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Suniti's Advice Corner

SAT & ACT Test Day Tip: What to Eat for Breakfast (and what not to eat)

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Mar 31, 2017

breakfast the morning of the sats

We’ve all heard a million times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But who has time to make and enjoy a healthy breakfast when there’s so much else to do?

Unfortunately, with our busy schedules, many of us find ourselves skipping breakfast. If you’re taking the SAT or ACT any time soon, skipping breakfast is a habit you’re going to want to break. If you’re not a regular breakfast eater, ideally you should introduce it back into your routine a week or two before the test so that you don’t have an upset stomach the day of.

What You Should Eat

So what should you have for breakfast the morning of the test? You should definitely have something you enjoy. This will help you de-stress and put you in a good mood. That said, you want to make sure you’re giving your body and the brain the proper nutrients to keep you on your A-game. 

  1. Protein, protein, protein! This can include eggs, dairy products, or nuts.
  2. Whole grains. Instead of having white bread, try going for whole wheat bread. Oatmeal or granola with fruits or yogurt is also a great option. 
  3. Other ideas for a healthy breakfast include eggs Florentine, breakfast burritos in a whole-wheat tortilla, an omelet with vegetables, and steel-cut oatmeal with bananas and peanut butter. 
  4. In the mood for something lighter? Maybe have a protein or granola bar or a smoothie with milk, fruit, and protein powder.
  5. Also make sure you have at least a glass of water before the test and bring water with you to the test center.

What Not To Eat

  • As tasty as they might be, you want to avoid sugary foods and coffee. While they may give you an initial energy boost, you might experience a sudden energy crash during the test.
  • It’s also not a good idea to eat anything you’re not used to. It’s not a great idea to test your stomach right before going into a 4 to 5 hour test. 

As for after the test? Go ahead and spoil yourself! You’ve worked hard and you deserve it. Hopefully you can keep up this healthy breakfast routine even after the test. 



Can I Eat During The Test?

The day of the test, you’ll likely be at the test center for anywhere between 4 and 5 hours. You’re not allowed to have food with you during the test and you’re only given a couple of 5-minute breaks to step into the hall and munch on something. If you have a healthy breakfast before heading to the test center, not only will you be able to sustain yourself during the test, but you’ll also perform better. Plus, there’s nothing more distracting than a grumbly tummy.

What Kinds of Snacks Should I Take To My SAT or ACT Test?

Snacks are a good way to re-charge during breaks. Take small bite items like granola bars, apples, pretzels, nuts and dry fruit etc. Stay away from anything too messy (dirty hands), spicy (upset stomach) or too sweet (sugar high). 

Now that you know all about your test day breakfast, improve your SAT score by viewing the 20 Best SAT Test Taking Strategies


Not sure if you should take the SAT or the ACT?

Find Out Now


Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, sat, New SAT, International Students, sat prep, breakfast, sat breakfast

Guide to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the ACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Wed, Mar 29, 2017

What is the ACT?
The ACT is a college admissions standardized test, similar to the SAT. It helps college admissions committees assess your academic ability and potential and your college readiness.

Why should I take the ACT?Frequently Asked ACT Questions FAQ

  1. Most colleges require either the ACT or SAT as part of your application. Students attending public high schools in Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming require Juniors to take the ACT for their statewide assessments.

  2. Finally, you might be eligible for certain scholarships based on your ACT score. Learn more here

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

From the point of view of colleges, it doesn’t matter. All US colleges will accept either the ACT or the SAT. Ultimately it comes down to your personal preference.

Visual thinkers who like charts, tables, and graphs might prefer the SAT. Those who love to read and work well under time pressure might prefer the ACT. You can also take both to keep your options open when it comes to sending your scores to colleges.

Want to find out which is the best test for you? Click here to find out with just a few questions.

What is the ACT scored out of?

ACT scores range between 1 and 36. For each of the four required sections, you get a raw score, which is the number of questions you get right. Your final score, known as the composite score, is the average of your four raw scores.

TABLE: What is on the ACT? How long is the test?

