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Suniti's Advice Corner

Parent College Prep Q&A Facebook Live

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Mar 16, 2018

When should my child start their SAT ACT prep?

The content tested on the SAT and ACT is content that your kids will be learning in school at different points in time. When you begin preparation will depend a lot on what math classes your kids are taking. The math sections on the SAT and ACT cover Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and a little bit of Trigonometry and higher-level math. When your kids are taking these classes, it’s not a bad idea to incorporate some sort of test prep while the topics are still fresh in their mind. That way they won’t have to completely re-learn the material by the time the test comes around. Take a look at this SAT/ACT planning check list. 

When is the right time for my child to take the SAT or ACT?

Test scores never expire. So if your child is familiar with all the topics covered, they can take it as early as 9th grade, and those scores will count for their college applications. The vast majority of students don’t take it until 11th grade. The latest that you want to take it is May/June before 12th grade. You want to fit at least 2 test attempts to qualify for SuperScoring as well as getting your application submitted for early decision. Both of these strategies increase your chance at getting accepted. 

Should my child take the SAT or ACT?

Nowadays, the SAT and ACT resemble each other more. TestRocker has a short questionnaire to find out which test will be best for your child.  There are two main differences between the SAT and the ACT. The ACT has a science section. The science section doesn’t require any prior knowledge going into it. It’s more of a mixture of the reading section and the math section. It measures your ability to interpret graphs, charts, and data. The SAT is more reading intensive, and there are more words you have to get through. If your child is a slow reader, that might be an indication that they’ll do better on the ACT. The vast majority of students do just as well as one as on the other. Try not to spend too much time figuring out which test your child should take, and instead devote that time to preparing and planning.

How many times can my child take the SAT or ACT?

There’s no limit—you can take it as many times as you want. That said, we recommend you take the SAT 2-3 times and the ACT twice. On the SAT, there’s a practice called superscoring, which means you can take your highest section scores from multiple test sittings and add those together to get your final score. So taking the SAT a third time only works in your favor if you can fit it in. Most colleges don’t superscore the ACT.

Can I send multiple scores to colleges?

Yes. On test day, you can list schools to which you want to send scores. Before test day, it’s a good idea to know school codes so you can list those. Sending multiple scores to the same school is a good way to demonstrate your interest in those schools. Also, most schools SuperScore. Learn how SuperScoring  works.

How many months should it take my 10th grader to study for the SAT or ACT?

We recommend getting 30 hours of study time over your entire process. That’s when we see the best results. You can break that up however it fits best in your schedule. This allows you to use the summer and some of your less busy months for studying. The actual number of months isn’t as important. Of course, the earlier you can start, the better.

Discuss your SAT ACT plans with an expert

Do SAT or ACT scores help with financial aid? If a student gets a high SAT or ACT score, can they get more money to pay for college?

Yes and yes. There are different thresholds that different schools apply. There are also other scholarship opportunities independent of the colleges, and qualifications include certain test scores. CollegeInsightPros works with students and their families to figure out the best course of action for saving the most money in college.  

I know students who have taken more than 10 practice tests and have not seen score improvements. Why is that? Shouldn’t their scores be going up each time?

While it’s great to get a feel for the test, and you must do this before taking the test for real, continuing to do the same things over and over again without fixing what you’re getting wrong will only get you so far. This is why it’s a good idea to take practice tests once you have a solid understanding of the material. Figuring out where your strengths and weaknesses are and tackling those weaknesses will get you a better score. That’s why at TestRocker, we provide instruction for every single question you answer as part of our program.

Talk with one of our SAT/ACT prep experts. 

Schedule Planning Session

Tags: For Parents

Answering the Most Common PSAT Score Questions

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Dec 12, 2017

This time of year, 11th graders ask us a lot of PSAT score related questions. A lot of students begin to panic when they get their PSAT results. So they come to us to figure out how to flip their score into a top SAT/ACT score. In this post, you will find the most common PSAT questions we get every December as PSAT scores come out.  Leave a comment below if you have any additional questions, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Does a low PSAT score hurt my college application?

Turn that frown upside down: A low PSAT score will not hurt your college application. Colleges do not factor in your PSAT score as a part of your college application.

