracurricular activities? Is all hope lost?

Read on to find out why things might not be as bad as they seem and what you can do to make up for not having extracurriculars.

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What Are Extracurricular Activities and Why Do You Need Them?

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Oct 9, 2015 6:30:00 PM

College Admissions, Extracurriculars

You may have heard that extracurriculars are an important part of your high school life. You've probably been bombarded with stories about how everyone who is successful in getting into college played a varsity sport and was student body president and built homes for the poor in Costa Rica.

But do extracurriculars have to be so overwhelming? What are extracurricular activities, exactly? And just how important are they when it comes time to apply to college?

Read on for a better understanding of this important topic.

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Here's Every College That Offers 100% Financial Aid

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Sep 13, 2015 6:00:00 PM

Financial Aid, College Info

One of the most important questions that you will have to ask yourself during your college selection process is whether or not your top choice school is affordable for your family.

Affordability makes a huge impact on college decisions. Some students will luck out and be offered a nice scholarship by their school that will make things affordable. Others will win independent scholarships. But usually both of these options for financing your education are based on merit, and there is a lot of competition.

But did you know that some schools are committed to making sure that all admitted students can afford to attend, whether or not they are scholarship recipients?

Read on to see a list of colleges that meet full need, or provide for 100% of their students’ demonstrated financial need.

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How to Write About Extracurriculars On College Applications

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Sep 7, 2015 9:00:00 AM

College Admissions

One of the trickiest parts of the common app is understanding how to make the most of the extracurricular activity section. You might have a ton of activities - or not very many - and be wondering how you should write about your activities to impress your college admissions readers.

If you’ve felt stumped by what you’re supposed to do in this section and how to make the most of your very limited space, read on.

In this guide I will tell you:

  • How many extracurricular activities you should list
  • How to choose which activities to list
  • How to write about your extracurriculars

But before we get into that, you may be wondering...

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Complete List of Extracurricular Activities: 100s of Examples

How do you like to spend your time after school? Did you know that how you choose to spend this time could be one of the most important ways you shape your future?

Extracurricular activities are a critical component of your college application, and you need to impress colleges with your interests. But you might not know what good extracurricular activities look like, or what you should be spending time on.

We've got you covered here in our guide of hundreds of examples of extracurricular activities. Read on to get some inspiration for how to spend your valuable free time during high school!

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Complete List: Weird Scholarships You Can Win (Updated)

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Sep 6, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Financial Aid

You may have thought that scholarships were only for those who had great grades or were top athletes. Well, think again! There are a lot of organizations willing to give you some college cash in recognition of your interesting habits, unusual attributes, or willingness to do something a little bit quirky!

Here's a complete collection of the best weird, unusual scholarships we can find. The good news is they're often a lot easier to apply to than other scholarships.

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The #1 Left-Handed Scholarship

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Sep 6, 2015 8:30:00 AM

Financial Aid

You’ve struggled all your life with scissors. You felt distinctly discriminated against during handwriting classes in grade school. And shaking hands feels downright unnatural.

In short, you’ve suffered. And everyone knows that for every challenge out there, there’s a college scholarship to reward those who have struggled through it.

Read on to hear about scholarships for you long-suffering lefties.

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Full Analysis of ACT Grammar Rules: Which Are Most Important?

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Aug 22, 2015 7:00:00 PM

ACT English

When you are planning your study approach for ACT English, it’s important to know where your time is best spent.

Which grammar rules are really the most important to learn? What can help you make the greatest improvement to your score?

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Full Analysis of SAT Grammar Rules: Which Are Most Important?

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Aug 22, 2015 6:00:00 PM

SAT Writing

When you are planning your study approach for SAT Writing, it’s important to know where your time is best spent.

Which grammar rules are really the most important to learn? What can help you make the greatest improvement to your score?

Read on to find out exactly how much each grammar rule matters and how you can use this information on the test.

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The Top Prep Books for ACT English

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Aug 22, 2015 4:00:00 PM

ACT English

You’ve decided to use a book to study for ACT English, but do you know which books out there will actually help you reach your goals?

In this article, I will give you an overview of the best ACT English prep books on the market today, and which ones you should choose depending on what score you're aiming for.

These books can be found at bookstores, the library, or online. Focus on using these books with high quality practice and review, and you'll be sure to improve your English score.

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The Best Prep Books for SAT Writing

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Aug 22, 2015 3:00:00 PM

SAT Writing

Are you planning on buying a book to help you prep for SAT Writing?

In this article I will discuss the top prep books for SAT Writing on the market today, and why you should or should not buy them.

These books can be found at bookstores, the library, or online. If you make use of all these books and practice effectively, you'll be sure t o improve your SAT writing score.

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SAT Writing: Word Choice and Diction Errors

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Aug 6, 2015 8:30:00 AM

SAT Writing


Mark Twain famously once wrote in a letter that the “difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter - it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

The SAT agrees with good old Mark, and tests students on their ability to recognize when the almost-right word has been subbed in for the right one.

Are you confident in your ability to not be tricked by the SAT's unusual diction questions? Read on for some strategies and tips for this section. 

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Formality on ACT English: Strategies and Tips

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Aug 1, 2015 3:00:00 PM

ACT English

You wouldn’t wear a tux on a first date or jeans to a wedding. The ACT also tests you on whether or not you understand what level of formality is appropriate in different circumstances.

Read on to learn more about one of the most unusual topics covered on the ACT!

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June 6th SAT Scores Have Been Released - How Did You Measure Up?

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Aug 1, 2015 8:45:00 AM

SAT Logistics

Scores from the June 6th SAT have been released, and they have served to increase the controversy around the test.

Put simply, the scores may be much less accurate than usual tests because the College Board was forced to throw out two of the sections.

Read on to see how students have reacted, how the scores vary from other administrations of the exam, and what your options now are.

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