Archive for the ‘Test Prep Resources’ Category

4 Quick Test Prep Tips for Taking the SAT and ACT


While there are a fair number of colleges that don’t require test scores from their applicants, there are still a large number of colleges that do. If the schools you’re planning on applying to are not on that list of test-optional schools, then your ACT and/or SAT test scores are going to play a factor in whether or not you’ll be admitted.

Bottom line: regardless of what area of study you’re pursuing and what test you’re taking, your test scores have a huge impact on your educational future. Here are a few quick test prep tips to help you get the best scores you can.

1. Find your score.

Want to get an idea of just how much preparation you need to do? Kaplan Test Prep offers a super helpful tool that predicts what your SAT or ACT score will be for free in as little as 30 minutes! Predict your SAT score by clicking here, and predict your ACT score by clicking here.

2. Get help!

You don’t have to prepare for this big test all by yourself! There are many test prep resources available to help you get ready and feel confident. BenchPrep is a highly rated online resource that can help you prepare for your big test through the use of study guides, flashcards, quizzes, reports, tests, and more. BenchPrep users have increased their scores by an average of 15%! Cappex has partnered with Groupon to bring you a great deal: $19 for 12 months of access to one test prep course from BenchPrep (a $200 value). BenchPrep’s app is free for all registered BenchPrep users, so you’ll have access to your test prep resources wherever you go. Click here to get this offer today!

3. Be ready.

The night before the test, it’s important to get a full night’s sleep so you can stay alert and focused. Be sure to eat a substantial, healthful meal before the test so your brain and body have the energy necessary to tackle it. You wouldn’t want your grumbling stomach to distract yourself and your fellow test-takers.

4. Retake it.

For both SAT and ACT, you often have the option of taking the test more than once. If you take a test more than once, you can choose which set of scores are sent to your school. Each time you retake a test, you give yourself a higher chance of getting your best score possible. For example, 57% of students from the 2013 graduating class who took the ACT more than once increased their composite score on the retest. Keep this in mind when going into the test for the first time; knowing you’ll have more than just one chance to knock it out of the park will help ease the pressure and stress a bit, allowing you to do better this time around.

Tell us your best test prep tip in the comments below, and best of luck on your big test!

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6 Factors That Can Affect ACT Scores

How-to-Improve-ACT-ScoresIt’s difficult to know whether or not something will make or break your college application. Should you take exclusively AP courses? Focus more on your personal essay? Take three lifestyle courses and cling tight to your 4.0? The reality is that, the most important factor comes down to what your dream school deems the most important factor.

However, one thing does remain true — your ACT score needs to be high enough to keep you out of the “no” pile. Here are six things that may factor into how well you’re scoring.

1. Sleep

We’ve all heard it before and we’re going to hear it again. Sleep impacts everything, especially your test scores. Cramming all night long will never be as beneficial to you as sleep will be. In a study performed by the ACT committee, students who slept 7-10 hours the night before retaking their ACT consistently scored one point higher than their previous test scores. Students who reported sleeping less than three hours saw only half of that improvement in their composite test scores.

 2. Breakfast

No doubt having a well-balanced breakfast is another tip you’ve already heard, but the same study done by the group at ACT found that students who ate breakfast before their retakes saw composite score improvements. Going into your test with a full stomach will allow you to focus less on finding a snack during your breaks, and more on the next section of the test.

3. Faster Internet

In a recently published study by High Speed Internet, a state’s internet speed showed a stronger correlation to ACT scores than household median income. The study also reveals that, on average, students who live in states with faster internet score higher than those who live in states with lower internet speeds. How’s that for new information?

 4. Positive Thinking

Many scholarly reports have been done on the power of positive thinking. It isn’t just a fluffy term your yoga instructor throws around. Thinking positive thoughts before you do anything, particularly take a big test, can impact how you end up performing. And on the opposite end of that, if you’re sure you’re going to fail, you probably will fail.

5. Reading

When Miami High School implemented a silent sustained reading program that required students to read for about an hour two times per week, students achieved steady gains in ACT reading scores. In fact, students raised their reading scores two points over four years. As a bonus, improving reading speeds and comprehension levels will allow you to work through all sections of the test faster and more efficiently.

6. Family Income

Research conducted by the ACT organization reveals that students from “low-income” families (defined as having a family income of less than $36,000 per year) don’t perform as well on the ACT as non-low-income families. Of the nearly 400,000 low-income students who took the ACT in 2012, only 10 percent met all four college readiness benchmarks in English, reading, math, and science, versus about 25 percent of non-low-income students meeting all four benchmarks.

My number one tip? After taking the ACT 4 times, I can say with surety that forcing yourself to stay calm and take the test one step at a time makes a tremendous impact. I once jumped 7 points in the science section by reading the questions one at a time and then referring back to the story—rather than reading the story first and then answering the questions. Like I said: one step at a time. You can do this!