The one negative of getting a very low PSAT score is that you will not meet the National Merit or other scholarship cut offs. But don’t be disheartened – only 7500 out of 1.6 million PSAT takers (that’s 0.5%) end up receiving scholarships through National Merit. 

The only thing a low PSAT score should do is motivate you to study hard for the SAT/ACT, because those scores matter a lot. Think of your PSAT score as a baseline. With the right practice, you can turn your PSAT score into a high SAT/ACT score. 

Do colleges see my PSAT score?

Your individual PSAT score is not reported to colleges. However, if you opted in to Student Search Services during your PSAT test, you might hear from colleges and/or scholarship organizations if your score falls within a certain test score range the organization is looking for. 

Why is the PSAT out of 1520 if the SAT is out of 1600?

The PSAT is slightly easier than the SAT, so rather than scaling it up to 1600, the College Board has kept it at a lower maximum. Don’t worry about what the test is out of. All you need to know is:

If you got 1100 on the PSAT, you would score (approximately) 1100 on the SAT.

Read our post all about understanding your PSAT score. 

Do I need to study for the SAT/ACT if I got a high PSAT score?

You should definitely study for the SAT/ACT, no matter what your PSAT score is. First, the SAT/ACT are tougher than the PSAT. This means you will score lower on the actual tests unless you prepare. Second, your PSAT score is not reported to colleges.

Turn your PSAT Into a Top SAT/ACT Score - Learn More

What is a good PSAT/SAT/ACT score?

“Good” in this case is relative. For some, a 960 is a great score. For others, a 1420 is a good PSAT score. And for some, even a 1420 isn’t good enough. To understand what kind of score would be considered “good” for you, it is important to have a list of a few colleges you might be interested in. If you have this list, follow these steps to understand what a “good” score for you means:

Option 1

  • Visit the college’s admissions website (type in Google: [Name of University] admissions website. Here’s an example with Boston University:

Boston University admissions search example

  • Look for Undergraduate admissions class profile (select the most recent one available)

boston university admissions landing

  • Scroll till you see “Average SAT Score” or “Average ACT score” of incoming class  

boston university admission stats

Source: Boston University 

For BU, the Average SAT for their freshman admitted class 2021 is 1452, and average ACT is 32. So for a student who wants to know what a good score is if they’re interested in a university like BU, a good score is around 1400 on the SAT or 30+ on the ACT.

Option 2:

  • Go to google and type in something like “[Name of University] Average SAT score”

university of illinois admissions

  • Make sure you click on the official University’s site (it should end in .edu) as there are a lot of other non-official sources of information that might not be most recent or as accurate.

university illinois admissions google results

university of illinois admission stats

Source: University of Illinois

For University of Illinois, the Average SAT for their freshman admitted class 2021 range is 1360-1480, and average ACT is 27-33. So for a student who wants to know what a good score is if they’re interested in a university like University of Illinois, a good score is one that falls within either of those ranges.

Still not completely understanding your score? Read our post where we go into detail in understanding your PSAT score. Click Here To Understand Your PSAT Score

Turn your PSAT Into a Top SAT/ACT Score - Learn More  

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, psat

4 Reasons to Prepare for the SAT & ACT this Summer

Posted by Sybil St. Hilaire on Tue, Jun 20, 2017

4 Reasons to Study this Summer Blog.jpg

Updated: June 6th, 2018

The time is finally here, the long awaited and much deserved summer vacation. After a long and grueling semester filled with tests, final projects, and tight deadlines, it is finally time for students and their parents to take a break! Families are heading off on vacations or looking forward to staycations. Both of which include days dedicated to rest, relaxation, new hobbies, and family bonding. 

While we here at TestRocker believe the summer is a perfect time to decompress, we also see it as the perfect opportunity for high-schoolers to do some stress-free SAT/ACT prep. 

Here are the top four reasons why:

1. Avoiding the summer slide

giphy-tumblr.gifAccording to a study by John Hopkins University, children lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in math during their summer months. This is because students often find themselves with no set routine and don’t receive the same level of intellectual stimulation that takes place in the classroom. Studying for these tests over the summer with a customized program like TestRocker will keep children engaged. The program also helps refresh many concepts that were learned in school.

