Fall SAT, PSAT, and ACT Classes

  • Premium SAT Class:   Sundays, 1 pm – 3:30 pm, January 5 – March 2, To prep for SAT in March.
  • Premium SAT Class:   Tues/Thurs, 4 pm to 6:00 pm, January 28 – March 6,.  To prep for SAT or PSAT in Oct.
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Summer Reading Lists for High School Students

For as long as I can remember, the highest scorers on verbal sections of the SAT and ACT have been the kids who frequently read books on their own.  Regular reading increases your vocabulary, knowledge, critical thinking, and ability to see things from different points of view.   Even occasional reading helps and at least is a positive start, especially in the current day where kids can be very busy with scheduled activities or distracted by a multitude of things online.

It’s very common for parents to tell me that they can’t get their kids to read on their own, but I find it helps to look more closely at their interests and try to find books that appeal more to them personally.  For example, if a kid plays sports, they can usually find biographies of athletes who excel at their particular sport.  Or if they play an instrument and love music, they can look for biographies or books that tie into that interest.  Or maybe they just need to find the type of book that grabs their attention such as mystery/thriller, westerns, or science fiction.  It may be a challenge and take some effort, but if they can just find that first book that they really enjoy, then it’ll be easier to keep up the reading habit.

Here is a link to some Summer reading lists provided by a charter school(arranged by grade):  Summer Reading Lists.  It has lists for every grade in junior high and high school.   Please check this out and feel free to reach out to share feedback or let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Here are some from the list that I also recommend:

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells

Twelve Mighty Orphans, Jim Dent

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5 Reasons Test Prep Can Help Your Child Succeed

College admissions tests are difficult, but they don’t have to be.  Here are 5 Reasons that our SAT and ACT Classes are beneficial and how they can help your child succeed:

  1. Prep Builds Confidence.  By practicing on the SAT and ACT, students learn what to expect.  They learn the rules and get a feel for the content and difficulty level.
  2. Prep Lets Students Practice Pacing.  Students get to practice on each section and figure out what pace works best for them.
  3. It’s a Chance to Review.  By the time students are juniors, it may have been over several years since they learned algebra I and Geometry and at least a years since Algebra II, at least for some.  By spending some time preparing, students get a chance to review and practice on math or grammar concepts that they may be rusty on.
  4.  Kids learn Strategies.  Some strategies are subject specific and focus on math or Grammar.  Whereas some strategies apply throughout, such as elimination.  Anything kids can do to eliminate wrong answers will improve their odds.
  5. Practice and preparation helps kids do their best.  Kids start with a baseline and then learn strategies and techniques in our course that help them improve their scores.  They find out that a lot of the questions they miss are caused by simple errors they can correct.

To find out where to start, check out our Summer Prep schedule by clicking on this link:  Summer Schedule

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College Prep Tips for 11th graders

11th Grade Year: All College-Bound Students Should Take the PSAT in the Fall

Honors students need to take the PSAT as juniors to try to qualify for National Merit Awards. In addition to the scholarships given to Award Finalists, students may qualify for other merit scholarships and special scholarships given out to National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Students.

In my experience, students who are commended or become semifinalists receive a lot of interest from colleges who want them to attend. The colleges vigorously recruit these students because it brings prestige to the college that they choose to attend.

Other awards given to students who score high on the PSAT the fall of their junior year include the National Achievement Award, given to African-American students, and the National Hispanic Achievement Award, given to Hispanic students.

11th Grade Year: All college-bound juniors should consider taking the SAT and ACT in the Spring.

Taking the SAT and ACT during the junior year is important because if the student can get a good score, he or she can focus on taking college visits and finishing applications during the summer and early part of the fall of the senior year. Having a good score by the spring of the junior year will open doors and give the student more choices and more time to find the right fit. 

In addition, if the student does not get the score up to what they need, they have an opportunity to work on it in the late spring or summer before their senior year and then take the test during the fall of their senior year.

I strongly advise against postponing the SAT and ACT to the senior year — in other words, not taking either test at all until the student is a senior. It may take a few months to address any weaknesses the student may have. It is best to work on these deficiencies prior to the student’s senior year, if possible.

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SAT or ACT: Which is better for you

Many parents come to a crossroads regarding which admissions test would be best for their child. Many stick with the test that is more prevalent among colleges in their area. For example, the ACT is more prevalent in Oklahoma and Arkansas, whereas the SAT is more popular in Texas. Surprisingly, this is not because colleges in these places exclusively require one test or the other. In fact, I do not know of a single school in any of these three states that exclusively requires either test. Therefore, students should choose according to what is best for them.

