# Improving Your ACT Math Score

TOP 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR ACT MATH SCORE

ACT Math is a real challenge for some test-takers. Sometimes, even students who pride themselves on their math skills can be caught off-guard by the ACT. Below are five tips to help you improve your ACT Math score, whether you’re a “math person” or not.

### TIP #1: BE ATTENTIVE TO DETAIL

Noticing small details is essential to scoring well in ACT Math. So many ACT students will say they missed math questions due to “stupid mistakes.” In these so-called “stupid” mistakes, test-takers see all the information in a math problem, but they fail to properly recognize certain details.

ACT Math loves to test your ability to notice and correctly interpret every number, symbol, word, or graphic in a math problem. As you practice for the test, teach yourself to scan ACT Math questions for small-but-important-details, such as decimal points, math signs, the wording of story problems, and the components of graphs and charts.

### TIP #2: APPROACH MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS STRATEGICALLY

There is no numeric entry in ACT Math, just multiple choice. The correct answer to each math problem will be right in front of you, among the answer choices. When you’re not sure of the right answer, you can always find the correct response by thinking logically and strategically. Learn how to eliminate incorrect answers, and learn the different ways in which ACT Math likes to trick you with tempting-but-wrong choices.

### TIP #3: RESEARCH GOOD ACT PREP MATERIALS

Not all ACT prep materials are created equal. A good set of prep materials for ACT Math is important—think helpful tutorials, good advice, and useful practice materials. Check the official ACT website for helpful advice, tools, and resources.

### TIP #4: LEARN TO MINIMIZE CALCULATOR USE

Yes, the ACT lets you use a calculator on the test, yet excessive reliance on a calculator can be a trap! Sometimes mental math or estimation can get you to the right answer almost instantly—much faster than you could if you keyed every step into your calculator. Also remember that writing a few problem steps on scrap paper increases your accuracy. It’s pretty easy to hit the wrong number on a calculator keypad, but much harder to actually write down the incorrect number (and reread it a few times without catching it). Always think carefully about whether you really need that calculator, and look for ways to avoid calculator use.

### TIP # 5: KNOW WHAT’S ON THE MATH TEST, AND PRACTICE EVERY SKILL

The #1 mistake students make is not dedicating enough time to all the math topics tested on the ACT. Don’t make this mistake! Especially when there are so many resources guiding you in the right direction.

The five most frequently tested ACT math topics are Pre-algebra, Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Plane Geometry, and Coordinate Geometry. Prioritize topics that give you problems, and give the ones that come easily to you a break. With the right preparation, you’ll be that much closer to reaching your target ACT score.

# 5 Must-Know SAT Math Tips

Your SAT Test Day is approaching, and you need SAT Math tips and strategies to maximize your score. Remember that your SAT Math subscores will reflect how you perform on specific questions tied to The Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, and Problem Solving and Data Analysis concepts.

### SAT Math Tip #1: Use this approach to answer every SAT math question

Step 1: Read the question, identifying and organizing important information as you go

• What information am I given?

• Separate the question from the context.

• How are the answer choices different?

• Should I label or draw a diagram?

Step 2: Choose the best strategy to answer the SAT Math question

• Look for Patterns.

• Pick numbers or use straightforward math.

Step 3: Check that you answered the right question

• Review the question stem.

• Check units of measurement.

### SAT Math Tip #2: Use this method for multi-part Math questions

Step 1: Read the first question in the set, looking for clues.

Step 2: Identify and organize the information you need.

Step 3: Based on what you know, plan your steps to navigate the first question.

Step 4: Solve, step-by-step, checking units as you go.

Step 5: Did I answer the right question?

Step 6: Repeat for remaining questions, incorporating results from the previous question if possible.

### SAT Math Tip #3: Translate words into math

Translate the words in the question into math so you can solve.

### SAT Math Tip #4: Review number properties and SAT math relationships

Recognizing number properties will save you time on Test Day. Number properties rules include odds and evens, prime numbers, and the order of operations. You can pick numbers to help you remember the rules.

For SAT math relationships, knowing the difference between ratios, proportions, and percents can save valuable time. Being able to move easily among percents, fractions, and decimals will also save time.

### SAT Math Tip #5: Make sure your calculator is allowed and bring it with you on Test Day.

Check the official SAT website to make sure the calculator you plan to use on the SAT math section is allowed.

# Preparing for AP Exams

Are you ready for your AP Exams? May is a hectic month with tests, finals, and school events, so prepping for your APs early and often will ensure you’ll do your best on these important tests. Here are tips to help you put together your perfect review strategy.

When should I start studying for AP Exams?

