Check out the Four Things the SAT and ACT Test Creators Will Never Tell You. Alexis Avila, Founder of Prepped & Polished, Tutoring and Test Preparation told us more.

1. You can learn to beat the test.

By practicing and learning test-taking strategies (such as back solving questions on the math section or answering reading questions as you read the passage), you won’t only improve your test score, but can ace the test.

I had a student who practiced SAT problems each day, got tutored, and took the test 5 times, and then after super scoring his results (combining his best sections from multiple sittings), he improved close to 500 points and got into Brown University.

2. The essay graders spend no more than several minutes reading and grading your essay.

The SAT graders are trained to do a masterful job of glancing through hundreds of essays in a sitting. Therefore, it’s critical that you make a great first impression on the judges by taking care of the basics.
Qualities of a cosmetically appealing essay include:


Legible handwriting (not cramped, enough spacing between words)

No cross-outs (erase all mistakes)


3 to 5 indented paragraphs (introduction, 1 to 3 supporting paragraphs, conclusion)


The longer the better (minimum 1.5 pages. In general, scores decrease as the length decreases)

3.The SAT is probably a harder test than the ACT test.

For years, students have come to my office to take my Test Prep Selector Practice Test which is an ACT SAT Hybrid Test comparing your ACT score to your SAT, and find that the majority of students do better on their ACT sections than on SAT sections. Why is that? The ACT is a more straightforward, less trickily worded exam; with fewer answer choices, no guessing penalty, and best overlaps with the school curriculum.

The SAT, which is getting redesigned starting March 2016 is trying desperately to look more like the ACT. The SAT got rid of the guessing penalty, there are fewer answer choices, and made the essay optional, but still the SAT exam questions look harder than ACT questions! So when applying for colleges, consider taking the ACT.

4.The SAT and ACT tests will help you get into college but not predict how successful you will be in college and post-college.

A good SAT or ACT score may get you into a better college on paper. But it’s proven that an accurate predictor of success is not the college you go to but how you utilize your time while in college.

A recent Gallup poll surveyed nearly 30,000 college graduates last year and found the percentages of students, who were thriving in all aspects of their lives, did not vary whether the grads went to a public or private four-year college.

I have students who got descent test scores, didn’t get into a top college but are doing amazingly well. What is their secret? These students maximize their time while at college. They find great programs and professors to partner with, they take advantage of the many internships available to them, and make great social and professional connections.

Overall I know students who didn’t ace the SAT and they are now young adults running their own businesses, working in careers that suit their passions, and best of all these students are happy. Just don’t tell the SAT that!

What was your biggest takeaway from these ACT/SAT tips? Do you have any questions for Alexis Avila?

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