The best approach for nearly every student is to take both tests. A student may elect not to send the scores to schools from any test until he or she is ready. For example, say a student plans to take both tests during the spring of their junior year but is not sure how they will do. They can decide not to send the scores to any colleges until they find out how they did. There is an additional fee but it might be worth it just to relieve some of the pressure. If they like their, scores they can go ahead and have them sent to the colleges to which they are applying or they can decide to take either test again and then send the scores.

Another reason to take both is that some students may do better on one test than the other. This may depend on a student having skills that are better suited to one test more than the other. For example, students who know all the key math formulas have an edge on the ACT because these useful formulas are not included in the test instructions; students must know them. In contrast, these formulas are present as part of the SAT instructions so students do not have to know or memorize them.

Sometimes a student may feel more comfortable with the nature and design of one test over the other. I had a student last year who did well on the ACT math section but poorly on the SAT math section. This difference appeared consistently on both real and practice tests. She was above the 60th percentile on the ACT math section and around the 40th percentile on the SAT math section. The only explanation I could come up with was that the layout of the ACT fit her better. Taking both tests will give the student feedback that he or she can use to decide if another test is a good idea and which test on which to focus their preparation. If the student does considerably better on one test, they should probably study for and take that test again.

Excerpt from The Parent’s Guide to the SAT and ACT by James Pipkin, 2007

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Spring Prep for Juniors and Sophomores

Here are some prep suggestions for juniors taking the SAT or ACT in the Spring.  I’ve included some recommendations for how to prepare for the digital PSAT which will be given in October.
Prep for Juniors: we have a several options to prepare for SATs and ACTs in the Spring.  Most schools will be offering a school-day SAT in March. In addition, there are national tests in March, May, and June.  Individual prep can begin any time since the schedules are customized.  Here’s a link:  Individual SAT Prep.  Our first group class begins January 24th.  Here’s the schedule:
Prep for Sophomores: current sophomores will be the first cohort to take the new computer-adapted PSAT and SAT. The PSAT in Fall 2023 will be in the new format with the new SAT coming out in 2024. We will begin preparing students for the new PSAT in our Summer classes and individual programs. However, high achieving sophomores are also advised to consider taking the current SAT this Spring to help get a baseline and get feedback on areas on which to focus.
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Should You Submit a Test Score?

The test optional policy used currently by some colleges is a great opportunity for students to prove that they have the skills essential for college.  The SAT and ACT measure math, grammar, and reading comprehension skills which are critical for success in college.  The SAT and ACT tests are the most objective part of the college application, because while the quality and variety of high schools vary, everyone takes the same test on a given day.  These tests are an excellent way for students to leave no doubt about their readiness for college level classes.

Who Should Submit their Scores?

 Students who are near or above the median score for acceptance at a given college would probably benefit by submitting their scores.  In fact, students who fall between the 25th and 75th percentiles for a particular college should consider submitting.  This way, if the student is competing with another student with comparable grades and resume who chose not to submit their score, then submitting a decent score could be the deciding factor.  By including the score, then you provide the college with clear evidence of what you’re capable of, instead of leaving them to wonder.  Also, submitting a qualifying test score may exempt the student from a placement test such as the TSI or comparable test.  In addition, a strong SAT or ACT score will qualify you for some of the best scholarships available, and the requirements vary a lot for different colleges.  To get help deciding whether to submit or not, feel free to contact us at 817-451-6200, check with your school counselor or college advisor, or contact the college directly.

Should You Prepare for the SAT or ACT?

 A good score on the SAT or ACT still has the same advantages it had pre-Covid, prior to the test-optional policy.  It can still improve your chances of admission at competitive colleges and improve your scholarship options.  It is still a way for a capable late-bloomer to show what he or she knows.  In my experience, parents usually know what their kids are capable of and have a good sense of what barriers they need to overcome.  So, if you have a strong feeling that your kid can score higher on these tests, it might be worth putting some work into, either in the form of self-study or in the form of a more structured course like we offer.  Of course, motivation is essential.  But, I’ve found that motivated kids can usually increase their SAT score by 200-300 points or more and their ACT score by 4-6 points or more if they put the time and effort into it.

