10 Next-Level Study Tips for Acing Tests

By Caleigh Propes

Sometimes studying can be rewarding, but usually it’s just really tiring! Most of us dread those hours going over facts for a history exam or working out problems for a math quiz. Use the tips below to make studying just a little bit easier, and see your confidence skyrocket!

1. Make a Playlist

While jamming to your favorite top 40 songs might make studying more fun, studies show that classical music is actually better to listen to while studying. Try making a playlist of softer piano or string quartet pieces to make you relaxed and give your brain a boost while studying. Also, putting in your headphones will block out any outside noises that could be distracting you. 

2. Consider Your Timing

Think about your own habits. Are you a nocturnal night owl or an eager early riser? Both have benefits—early risers may have more energy, but night owls often have study spaces to themselves. Use your own natural rhythms to your advantage, and plan your studying around when you work best. This may mean getting up earlier or sleeping in later, so make sure you prepare by getting adequate rest the night before a big day of studying.

3. Eat Brain Food, Not Junk Food

Eating while studying can be the best thing ever, but it depends on what you choose to nosh on. Some foods are great study snacks that can keep you energized, while others will make you feel sluggish and heavy. Try eating snacks like air-popped popcorn, fruits and vegetables, and nuts to get the boost you need. Avoid candy, chips, and other empty calories that will make you crash. If you need some caffeine, try green tea. It is full of anti-oxidants and won’t leave you crashing like sugary lattes or energy drinks.

4. Check Online for Materials

If you are taking a class with a lot of other students, it is likely that some of them have posted study resources online, especially if this course is offered year after year. These materials could help compliment your own notes or resources. Also, you can always be proactive and reach out to friends in your class to make a shared study guide.  

5. Cite Sources AS You Study

For any project that requires academic sources (like a research paper), be smart about how you handle them and keep a list of sources from the start. It’s easiest to make a bibliography and add to it as you go along, rather than waiting until the end when you may forget an in-text citation or accidentally lose track of a source. Websites like BibMe are great for making citations in APA, MLA, Chicago style format, and other styles.

6. Use Website Blockers

It’s super easy to lose time looking through Instagram or your Facebook feed when you should really be studying. If you’re guilty of this, try using a website blocker app on your computer. You can set which websites you want to block and for how long. You are sure to have a more productive study session if you unplug for a little while, so give this a try if you need just a little nudge to keep yourself on track. Keeping your phone out of reach helps too! 

7. Don’t Study in Your Bed or on Your Couch

Your room can be a really convenient place to study. After all, it’s your home away from home! However, nothing is more tempting during a full day of studying than a nap, and staying away from your bed while studying can prevent you from a three-hour detour. Studies even show that students that study in their beds are more likely to have lower GPAs! 

8. Set Goals

If you have a big exam coming up, it is important to plan out your studying. Think at least a week in advance, and pencil in times each day with specific benchmarks for your progress. For example, you may want to study three concepts a day or one chapter a day, depending on how your course is broken up. Setting goals and planning in advance will give you confidence, ensure that you have all of the material covered, and keep you from scrambling at the last second.

9. Know When to Study With Friends

Studying with friends can be great! However, it might be better to spend your first few days studying alone, making sure to master each concept. When you feel more confident, consider making a study group to review all of the concepts a few days before a big test. Here, each person can try to explain a concept to the group. After all, the best way to know if you have a topic mastered is to see if you can explain it! Think about choosing classmates with similar work ethics, even if you aren’t best friends. This will help you stay on track and work hard without the distraction of a friend who is a little bit behind you in their progress.

10. Go the Extra Mile

Teachers often hold review sessions or office hours before tests, so make sure to put these dates in your calendar and attend if possible. Teachers are also usually open to meeting with students one-on-one or answering questions via email, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Studying on your own is not always enough, and with the expert at your disposal, don’t be shy! Go the extra mile and use any bonus opportunities to your advantage.

