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Advice for the Upcoming Digital SAT

The SAT is currently in the process of transitioning from its current format to a new digital version. Here are some key facts about the timeline of the change and how it might impact your (or your student’s) prep process. 

For more information about the difference between the two tests, please check out this post.


You may have heard that the SAT will soon transition to a digital format. Indeed, the transition has already begun. International students taking the SAT this semester (spring 2023) will take the digital version of the test.

For US students, the fall 2023 PSAT will be digital, and the digital version of the SAT will be administered starting in spring 2024.

What does this mean for students? 

Class of 2024

For students in the class of 2024, the digital version will likely not be a concern. These students took their PSAT in the fall of 2022. Future SAT administrations in the spring and fall of 2023 will all be using the current (paper) version of the test. This includes all test dates through December 2, 2023. Most students will complete any standardized testing for their college applications during that first semester of senior year. 

Class of 2025

Things get a bit more complicated for the class of 2025. These students will be taking the digital PSAT/NMSQT in October of 2023. We generally don’t recommend PSAT prep, as it isn’t a great use of time and resources for the overwhelming majority of students. 

However, if we do recommend PSAT prep for a student, we often suggest they take the SAT that is closest to that PSAT date, to make the most of the preparation time they have spent. For the class of 2025, though, the SAT administrations surrounding their PSAT will be quite different. Preparing for the (new) PSAT will not translate directly into preparing for the (old) SAT.

Our recommendations are always tailored to individual students, and we encourage you to reach out to us with questions! But the class of 2025 will be dealing with both versions of the test; the new, digital version will be what they see on the PSAT and in the spring of their junior year, while the old, paper version will be the tests administered during the fall of their junior year. This will make SAT prep for these students more complicated, and might be one of many factors that leads students to consider the ACT instead. 

Class of 2026

For the class of 2026, we would not recommend students begin their prep process until the spring of 2024 at the earliest (the end of their sophomore year). By this point, the transition to the digital SAT will be complete. 

At this point, the major concern for students interested in the SAT becomes the availability of practice materials. Any time a test is redesigned, a lot of the available material becomes obsolete. For a student who is already near their goal, this is less of a concern, but for a student hoping for a significant improvement, they might work through the available resources quickly and then be left scrambling for practice material. This will be a significant consideration in our recommendations for the class of 2026, and possibly beyond, depending on how much additional material is made available moving forward. 

SAT timeline

As always, we’re happy to answer any questions you have about these changes and what they mean for you! 

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Asking for Recommendations

How to Ask for Recommendations

It’s that time! Time to start thinking about and asking for recommendations. Many colleges require two recommendations; some even require three! Additionally, while a college may not require a recommendation for admission, it may require one for scholarships.

A recent article on the College Admission Book website gives three key pointers for asking for recommendations:

* Ask in person. No emails. A personal request is most thoughtful.
Do not ask for more recommendations than you need. Pick two teachers and use the same two for all your applications.
* Say “please” when you ask and “thank you” when the teacher agrees.

Additional Pointers:

There are four more pointers I would like to add to their list:

* Choose your recommenders wisely: someone who know you well, a teacher who taught you recently, perhaps a teacher who teaches a core subject.
* Give your teachers ample amount of time to write your recommendation. Don’t make them feel rushed for your lack of planning.
Give them 90 days
. The more time they have, the better your chance of getting a wonderful recommendation will be.
* Make sure to send them a hand-written thank you note after they have written your recommendations.
* Let them know which college you decide to attend.

Recommendations are also important for internships and jobs. Future employers want to know that that information on your resume is truthful and true to your real life experience. They want to know not only if you are qualified for the job, but also if you will be a good person to have around the office. Different jobs and industries place differing levels of strength on the resume versus interpersonal skills. For example, a human resources manager works with other employees all day and needs to have strong communication skills, whereas a forest fire lookout does not interact with people as frequently.

If you would like to know more about which jobs would be suited to your skills and interests, a good resource is our Career Assessment!

Although asking for recommendations can be intimidating at first, by following these simple steps you will get the hang of it in no time!