The test covers English, math, reading, science, and an optional writing section. The total duration of the test is close to 3 hours, plus 40 minutes for the optional writing section.

Section # of Questions & Length Topics Included

75 Questions

45 Minutes

Punctuation, grammar, usage, sentence structure, strategy, organization, style
60 Questions

60 Minutes

 Pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, trigonometry.
40 Questions

35 Minutes

 Reading passages on social studies, natural sciences, literary fiction, and the humanities

40 Questions

35 Minutes

Data representations, research summaries.
Writing (optional)

1 Prompt

40 Minutes

Text reading, analysis, and writing skills. Students produce a written analysis of a provided text.

When should I take the ACT

It is recommended that you first take the test during the 2nd semester of your junior year (11th grade). This way you will have learned all the material covered in school, but will have plenty of time to retake the test. You want to be done with all your testing by October or November of your senior year.

Do I need to prepare for the ACT? When should I start preparing for the ACT?

You should absolutely prepare for the ACT. Preparing will help you improve your score, which will increase your chances of getting into more schools. It is a good idea to start preparing after your sophomore year (10th grade). The summer between your Sophomore and Junior years is a great time to start preparing because it gives you ample time. ACT prep is not something you want to leave to the last minute.

Start a Free Trial for TestRocker's one of a kind ACT test prep!

How many times can I take the ACT?

You can take the ACT up to 12 times. The test is offered 6 times during the year. At TestRocker, we recommend that you take it a maximum of 2-3 times. We have not seen much of a score improvement beyond the 2nd or 3rd attempt, so it’s best to spend your time on other parts of your college application.

How do I sign up for the ACT?

You register online on the ACT’s website. Make sure you check the registration deadline in advance. Also be sure to check the testing center nearest to you, as it may not be administered at your school.

Can I use a calculator for the math sections?

Yes, you are allowed to bring a calculator, but it must be the right kind of calculator. Bringing a TI-89 is the most common reason students are dismissed from the ACT. Check out this free lesson on ACT calculator tips.

TABLE: How much does it cost to take the ACT? 

Although the price can vary slightly each year, the registration fee for the 2016-2017 school year is as follows:

Service Fee (USD) Additional Information
Registration (without writing section) $42.50 Includes reports for you, your high school, and up to 4 colleges
Registration (with writing section) $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Includes reports for you, your high school, and up to 4 colleges
Telephone registration $15 Only available if you’ve previously registered for a test
Late registration (US and Canada only) $27.50 Registering after regular deadline
Standby testing $51 Placed on waitlist for particular test center/date. Refunded if you are denied admission on test day.
Test center change $25 Keep your location, change the test date. If it’s after the registration deadline, you’ll also be charged the late registration fee.
International testing $51 Testing outside of US, Canada, or US territories.
Score reports for additional colleges $12 each Request online before test date.

Are there accommodations for students with disabilities during the ACT?

Yes. You can request accommodations online on the ACT website by filling out proper documentation.

Getting ready to take the ACT? Start TestRocker's Free Trial for sample questions and videos. 

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Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, act, International Students, questions, faq, actprep, frequently asked questions, act test, act exam

New July ACT Test Date Added for 2018!

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Thu, Mar 23, 2017

 ACT, Inc has announced the addition of a 7th test date in the US: July. Here's what we know so far:

When will the July ACT first be available to take?

The July ACT will first be made available in 2018 on July 14th. While the College Board has introduced a new August SAT test date beginning in 2017, the ACT test dates remain unchanged for 2017: April 8th, June 10th, September 9th, October 28th, December 9th. 

TABLE: Remaining ACT Test Dates for 2017

ACT Test Date Available In
April 8th, 2017 Worldwide
June 10, 2017 Worldwide
September 9th, 2017 Worldwide
October 28th, 2017 Worldwide
December 9th, 2017 Worldwide

TABLE: ACT Test Dates for 2018

ACT Test Date Available In
February 10, 2018 US Only, Except NY
April 14, 2018 Worldwide
June 9, 2018 Worldwide
July 14, 2018 US Only, Except NY
September Worldwide
October Worldwide
December Worldwide

Where will the July ACT be available? 