If you’ve got a big test in your future, don’t freak. Studying is a process that can be long and daunting, but once you’ve got it down, it’s so rewarding. With these strategies and a positive attitude, you are sure to ace your next exam and make yourself proud.

Writing instead of studying? Get a little writing help with the grammar and plagiarism checker available with BibMe Plus! If you’re still in the beginning stages of writing, brush up on grammar with our guides on prepositional phrases, possessive pronouns, interjections, and other parts of speech.

Antiquated but Awesome Words You Need to Use Right Now

By Devon Brown

Have you ever wished there was a word to describe that delicious smell after rain falls? Actually there is! The English language is many centuries old, and like clothes, words fall in and out of fashion. After some digging, we’ve found a few gems ready to make a come back.

If you’re looking for modern day help on your next paper, our spell checker is at your service.



They love to hear their own voices even more than being right. An ultracrepidarian is person who shares an opinion on topics they know nothing about.


Raul is the ultimate ultracrepidarian. He is totally comfortable arguing about European politics even though he knows nothing about them.  



The phrase “to feel crappy” takes on a whole new level of depth and sophistication when it’s converted to crapulence which describes the feeling of discomfort after drinking or eating too much.


There is nothing like a good game of touch football to work off post-Thanksgiving crapulence.



Stuck at your desk with nothing to do? Looks like you’ll have to fudgel, which means pretend to work without actually doing anything.


Sometimes I feel like it is actually easier to do work than to fudgel all day.



If one minute you’re enjoying a tasty treat on your own and the next you’ve given half away, you’ve probably been groaked. It’s when someone silently watches you eat in the hope that you’ll share.


My dog can groak under the dinner table for hours until he is fed a treat.



The 1960’s are hardly ancient times, but when you find a word that describes that yummy smell of fresh rain on dry soil, it begs to be shared.


The petrichor in the air more than made up for our shoes getting wet on our walk home.



Admiration for a beautiful booty is not a modern invention. Callipygian is an old school, circa 1600, adjective that describes a beautiful butt.


Her callipygian posterior made an otherwise ugly skirt look very fashionable.



When a uncontrollable laugh bursts from your face, you can call on the Middle English word kench to describe the experience.


Vanessa knew the text message would be funny, but not so hilarious that she would kench in church.



We have the Germans to thank for this word that describes the pleasure taken from the misfortune of others.


Everytime Lori had a difficult day, her boyfriend couldn’t hide his schadenfreude so she had to break up with him.



Gossip doesn’t have to be true to do damage. With French and Latin roots, scurrilous is a word that describes lies designed to damage a reputation.


Maxwell would have made a great class president, but scurrilous rumors about his year abroad made it impossible to electhim.

Create citations easily in MLA, APA format, Chicago format, and more with Citation Machine.

What to Do in the Fall to Prepare for Summer Internship Season

By Ella Chochrek

During the fall semester, the following summer feels an awful long way away. Nonetheless, some internship applications may be due before the end of the calendar year. Gah!

Even if applications for your dream job haven’t opened yet, it never hurts to get a head start! There are things you can do in the fall to stay ahead of the curve, prepare yourself for summer internship season, and avoid undue stress further down the line.

Here are some things you can do during the fall to help make sure you’re in a position to get the kind of internship you want:

Revise Your Resume

With the fall, back-to-school rush, chances are that you haven’t updated your resume recently. Now’s the time! Review your resume, adding in relevant experience—be it academic, work, or volunteering—that you’ve gotten in the past few months. Also consider whether there’s anything listed that’s now become outdated and should be removed.

If you’ve written your resume or cover letter, it might be a good idea to run it through a grammar checker like the one from BibMe Plus. It’ll examine punctuation, word choice, subject-verb agreement, spelling, proper noun capitalization, and other factors that affect the quality of your writing.

Visit the Career Center

Does your college have a career center? If so, take advantage of this amazing resource! Make an appointment to meet with a counselor and go over your career goals. There may be jobs that fit in perfectly with your skill set that you haven’t even considered, or your school may have great alumni connections that you didn’t know about. In short, there are only benefits and no drawback to visiting your career center.