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Holly King is a recently graduated writer living in Salt Lake City, UT. When not scouring the internet for updates in business, lifestyles and technology, she is tending to her garden and trying to perfect the world’s best egg sandwich.

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Answers and Advice for Retaking Your ACT/SAT

affective_studentChances are if you are a current junior in high school, you have taken either the ACT or SAT this school year. Some of you may be anxiously awaiting your results, while others have already had the chance to review results and compare them to the admission requirements of the colleges you are applying to.

If you are worried about how well you did on your ACT or SAT and whether your scores are good enough, I can assure you that you are not alone. During my experience working with high school students, I found there were several common questions and concerns students and their parents had regarding tests used for college admission purposes. I’m here to hopefully address some of these concerns.

Q: How important is my ACT/SAT for getting into a college?

A: Ultimately this depends on the college to which you are applying. In some cases, colleges will not accept students with ACT/SAT scores below a certain number, while others take a more holistic approach to reviewing college applications (meaning they prefer to consider the applicant based on the entire application, and not just individual pieces). I encourage you to visit the websites of your prospective colleges and review their admission requirements carefully.

Q: How many times should I take the ACT/SAT? Is it worth retaking it at all?

A: I always encourage students to retake the college admission test at least once. According to, 57% of students who retook the ACT in 2013 scored higher the second time. The odds are in your favor. As far as a limit to the number of times you retake the tests, that is up to you. Two things to consider about retaking your test: timing (At which point do colleges no longer accept new scores?) and cost (If you are on the free or reduced-price lunch program at your school, talk to your high school counselor about receiving a fee waiver.). In my experience, many students don’t see increased results in their scores after taking it a third time, but I’m sure there are always exceptions to this.

Q: Why should I retake the ACT/SAT?

A: There are a few reasons you may want to consider retaking your college admission test. Apart from the probability that you will score higher your second time, achieving a higher score has its benefits. Having a higher ACT/SAT score may open the door to more colleges to which you can apply. Secondly, even if your current scores qualify you for admission to the school of your choice, having a higher ACT/SAT score may mean more merit-based scholarships. I once had a student retake the ACT, and by going up one point, her college offered her an additional $6,000 per year in scholarship money. For most students, that extra money would be completely worth the effort of preparing for and retaking an exam.

Q: Should I take both the ACT and SAT?

A: It is important to know the admission requirements of the schools for which you are interested in applying. Some colleges require the ACT, while others require the SAT. Many (if not most) schools will accept either test for admission purposes. If you are not yet sure which colleges you will apply to, try taking both so as not to limit your choices later.

Q: Should I take the writing portion of the ACT?

A: In case you apply to a college or university that requires the writing section, I strongly advise taking it. At this time, you are not able to take the writing section of the ACT by itself, so you would have to retake the entire exam in order to complete the writing section.

Q: What if I don’t do well on my ACT/SAT? Does this mean I can’t go to college?

A: Not at all! There are a few options for students who may not be good test takers but are prepared and want to attend college.

Option 1: Community college. If you want to attend college but aren’t qualified for admission to the school of your choice because of a low ACT/SAT score, you have the ability to attend a two-year school first and then apply to transfer to a four-year school. For many students this isn’t ideal, but it still provides you with the chance to attend your dream school. In many cases, once you establish yourself as a college student, when you apply as a transfer student, the college will be more interested in your experience in college student rather than high school, which means no ACT/SAT score requirements. (Bonus: Oftentimes, community colleges are less expensive, so chances are you’ll also save money in the long run this way.)

Option 2: Applying to colleges that are test-optional. If you are determined to avoid community college and attend a four-year school, but are afraid your test scores will prohibit you from achieving your goal, there is good news. There is a lengthy list of colleges and universities that do not require an ACT or SAT score to apply and be accepted. That’s right, the rest of your application will speak for itself, and your lower test score will not be counted against you. You can find this list of test-optional colleges, as well as more information here.

Q: Does it help to study? Should I pay for an ACT/SAT prep program?

A: This is entirely up to you. Most students do better if they have prepared in some way, but only you know which teaching/studying style you are comfortable with. There are plenty of test prep options out there, ranging from online websites to in-school and private tutoring. It definitely does not hurt to prepare and study for the ACT/SAT, but it is a personal choice of how you decide to do so. Check out our post here for additional tips on studying for the ACT/SAT.

Bottom line: Take your ACT/SAT seriously, but try not to stress to the point that it impacts your personal and academic life. Take a deep breath, do your research, and know there are options for every student that wants to pursue a college education. As always, we at Cappex are here to assist you along this journey.

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