Top 5 College Application Mistakes

1. Paying Someone To Take the SATs or ACTs for you

Don’t do this. You’re only cheating yourself!

2. Bribing School Officials

Don’t do this. It’s not worth the federal investigation!

3. Forging Your Grades

Don’t do this. You will get caught!

4. Bribing Coaches

Don’t do this. Not worth the jail time!

5. Waiting until the last minute to study for the SATs and ACTs

Don’t do this! Study hard and try using our test prep apps to help improve your score on the go.

SAT Question Types

In order to answer a question, you must first know what the question is asking! On the reading portion of the SAT, test makers use a variety of ways to ask the same questions. Since each question type has its own strategy, students who can quickly identify question types will reread less and improve their test performance. This may seem obvious, but in our years of teaching, not IDing the question correctly is the most common and easily fixable standardized test-taking mistake.

Here is a quick summary of SAT reading comprehension question types and their strategies:

1. Global Questions - zoom out, what's true?!

Global questions require you to look at the passage and determine the main point the author is trying to make. The answer to a global question MUST BE TRUE based on the passage. Clues that you're looking at a global question include language that refers to the passage as a whole, such as, "the author's main point is," and "the primary purpose of the passage is to," etc. Select the answer choice that sums up the passage as a whole! Quick tip: if you’ve narrowed it down to two answer choices, pick the choice that talks more about the first paragraph since the first paragraph usually introduces the main idea of the passage, hence its name, the “intro paragraph.”

2. Inference Questions - what must be true?!

Inference questions ask you to determine the answer choice that is UNSTATED, but MUST BE TRUE based on the passage. Evaluate each answer choice and ask yourself, "must this be true, beyond a shadow of a doubt, based on the passage?" If it must be true, then it's the right answer. If it might or could be true, then it's not the right answer!

3. Inference - Attitude Questions - for or against?!

Inference - Attitude questions are similar to inference questions in that you must select the answer choice that MUST BE TRUE based on the passage. The only difference is that you're focusing on the author's attitude, so look closely at keywords that reveal whether the author is for or against whatever he or she is talking about. In other words, look for words that would give you clues as to whether you should draw a smiley or a frownie face to describe how the author feels about something.

4. Inference - Strengthen/Weaken Questions - what would strengthen/weaken?!

Strengthen and Weaken questions ask you to select the answer choice that would strengthen or weaken the argument in the passage. Clues that you're looking at a Strengthen question include, "which of the following would support the author's position," "which of the following would strengthen," "if true, which of the following would bolster the author's argument," etc. Clues that you're looking at a Weaken question include, "which of the following would weaken the author's argument," "which of the following would undermine the critic's opinion," etc. Select the answer that strengthens or weakens the argument!

5. Inference - Author’s Purpose Questions - why did she write this?

Purpose questions are similar to inference questions in that you must select the answer choice that MUST BE TRUE based on the passage. They differ in that they focus on HOW the author made his or her point. Clues that you're looking at an Author's Method question include, "the author stated... primarily to," "the second paragraph serves to," etc. Look for the answer choice that describes HOW the author argued.

6. Vocabulary-in-Context Questions - what does that word mean?!

Vocabulary-in-Context questions ask you to determine the meaning of a word based on the context of the passage. Clues that tell you you're looking at a Vocabulary-in-Context question include language similar to: "the word... could be replaced with which of the following words." Whether you know what the word means or not, zoom out and look at the sentence as a whole and ask yourself, "what is the author trying to say here?" Pick the answer choice that most aligns with the author's intent for that sentence.

7. Detail Questions - the passage said what?!

Detail questions ask specific questions about things mentioned in the passage. The question prompts use phrases that essentially mean, "the passage said," such as, "according to the passage," "the author mentions," and "the passage states." These questions will also commonly include a line number to guide you to a particular part of the passage. To answer these questions correctly, review each answer choice against the passage, asking yourself, "did the passage say this?" When you can link an answer choice with something the passage actually said, you've got your answer! If the passage didn't mention what's in an answer choice, then it's not the right answer.

8. Compare and Contrast Questions- what's the difference?!

Compare and Contrast questions ask you to determine what's the same or different about two different viewpoints or even between two separate passages on a common subject. Clues that you're looking at a compare and contrast question include language such as, "viewpoints differ in that," "compared to the first paragraph, the second paragraph...", etc. All you have to do is identify the two things being compared, and ask yourself, "what's the difference between these two things?"

Hope this breakdown of the SAT question types helps! Please stay tuned for our forthcoming SAT prep guides!

Spotlight On: ACT


ACT - originally stood for “American College Testing” but was shortened as the test evolved 


Everett Franklin Lindquist

When is the test administered?

September, October, December, February , April, June

Where to register:

Who should take the test?

  • High school students preparing to enter college
  • If words aren't your thing, you may do better on the ACT
  • If you hate writing, the ACT writing section is optional.
  • If you're weak in one content area but strong in others, you could still end up with a very good ACT score so the ACT would be a better choice for you.

