Category Archives: ACT/SAT Tutoring


Well, those standardized test makers are at it again.  The New York Times reports that the SAT will be substantially changed for the Spring 2016 testing.  The revised test

  • will be more like the ACT in that there will no longer be a “guessing penalty” for wrong answers,
  • scores will be based on the old 1600 points for verbal and math only–not 2400
  • the essay will be optional and be DBQ (document-based question)
  • vocabulary will be less abstruse (hee-hee)
  • reading passages will be more document based AND include a science passage again (yes, there used to be science passages)
  • calculators will not be allowed for all math problems (they weren’t mandatory anyway)
  • FREE prep will be available from KHAN Academy online

Questions I would like answered: what will be the average grade level of the reading passages?  I’ve tested the Fry readability on the SAT from 1980 into 2000′s and the reading level dropped from college freshman level (cf. passage from Milton’s Areopagitica) to 8th grade.  Remember those “re-centered” scores because of dropping national averages? 

To read the full article go here:

SAT’s (and ACT’s) Aren’t Finished; So Get the Prep Work Started

While about 800 colleges out of the over 3000 in the US have made SAT/ACT scores optional, that means  most colleges still require one or the other test for admission.  What’s a student to do??? If you’ve visited the SAT/ACT area on this site before, you already know what to do.  Just in case you forgot . . .

An item on Yahoo refers to research done on how to get a perfect SAT score.  The author’s advice is tried and true as it has been for decades:

1. Plan plenty of time for practice and understanding the test

2. Practice in as close to test-like conditions as possible to build endurance (4 1/2 hrs  or longer if you get extra-time for testing is grueling).

3. Take a GOOD prep course.

If you’ve read he other items on SAT/ACT you already know these tips.  But it doesn’t hurt to reiterate them.

Here’s the link:



SAT/ACT Prep on a Budget

Prepare for the SAT on a Budget

U.S.News & World Report LPBy DeAnna Rivera | U.S.News & World Report LP – Mon, Aug 19, 2013

The following article is courtesy of “Yahoo” and includes good suggestions for getting ready for the testing phase of the college application process.

A few points to remember:

  • If your student can work independently, there are many options for test prep, both using workbooks from the test makers themselves–be sure to get “OFFICIAL” Guides to SAT or ACT which include actual, previously administered tests
  • Take advantage of online test practice–again from the originators of the tests:
  • SAT:
  • ACT:

Don’t be confused by test prep sites sponsored by Princeton Review, Barron’s, and others.  While they may have good prep programs, they are NOT the “OFFICIAL” test sites.  

As always, Fairfield County Learning charges on a sliding scale.

Here’s the link to the article:


Check out FCL on Wright’s Law Yellow Pages for Kids




Direct link to Yellow Pages for Kids:



Most parents of teens, if not the teens themselves, are aware of the recent spate of scandals surrounding the administration of the college entrance exams–both the SAT and the ACT.  Sorry to say, but cheating on these exams is not new.  What is new is the extent and expense to which people will go to secure high scores.  Some cheaters have hired test-taker impersonators for as much as $3500.  So now the security measures are going to be upgraded, largely via photo ideas at both ends of the testing process as well as in the middle– application — arrival at test center –submitting answer sheets.  I’ve included a link to the New York Times article below.  HOWEVER–here is the caveat to anyone thinking about ways and means to circumvent the security:

Getting into the super college of your dreams when you can’t handle the easiest part (taking the admission test) bodes bad for actually making passing grades and graduating.  If you can’t do the math, don’t take that path.

Here’s the NY Times article link:



For free 10 minute tutorials on math starting with 1+1=2 through college calculus and more, go to the Khan Academy website link below.  Salman Khan has presented at TED TALKS and amazed attendees with his insights.

The video tutorials are about 10 minutes each and are absolutely free.  If you need more practice on a given topic, you can get that, too.  Some science tutorials are available and there are additional tutorials being added and updated.  If you don’t know about TED TALKS, go to their website.  Amazingly talented people talk on important, relevant or just fascinating topics in 10-18 minute videos.

For the Khan Academy link, click here:

Train Your Brain-More on Holosync from Dr. Amen & NASA

HEADS UP:  These skills can aid with test taking, memory, organization and calming.

You may have read the previous post on training brain waves techniques from (Brain Training from Centerpointe/Holosync).  It’s nice to know that Fairfield County Learning is ahead of the curve.  Dr. Daniel Amen, in his recent newsletter ( ) has cited Centerpointe technology  as a means to develop meditation skills, which he highly recommends for brain health and overall well-being.  The practice period takes about 8 weeks, but the payoff is truly remarkable.

If you don’t want to read the previous post (Brain Training from Centerpointe/Holosync ), but I hope you will because it explains different types of brain waves and their meaning, here’s the link to Centerpointe:


Over the decades, students have born the pressure of the rite of passage known as taking college entrance exams. In the east, it was traditionally the SAT that held sway with admissions committees while in the west and mid-west, it was the ACT. Students prepped for their respective tests and sent the results off to admissions offices.


An understatement? You bet. Now instead of students and parents going “bananas”  over one or the other of the tests, they are dealing with BOTH tests and prepping intensively for both. Of all years in high school, junior year is the most frantic. To add now TWO college admissions tests puts unnecessary pressure on students.