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Owners of Get Smarter Prep

Get Smarter Prep Under New Ownership

We would like to inform our students and families about the transfer of ownership of Get Smarter Prep. We have been eagerly waiting to inform all of you that Wally Ventures, LLC. has sold the property of Get Smarter Prep to Caleb and Molly Pierce. There will be few changes as Caleb has been the President of the company for many years. This new ownership of the property will take effect January 16, 2022.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of the Get Smarter Prep story for the last ten years, and I’m excited to be able to have an even bigger hand in writing the next chapter,” said Caleb Pierce, Get Smarter Prep President. “I also want to thank the amazing staff who have always demonstrated the utmost responsibility and expertise in all they do. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with such amazing people over the years. I also want to thank Mike Walrod for his mentorship, support, and, at times, his necessary patience with me.”Owners of Get Smarter Prep

In the immediate future, we don’t expect much to change from the current trajectory. Within the next year, expect some moderate changes to some of our products/offerings, with the goal to improve the student experience, maximize students’ scores, and meet the demand in the current marketplace.

You have always been our trusted supporters and clients from the very beginning of our company over 15 years ago and we wish for your support as always. We hope you will be very happy with the change in ownership and help us to complete this process with success.

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Fall 2020 ACT Schedule

Fall 2020 ACT National Test Schedule

As of June 23rd, ACT has added three new national test dates to the Fall 2020 schedule, creating a total of eight dates available for fall testing. Never before have students had this much availability to take an ACT in a three month period.  ACT sited the changes to “help meet the demand for testing caused by COVID-19-related cancellations and social distancing requirements that limited test centers’ capacities this spring and summer.”

ACT will still move forward with online testing and superscoring beginning in September 2020, however they will wait until 2021 to rollout section retesting.

Students have numerous options and on days other than Saturday to take an official ACT for admissions decisions, merit-based scholarships, and placement. Registration will be open toward the end of July, so make sure to sign up to receive important information regarding registration and deadlines from ACT.

Get Smarter Prep will have Test Prep Courses available for certain fall test dates, including Sept 12th and Oct 24th. One-on-One Private Tutoring is also available for all eight fall test dates. If you don’t know where to start preparing for the ACT, the very best place is with a FREE Practice Test. We offer Practice Tests every Saturday and encourage all students to establish a baseline for the ACT so that we can make the best possible recommendation for each unique situation.

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ACT Section Retesting Revision

The ACT has announced that the previously-planned September launch of Section Retesting has been postponed. According to ACT, this “will enable us to increase testing capacity for those who need to take the full ACT test.” Due to the cancellation of the April ACT, and many test centers being unable to host the June ACT, many students have been unable to take their planned ACT test date. While the ACT is “preparing for greater testing capacity for July 18 testing,” it is likely that some test centers will again be closed. Information about test center closings will be announced by the end of June.

In the meantime, postponing the individual Section Retesting will allow more seats for students to take the full ACT exam. Section Retesting is currently expected to launch “later in 2021.” When Section Retesting is launched, students will have the ability to retake individual sections of an ACT, instead of retaking an entire exam. This option will require that a student first take a full ACT test, and they will be able to take up to three sections at one time. Also of note, Section Retesting will only be conducted as a computer-based exam and will not be available to students by the traditional paper method.

While we expect that Section Retesting will be beneficial for some students, due to the uncertainty of this timeline, we encourage students not to rely on this option being available in time for their particular application plans. Instead, students should focus on preparing to take the entire exam until we know more about when Section Retesting will be available.

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When is the best time to take the ACT

When is the best time to take the ACT?

When is the best time to take the ACT?


When is the best time to take the ACT? That depends. What do you have going on? The answer is going to be different for everyone. However, we are going to break down every ACT test date to see which one best suits students’ schedules.   


Test Dates

Honestly, most of our tutors at Get Smarter Prep like the July test date best. Test prep generally begins towards the end of May, which means school is out.  Students don’t have to worry about finals, graduation parties for their friends, or the chaos that comes with the end of the school year. However, if your family tends to vacation before the middle of July, then we have problem. It’s best to take a look at your schedule and plan accordingly. If you don’t take a vacation or plan for a holiday later in the summer, then the July ACT is a great fit!


