Resources/Tools

These are the battle-tested resources I use:

For the New SAT 2016

1. The College Board Practice Tests

The College Board has released 8 practice exams. These are your best guide to what the SAT looks like. If you prefer a physical copy of the tests in book format, you can purchase the official guide.

2. Past PSAT Exams

The College Board has released just two practice PSATs, but since the PSAT is just a shorter version of the SAT, they're definitely worth going over even if you're just prepping for the SAT.

3. The SAT Daily Practice App

This app, available for iOS and Android, contains many practice questions that aren't found anywhere else. Highly recommended if you're looking for more practice.

4. Anki

Regardless of what The College Board might say, vocabulary is still a huge component of the test. You won't be able to get away from those college-level words that still lurk in the passages.

And if you don't understand the vocabulary in the passages, you'll have a hard time comprehending them. The College Board has actually done a great disservice to students by claiming that tough vocabulary is no longer necessary. Don't buy into the deceptive advertising.

With Anki, it's easier than ever to improve your vocabulary. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's a free flashcard program that helps you memorize words through spaced repetition. For long-term memorization, our brains need to have repeated encounters with the subject matter. Scientists have also shown that the best time to make those encounters is just when we're about to forget it.

By using the program once a day, Anki's algorithm will track your memory and adjust to you. Words you struggle with will show up more frequently while words you've mastered will show up much less. Anki gets rid of the hassle of physical flash cards and speeds up memorization significantly. A few students of mine have memorized thousands of words with amazing retention.

To learn how to setup Anki for SAT Vocabulary, check out my 10-minute Anki tutorial.

5. TI-89 Titanium Graphing Calculator

ti89Don't get it if you already have a graphing calculator and you're just taking the SATs, but if you plan on taking Math 2 as a subject test or AP Calc, this calculator is a godsend. I can't believe it's not banned (though it's banned from the ACT).

There are three main things that make this calculator awesome.

  1. It solves equations for you. Type in \(2x +8 = -4\) and it will spit out \(x=-6\).
  2. It gives you exact fractions. Other calculators will spit out \(.142857\ldots\) this calculator will elegantly print out \(\dfrac{1}{7}\).
  3. The TI-89 will solve equations with logs, trigonometry, imaginary numbers, derivatives, and integrals. Over your head? Well, these topics don't show up on the SAT, but if you plan to take the Math 2 or AP Calc, this calculator will save you over and over.

Note: This calculator, in my opinion, is better than the new TI-Inspire. The TI-Inspire can do more but it's so difficult to use. It's hard to navigate and click things with its touchpad pointer and multiple menus. That being said, it'd be a waste to get the TI-89 if you already have the Inspire. Learn to use it well.


For the ACT

1. The Real ACT Prep Guide

Also known as "The Red Book," this is the essential book for ACT Study. It's released by the official test-makers and contains 3 past exams with full answer explanations.

2. The ACT website

You'll definitely want to work through the following on ACT's main website:

3. Past ACT Practice Test Booklets

These are official past exams that the ACT distributes each year to students. You'll notice that not all years are listed because some years are repeats of a previous year. I've sorted through them all and I've compiled a unique list below:

Please note that only the 2015-2016 booklet is completely reflective of the current exam (with the current essay format). The essay prompts in the other booklets should be ignored since they're outdated. That being said, every booklet is a must-do for the english, math, reading, and science practice you get.