MY RECOMMENDATION: do one ACT and one PSAT or SAT; compare the results and comfort level and CHOOSE ONE. This can also be done online by taking a practice test or by using an evaluative tool such as the PRA (Princeton Review Assessment), which has elements of both types of tests and allows students to score their performance on the varying sections.

Points to keep in mind:

The ACT : Science section requires reading and interpreting charts and data tables.

Math on the ACT includes trig (think SOHCAHTOA).

Reading questions on the ACT are not arranged in order of occurrence in the passage.

You are encouraged to guess–leave no answers blank because the score is determined by adding all the right answers.


No trig, but hard quantitative reasoning and some data to interpret.

Sentence completion questions that require good vocabulary.

Some difficult reading passages, but no data analysis here.
A correction factor: which means you are penalized for wrong answers (1/4 point is deducted from your right answers for each error–but BLANKS do NOT count as wrong answers.)

Colleges no longer express a preference for one test over the other.  DO THE ONE THAT FITS YOU BETTER.

If you’ve read other posts on SAT/ACT, you know that more colleges are doing away with either test as an entrance requirement and are instead requiring SAT Subject Tests.

So . . . KEEP YOUR GRADES UP!  CONTRIBUTE TO EXTRA-CURRICULARS AND DO YOUR BEST.  After all, that is all anyone can ask of you, including yourself.

SAT & ACT Prep Do You Need IT?

SAT Tutoring, ACT tutoring, GRE tutoring, study skills tutoring, LD learning disabilities tutoring, westport ct, darien ct, new canaan ct, fairfield ct, stamford ct, greenwhich ct, norwalk ct, wilton ct.

SAT Tutoring, ACT tutoring, GRE tutoring, study skills tutoring, LD learning disabilities tutoring, westport ct, darien ct, new canaan ct, fairfield ct, stamford ct, greenwhich ct, norwalk ct, wilton ct.

SAT Tutoring, ACT tutoring, GRE tutoring, study skills tutoring, LD learning disabilities tutoring, westport ct, darien ct, new canaan ct, fairfield ct, stamford ct, greenwhich ct, norwalk ct, wilton ct.

Should your son or daughter take tutoring for the ACT or SAT?

Realistically, students benefit from understanding the construction of these college admissions tests. Some students are natural test-takers. But many students need to understand the strategies appropriate to each type of test. The approach to the ACT is different from the approach to the SAT/PSAT/SSAT. And, yes, there are tricks that help when taking the test.

How many hours of prep may be needed depends on the individual. Some students need only a fine tuning while others need intensive foundation building.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the student needs the competitive environment that comes in a ‘class’ prep course or does better with an individual one-on-one approach.

Consideration also is important to the content that a student needs to review or build. For the critical reading sections vocabulary is very important. There are some vocab lists that are especially helpful such as the ‘Hit Parade’ in the Princeton Review SAT Workbook. PR has done computer analyses of the 300 or so most frequently occurring vocab terms found on the previous five years’ SAT’s. This means the list is particularly relevant. In addition, the PR has categorized the words on the list. Research from years ago has shown that the best way to remember vocabulary is to study it ‘in context.’ So a big part of the organization is already done.

When math needs attention in the prep, a solid review of some math basics is crucial. Even with math vocabulary is important. Students need to know what a question means when it asks for ‘consecutive prime integers’ for example. How much geometry do they remember? What about middle school math such as decimals, fractions, per cent? Is a review of the fundamentals needed?

In addition to the reading and math, both the SAT and the ACT include ‘writing’ sections that are really ‘editing.’ Students may need to review or learn some basics of grammar and idiomatic usage. And let’s not forget the ESSAY!

So, yes, tutoring for the SAT/ACT can be beneficial. One word of caution: no one can guarantee a given increase in scores. Often if a student who has followed the program and done the required exercises does not make gains, some extra sessions may be provided gratis. But there are many factors that can impact a student’s performance, not least of which is test anxiety. One-on-one tutoring can address specific concerns and needs for students prone to ‘worry.’

A key fact to bear in mind is that no single test is the deciding factor in college admissions decisions. In fact, more and more colleges are making standardized tests optional.

Time to Get Your ACT (& SAT) Together

December brings PSAT and ACT results to juniors (and those sophomores wise enough to have taken the PSAT). This means it’s time to begin arranging SAT and ACT tutoring for the spring round of tests.

Generally, juniors want to take the May SAT because The College Board provides the question/answer service for May–NOT June. The Q&A service means you will get a full printout of every answer you gave and a copy of your SAT booklet. If you need or want to take the test again, you have the summer prior to senior year to fine tune your test prep. You will also have ACT results to plan from.

Take your SAT II’s in June of the year that you take the honors/AP courses. Remember: colleges like to see that you’ve taken the most rigorous courses available to you. If you do well, it is a good indicator of future success in college level courses.

And what if you are not taking any AP courses? Colleges want to see that you can grow and improve in your academics. That means maintaining or even improving in your overall grades. So keep your eyes on the prize. Study means work. You already know the phrase–JUST DO IT!

A couple things to keep in mind:
-it’s better to do 20-30 minutes per night doing SAT/ACT exercises than to spend 3 hours on a Saturday. (Yes, some students REALLY do try to do it that way!)

Check out the College Board and ACT online websites for free online tips and practice questions, tests.