Learn About Our Summer Bootcamp Designed to Solve This Exact Issue

2. Studying when relaxed leads to better retention

There is no shortage to the number of studies that show that retention is higher when students learn while relaxed. Students have more free time in the summer, along with the opportunity to take a brief break before getting back to studying. This is the chance for your children to study more effectively for the tests at their own relaxed pace, in a comfortable environment.

3. Getting ahead of the crunch

Mistakes are made when we do things in a hurry. The same is true with studying for the ACT or SAT. One big mistake is starting to study without a plan and final goal in mind. Beginning SAT prep during the summer allows students to invest in a summer study plan. The absence of schoolwork also makes it much easier to make time for dedicated prep, 4-hour practice tests and quizzes. The next school year will bring along its own set of stresses: new classes, more activities, more tests, college applications, essays, deadlines and the tests. Use the summer to help your child get ahead of the crunch, and the competition.

4. The August SAT & July ACT

In 2017 Collegeboard decided to hold their first test date in August instead of September. This year it will be on August 25th. For most students this is before they go back to school, and it's useful to take the SAT before school starts as #3 explains, because 12th grade gets stressful. For more information on the August SAT see our post all about it. 

Additionally, this year ACT added a new July 14th test. Like the SAT, this now gives students the ability to take the ACT before going back to school. However, the ACT test is placed more in the middle of the Summer. That means less time to prep during the Summer so get to your prep now!

End the summer well ahead of the curve when it comes to SAT & ACT prep, and begin the next school year without the additional burden of anything more than the occasional refresher. 

Summer Bootcamp

Take advantage of our special offer for students taking the PSAT and/or ACT. Get $100 off any PSAT combo program + access to our Summer Bootcamp. 

To Use This Offer & Get Access to Bootcamp email Michael@testrocker.com or call/text +1-210-413-0570

Super Study Package (1)


Johns Hopkins Universit study

Tags: For Students, For Parents

Top 10 Graduation Gift Ideas

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Jun 16, 2017


Graduation season is upon us—how exciting! All of that hard work and studying has finally paid off, and high school graduates are now about to embark on an exciting new chapter in their lives. A milestone such as high school graduation deserves special recognition. Show the grads in your life that you care with a gift that they’ll find useful and will enjoy. Stuck on ideas? The list below can help.

1. Money 


This is probably the most common and most obvious. What college student couldn’t use a little extra cash to put towards their tuition fund or to enjoy the occasional night out with friends? If you’re not sure what to get for a grad, you certainly can’t go wrong with money. 

2. Gift Cards

On a similar note, you can get the grads in your life gift cards to places they might be frequenting over the next few months or years. Such venues might include Amazon, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Walmart, and Starbucks. You can find these kinds of gift cards at your local grocery store, Walmart, convenience store or on their websites. 

3. Public Transportation Cards and/or Flight Tickets

transportation 2.jpg

Most undergrads (at least in their first year) won’t have cars with them on campus, and depending on where they’re going to school might need a way to get around. Many colleges have their own free shuttle services to get around campuses or places very nearby, but in the case that a student wants to venture out a little further, a public transportation card could be helpful. Depending on how far they are from their hometown, a plane ticket to get home for the holidays could also come in handy. Many major transportation companies give you the ability to send vouchers and prepaid tickets to another person, or local transportation systems often sell prepaid cards on their websites. 

United Airlines hosts a travel crowdfunding platform. This allows people to get help from friends and family with funding a trip. Check it out here. 

4. Subscription & Streaming Services 


After a hectic week of classes, sometimes it can be nice for students to just sit back, relax, and catch up on the shows you they might have missed during the week. Subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, and GameFly can help students decompress.

5. College-Branded Paraphernalia 

3a15c090cfbc8c6e169a056b9136e84b.jpgSend your grads to school in style! College book stores have a wide selection of school-spirited clothing, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, scarfs, sweatpants, shorts, hats, socks, and gloves. College-branded key chains, lanyards, coffee mugs, banners, and stuffed animals can also make great gifts and let students show off their school pride. You can also usually find college paraphernalia at major sporting goods stores, and on Amazon or other online stores. 