The test will be available to all students in the United States, except for New York.New July ACT Test Date International test centers will not be offering the July ACT. 

Why should I consider taking the July ACT?

If you are in the Class of 2019 or later, you should definitely consider taking the July ACT. Here are a few reasons why:

Summer = Precious Free Time: The test is in mid-July which means you have part of your summer break to focus and prepare, without having to worry about regular school work and after-school activities. Taking the test in the summer gives you time to focus on other things during your senior year, such as keeping your grades up and working on your college application. Read more about whether you should study during the summer.

Early College Applicants: For those of you who plan to apply to colleges Early Action or Early Decision, this test date gives you an extra opportunity to raise your score and still have one final attempt to bring it up further if needed in the Fall. 

Makes time for the SAT or Subject Tests: If any of the universities you're applying to require you to submit SAT Subject Test scores, getting the ACT testing complete and out of the way sooner leaves you more time to prepare for subject tests in the Fall. Additionally, the same logic applies if you're also taking the SAT. Not sure if you should also take the SAT? Find out here.

Counselors, Students, Parents: What do you think about these test date changes? We want to hear from you. Leave your comments in the box below!

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, act, test dates, july act

Guide to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the SAT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Mar 17, 2017

What is the SAT? 
The SAT is a widely accepted standardized college admission test that helps Colleges assess your academic ability and potential in comparison with the rest of the applicants in your graduating class across the world. Since the test is standardized, it helps level the playing field so that students from all backgrounds have an equal chance to succeed.

Why should I take the SAT?

  1.  It’s a requirement: Most universities require a standardized test score (either SAT or ACT) as part of the college application.
  2.  Scholarships: Many universities use your SAT score to see if they can provide you with merit-based scholarships. 

Still not convinced? Read our blog on Why the SAT is important!

What is the SAT scored out of?

The SAT is out of a total of 1600 points. Evidence based reading + writing are two separate tests each count for 400 points, for a total of 800. The math section is scored out of 800 points.

TABLE: What is on the SAT? How long is the SAT?

The SAT tests you for your math, evidence-based reading & writing skills. The entire test takes 3 hours (plus 50-minute optional essay).

Section # of Questions & Length Topics Included
(800 points)

58 Questions

80 Minutes
Algebra, Problem Solving & Data Analysis, Quadratic & Higher order equations, Arithmetic operations, Geometry, Basic Trigonometry. Includes one 25 minute no-calculator section. Questions are mostly in multiple choice and a few free response formats.
(400 points)

52 Questions

65 Minutes
Evidence based reading & writing, focusing on analysis of History/Social Studies, Science, Data & Informational graphics and vocabulary in context.
Writing & Language (400 Points)

44 Questions

35 Minutes
Essay (Optional) (Scored Separately)

1 Free Response Question

50 Minutes
Tests reading, analysis and writing skills; students produce a written analysis of a provided text.

When should I take the SAT?

Most students take the test 2nd semester of their junior (11th grade) year. Definitely plan to be finished with your SAT by October/November of Senior year.

Do I need to prepare for the SAT? When should I start preparing for the SAT?

Yes, you should definitely prepare for the SAT. Everyone has the ability to improve, and you want your SAT® score to match your potential so that you can get in to the best possible schools. Start preparing for the SAT® any time after your Sophomore (10th grade) year. Summer is a great time to start because you actually have time to prepare. You should prepare ahead of time – don’t leave it till the last minute.

How many times can I take the SAT?

Although you can take the SAT as many times as you want, we recommend that you take it at least 2 times, and no more than 3 or 4 times.

What is the PSAT? Why & When should I take the PSAT? How is the PSAT different from the SAT?

Think of the PSAT as a baby brother of the SAT. It serves as a practice test to show you what the SAT® is like. For most students, the PSAT serves as a good wake up call to start thinking about college application process. The PSAT is administered in October. While you can take the PSAT as a Sophomore, you should definitely take it as a Junior as your PSAT score could qualify you to enter National Merit Scholarship programs. Learn more about why studying for the PSAT can be benefitial.