Maybe you’re traveling all summer and the June or July ACT isn’t a fit for you. Now we are getting into the September ACT, which begins test prep at the end of July. The next available test date is October. This test date is great for several reasons.  Students are already back into the swing of school, which means they are getting used to a schedule and back to studying.  Adding on test prep for the ACT would be like adding in extra class. However, depending on which sports and extra-curricular activities students are involved in could be too much for a number of students. Keep in mind, our courses are 8-10 weeks long. Private tutoring is anywhere between 3-15 hours depending on the students’ goals and availability.


What about the December test? Another great option for students who want to complete the ACT before finals begin. Also, it’s cold outside. What else is there to do? Plus, students can go into Winter Break knowing they’ve completed the ACT. It’s a win win situation.


If not the December test, then perhaps the February ACT? Prep for the February test generally begins at the end of December. Why not get a jump start on studying while still on Winter Break? This test date is a great test for Juniors to take! By this point in your high school career you’ve most likely taken Algebra, Geometry, Biology, and Chemistry, which is the bulk of the Math section. Plus, there is still time to prep and take an additional test if need be.  


April showers bring May flowers…so they say. But, it’s a test date worth looking into. Test prep for the April test begins at the end of February. If you want to be completely finished with ACT test prep before thinking about finals, then this is the test date for you! Also, if you take the test in April and do well, then you don’t have to think about it while on summer vacation or while completing college applications.


June promises summer and test prep? At least at the beginning of June. The June ACT is great for students who don’t mind doubling down on finals as well as ACT prep. Test prep begins mid-April right up to the week leading up to the test.  Students will have about 2-3 weeks after school is out to prep for the June test.  If students can manage finals with the promise of summer vacation surrounding this test date, then it’s a date worth considering.


Regardless of which test date you choose, Get Smarter Prep will help you every step of the way. From July to June, we will help you pick the best test date for you and help you prepare for the score you need for the school you want.

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Running Out of Time

Running Out of Time

It’s a common occurrence when taking the ACT. If you’re like most students, you struggle to finish different sections of the ACT or maybe even struggle to finish every section! You’re not alone.  There are a lot of questions and this is a timed test, so time management is key to finishing each section.

Let’s take a quick look at the breakdown of questions and the allotted amount of time per section.

75 60 Minutes
60 60 Minutes
40 35 Minutes
40 35 Minutes


We like to say that the English section is one of the easiest sections to pick up points. Think about…within this section you are reviewing idioms, punctuation, pronouns, verbs, rhetoric content, and rhetoric style. Those are all things you’ve most likely learned about in the eighth grade. A solid review of all of those categories will pick up lost time within this section and leave you feeling ready for the math section, where students typically feel rushed.


The math portion of the ACT can be tricky for some students. There are 60 questions and 60 minutes to complete the section. Within this section, the questions become progressively harder. The second half of the test will generally have the questions that take the longest amount of time to solve and will involve more geometry and trigonometry than algebra. Do you struggle with geometry? Do you need help with trig? Defining what areas you struggle with and spending more time brushing up on those skills will be a huge help with the math section. Try not to rush.  Answer each question to the best of your ability and if you feel pressed for time, bubble in the last questions with the same letter. Read about our Letter of the Day Strategy here.


Most students have a hard time completing the reading section since there are four different passages (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, literary fiction) to skim through as well as forty questions to accompany the passages.  You have less than a minute to answer each question! Don’t freak out.  There are different strategies to use within the reading section. Each passage has ten questions. Skim through the passage, then attack the questions. There are different categories within the passage such as line reference  (e.g., “In lines 16-20”). Line reference is literally directing you straight to the lines within the passage!  Other categories include lead word, comparing passages, vocabulary in context, the main point/big picture, and tone.


Here’s a shocker…there is no physical science in the science section of the ACT! It’s mainly charts and graphs. As you study for this section, make sure you know how to accurately read graphs and charts since the answers for all of the questions are right in front of you. For the questions that you can’t answer with the visuals, you can usually figure them out by reading the passage. Save time by skipping the instructions and head straight to the questions. Then go back to review the passage and the answer will most likely be within the passage.