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Classes for SAT, PSAT, and ACT



      To Prep for June SAT

      • Premium SAT Class:  Tuesday - Thursday, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, April 24 – June 1.  (12 sessions + practice tests)


      • Premium PSAT/SAT Class:  Tuesday - Thursday, 9:00 to 11:30 am, June 27 - July 27, includes practice tests and review in Aug/Sept.  no class on 7/4

      Our students increase an average of 152 points on the SAT.  88% increase by at least 100 points.  Some students even increase by more than 300 points.  Our ACT students typically improve between 4 and 6 points.  Follow links below for more details.

      Premium Class - More Info

      Intensive Class - More Info

      ACT Class - More info

      Feel free to contact us at 817-451-6200 for more information or to sign up.  Or, you can sign up online.
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      Local Scholarship Deadlines Nearing


       The cost of a college education is higher than ever. How will you afford this expense? What if your children attend elite or out-of-state schools? What if they don’t graduate in four years? The costs can be monumental. This workshop will teach you how to send your children to the college of their dreams without bankrupting your retirement nest egg. You’ll discover strategies that may enable you to qualify for financial aid, sources for scholarships, and strategies for maximizing your wealth and minimizing your tax exposure, giving you greater cash flow for funding a college education. Please join Knowledge Guides as they host The College Funding Coach® via ZOOM webinar on April 22nd @ 6:30 PM Central. This is information you can’t afford to miss!  To register for this event, click here.   Please take a look around our website for helpful resources and information. 


      There are quite a few local scholarships with approaching application deadlines.

      1. The Arlington Board of Realtors offers scholarships to “5 students graduating from an Arlington ISD, Mansfield ISD or Kennedale ISD high school, an area private school or an area home school.”  Amount:  $1000 each.  Deadline:  February 27, 2019.  Link to apply:
      2.  The Arlington Voice Investigative Journalism Scholarship is available to “students of public, private, and homeschooling environments.”  Amount:  $500.  Link:
      3. Scovell Scholars awards students in North Texas who are planning to attend a Texas college or university.  Deadline:  March 1.  Amount:  $4000.  Link:
      4. The FWHCC Scholarship is available to high school seniors who reside in Tarrant County.  Deadline:  April 19, 2019.  Amount:  $500 – $3000.

      Here’s a great link to some of these scholarships and more like them provided by the Arlington School District:

      Also, scholarship search engines such as and can help match you to specific scholarships for which you qualify.

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      College Prep for 10th Graders

      This post includes some test prep suggestions for students heading into their 10th grade year.  This will be followed by posts with suggestions for Honors 10th graders and posts for 11th graders.  Please feel free to contact us to respond to this post.  You are welcome to ask questions or make comments.

      First, I will provide some suggestions for students in regular classes and then give some suggestions for honors and AP Students in subsequent posts.

      10th Grade Year: Take the PSAT during the Fall - Non-Honors Students

      Most school counselors will urge their Advanced Placement (AP) and honors-track students to take the PSAT their 10th grade year. However, many schools do not encourage non-honors students to take the PSAT. This is unfortunate because many of these non-honors students will wind up going to college. Talk to your child’s counselor and school administrators and make sure you get your child signed up for this test. Taking this test will benefit non-honors students in several ways.

      First, it gives them a diagnostic test that shows strengths and areas needing improvement. Having this knowledge in the 10th grade year will help you determine if you need to sign your child up for remedial tutoring. You may then use this as a baseline to track improvement on the next PSAT and later SATs.

      Second, it will be valuable as a practice exercise in which your student will become more familiar with the PSAT and SAT. They will learn the standard test format including question types and content.

      Third, they will have an additional chance to practice their test-taking skills. My experience is that students become better test takers with practice, so take advantage of every opportunity. Finally, if they do well — for example, score better than the 70th percentile or so — on the composite score, you may want to prep them for the 11th grade PSAT to try to qualify for a National Merit Award.

      Excerpt from The Parent's Guide to the SAT and ACT, by James Pipkin

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      Which kids stand the most to gain from test prep?

      I assert that about 99% of students can benefit from preparation. Unless the student is in the top 1% on the ACT or SAT, he or she has room to improve.

      In making your decision, look at the admission factors at the colleges your child is applying to and decide if a better score would make a difference with respect to admission or in the bid for a scholarship.

      Look at where your child currently stands. How do their class rank and test scores compare with what it usually takes to gain admission to those colleges?

      For example, say your child has an ACT score of 26 and is in the top 5% of their class, and you have determined that they have a very strong shot of being admitted. You have decided that they do not need a higher ACT score to get in, but you are not sure about scholarships.

