Getting the Most Out of

Free Website Features

My website has been getting a lot of new members and I want to make sure all my readers are familiar with the free features of that can help improve their SAT and ACT test scores.  So, take a few minutes and read this blog.  It will help you to get the most out of my website, maxthetest.

To get started, be sure you register for free (click “Become a Member) and login using the “ Login” button to get to my free materials.  (The “Video Course Online” button is for students who have registered for the video class which has a monthly fee.  It is the same set of videos that students in my classes and tutoring sessions use.)  The following information is all about the FREE part of my website which includes the same information as the video course, live classes, and tutoring sessions.  The difference is obvious: you watch the video course and you read the free online course.  Decide for yourself if the free website is going to work for you or if you would benefit more from the video-based class.

The Blog

First, let’s begin with the obvious.  Use my daily blog that explains the SAT Question of the Day (QotD) and the ACT QotD.  Doing a few minutes of test prep each day will help keep you focused on your upcoming test dates.  It will also spread your preparation over a long period of time because you can’t cram for these tests.  Successful performance and score improvements come from developing new skills, not simply knowledge.  Skill development of any kind takes time and repetition.  Practicing a little each day is a good start.

My daily QotD blog analyzes the questions provided by the SAT and ACT folks and provides insights about the questions.   Keep in mind that these questions will never be on your test.  The true value of doing the questions lies in what you can learn about the test by doing them and it gives you practice in developing your test-taking skills.  That is why my blogs are about 1) what the questions reveal about the tests and 2) the skills you need to be more successful.

Free Videos

Second, there are some free videos on the home page.  One provides a little information about me.  If you haven’t seen it on your local news show, take three minutes and watch the Channel 6 News (Orlando, FL) clip which has been rebroadcasted in other localities.   In the video, you’ll also see Justin who worked with me to raise his score.  He will help you understand what my program is all about.  An important comment I make in the story is that I don’t raise scores—students raise their scores.  My program tells you how to raise your score; you have to do the work.

There are also a couple of videos with terrific test-taking tips.  One is about the most common reading test trap and the other is a math skill that can be very helpful on test day.  Watch them.

The Math Diagnostic

Third, in the Test Prep panel of the home page banner, there’s a “Learn More” button that you should explore.  It will lead you to a list of all the test prep resources I provide.  It starts with a link to Free Help.  If you click on it, you will find my Free Math Diagnostic.  All my students use it.  You need to do so as well!

The math diagnostic is an invaluable resource.  There’s one for the SAT and one for the ACT.  If you are only taking the SAT test, just do that one.  If you are taking the ACT or both tests, take the ACT diagnostic test.  Don’t take both math diagnostic tests.  (By the way, I encourage all students to take BOTH the SAT and ACT tests at least once because some students do significantly better on one test than the other.  Wouldn’t it be unfortunate if you were one of those students – and you only took the test that you didn’t do as well on?  As an aside, my experience has shown that it is easier to raise an SAT score.  Read my SAT vs. ACT blog for more details.)

Why is the math diagnostic so useful?  It will focus you on the math concepts that can show up on the tests.  Each concept is represented by a question on the diagnostic tests.  For example, basic trig functions are on my ACT diagnostic test but not my SAT diagnostic test because trig shows up on the ACT but not the SAT.  If you are only taking the SAT, why bother taking the time to review trig?  The diagnostic tests keep you from wasting time reviewing math that is not on the tests.

Now that you have a list of math topics that can show up on the test, you need to know which ones you need to review.  So, get out your calculator and take the appropriate diagnostic test.  If you are taking the SAT, there is a math reference information sheet at the beginning of a math test section in a sample SAT test and you can use it while taking the math diagnostic.  The ACT does not provide a math reference sheet, so you will need to memorize key math formulas.  Also, be sure you don’t guess at any of the questions when you take my math diagnostic test.  If you should guess correctly, you will think you know that topic and you will overlook it when you start reviewing math.