How do I sign up for the SAT?

You can register online at SAT.collegeboard.org. Make sure you check the registration deadline well in advance! Also make sure to check the nearest SAT testing center to you – it might not be administered in your school.

Can I use a calculator for the math sections?

Yes and no! The SAT has one no-calculator section where calculator use is not allowed. For the other section, however, you may use your calculator. Make sure that you check what types of calculators are allowed! For more Calculator tips, click here.

TABLE: How much does it cost to take the SAT? 

Although the price can vary slightly each year, the registration fee for the 2016-2017 school year is as follows:

Region Fee (USD) Additional Fee (USD)
United States $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Africa (Sub-Saharan), Americas $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
East Asia/Pacific $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Europe/Eurasia $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Middle East/North Africa $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
South & Central Asia $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)

Are there any special allowances for students with disabilities?

Yes, the SAT can accommodate students with disabilities, once correct documentation has been provided and validated by the College Board. Contact the College Board for more information.


Do you have more questions about the SAT? Speak with a TestRocker expert: Schedule Now

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, sat, New SAT, International Students, questions, faq

June Cancelled SAT test date for International Students: Details, Answers and Advice

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Mon, Feb 27, 2017


JUNESATCANCELLED.pngMany international students who have been preparing for the June 2017 SAT were recently shockedto hear that The College Board has cancelled the 2017 June SAT for international students. Until these recent changes, the SAT was offered internationally 6 times a year; January, May, June, October, November & December. Going forward, the SAT will only be offered internationally 4 times a year.

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No credit card or commitment required!

Here are some important things to note regarding these recent changes, and how they might affect you:

Why did the June SAT get cancelled?

The College Board had previously announced that it would be reducing the number of international test dates in the near future as an effort to reduce the number of cheating incidents that have been occuring at international test centers. The June SAT cancellation was the first test date to be cut.

When will the SAT be offered in 2017 for international students

For 2017, there is no March SAT for international students. The remaining test dates for 2017 are May, October and December. The June SAT has been cancelled.

When will the SAT be offered in 2018 for international students?

From 2018 onwards, the SAT will be offered 4 times a year for international students. Students can expect to see test dates in March, May, October & December. In speaking with various international schools around the world, it appears that of these four test dates, October will be the most popular. If you plan to take the October SAT internationally, make sure you register early before test centers fill up.

What should I do if I was planning on taking the June SAT?

Option 1: Take the May SAT instead, as long as you register by April 7th. This date might not work for you if you have final exams around that time. It also reduces the amount of time you have to prepare by one month. However, it leaves October & December as back up options in case you don’t do as well as you hoped.

Option 2: Take the October SAT instead. This date will give you more time to prepare. However remember that October will be very busy with college applications and keeping up with your school grades and extracurricular activities. You will also be left with only December as a back up test date incase you don’t do as well. This won’t work if you’re applying early decision to schools, however many universities will accept your December scores. Make sure you check with the universities you’re interested in before picking December as a test date.

Additional Tips & Suggestions: 

Consider the ACT: The ACT is equally accepted by all US universities. The test is offered internationally 5 times a year (September, October, December, April & June). If these test dates work well for you, it might be worth registering for the ACT as well. Want to know if you're well suited for the ACT? Click here to find out by taking a 2-minute free self-assessment!

Take SAT Subject Tests in June: If you were already planning on taking a test in June, and the universities you’re applying to require SAT subject tests, use the June test date to take a subject test instead, since the June SAT Subject tests haven’t been cancelled!

On June 3rd 2017, the College Board is still offering the following subject tests:


Level 1

 Latin Italian
French German Spanish  Mathematics
Level 2
  Biology E/M  Physics

Register by April 25th.

Remember that you can take up to 3 SAT Subject Tests on the same day, but you can’t take the SAT and Subject Tests on the same day. So the June test date is an ideal one to take the subject tests!