Research Companies You Find Interesting

Think you want to work at a certain company? Find out more about it by going through job postings! Check out internships.com, search on a browser, or visit a company’s own website to see what types of jobs are available. This way, you can get a sense of what tasks you might be asked to perform—and you can figure out whether your strengths align with what a company is looking for.

Go on Informational Interviews

An informational interview is the perfect opportunity to network with a professional and learn more about their career—and they can sometimes lead to job opportunities down the road. While the person you talk with may not be able to offer you a job themself, there’s a good chance they have other connections within their industry. Plus, you can ask questions you wouldn’t be able to ask in a job interview—like whether the person actually enjoys what they do.

Attend Employer Events

There’s a good chance your college has a career fair in the fall—and you should go. Career fairs are a great opportunity to meet potential employers and to learn about various fields you might be interested in. While you may not walk away from the fair with an internship lined up, you will walk away with more knowledge, and that’s valuable in and of itself. If there are networking events in the area—like information sessions with individual employers—check those out as well.

Start Applying (For Some)

Dependent upon what industry you’re interested in, internship opportunities for the summer may actually open up during the previous fall. In particular, finance and tech internships tend to open on the earlier side. And regardless of industry, if you’re looking to work for a large company, there’s a good chance that jobs will start opening up sometime between November and January.

While you’re still in school, check out Citation Machine for your citing needs. We can help you generate APA citations, build an MLA works cited, a Chicago style citation, and much more!

How to Stay on Top of College Applications

By Ella Chochrek

Staying organized during college application season can be difficult. Many students submit applications to as many as 15-20 schools, making it hard to keep track of deadlines. Although applications can often be submitted through the Common Application—which streamlines the process by standardizing many of the needed materials—some aspects of the process can still be confusing and challenging.

With that in mind, here are our tips on how to stay on top of your applications.

1. Create a List of Schools to Apply to

At some point during your junior year, start thinking seriously about what sort of school you might want to attend. Keep in mind grades and SAT/ACT scores throughout this process—create a list that includes only schools that you think you have at least a reasonable chance of getting into—but also consider what kind of college environment you see yourself in. Is it important to you that your school has a successful sports program? Do you want to be in an urban environment? Would you prefer to be close to home? These are the sorts of questions to keep in mind as you compile a list.

2. Decide Who to Ask for Recommendations

Figure out which teachers you want to have writing your recommendations early—and if possible, ask them by the end of junior year. Try to pick teachers from at least two different disciplinary fields; even if you’re planning to be an English major, don’t ask only English teachers for letters. If you have an especially good relationship with a coach or a club advisor who never formally taught you, that person might be a strong choice for a supplemental recommendation letter. Once your teacher has officially submitted the recommendation, write a nice letter thanking them (you can also give them a small gift, like homemade cookies or a scented candle).

3. Start Writing Your Essay Early

Writing college application essays can start to feel like a full-time job if you wait until the last minute. On top of the Common Application essay, you’ll likely have to write supplemental essays for at least some of the colleges to which you apply. Some of the supplements might just be a paragraph or two long, but you’ll want to leave time to write a thoughtful response—and preferably have someone look it over, whether that be a parent, a college advisor or an English teacher (an automated grammar checker might also be helpful). Try to write at least your Common Application essay as early as possible, and if there are any schools you know you wish to apply to, get a head start on those essays, too.

4. Save All Your Files in One Place

Nothing is more frustrating than not finding the essay you know you started writing. Make sure to create a folder with all of your essays in one place, whether that’s on Google Drive or on your computer hard drive. Even if you’ve already sent in an application, you may realize that your essay for one school can be repurposed to work for a prompt posited by another school. Another tip: Create a list with usernames and passwords for any college portals. Different schools use different naming conventions, so there won’t be one standardized username-password combination that works for every site.

5. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Submit

This tip may be self-explanatory, but it’s also one of the most important pieces of advice: send in your applications in advance. No one ever anticipates having technology trouble, but everyone deals with faulty WiFi or outdated software from time to time. Prevent last-minute panic by submitting your applications at least a few days before the deadline.

Before you begin writing, consider strengthening your skills with BibMe Plus’s grammar guides. We cover the basics of the parts of speech, including defining what is a verb, examining possessive nouns, learning about reflexive pronouns, and more.

After you begin writing, you can cite sources quickly with BibMe’s tools for APA format, MLA format, and other citation styles. Try it today!

5 Ways We Accidentally Plagiarize

While it is clear that intentionally taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own is plagiarism, there are numerous other ways you can commit this act of cheating without even realizing it. Below are some of the most common ways students accidentally plagiarize in their papers, and what you can do to avoid making these common mistakes.  

Still not sure if you have accidentally plagiarized in your paper? Try our BibMe Plus plagiarism checker! It can help identify passages that may need to be cited. Bonus: It’ll then help you create an MLA or APA citation for you right then and there!

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to know what it is and how it happens in the first place. So, let the learning begin!

  1. Using the same essay you wrote for one assignment and handing it in for another assignment.

Even though this may not seem like cheating, using a paper you wrote for one class and handing it in for an assignment in another is in fact plagiarism. The specific term for this action is “self-plagiarism,” and many students don’t understand that it can get them in trouble. Even though the work is your own, you must still cite it: for example, if you reference a previous essay you wrote in the essay you’re currently writing. Be sure to include both an in-text citation and an entry in your works cited page. Give yourself the credit you deserve!    

  1. Incorporating text from a source into your own paper, changing one or two words, and providing a citation.

Using too many exact words from the source you’re referencing is a form of plagiarism. To make sure you do not do this accidentally, try writing out the idea that is expressed in the source, not the exact sentence or sentences. Then, rewrite that idea in your own words, and include a citation for the source. Being a good paraphraser is key to avoiding plagiarism.

  1. Using data presented by the author in their work, and only citing the author’s comments on the data.

You have to cite all information that has come from an outside source. Therefore, if you include data in your paper that another author has presented in their own work, be sure to cite the work by that author and the source where they found that data. This information can often be found underneath the dataset in a caption, or where the author mentions the data within the source.

  1. Including information from a personal communication, like an email, without providing a citation.

Personal communications, such as texts and emails, must be cited just like any other source if you’re using information from them in your research paper.  Even though they may not be considered “formal” sources, such as scholarly journals or books, they still another person’s thoughts or ideas, and therefore deserve an accurate citation.

  1. Having disorganized notes and outlines that are difficult to follow.

The most effective way of avoiding accidental plagiarism is to have an organized note-taking system that includes all of the quotes and information you want to include in your paper, as well as the sources in which you found those pieces of information. That way, when you’re ready to make your bibliography and hand in your paper, you know exactly which sources you need to make citations for. Try starting these notes at the very beginning of your paper-writing process, so you can be sure you haven’t left any important sources out.

Before you start your next paper, sharpen those writing skills with our grammar guides on verbs, determiners, what is a conjunction, adjectives, and other parts of speech.

Commonly Confused Words Everyone Should Know

You’re smart. You know this; we know this; and your professor knows this. But is your writing doing you justice?

When you write a paper, as long as you comprehend the coursework and do adequate research you’re bound for an A, right? But simple mistakes and misused words can take a paper that’s great in concept to one that’s mediocre in execution. Let’s avoid some common pitfalls and learn the right way to use the commonly confused words below. If you need more help with writing in general, give BibMe’s grammar check a try!

Ironic vs. Coincidental

Ironic and coincidental are two words that are commonly confused and often used interchangeably—even though they shouldn’t be.

Ironic is an adjective used when something said is actually the opposite of it’s true meaning, or when an unexpected event is the opposite of what was expected—often in an amusing or mocking way.

Coincidental, on the other hand means something random or that happens solely by chance.