Checkout Fanatics where they have over 500 different collegiate licenses and sell a ton of nice clothing. 

6. Subscription Food Services

Keep the freshman 15 off with healthier snack options. Eating healthy is tough in college. The dining halls don't always serve the most healthy options, there's a lot of processed snacks around campus, and students don't always have the money or means to venture outside of campus. 

That's why we suggest a healthy and wholesome food service like Graze or UrthBox. Graze is a portion controlled and nutritionist approved monthly service. UrthBox is similar but provides healthy, gluten free and organic snacks. These services are great because they will ship right to the student at college and will continue each month as long as you keep them subscribed. So it's one less thing they need to worry about while getting used to the college lifestyle. 

7. Books 

Another idea you can’t go wrong with. Sure, students will be reading plenty of course material while in college, but taking some time to read for fun is good for their mental wellbeing and gives their mind a chance to rest. Plus, it’s always nice to have new books to look forward to during the holidays.

We recommend the following books for high school graduates:

A Short Guide to a Happy Life: This short and simple book by Pulitzer Prize Winner, Anna Quindlen, is meant to show readers how good we have it. It is a book that will stay on the coffee table for generations.

P.S. I Love You - A book of inspirational quotes filled with wisdom and life advice. This is a great read and keepsake for young adults heading into the real world.

graduation idea books for college.jpg

Lifes Little Instruction Book -This book is a great morale booster. When school or life is getting tough Lifes Little Instruction Book provides great advice to move forward with living a happy and rewarding life.

The 5 Ingredient College Cook Book - Cooking during college gets a little difficult, but a students' got
to eat. This cook book can help a student make delicisious healthy meals with only 5 ingredients. 

Why Didn't They Teach me This in School? - Let's be honest high school doesn't teach us all there is to know about the real world. This book lays out 99 personal money management principles to live by. 

8. Laptop, iPad, or Tablet 


For those students needing an update on any of these devices, graduation might be the perfect occasion. These devices will help students stay connected and organized during the year. A lot of stores like BestBuy or Walmart have discounted items for college students. Covers or cases for these devices could also make good gifts.

9. Personalized Stationery 

Personalized stationary gift-1.jpg

Some classes prohibit using electronic devices. So sometimes students need to go back into time and use some old fashioned stationery. Stationery gift ideas include pens, notebooks, post-it notes, and calendars. Journals also make great gifts, as it gives students a space to express themselves and reflect upon their journey. At the end of the year, they can look back on their reflections and feel proud of all that they accomplished.

Personalized stationary is a hot trend right now. At Minted they give you the ability to createinteresting designs for thank you cards and letters. A big trend right now is monogramming. It's a cute and subtle way to stamp your name on things. Then your student will have a nice way to write thank you letters to their teachers and counselors. 

10. Personalized Travel Gear 

14993-33753.jpgCollege students do a lot of traveling. Whether it's coming home for breaks, going on trips with clubs or doing semesters abroad, there's a lot of travel. A nice gift idea is to get the student new travel bags with their name or monogram embroidered on it. You can get it done through the site Personalization Mall. 

Another popular trend right now is custom passport holders. It's a nice way of keeping their travel memories organized and stylish! Etsy does a lot of personalized passport holders. Check it out here

What are your favorite graduation gift ideas? Tell us in the comments below!

From all of us at TestRocker, congrats to the grads!

If you are a student who still needs to take the SAT or ACT, or a parents with teens who will soon need to take these tests, then it's time to start preparing. These tests are a huge factor in college acceptances. TestRockers average increased scores are +180 (SAT) and +4 (ACT). We've found that the students who score the best after using TestRocker have watched the most amount of our videos. With 2000+ videos there's plenty of content to improve you or your students SAT & ACT scores. 

Give the free trial a try to watch some videos & try some practice quetions. 

Activate Free Trial

Watch example video

Suniti Video Thumbnail.jpg

For information on which test is easier click here. If you are thinking about studying over the summer you can learn about that here

Tags: For Students, For Parents, Graduation

SAT & ACT: 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.

Taking your test soon? Get 20 last minute strategies to instantly increase your score.


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). 

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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No Credit Card Required

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.


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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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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.

I Want to Speak to an Expert!

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

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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