Every student is different, but the common occurrence among all students is time management within the ACT.  One way we like to prepare students is by giving them a Pretest, Midterm, and Final. Then we compare each test to see how far each student has improved. Not only does this get students ready for the test by practicing strategies, but it also helps practice their time management skills.  

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Guide to Creating a Test Plan

Your Guide to Creating a Test Plan

Preparing for your future is intimidating and most students have no clue how to start the college planning process. At Get Smarter Prep, we want to help you prepare for college with an easy, step-by-step guide to help navigate students through the process. We want to make this as simple as we can, because we know you are busy with extracurricular activities, homework, sports, and not to mention being a teenager! Let’s begin creating a test plan!

Step One: Which test is best for you? ACT or SAT?

Figure out which test you should take, whether that be the ACT or the SAT. If you haven’t taken an Official exam, the best place to begin the test prep process is with a Free Practice Test. We encourage all students to establish a baseline for the ACT & SAT. Get Smarter Prep offers Free Practice Tests nearly every Saturday. Here are three basic reasons to take a Practice Test:

  • Want to know how you would score on a real test?
  • Starting one of our classes without a baseline score?
  • Want to get some fear and loathing out of the way in a practice environment?

Once you’ve take one or both tests, pick a test and stick with it. It’s best to prepare for one test only, either the ACT or the SAT, but not both. If you’ve taken both and still aren’t 100% sure which test is for you or simply don’t want to take both test, let’s take a look at some of the differences between both tests.

On the SAT, math counts for half of your score, while on the ACT math makes up only ¼. That’s a significant difference. Consider, also, how well you’ll fare without a calculator, as the SAT has a section that must be completed without one.

How much do you want to improve your score? There is much less practice material available for the SAT than for the ACT, which means fewer opportunities to practice and improve your score. If you’re looking for a significant boost, you might lean towards the ACT.

How much do you struggle with timing? The timing on the ACT is more difficult for some students. The SAT provides more time per question, which might be an asset. Taking a practice version of each will help you to know if that is the case for you.

Step Two: Which test date is right for you?

Now that you’ve decided which test you want to take, the question becomes, which test date is right for me? That’s a question only you can answer based upon your extracurricular activities, course schedule, academic readiness, and your ability to best prepare for the test.

ACT SAT Schedule

Our courses generally start 8 weeks prior to the actual test date, so make sure you leave enough time to appropriately prepare for the ACT or SAT given your set goals. If you’re looking for a big jump in your composite score, you will need the full amount of time to prepare for the test. Schedule accordingly.

Step Three: How best to prepare for the test?

Now that you know which test you want to take and which test date fits into your schedule, lets take a look at different options to help you prepare for the test. We offer a number of different services including small group classes, Semi-Private Tutoring, and Private Tutoring.

ACT Prep Courses

Semi-Private Tutoring

Private Tutoring

ACT Preparation Courses are focused on a smaller, more cohesive group. Get Smarter Prep students consistently find results through our tried and true curriculum. Students typically increase their scores anywhere between 2-4 points.

The Curriculum for the ACT Prep Course is suited for students scoring in the 19-26 range.

Whether you have a challenging schedule, want to work with your friends, or just want a more customized approach than our courses, Semi-Private Tutoring can be a good fit. These tutoring-course hybrids allow for some cost efficiency (like courses) AND customized scheduling & unique curriculum (like private tutoring).

Groups must include at least two students, but no more than four.

Often times we recommend Private Tutoring for students with significant differences in their sub-scores, as the tutor can target specific portions of the test, for students that have a hectic schedule (we realize how busy Junior year can be), or students that want to realize the largest score improvement possible.

Our approach is customized to each student and their specific needs within each portion of the test.

After you figure out which test is best suited for you, which test date is going to fit into your busy schedule, and how best to prepare for the test, you’ve accomplished more than most students and are on your way to tackling a big step towards your future! Good luck!

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