The secret to cutting your study time by 50% while improving your SAT or ACT score

By Boomie Aglietti

After 15 years of tutoring thousands of students in the SAT and ACT, I’ve learned a little secret about improving your score: preparing the same way everyone else does is probably a big waste of your time. The reality for most students is that you only need to work on easier and medium-level concepts. Unless you’re aiming to score in the 30s on the ACT or above 1350 on the SAT, you do not need to focus on the most difficult concepts. 

Fact: Where most students lose critical points is on easier and medium-level questions that they should get right. The most difficult questions are designed to trip you up and consume precious time. Spending time on harder questions takes time away from easier and medium-level questions that are worth exactly the same amount.

Math questions on the SAT and ACT fall into three categories: easy, medium, and hard. Each represents roughly a third of the total questions. If you’re not getting the easy questions right, realistically you're not going to get the hard questions right. If you rush through the easy questions in order to get to the hard ones, you're more likely to make careless mistakes on those easy questions — and those are points you can't afford to lose.

You need to know which questions to attack (the easy ones, duh!), which means you must study the most important concepts. Don’t waste your time studying concepts that won’t help you improve your score.

What are the most important concepts? In English, it’s things like semicolons and commas. In math, it’s concepts like word problems (on the SAT) and ratios and proportions (on the ACT). These concepts are heavily tested. If you have the right strategies for dealing with them, you'll be able to pick up those critical points. Put another way, this is how you optimize your study time while improving your score.

Let’s try one quick example: semicolons. Watch the 30-second video below.

Now answer the following question:

According to the weatherman, who is usually reliable; it’s supposed to snow tomorrow.

B. reliable; and it’s
C. reliable; its
D. reliable, it’s

If you applied the rule we just showed you in the video, there’s only one answer you could have picked — and it's the correct one. If you’re unsure of the answer, you need to nail down this concept (and more). Ask one of our Unigo tutors in the chat box on this page.

You don’t have to study two hours each day to ace the SAT or ACT. If you spend 20 minutes studying the right stuff, you can get the score improvement you need.

Start improving your SAT and ACT score in less time with Unigo Test Prep.

Good luck studying!

About the author

Boomie Aglietti has over 15 years of experience tutoring and teaching the SAT and ACT. He has helped thousands of students increase their scores and get into their dream school. His clients include the children of Oscar winners, Hollywood directors, and Fortune 500 CEOs.