      Next, you call the school and find out that if your child raised their score to a 28, they would qualify for a $3000 annual scholarship. This is a situation where they stand to gain a lot from raising their score. $12,000 is on the line — getting a score of 28 will not be easy. It will take some work and I would advise that you locate the best preparatory program available to you and go for it.

      Excerpt from The Parent's Guide to the SAT and ACT by James Pipkin

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      Things to consider when you register

      When you are ready to sign your kid up for the SAT or ACT, there are some important details to consider.

      First, when choosing a test site, most people just consider convenience, which is understandable.  But, it is a good idea to also consider the test location.  Sometimes the largest sites with the most kids can also be the most chaotic and involve longer wait times to get started and be the most distracting.  I recommend looking for a site that is smaller in terms of number of test-takers.

      Secondly, when you choose a test date, try to pick a date when you’re kid doesn’t have too much going on.  For example, if your kid is involved in football or band, it might better to wait until the end of the season.  Or, if taking the test during the season is necessary, try to find a test date that coincides with a home game so that your kid isn’t out too late.

      Finally, take note of the SAT and ACT dates that offer test verification so that you can get a copy of the test after the fact.  This way, your kid will be able to review the test and correct what he or she missed.  This will help your kid prepare for the next test and give him or her a better shot at a high score.

      Here’s the link for SAT’s Question and Answer Service(scroll down to “Question and Answer):

      Here’s ACT Score Verification(scroll down to “Score Verification Service”):


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      When should kids begin preparing for the SAT and ACT?

      It’s better to begin early than late to prep for the SAT and ACT

      Over the years, I have heard so many parents say that they wished that they would’ve had their kids start preparing earlier.  In my experience, the parents start seeing their kids gain confidence and see real improvements in the scores, and they wonder how much better their kids could’ve done if they had had more time.

      Starting early has several advantages

      First, it gives students an opportunity to become more comfortable with the test and understand what skills and concepts are being emphasized.  Second, it gives students more time to review math and grammar concepts that need to be refreshed or reinforced.  Third, starting early gives students more time to learn pacing strategies and get used to working under a time crunch.  Fourth, it gives students more time to improved their reading comprehension and vocabulary.  Fifth, it gives students more time to take the test more than once.

      When to start

      Ideally, you should early in their 10th grade year or in the Summer before.  This gives students time to prepare for their sophomore PSAT which is in October.  Also, beginning at this time is more relaxed because there is very little pressure so it’s easier to focus on the underlying skills that the tests are measuring.

      If you aren’t able to begin during the 10th grade year, you still have enough time to begin early in the Fall of their junior year.  This gives you a chance to prep for the October PSAT and later Fall SATs or ACTs, as well as tests in the Spring.  This gives you a chance to focus your strategies on multiple tests which you can assess and use to set final goals.

      Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this post or prep in general.  Also, here is a link to a timeline from Khan Academy that might be helpful:

      Master Timeline

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      College Prep for 10th Graders-Continued

      Honors Students

      Taking the PSAT test as a 10th grader is very important for honors/AP students. It will indicate if they have a decent chance at qualifying for a National Merit Award as a junior.  Sophomores who score above 1300 may be able to score high enough as juniors to qualify.

      Also, as with non-honors students, taking this test will give the student a diagnostic test that will indicate strengths and weakness. This will be valuable in determining how to set up an SAT program and in providing a baseline to which to compare the next PSAT and subsequent SATs.

      Test familiarity increases with each testing experience. All 10th graders who plan to attend college should consider taking the PLAN test as well. The PLAN test is made by the same people that make the ACT. It tests the same skills that the ACT tests and will give you a score that would indicate how you would do on the ACT. The purpose of the PLAN is to provide the student with practice and a diagnostic tool.

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      Select dates that let you order the test release.

      Parents can order a copy of the actual test that your child takes on certain test dates.  This provides critical information about pacing and focus and what areas the student needs to work on.  If your child is preparing for the SAT and ACT this Spring, consider signing up for this service.  You can sign up when you register.

      The SAT option is called the Question and Answer Service and is available for the
      May test.  This is not the same as the Student Answer Service which only gives you an overview but doesn't provide the test questions.  College Board charges $18 for the Question and Answer service, but it is worth it.  Here's a link to more info:

      The ACT version of this service is called the Test Information Release and is available for the 
      April and June tests.  The ACT charges $20.  It's worth it.  Here's a link to more info:

      If you have any questions about these options or other questions about the tests, please contact me.  The office number is 817-451-6200

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