Many students start shifting to AP prep mode 1 to 3 months before test day, usually ramping up by spring break. The goal is it give yourself enough time to get used to AP question types, take a few practice tests, review content, and hone your test-taking strategy.

The good news is that all your hard work for your AP classes is setting a great foundation for the AP test. Use your old tests and quizzes to track where you need to strengthen your knowledge and what topics you already know well.

How to study for multiple APs at once:

If you are taking more than one AP test this May, it’s important that you start early and make a schedule to map out your time. To come up with your study plan, ask yourself:

• How many days/weeks/months away are my exams?
• What time of day is my best, most focused study time?
• How much time per day/week/month will I devote to preparing for each exam?
• When will I prep? (Be as specific as possible: "Mondays & Wednesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. I will study for AP Bio," for example.)

Studying in small chunks keeps the workload manageable, so try to stick to one AP subject per night.

How to Study for AP Exams:

1. Start with old material. Begin by reviewing the material you have already completed in class. Set aside 15 minutes or so each evening to review past work. Refreshing your memory on a regular basis is the best strategy for effective learning.

2. Approach new material with the AP test in mind. You can’t just forget the material once you’ve been graded on it! The AP exam will be the culmination of the entire year. As you master new material, take a few minutes to make notes that you’ll use later for AP Exam review. Highlight the important points of each lesson while it’s still fresh in your mind, and note the areas where you struggled.

3. Don’t overly rely on your high school teacher. Your teacher’s job is to ensure all the subject material is covered—not to help you study. There often isn’t enough time during class to teach the material AND do a thorough review by May.

4. Invest in an AP prep book. A great test prep book will help you review essential content, introduce you to test format and question types, and help you practice for the big day.

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# SSAT Tips and Strategies

A good SSAT test prep program will strengthen underlying skills, instill confidence, and help students reach their full potential. Successful test-taking not only encompasses the necessary academic skills, but also the understanding of how to take standardized tests. Utilizing a two-pass approach, pacing drills, process of elimination, plugging in the answer choices, and question recognition, are all ways to help increase your score. Having a tips and strategies toolbox will help the student be in control of the test. View the SSAT test format.

•    Guess if you can eliminate 2 answer choices on easy or medium questions. Guess on hard questions if you can eliminate 3 answer choices.
•    Attractor answers are most common towards the end of a section.
•    The student receives 1 minute per question on the reading section.
•    The student receives 30 seconds per question on the verbal section.
•    The student receives 72 seconds per question on both math sections.

SSAT Math:

•    Half of the math questions are arithmetic and about one-fifth are Geometry based.
•    If the problem doesn't say “not drawn to scale” then estimate by looking at it.
•    Use numbers that are easy to work with when plugging in for variables.
•    If you think a question will take more than 72 seconds, circle it, and come back to it later.
•    Watch out for sudden measurement changes. For example, the chart lists yards and the answers are given in feet.

SSAT Verbal:

•    Review the tested word and find the correct definition.
•    The answers may also use a secondary definition.
•    Examine the word for roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
•    Does the word sound positive or negative?
•    For analogies, build a sentence with the word to understand the relationship.
•    Eliminate answer choices with no relation and that seem weak in their relationship.

•    Spend the first minute looking for “easy” passages to tackle.
•    Reading is the only section that doesn’t progress from easy to difficult.
•    Usually, the very first sentence will be the main idea.
•    Try not to worry about rushing through passages.
•    Don’t move onto the next passage, until you answer all of the current passage questions.
•    If you’re running short on time, look for the questions that ask for a definition.

Contact us regarding test prep for the SSAT, including a free diagnostic report!

# ACT Science Overview

Format:
•    40 questions
•    Multiple-choice
•    Passages with charts/diagrams

Content:
•    Biology
•    Chemistry
•    Physics
•    Geology
•    Astronomy
•    Meteorology

Time: 35 minutes

The ACT science section does not test specific science facts. Instead, students will need to understand how to use certain skills of scientific reasoning. Nearly every question can be answered by referring to the material in the passage. Yet, somewhere between 1 and 5 questions on every ACT test, will concentrate on science-based knowledge not given in the passages. There will be a few questions that require some arithmetic. You may have to find an average or utilize your algebra knowledge.

Question types and scoring
Students receive 1 raw point for every correct answer. There’s nothing lost for answering incorrectly. The raw score is calculated by tallying up the raw points. The overall raw score is then converted to a score on a 1-36 point scale. The ACT science score is 1 of 4 scores that's factored into the ACT composite. The ACT composite is an average of 4 section scores. Meaning, a lower science score will bring down the ACT composite, and a higher score, will help to increase the ACT composite. This, of course, relies on the scores from the other ACT sections: English, reading, and mathematics.