Planning on taking the SAT or ACT? Our TestRocker experts can help you get prepared.

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Counselors, Students, Parents: What do you think about these test date changes? We want to hear from you. Leave your comments in the box below!

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, sat, New SAT, International Students, test dates

8 to Great! Tips for Passing Your High School Spanish Course

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

There are endless studies and research proving that studying a foreign e6275a9f41ad8b6f554c84d048be2572.jpglanguage in school is extremely beneficial for reasons beyond just having a strong High School transcript. In fact, the College Board reported that students who complete 4 years of studying a foreign language performed better on the SAT (100 points or higher) than those who did not*! If you are currently in a High School Spanish course, here are some great tips from our friends at Language Bird .

  1. Use N.E.T. time to study

There is a helpful concept, coined by the renowned success coach Tony Robbins, called N.E.T. time. This stands for “No extra time, time.” N.E.T. time is the time taken doing mundane tasks that require little or no mental focus. Examples are exercise, commuting to/from school, going to the bathroom, walking the dog, walking from class to class at school, taking a lunch break, shopping, cooking, etc. These activities add up to HUNDREDS of hours of your life every year. Take advantage of the N.E.T. time in your life and study your class notes simultaneously.

  1. Study your notes out loud.

Science shows by actually saying (Spanish) sentences and words out loud, additional pathways are physically created in your brain that will help you to remember the information!

  1. Use a good accent

Americans are notorious for egregious Spanish accents. This does not have to be you though! You must apply some strategies that will help you to clean it up quickly.

There are many sounds in Spanish that are easy for English speakers to create, but that are simply often ignored. For some reason, students are embarrassed to speak with a more native sounding accent. Perhaps it’s because it feels awkward since it’s different and our peers are all speaking with American accents. Whatever the case, with Spanish sounds that are already easy for you to create, embrace them! If anything, you should be embarrassed when not speaking properly. This will instantly improve your accent dramatically. Here are some examples:

Teléfono - Many students will ignore the accent mark and speak with the accent over the “o.” This has nothing to do with difficulty in saying it correctly. It’s just lazy. Don’t let this be you! Speak as the accents are written and your speech will be more beautiful.

Gracias – Many students will default to the American “r” sound and harsh “a” sound as in “Apple.” Don’t do this! Listen to your instructor and copy them. The “a” sound is more like “ah” and you don’t need to learn to roll your “r” for this words – it’s just one touch of the tongue.

  1. Sit near the good students or solo

Your friends are already the good students? Fantastic! Sit by them. During group conversation exercises their skills will help to push you.

If your friends are not necessarily the top students in the class, of course you will enjoy sitting with them, but we also know that it’s simply a massive distraction. Instead, choose to sit with some other people or at least solo!

  1. Do your homework

This is simple. Just do the work. Homework often counts for a large percentage of your grade and doing the work, even if it’s not all correct, can nearly guarantee you’ll pass the class.

  1. Be brave in class

Make it your mission to raise your hand at least once every class. The instructor will love you! Afraid other students will judge you? Who cares! Let them.

  1. Just ask

Don’t be afraid of asking your teacher questions during and/or after class. Many teachers love it when students are engaged and interested in learning their subject matter and feel honored and excited that you asked. Don’t be shy!

  1. Talk to your counselor

Now is a great time to learn how to advocate for yourself! In college, it will be all up to you, so practice now! This means you need to find help for yourself when you need it before the situation is beyond repair! If you feel like you are falling behind and you don’t know what else you can do, talk to your school counselor or another adult you trust on campus. They can provide suggestions or resources available to you that you may not know about.

Additionally, you can always call LanguageBird if you need!

They are happy to provide you with Spanish courses online with their instructors. You will receive high school credit accepted by colleges all over the U.S. and approved by the University of California and NCAA. 



