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Suniti's Advice Corner

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 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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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

5 Questions & Answers about Calculators on SAT Test Day

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Jan 20, 2017

Calculator use is permitted (for some sections) on the SAT. For many students, calculators can act as security blankets. While calculators can be very useful, if used correctly, they can lead to added stress if you rely on them too much. It is important to educate yourself on calculator policies for the SAT test well in advance of test day. Here are a few of the most popular calculator-related questions we receive from students:

calculators for SAT test day.jpgI don’t have a calculator. Will my test center have extra calculators I could borrow? Could I share a calculator with someone else?
No, you need to bring your own calculator. You also cannot share your calculator with anyone else.

Can I use a calculator for all sections on the SAT?
You can only use a calculator during the Math – Calculator section. For all other sections including Reading, Writing & Math – No Calculator, you will be required to put the calculator away.

Can I use my phone as a calculator?
No, you can’t use your phone as a calculator. Nor can you use a laptop, tablet or any other device as a calculator. Your calculator must not have internet/wifi/bluetooth or audio/video recording capabilities.

What brand/type of calculators am I allowed to bring on SAT test day?

All scientific calculators and most graphing calculators are allowed. You can check for specific approved brands on the College Board website, if you like.

What are some General Calculator tips?

  • Make sure you are familiar with the calculator you bring. Take a practice test with that exact calculator so that you know how to use it.
  • Replace the batteries in your calculator at least two days before the SAT. Make sure it works!
  • A calculator can often be a crutch. Use it where it is useful, but don’t try to use it to solve every single questions. Sometimes it is better to use other strategies such as elimination to get to the answer faster.

Want some more useful Test Day tips and resources?

Click Here to Check Out Our Resources Page


Tags: For Students, sat, New SAT, calculator, math, tips

Is the New SAT easier?

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Nov 01, 2016

HELLO.pngCutting to the chase, the answer is – it depends on the innate propensity of the student! The test has now been administered three times. TestRocker has had thousands of students prepare and sit for the New SAT as well as for the ACT. 

I have done an analysis of the questions and structure of both the ACT and the New SAT to help my students figure out which test is better suited to their strengths. Here is a summary of some of my findings:

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Math Section:

I will say that the Math section of the New SAT is easier for students adept in English because the questions are less convoluted than those in the old SAT. Even in the No-calculator section, a section many students are nervous about, there is a dominance of straightforward algebra questions. Students have seen such questions before in their schoolwork. I would say in terms of content and time pressure, the ACT Math section is harder than that of the New SAT.

Let’s revisit the statement I made about the Math section being easier for students adept in English. The New SAT has added a language burden into the Math Section with the inclusion of text heavy questions. These questions mimic real life situations. Such as, questions about credit cards and interest payments. Students who come from countries or sections of societies where English is a weakness, the Math section can pose a reading and comprehension problem. Students might spend too much time trying to comprehend the question and setting up their equations before getting around to solving them. Thus, it would be hard for them to complete the Math Section in the allotted time.

Another set of students that could find the text heavy math section more burdensome is students with certain learning disabilities. Remember, if you have a learning disability, you are eligible for extra time. You must avail of this facility. The most common type of accommodation granted to a student is 50% extended testing time. Learn more about how secure testing accommodations here.

Reading Section:

The Reading section in the New SAT is easier than before in terms of the level of the text in most passages. However, the passages that relate to US foundation and history documents can have tough language. I would also say the Reading Section is easier than the ACT in terms of time pressure. Whether you’re taking the SAT or the ACT, Speed Reading Strategies are crucial to master. We have taught such strategies thoroughly on TestRocker.

What about vocabulary? Surprisingly, College Board insists that we are not required to learn obscure words anymore (by the way, many students don’t know what ‘obscure’ means). I can tell you that students still need to learn vocabulary because the mature level of some of texts included in the reading section requires the understanding of many obscure words.  Reading and comprehending the text becomes a challenge when students stumble on words they don’t know. Lifting their vocabulary skills will help students to not only read better, but also to write and communicate better.

Writing Section:

The New SAT grammar section is now identical to the ACT grammar section. Both test for knowledge of grammar, punctuation, structure of the passage, and rhetorical skills. The time pressure in the ACT is high in comparison: 75 questions in 45 minutes in the ACT versus 44 questions in 35 minutes.

The essay in the NEW SAT is an analytical essay and is harder to master than the more straightforward argument essay in the ACT. The prompt for the New SAT essay is a mature essay written by a renowned author. Students need to analyze the essay in term of the author’s use of rhetorical skills, and the strengths and weaknesses of the author’s argument. Students cannot give their own opinions. Whereas, the ACT essay is an extension of what it used to be. It is an argument essay where students need to address three given perspectives, and add their own analysis and opinions. So, the ACT has more latitude, while the New SAT essay binds the student into pure analysis of the essay prompt presented.

The above findings can serve as guidelines to help you choose between the New SAT and the ACT. To get an accurate idea of which is the test best suited for you, I would advise you to take TestRocker’s two-minute propensity quiz here.

Good luck!
Your Tutor,

Note: New SAT refers to the SAT test the College Board has been administering since March 2016.

Tags: For Students, sat, act, New SAT

The New SAT: Advice for the Class of 2017

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Thu, Dec 04, 2014


SAT-changes-ahead-New SATChange is always scary! By now you know that the SAT is changing. I have received a lot of questions from current 10th graders (students who will graduate in 2017) about what to do when it comes to test preparation now that this change is on the horizon. Here are my top 3 pieces of advice, in no particular order:


1. Don't panic! 

Yes, the SAT is changing. However, keep in mind that as of now, it is just as much of a mystery to you as it is to admissions officers who will be reviewing your application. Everything will become clearer as the College Board releases additional information. 


2. Take the ACT, if you can

While the SAT is changing, the ACT is not. The ACT is accepted by all 4 year colleges and universities in the United States. And last year, more students took the ACT than the SAT. Admissions officers are just as familiar with the ACT as the SAT. If you still decide to take the new SAT, submit both scores. Admissions officers like to see as much information about you as possible, so it definitely won't hurt! Sign up for an ACT diagnostic test here.


3. Take the current SAT before March 2016

Universities will accept your scores from the current SAT, as long as you complete your attempts before March 2016. January 2016 will be the last time the current SAT is offered. If you do so, you will not need to take the new SAT. This is the advice I am giving to all my students, because there are no preparation materials currently available for the new SAT, and you can kickstart your prep now by preparing for the current SAT. 

Have more questions about the new SAT? Leave a comment below and one of our TestRocker experts will be in touch with you shortly. 

Other blogs you might be interested in:

How Will The Vocab Section Change on the New SAT

The Content and Structure of the New SAT

What the College Board Plans to Change about the SAT

Tags: For Students, New SAT

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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