Each ACT test contains:
•    6-8 Conflicting Viewpoints questions. These questions will present two or more scientific theories. Amongst all of the theories, not all of them can be correct. The questions may not ask you to prove which theory is correct, but instead, ask you to describe the viewpoints and how they relate to one another.
•    12-16 Data Representation questions. These questions usually present charts and tables that display different variables. Students will find 2-4 variables and must be able to describe the relationships between the variables.
•    18-22 Research Summary questions. These questions describe an experiment and the scientific findings. The passage will detail the results, makeup, and hypothesis. The questions will ask you about the experiment’s findings, design, and implementation.

Every ACT test will include the same set of instructions for the science section. Master the instructions and you won’t need to read them when taking the test. This enables you to spend more time on the problems by skipping the instructions.

ACT SCIENCE DIRECTIONS: There are seven passages in this test. Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary. You are NOT permitted to use a calculator on this test.

Watch out for attractor answer choices. The ACT anticipates the student making careless mistakes. The test will setup traps for students, and those most impacted, will be students who are not ready for them. The attractors mainly show up on medium to difficult questions.

ACT science tips:
•    Focus on one passage at a time
•    Learn which types of passages come easier for you
•    Tailor your strategies to each passage type
•    Don’t worry if the subject is unknown to you. Most of the information is in the passage.
•    Work on timing and pacing by practicing passages
•    Know the directions, so that you can skip them
•    You have 52 ½ seconds per question
o    Data Representation passages: spend 4 minutes
o    Research Summary passages: spend 5 minutes
o    Conflicting Viewpoints passages: spend 7 minutes

# SAT Math Overview

Format
58 total questions
25-minute no-calculator section (20 questions)
55-minute calculator section (38 questions)
Contains multiple-choice and grid-in questions

Content
Problem Solving and Data Analysis (19 questions) sample topics: percents, proportions, and statistics
Heart of Algebra (17 questions) sample topics: algebraic equations, systems of equations, graphs of linear equations, and linear models
Passport to Advanced Math (16 questions) sample topics: functions, quadratic equations, and polynomials
Additional Topics in Math (6 questions) sample topics: angles, triangles, circles, trigonometry, and complex numbers

Tips

• Put time and energy into questions within your capabilities.
• Don’t waste time on a hard question when there are still easier questions left to answer.
• Be sure to check your answers on harder questions. Suspect an answer that comes a little too easily.
• In each math section, consider doing the first few grid-ins prior to doing the last few multiple-choice questions.
• The questions on the calculator section are usually more complex than the ones on the no-calculator section.

Scoring
You’ll receive a math section score on a 200-800 point scale. Also, you'll receive a second math section score, but weighted on a 10-40 scale. There are three math subscores: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. The three math subscores will be reported to you on a 1-15 scale for each. Additionally, some math questions will count towards a cross-test score. There are two reported cross-test scores, one for Analysis in Science and one for Analysis in History/Social Studies.

Your score is calculated using the following: 1 raw point for a correct answer. There is no penalty for answering incorrectly, so you should answer every question on the SAT. Your raw score is calculated by adding up your raw points. Your raw score is converted to a scale math test score from 10-40. The score you receive on the 10-40 scale is converted to a math section score from 200-800.

Tackling SAT Grid-In Questions
13 of the 58 math questions are grid-ins. There are 5 at the end of the no-calculator section and 8 at the end of the calculator allowed section.

• Grid-in questions are like multiple-choice questions, but they do not contain multiple-choice answers to choose from.
• Grid-in questions progress in level of difficulty. The first grid-in question will be much easier than the last grid-in question. For some students, it is best to answer the grid-in questions first before attempting the most difficult multiple-choice questions.
• You should always write your answers in the boxes even though you only receive credit for bubbling in the ovals.
• Start gridding in the far-left column first.
• Grid-in questions will never have negative numbers as answers.
• You should grid-in mixed numbers as improper fractions or decimals.
• If you grid-in an answer as a decimal, you should do so with the highest degree of accuracy possible. For example, an answer of 0.6666 should be gridded as .666 or .667 or 2/3. If you gridded .66 or .67 your answer will be marked incorrect.
• You may find that some grid-in questions have more than one answer. You need to grid-in just one of the correct answers.

The SAT reading test measures the student’s skills in reading, comprehension, and analysis. The passages are 500-750 words and the questions are divided into three areas: synthesis, rhetoric, and information/ideas. The SAT reading test contains 5 total passages and each passage has 10-11 questions. The student has an average of 13 minutes to spend on each passage. It’s best for the student to spend about 5 minutes reading the passage and 45 seconds to answer each question. The passages range from high school to college level content.