*based on research shown in The Benefits of Second Language Study

Tags: For Students, For Parents

The Basics of Building Your College List

Posted by Will Geiger on Mon, Jun 20, 2016

Ahh, the college list. This is an essential part of the admissions process that causes much stress for students and parents. At the start of the college search, the list seems impossible to build because there are SO many colleges. How are you supposed to whittle the list down to less than TEN schools? What if you don’t get in anywhere? No need to stress; the process of building a college list can actually be quite manageable. Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting your list of colleges:

college_checklist.jpgBalance: College counselors talk about the idea of “balance” a lot when thinking about the college list. This means that you should have schools on your list that fit into the “reach,” “target,” and “likely” category so you are spreading out risk. What exactly constitutes a reach, target, or likely?

Reaches: These are schools where your grades and test scores are below the average at those scores for admitted students. Note that some schools are reach schools for everyone (such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, and other super selective schools). For example, no matter who you are, a college list of just Cornell, Brown, Harvard, and Stanford would not be an appropriate list (even if you are the class valedictorian and have a perfect ACT).

Targets: Schools where you fit squarely into the “average” of grades and test scores for an admitted student.

Likelies: “Likely” schools are those that you have a pretty darn good chance of being admitted. While these schools may not be your absolute first choice, it is necessary to apply to a few. I am a big fan of applying to a likely school or two Early Action (which is not binding), so you can go into your December school break with an acceptance or two in hand.

Apply to schools that you can actually see yourself at:

This is an important thing to keep in mind. There are so many students who apply to schools that they have no intention of attending.  Unfortunately, I have too many conversations like this:

Me: “Why do you want to apply to Stanford/UCLA/USC/etc.? Didn’t you say you wanted to stay on the East Coast?”

Student: “Well, I do, but Stanford/UCLA/USC/etc. sounds cool, and I want to see if I can get in”

Me: “But you have no intention of ever going?”

Student: “Nope”

[I proceed to pull my hair out at this point]

Before you start an application, ask yourself: “could I ever see myself attending this place?” If the answer is “no,” or if you are applying just to see if you can get in, then you should NOT apply to that school.


College affordability is something on the minds of so many students and families nowadays. Affordability is absolutely something to keep in mind when building your list- what good is a college acceptance if you can’t afford it? This is why it is important for families to have an open conversation about financial expectations for college. The Net Price Calculator is a great tool (that is on the financial website of every college) that will give you an estimate of what a need-based financial aid package will look like for your family at a particular college.

If you know that you will need significant need-based financial aid, it is a good move to focus on schools that meet 100% of demonstrated need.

If you will need financial aid (but may not qualify for need-based financial aid), it will be critical to focus on schools that offer merit scholarships. Your in-state public school is another great option if you are in this situation.

About the Author

Will Geiger is the founder of PrepHound, an online platform that guides students through the college admissions process with 1:1 coaching. He is a former admissions officer at Kenyon College and has also worked as a college counselor at a private high school.

More blogs you might be interested in:

6 Things to Consinder When Shortlisting US Colleges as an International Student

5 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Test Prep Method

For Parents: How to Support Your Child Through the Test Prep Process

Tags: For Students, For Parents

Should You Take the ACT Again?

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Mon, May 23, 2016

How many times have you walked out of an exam or test and thought "I would do so much better if I could take that test again..." ? The ACT is a test where you can do exactly that. Standardized testing shouldn't be a never ending process. However, unless you scored a 36 on your first ACT attempt, we recommend that you should take it at least once more. 

57% of students who take the ACT more than once get higher scores (source: ACT, Inc). goodbetterbest.jpgWhile you can take the ACT up to 12 times (please don't do that), we suggest you take it 2 or 3 times to get the best possible score. You can then decide which ACT attempt is reported to colleges/universities. No university will penalize you for retaking the ACT - the higher your score, the better it is. 

Do you have the ACT score that will get you into your top choice school and earn you scholarship money? Though it may not seem like a lot, a 1 to 2 point increase in your score can lead to an acceptance letter or a scholarship offer. (TestRocker's average ACT score improvement is 4 points and 78% of our students received scholarship offers in 2016!)
The good news about retaking the ACT:

You don't have to study as much as you did the first time! This time, your preparation should be more targeted because your score report identifies your weaknesses. Or, you can take a Free Diagnostic Test and instantly view your areas of improvement. Score improvements don’t come from repeatedly taking full-length tests; they come from targeting the weaknesses and solidifying your concepts. 