Test format:

  • English 75 questions in 45 minutes.
    • Measures standard written English and rhetorical skills
  • Math 60 questions in 60 minutes
    • Measures mathematical skills students have typically acquired in courses taken up to the beginning of grade 12
  • Reading 40 questions in 35 minutes
    • Measures reading comprehension
  • Science 40 questions in 35 minutes
    • Measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences
  • Optional Writing Section 1 prompt in 30 minutes
    • Measures writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses

Fun Fact:

About .076% of test takers score a perfect 36. 


Where can I learn more?

#1 LSAT App!

Thank you for making us the #1 LSAT App! We're so grateful for the opportunity and hope we can do just a little bit to make studying more fun! New updates (and apps!) coming soon!  🎉🎉

Spotlight On: LSAT

Full Name:

Law School Admission Test


Frank H. Bowles (with representatives from Harvard and Yale Law Schools)

When is the test administered?

Administered four times each year. June, September/October, December, and February

Who should take the test?

Prospective Law School Candidates

December 2015 Test Date:

Test Date: Saturday, December 3, 2015

Registration: October 23, 2015

Late Registration: November 3, 2015

February 2016 Test Dates:

Test Date: Saturday, February 6, 2016

Registration: December 31, 2015

Late Registration: January 8, 2015

Test format:

35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Four of the five sections contribute to the test taker's score. The unscored section typically is used to pre test new test questions or to pre equate new test forms. A 35-minute, unscored writing sample is administered at the end of the test.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that over 100,000 students take the LSAT each year?  If you multiplied that by three and a half hours and added it all together, the students collectively spend about 45 years taking the exam.

Where can I learn more?

5 Study Tips Every LSAT Student Should Know

We posted this article over on Reddit and people were liking it, so we reproduced it below. You can check out the original Reddit thread here:


Here are a few of my favorite study tips that I share with students:

1. Sleep in your clothes.

No, not literally. I’ll explain: I had a student once who told me that she was trying to run every morning before work, but she could never get herself out of bed and motivated to put on her running gear. So she started leaving her clothes and shoes next to the bed. That helped, she said, but not as much as when she – you guessed it – slept in her running clothes. She said that having her clothes on and ready made it much easier to motivate out of bed and get her workout started.

Planning your LSAT work ahead of time is just as helpful. No matter what time you study, having your books out and ready (or packed and ready to take with you to wherever you’re going to study) will make it just a little easier to get started. Planning what topics you’re going to cover in your next study session is also helpful, but if you really want to “sleep in your clothes,” actually take the time to plan exactly what question numbers, logic games, sections, or page numbers you’re going to try to cover in your next session. Most of my students find that this simple technique makes them less likely to blow off study sessions and helps them get the most out of their study time.

Speaking of skipping study sessions, I find that a lot of people procrastinate because they don’t know what they need to study. Which brings me to my next tip:

2. Use the last 15 minute of every study session to plan your next study session.

At the end of your study session you’re probably running on fumes anyway, so it’s best to wrap things up and make a detailed plan for your next study session. Include the time you’re going to study and, as mentioned above, the exact page numbers, section numbers, questions, etc that you’re going to cover. At the end of your session, you’ll have a good idea of what to work on or what you have to ask questions about, so it’s a great time to log all of those insights. You don’t always have to stick to your plan exactly – for example you may realize you need to work on a certain game type when you had originally sat down to do timed LG sections – but it’s nice to have a roadmap to get you started when you first sit down to study.

3. Get out of the house.

Why not study at home? There are just so many distractions: roommates, facebook, gmail… reddit! Get out, go to libraries and coffee shops. Just because you’re studying doesn’t mean it’s ok to suddenly stop interacting with people. I’m not a doctor, but isolation doesn’t seem healthy! I can tell when students go into isolation mode – I see wrinkled clothes, beards, droopy eyes – and rarely does that translate into amazing scores. It’s important to find the right balance of studying and taking care of yourself, both physically and socially.

Also, even though some public places, like coffee shops, are noisy, it’s good to practice ignoring distractions around you. Test centers are supposed to be quiet sanctuaries, but unfortunately they aren’t always quiet and distraction free.

Lastly, research has shown that you retain more information when you study in different contexts. Apparently your brain can associate what it learned with more places. Check out this article about this topic in the New York Times:

4. Turn your phone off while you study.

This probably seems obvious, but sometimes students’ phones go off while we’re in a tutoring session and I’m wondering, “are you serious?” The LSAT requires your full, undivided attention.

5. Practice in test-like conditions.

I once had a music teacher tell me, “don’t spend too much time practicing any technique that you can’t use on stage.” That doesn’t mean you should ALWAYS be taking 5 section practice tests in timed conditions, but it does mean you should control some variables when you practice LSAT. For instance, don’t practice logic games with a ton of scratch paper, don’t use mechanical pencils, and don’t take practice tests with digital timers, since you won’t be able to do any of those things on test day.

I know these tips are pretty general, but I’ve had success using them in my own standardized test prep and I’ve had students tell me that they were useful. I’ll try to post some more detailed tips in here this summer. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing about some of your go-to study tips.