The SAT Essay: An Exercise in Efficiency

When it comes to the SAT, there is a core set of strategies that can be applied to the Verbal, Math and grammar part of the Writing section. These multiple-choice sections can generally be approached with the same box of tools. Process of Elimination, for example, is a fundamental strategy: if you can't find the correct answer, then look at the choices. Usually two of them will be wildly off base. Eliminate those and then, if you have to, guess.

The Essay section, however, does not avail itself to such a strategy, because it is abstract; there is nothing to eliminate, back-solve or break down. There is only a prompt - a quote or a description of a situation - and an assignment: evaluate and write, using examples from "reading, studies, experience or observations." That's it. That, and a ticking clock. When was the last time you wrote an analytical essay, in 25 minutes, on spec? For many, the essay can be the most confounding part of any standardized test.

The Single Best Strategy To Improve Your ACT Score

Your ACT score is based on how many questions you answer correctly in each of the four graded sections. Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not deduct any points for wrong answers, so it benefits you to answer as many questions as possible.

Here's the key to improving your ACT score: answering everything doesn't mean you have to attempt every question. Accuracy is essential.

Some students make the mistake of attempting every question. This only makes sense if you are already an exceptional test taker scoring in the top 90%. If you are trying to earn a 28 or higher on any section, go ahead and work every question; you've already proven your ability to dominate the test.