SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Meilee D. Bridges

Meilee Bridges earned her PhD and MA in English language and literature from the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude from the Honors English Program at Trinity University. A former professor turned professional writer and editor, she is dedicated to supporting the educational goals of students from all backgrounds.

Recent Posts

Start Preparing for the Digital SAT Now with PrepScholar

In spring 2023, College Board rolled out its new digital SAT format for international students, and in March 2024, all U.S. students will begin taking the SAT on a computer. The switch from a pencil-and-paper exam to a digital format is one of the most significant changes the company has made to the standardized test in its nearly 100-year history.

Our guide to the new digital SAT provides a handy breakdown of all the changes you can expect to see. But if you’re looking to get an insider look at the test and want to boost your performance, PrepScholar now offers a Digital SAT Test Prep program. Read on to learn more about what you can expect from our new course and how you can maximize your scores.

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The Ultimate Guide to the New Digital SAT Format

When the College Board rolled out its new digital SAT format in spring 2023 for international students and in March 2024 for U.S. students, it was one of the most significant changes the company has made to the standardized test in its 97-year history. This major transition is intended to make the exam more equitable and to reduce test-taking anxiety by aligning the format with how students are already learning online.


But what precisely is changing? There’s much to know beyond the move from analog to digital. In this article, we’ll provide everything you need to know about the new SAT format so you can prepare effectively.

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Where to Find Digital SAT Practice Tests: Complete List

In 2022, the College Board announced that the SAT would soon be administered digitally. The new digital format of the standardized exam began in March 2023 for international students; U.S. students begin taking the digital SAT in March 2024. After the transition, pencil-and-paper tests will no longer be offered.

The change is a welcome one for many test takers, but how will the new format affect your test prep? One strategy is clear: As you’re planning to take the digital SAT, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking the right kind of practice exams. Let’s take a deep dive into digital SAT practice tests so you’ll be prepared for the online version of the exam.

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The 15 Best Merit Scholarships for College-Bound Students


We know that the cost of a college education can seem out of reach for many students. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can reduce the price of your degree, from grants and work-study to student loans. Even better, if you’re an exemplary student, you’ll likely qualify for one or more merit-based scholarships, which are a great way to offset tuition, fees, room, and board.

In this post, we’ll discuss what merit scholarships are and provide a list of the top merit aid programs. We’ll also share our expert recommendations on how to apply so you can maximize your chances of graduating with minimal to no debt. Let’s get started!

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What Is a Merit-Based Scholarship?

There’s no denying it: higher education is pricey. As a college-bound student, you might be concerned about how you and your family can pay for tuition, fees, room, board, and textbooks. The great news is that if you’re a high-achieving student, you might qualify for one or more merit-based scholarships.

But what is a merit scholarship? And how do you qualify for this kind of award? In this article, we’ll answer your questions in detail. We’ll also cover how to find these opportunities and some tips for applying so you can put your best foot forward.

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Is the ACT Optional?

As you’re scouring college admission websites, you may have noticed that many universities are going test optional. That may come as a surprise: for decades, standardized exams such as the ACT have been required components of U.S. college admissions. Schools use your test scores—in addition to other parts of your application—to gauge how prepared you are for the rigors of college academics. 

If these tests are such a conventional part of the admissions process, then what does test optional mean? Is the ACT optional? Which portions of the ACT are optional? Who exactly is it optional for, and who is required to take it? And if the ACT isn’t mandatory, are there reasons you should consider taking the test and submitting your scores anyway? 

Let’s dig deep so you can decide whether you should be registering for the ACT as you prepare for the college application process.

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Is the SAT Optional?

As you research colleges and universities and consider their admissions requirements, you’ll inevitably notice that many schools require you to submit your SAT scores as part of your application. Admissions staff often consider your standardized test scores to confirm your GPA or to determine whether you demonstrate strengths beyond what your high school transcripts can reveal. And according to the College Board, which administers the SAT, the exam specifically assesses the knowledge you’ve learned in reading, writing, and math—skills that also help measure how prepared you are for college and career.

Given its purpose, it’s no wonder that colleges and universities have been requiring the SAT for decades. But as you peruse school websites and the brochures you collected at college fairs, you might also notice a term pop up when it comes to SAT scores: test optional. But what does test optional mean? Is taking the SAT itself optional, or does it mean submitting your scores is optional? Are standardized tests optional for every applicant or just specific individuals? And is the SAT optional in reality, or are students who submit their scores secretly more likely to be admitted than those who don’t? 

Here’s what you need to know so you can decide whether the SAT should be part of your college application process.

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