Important tips to consider while reading SAT passages:
-    Understand the question first then look at the answer choices.
-    Review to make sure you’ve found the best answer. Usually, SAT reading passages will contain a few answer choices that seem right, but they’re not the correct answer. Most of the difficult questions will try and throw you off.

-    Don’t skim over the passage.
-    Focus on one question at a time.
-    Use the two-pass approach.

Each SAT reading test includes the following:
-    1 U.S and World Literature passage (from classic and contemporary)
-    2 History/Social Studies passages (from founding documents and political life)
-    2 Science passages (from historical discoveries in Earth science, chemistry, biology, and physics)

-    Read the passage first. Resist the urge to rush ahead. Taking time to read the passages thoroughly will pay off in the end. Students must actively read the passage first.
-    Don’t skim the passages. The reading questions require a strong understanding of the passage. Students must understand the author’s role and perspectives. A brief look is not enough to answer the questions with accuracy.
-    Only read one passage at a time. Answer all questions pertaining to a specific passage before moving forward. In order to maximize your score, spend your time focusing on the easier questions first. Each question is worth 1 raw point, regardless of the level of difficulty.
-    Focus on a single question at a time. Don’t feel the pressure to rush through the test. Relax and don’t think about the next passage. Be patient and you will find yourself working more accurately.

Vint Hill Educational Services offers one-to-one SAT prep focused on the individual. Our program is customized and designed for each unique student. Unlike a group SAT prep class, we concentrate on individual student needs.

# How to Organize Your Homework Assignments

Organizing your homework is a great way to improve your grades. One successful way to do this is to incorporate a color coding system into your homework routine.

Here are the steps:

1. Get a set of inexpensive supplies arranged by color.
You may want to start with a pack of colored highlighters, then find folders, notes, and various stickers to match them.
•    Folders
•    Sticky notes
•    Highlighters
•    Round stickers
•    Labels
•    Flags

2. Select a different color for each class. For example, you may want to use the following system:
•    Orange=US History
•    Green=Algebra
•    Red=Chemistry
•    Yellow=English
•    Blue=Health
•    Pink=Marketing

3. Create a connection between the color and the class. Here's a good starting suggestion, you might relate the color green to money or plant life. This may make you think about math subjects or biology class. Try to relate a few colors to some of your classes. The connection will be clear in your mind after a few days.

4. Pocket folders: Use each folder to keep track of homework for each class. The type of folder isn't important; just use the type that is best for you. Sometimes your teacher will recommend a specific folder.

5. Notes work well when it comes to researching articles. You can note down book and article titles, phrases, passages, comments, and such, to use in your paper, including bibliographical citations. Keep standard manila notes if you can't carry multiple packages of colored sticky notes. Use different colored pens in order to keep track of each class.

6. Flags are for marking pages or reading assignments. Place a colored flag at the beginning and ending pages for each assignment. You can also use flags for marking dates in your organizer. Place a flag on a date when an assignment is due. You can use different colors for your various classes. You'll have an everyday reminder that a due date is approaching.

7. Highlighters should be used when reviewing your notes. During a lecture, take notes like you usually do and be sure to include the date in your notebook. Once you get home, look over and highlight using different colors. You can breakdown the colors by subject, information type, or relevance. If your papers get jumbled up (or never get put into your classroom folder) you can recognize them by the highlights.

8. Round stickers are great for your wall calendar. Be sure to keep a calendar in your room or in the kitchen, and place a color-coded sticker on the day that an assignment is due. For instance, on the day you receive a research paper assignment in history class, you should place an orange sticker on the due date. This way, everyone can see an important day approaching, even at a glance.

# New SAT Math Strategies

1.    Focus on a single question – Take it easy and relax. Don’t worry about the next 20 questions. You may feel the need to rush and that’s normal. If you’re patient, you will work faster and produce better results.

3.    Use the process of elimination – Look to eliminate answer choices and you’ll have a better chance in getting the question correct. Consider values in the problem and use logic to your advantage.

4.    Draw in your test book – Test booklets include extra white space. Use the space around the problem and to the sides. Write down steps, draw a chart, label the sides of shapes, and strike out incorrect answers. You can even rewrite important numbers or phrases. This helps reduce careless mistakes and justifies answers.

5.    Don’t erase computations in your test book – This is a waste of time. Just cross out calculations that you no longer want to consider. This is faster than trying to erase with your pencil, especially if you’ve written out a lengthy formula.