You already know what to expect! The next time you take the ACT, you will feel less anxious and more confident because you know what to expect. This increased confidence will also aid in increasing your score. You know what went well for you, and more importantly, what didn't. There is time to fix the areas where you struggled. 
Speak to our Experts for Free: Receive an in-depth score analysis of your last ACT score report and a plan on how to improve your ACT score:
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Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors

What You Need to Know About the PreACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

Its official: With the roll out of the Redesigned SAT and the new PreACT, 2016 isPreACT.jpg
undoubtedly the year of standardized testing. We all know about the PSAT (the SAT’s little brother); in 2016, we will get to meet ACT’s little sibling: the PreACT. Here are some questions answered about the new test:

What is the PreACT?

The PreACT is a new assessment that will provide college and career readiness information to students at younger ages, similar to the PSAT. The test will mimic the official ACT in terms of scoring, skills tested & content. 

  • It is going to consist of questions from old official ACT tests.
  • It will be scored on the same scale (1-36), but it won’t contain the writing section, since it is optional on the official test.

Who will take the PreACT? When is the PreACT?

The test is going to be available to students in the 10th grade through schools and districts who choose to offer the test beginning the Fall of 2016.

Why is the PreACT important?

Test Readiness Indicator – The test is important because it will give you a good indication of what kind of score you’re starting out with. Moreover, it will serve as a wake up call to show you the rigor of the test in realistic testing conditions. You will get a first hand experience with proctors, timed sections, test breaks and all of the other factors that go into your test day experience.

College Opportunities & Scholarship Access – According to ACT, Inc. students who register for the PreACT will be able to opt in, for free, to Educational Opportunity Service (EOS). The service has the ability to make your data available to 1500+ colleges and scholarship/financial aid groups. The same opt-in option is available when you take the official ACT.

How long is the PreACT?

The test will be less than 1 hour and 55 minutes long (it contains fewer questions than the official ACT).

Should I prepare for the PreACT?

YES! Even the official PreACT test makers say you should be prepared. Why? It is a simple answer: think of a test you took unprepared vs. one you took prepared. Which did you feel better about? Going in to a test prepared leads to better performance and reduced anxiety. However, you don’t need to prepare for the PreACT endlessly. It is important to prepare in a targeted manner; find your conceptual weaknesses, learn and work through them and finally test yourself in a timed condition. 

Overwhelmed? Don't be. Take it step-by-step. To understand your strengths and weaknesses, take this free diagnostic test. You will instantly be able to view your customized study plan so that you can prepare smarter and more effectively. 

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Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors

How to Secure Testing Accommodations for the ACT or SAT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Feb 09, 2016

SAT/ACT accomodation

If your student has a disability, it is imperative that you look into testing accommodations for him/her. However, before you apply for an accommodation, familiarize yourself with the types of accommodations available and the timing of your request.

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Who Qualifies for SAT/ACT Accommodation?

Today, more students, than in any previous years, are being granted accommodations because they have been diagnosed with learning disabilities. However, being diagnosed is just the first step. To qualify for an accommodation, a person must present formal evidence of a disability provided by an authorized assessment.

For students in public school, families can work with the school disability coordinator or a school psychologist to get psychological testing, assess the results and enact interventions that are defined in either the 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Parents of students in private schools may seek self-governing evaluations from licensed neuropsychologists because private schools are not obliged to administer testing.

In addition, the student must show a history of receiving accommodations at his/her school for a stretch of at least 4 months in the case of the SAT and 12 months in the case of the ACT. To show a history of receiving accommodation, you might have to work with your student’s teacher to include documentation or letters describing the accommodation that was provided.

What does SAT/ACT Accommodation Look Like?