Usage Examples:

It is ironic that Mary and Jim decided to go to brunch with separate groups of friends, yet ended up at the same restaurant. It is coincidental that later that day Mary received a gift card from her mom for the very restaurant she went to for brunch. If only Mary had received the gift card earlier!

Lie vs. Lay vs. Laid

Prepare to take notes, folks.

Lie is what a person does when they’re not telling the truth (verb). It is also the actual falsehood told (noun).

Lied is the past tense of when you didn’t tell the truth.

Lie is also what a person does if they are going to go recline somewhere.

Lay is how you use past tense of lie in the sense of reclining.

Lay is what you do to an inanimate object when you put it down.

Laid is how you properly use the past tense of lay when referring to inanimate objects.

Usage Examples:

I don’t like to lie, but I lied to my roommate when I said I was going to go lie down in our dorm room. I decided not to lay down in bed, but I laid my textbooks down on my desk and relaxed with some TV. Now, I’m actually ready for bed, so I’m going to stop watching Netflix and lay my laptop down on my desk beside my textbooks.

We told you it was confusing!

Implicit vs. Explicit

Something you state very clearly, leaving no room for doubt, is explicit.

Meanwhile, implicit is when you indirectly suggest something, instead of saying it outright. It is the perfect opposite of stating something explicitly.

Usage Examples:

Growing up, my parents were quite explicit in forbidding me from listening to explicit music.

While Daniel didn’t admit that he was stressed out, it was implicit given how withdrawn he’d been acting.

Imply vs. Infer

As we previously explained, imply is what the speaker suggests without saying it outright.

Infer is what the listener deduces from what’s being implied.

Usage Examples:

Luke implied that he was going to miss Yolanda’s birthday party because they’d recently had a disagreement. Bella understood, and inferred that perhaps his absence was for the best.

Accept vs. Except

Accept is to believe or acknowledge that an opinion, assertion, or explanation is correct.

Accept also means to willingly receive or agree to something offered.

Except means ‘not including’ or everything other than the following.

Usage Examples:

I can accept that Brian didn’t want to accept my gift. Thankfully, everyone else except Brian was gracious about my generosity.

Affect vs. Affect vs. Effect

Affect (verb) means to influence someone or something.

Affect (noun), typically pronounced with a subtle difference, can refer to an emotional state.

Effect (noun) refers to a change that is the result or due to the influence of something or someone.

Usage Examples:

Bob hoped that he could positively affect his brother’s melancholy affect after losing the big game. But unfortunately, Bob’s chipper mood had no effect on Richard.

Definitely vs. Defiantly

If you’ve seen these words misused in text messages and social media posts, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a rather common typo.

Definitely means without doubt.

Defiantly means acting with bold disobedience.

Usage Examples:

He definitely was behaving poorly by defiantly ignoring his manager’s orders.

The tricky part? If you accidentally type defiantly when you meant to use definitely, your grammar checker won’t necessarily flag it as wrong since it’s an actual word. So proofreading for context is important, as is reading your papers out loud so you can catch incorrectly used but properly spelled wording.

Supposedly vs. Supposably

Supposedly (adverb) means something is according to what is generally believed.

Supposably, on the other hand is a disputed word that has culturally gained adoption by people improperly using the word instead of supposedly.

Usage Examples:

Miguel is supposedly having a surprise concert on Sunday. “Devin is supposably going to go with me,” Mark explained improperly.

The verdict? Supposedly is the way to go. Always.

There is a plethora of commonly misused words that you may mistakenly use in your coursework. Always be cognizant of these simple mistakes, and always remember the value of proofreading your work.

5 Research Tips Your Librarian Wished You Knew

Looking for research tips to make writing that essay a little easier? Libraries and librarians are great resources for student, no matter what the topic is. Every day they help students like you find the most relevant sources for the topic you’re researching for a project—skills that are essential for carrying on into college, grad school, and real life.

Here are the things that your librarian wished you knew about libraries, research and the tools they can provide.