6.    Information that is irrelevant – On occasion, you’ll find that a certain SAT math question contains information that is not required. This piece of information doesn’t have anything to do with solving the problem. This can make students second guess themselves. If you’ve solved the problem without using the piece of information in question; chances are that you’ve solved the problem correctly. Put a star or X next to information that may not be required.

7.    Re-check your work, but do it efficiently – Perform a quick spot check after each section. It’s better to do this at the end of each problem then at the end of the entire section. The SAT contains “attractor answers” that lure students into picking a false answer. They seem correct to the student because the student doesn’t fully understand the problem. Tip: Use your calculator to verify the answer. Plug in the answer to see if it fits into the equation. Make sure you answered the question completely and not just a step in finding the correct answer.

8.    Turn algebraic expressions into solid numbers – Most of the SAT math problems can be solved by picking select numbers for certain variables. It’s useful to know what types of questions can be solved this way. This approach works well with problems where the answers are variables. When you pick your own numbers, you’ll be able to turn algebraic expressions into solid numbers. For example, a problem that involves minutes or seconds, try utilizing the number 60.

9.    Plug in answer choices – Plugging in numbers is a useful SAT math strategy. Try solving a problem in the reverse direction, by plugging in the provided answer choices. Doing so, will help tackle the more difficult questions. Plugging in is also beneficial on word problems.

10.    Don’t forget about your calculator – Your calculator is only allowed on one of the two SAT math sections. About half of the questions on the calculator allowed section really require one. The calculator will find graphing points for you and take care of fractions. The best calculators approved by the College Board will let you compute trigonometric functions and setup graphing plots. Check the College Board website calculator policy section for more details.

11.    Grid-in questions – There are 13 total grid-in questions on the redesigned SAT. Grid-in questions progress from easy to difficult. Students should always answer the easier grid-ins before attempting the more difficult grid-ins. Make sure the "ovals" are filled in correctly. Grid-in answers will never be a negative number. Some grid-in questions have more than one correct answer. The student must enter in mixed numbers as improper fractions or decimals. Always start with the far left grid-in column!

# Best ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Henrico, VA - Short Pump, VA - Glen Allen, VA - Tuckahoe, VA - Midlothian, VA - Lorraine, VA - Bon Air, VA

### Why does our program work so well?

We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic.

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. It is important to retest the student periodically, in order to reassess strengths and weaknesses. The ACT/SAT prep program should revolve around the student, as he or she grows throughout the prep program. When we see scores suddenly spike in the main area of focus, it means attention must be switched back to the new lowest scoring section.

Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to your home on weekdays or weekends. ACT/SAT prep is available throughout Richmond VA. Vint Hill Educational Services ACT/SAT tutors reside in: Henrico, VA - Glen Allen, VA - Richmond, VA - Midlothian, VA - Tuckahoe, VA - Short Pump, VA - Mechanicsville, VA - Lorraine, VA - Ashland, VA, and many more!

Here’s one of our ACT prep students that went up 3 ACT composite points, after only 6 sessions of one-to-one prep. English went up 2 points, math shot up 4 points, reading increased by 3 points, and science jumped up 3 points.

# Vint Hill Educational Services Student Increases ACT Composite Score by 6 Points!

One of our ACT prep students that took the December 12th test just got her scores back. She is a current junior at Wakefield School. She went from a 24 ACT composite score to a 30 ACT composite score. That is equivalent to 350 points on the SAT (1650 to 2000)! She went up 9 points on the ACT Math section; going from a 19 to a 28! She exceeded her ACT composite score goal of a 28.

Congratulations Doria!

# SSAT Tips and Strategies

•    Guess if you can eliminate 2 answer choices on easy or medium questions. Guess on hard questions if you can eliminate 3 answer choices.
•    "Attractor" answers are most common towards the middle and end of a section.
•    The student receives 1 minute per question on the reading section.
•    The student receives 30 seconds per question on the verbal section.
•    The student receives 72 seconds per question on both math sections.

MATH
•    Half of the math questions are arithmetic and about one-fifth Geometry based.
•    If it doesn’t say “not drawn to scale” then estimate by looking at it.
•    Use numbers that are easy to work with when plugging in for variables.
•    If you think a question will take more than 72 seconds, circle it and come back to it later.
•    Watch out for sudden measurement changes. For example, the chart lists yards and the answers are given in feet.

VERBAL
•    Review the word and find the correct definition.
•    The answers may also use a secondary definition.
•    Examine the word for roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
•    Does the word sound positive or negative.
•    For analogies, build a sentence with the word to understand the relationship.
•    Eliminate answer choices with no relation and that seem weak in their relationship.