The look of each accommodation depends on the type of accommodation needed and varies on a case-by-case basis. Some examples include, requesting a reader or a scribe, a quiet testing room, enlarged print test booklets and answer keys, additional or extended breaks, the use of a computer, and multiple-day testing. It is important to be as specific as possible when making a request regarding the type of accommodation that will be most helpful. These accommodations are endorsed for range of disabilities, all the way from mild to moderate LDs, including anxiety, ADHD and slight visual processing issues to more severe learning disabilities such as dyslexia, major visual impairment and dyscalculia.

The most common type of accommodation granted to a student is 50% extended testing time. At TestRocker, we believe students benefit from this accommodation and it is worth pursuing if your student qualifies. However, a 50% time extension translates to 5 hours and 45 minutes on the SAT with Essay, and can make testing day a test of endurance. To circumvent this, make sure you help your student practice for the SAT/ACT with extended time. TestRocker’s test prep programs give students the option to practice with 50% increased time. Such a realistic timed practice will help students keep their stamina and energy up right till the end on actual test day.

The Application Process

In general, the best way to get accommodation approval is to work with your school. Your school can apply for the accommodation online for the SAT. If you were to do it yourself, you would have to submit a paper application. The table below shows the application process for both ACT and SAT





Complete one of these forms with your school's SSD coordinator:

Request for ACT Special Testing

Application for ACT Extended–Time National Testing

Complete the Student Eligibility Form with your school's SSD (Services for Students with Disabilities) Coordinator. You will be provided a parent consent form to sign as well.


The deadline is typically four weeks to the test date. So get this done as early as possible.

Do this as early as possible, if possible in the spring before the year the test is to be taken.


Time taken

The ACT takes about four weeks to review your information

The College Board can take up to seven weeks to review your information

Next Steps

It will be noted on the admission ticket that you will get in the mail if you are approved for extended-time. You will as well be notified by mail if you are accepted for other testing accommodations.

You will get an Eligibility Letter. This letter will describe the accommodations for which you have been approved and in the letter, there will be inclusion of an SSD Eligibility Code.


Submit your request with the regular registration packet to request extra time. To appeal other accommodations, make sure you submit the application for special testing before submitting the regular registration packet.

When you register for the test, use your SSD Eligibility Code.


Should my student sit for the ACT or SAT

In our experience, timing is more of an issue for those students who take the ACT, even for those who don’t have a learning disability. This is because the ACT has 215 questions versus 154 questions on the SAT that have to be completed in the roughly the same amount of time. Given that the tests have relative scoring, being granted extended time on the ACT gives a student more of an advantage.

Another instance where getting extended time (50%) on the ACT is more beneficial than the SAT is when you are allowed to take the test over multiple days. Taking the test over multiple days helps students feel rested. It also allows students to focus their review only on the sections they are sitting for. Testing over multiple days in normally granted to students taking the ACT outside the United States or Canada. Students taking the test in the United States can also be approved for multiple day testing if they request special testing at their school (instead of at a national testing center). The threshold for being allowed to take the SAT over multiple days is much higher. You need to be granted 100% extra time (not just 50%) and request special testing at school.

 An important consideration when deciding between the two tests is to see which type of test the student is stronger at. There is a difference in content and type of questions between the two tests. Learn more about the differences here. A painless way to compare performance on the two tests is to take TestRocker’s free SAT and ACT Diagnostic tests. Bottom line is, getting more time on either tests is useful and should definitely be pursued.

This article is meant to serve as a general information guide for those planning on requesting for accommodation. You should review ACT and College Board’s website for most up to date information.

Tags: For Students, For Parents

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream PSAT, SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching thousands of students how to maximize their PSAT, SAT and ACT scores for over a decade.

TestRocker is an award-winning PSAT/SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking a diagnostic test, students receive a customized study plan, individualized to their strengths/weaknesses. Students practice and learn concepts through videos. Each of the 2000+ questions on TestRocker is accompanied by a video explanation from Suniti. TestRocker has the largest video library in the world for PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation. 

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