There is a significant difference between my math diagnostic and those you will see elsewhere.  Other test prep programs have you take a practice SAT and/or ACT.  Let’s say you miss an SAT question that involves ratios.  You need to know whether you missed it because you can’t do calculations related to ratios OR missed it because, despite understanding ratio calculations, you didn’t know how to use your ratio math knowledge the way the test writer expects.  There’s a difference.

When you miss an SAT ratio question, other programs have you study how to calculate ratios.  However, I bet you didn’t miss it because you didn’t understand ratios.  You missed it because the question involved some reasoning skill that you need to learn and practice.  So, using actual test questions can waste time by overstating your math deficiencies.  My diagnostic isolates the math operation from the reasoning skill.  Doing so focuses your review on math operations.  After reviewing your math operational weaknesses, you’ll progress to learning how to use those math topics the way the test writer expects you to use them.  In short, take my Free Math Diagnostic.  It will be worth your time.

Free Courses

Fourth, take my free SAT and ACT courses as appropriate.  When you click the login button for, you will have an option of using the SAT or ACT course.  They have been online for over 15 years and I keep them current with any changes in the tests.  Some students start with the first topic, “Think Like the Test Writer,” and work their way through the entire course.  This approach works very well.  Other students like to bounce around in the courses and do the lessons related to their weaknesses.  For example, if your Free Math Diagnostic results show you are weak in geometry, you may want to start there rather than with arithmetic, depending on how much time you have before test day.  Recently, I had a student who just wanted to improve her SAT Writing Test score; so, I referred her to that section of the course.  She did that section of my program and followed my other advice and raised her writing score over 150 points!

Everything you need to improve your score is included in the free course.  For example, you need to practice math questions that involve every math concept on the test, even the ones you got right on the diagnostic test.  You should begin with my “Sample Questions.”  I include the correct answer and provide a written explanation for each question.  Even if you get a question correct, you should read my explanation. Often it will contain “Words of Wiz-dom” about the test.  I wrote each of the questions to provide you with an opportunity to learn more about the test, not necessarily to see if you could simply get that question correct.  (Doesn’t that sound like my attitude about the QotD?)

Targeted Practice Questions

Fifth, at the bottom of the “SAT Menu” and “ACT Menu” and before the “Members Login” ribbon, you will see “Homework assignments by section.”  That is an invaluable resource.  I have gone through The Official SAT Study Guide and The Real ACT Prep Guide to identify the questions that are related to each topic you will see on the tests.  For tests in each book, I have sorted the questions so that you can easily find ones that are related to the topic you would like to practice.  For example, if you want to work on percent questions, there’s a list of appropriate questions from several SAT and the ACT tests.

Final Words

You need to understand there’s a lot to do.  There is no quick fix to an SAT or ACT score.  It requires dedication and work if you are serious about improving your performance on the tests.  Developing new skills takes time, effort, and practice, practice, practice.  I estimate to completely go through my SAT or ACT online course, you will need to spend 40-50 hours .Obviously, if you only work on selected topics, it will take less time.

I sincerely hope that all my free materials help you.  Your test scores are very important and you need to take your preparation seriously.  It will make a difference.  However, don’t put excessive pressure on yourself.  You want to be ready for the tests, not overwhelmed.  Finally, remember that some colleges do not require test scores.  Even some highly ranked colleges are “test-score optional.”  There are thousands of colleges and many will be a good fit for you.  When you raise your test scores, you increase your college options.

Don’t be timid.  I love to get questions via email.  Please write and let me know if there are additional ways I can help.

Bob Alexander, The SAT & ACT Wizard

About Bob Alexander

Bob has been a professional educator starting with teaching biology, becoming a school administrator, and then working as an education lobbyist in Washington, DC. He got his start in national testing by becoming a consulting test writer, later joining Kaplan as a director, and finally starting his own business in 1995. He has written numerous books, consulted for school districts and colleges, developed his website and been featured on a DVD set. He offers SAT and ACT prep classes and tutors individuals and small groups of students in central Florida.
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