  1. Avoid using questions when conducting a general search online or in a database

When using a database or search engine to find sources or ideas, try to be as specific as possible with your search criteria. Avoid generalizing, and don’t forget to include proper capitalization to ensure you get the most accurate results possible.

Question words like who, how, and what sometimes muddle the search rather than help. For example, instead of typing “what is an annotated bibliography,” you’ll have different, but more relevant search results if you typed “annotated bibliography definition.”

  1. Databases that would otherwise cost you a fee to access are often free at your library

Is there anything more frustrating than finding the perfect journal article, only to find that it lives behind a paywall? If you find an interesting article in a paid database, ask the reference librarian at your library. Chances are, they have access to the database (which means you do, too) or to a database with similar sources.

  1. Don’t forget to check subject headings when conducting your research

These are a systematic list of terms that describe a given subject matter. Subject headings can be one word, two or more words, a phrase, a city, a country, a geographic region or a person. For example, the following are all valid subject headings:


Subject headings are great for three reasons. First, they can help you quickly discern if a source is actually about the topic that you are researching or not. Second, you can use subject headings in an advanced search to help you find sources that are relevant to your project. Third, you can use them to discover other articles. For example, in a database, you can sometimes click the subject heading to see a listing of all title related to that subject heading. From there, you can do a little browsing and see if any other source interests or inspires you. 

  1. Libraries have more than just books

They can provide FREE access to the Internet, archival materials, audio recordings, films, databases, and so much more. They even often offer classes that may help you in your research or develop your reading and writing skills. (Bonus tip: learn how to do a works cited page.)

  1. When in doubt, ask your librarian!

Librarians are always willing to help provide research tips and point you in the right direction if you get stuck. It’s their job! Your librarian can also help you cite sources in APA, MLA or Chicago style.

When your research is complete, don’t forget to run your writing assignment through a plagiarism checker, like the one you can find right here on BibMe! This will help ensure that you didn’t miss a citation or accidentally pick up text from your research. You can also check your assignment for grammar errors like a misspelled pronoun, incorrect subject-verb agreement, an uncapitalized proper noun, and more!

5 Common Grammar Errors on the SAT Writing & Language

Studying for the SAT Writing & Language might sound like an endless slog through obscure grammar rules. The secret, though, is that the test tends to reuse the same few concepts. If you take the time to master the most frequently tested grammar rules, you’ll find the SAT Writing & Language test much easier. (Here’s another SAT hack: to double-check your practice writing prompts, run them through BibMe’s online grammar checker!)

To make your life easier, here’s a list of 5 common grammatical errors tested on the SAT, with examples. 

1. Subject-Verb Disagreement

Here’s an example of subject-verb disagreement: Jessica are going to the park. Yuck! Sirens are probably going off in your head, indicating that there is indeed a grammatical error in that sentence. What you’re noticing is incorrect subject-verb agreement. In that example sentence, you know that “Jessica” is a singular subject, and therefore should be paired with “is,” not “are.”

The sentence should read: Jessica is going to the park. On the SAT, subject-verb disagreement is more challenging to spot. The test will spatially separate the verb from the subject so you don’t notice the disagreement. For example, the SAT loves to insert a prepositional phrase between the subject and the verb. Check out this sentence:

The group of high school students is going on a field trip tomorrow.

In this example, “group” is the singular subject of this sentence while “is” is the singular verb. The prepositional phrase “of high school students” is inserted between the subject and the verb to make it harder to see that “group” should be paired with “is.” Here the SAT is trying to trick you into finding an “error” in this perfectly correct sentence!

Keep an eye out for these prepositional phrases, and your score will certainly be in agreement with your grammar abilities.

2. Comma Splice

A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses (or clauses that can stand alone as sentences) are incorrectly connected by just a comma. Take a look at this incorrect example:

I went to the grocery store to buy some apples, I ended up buying a lot of snacks.

This type of punctuation error is one of the most popular errors on the SAT. To fix a comma splice error, you can:

  • Connect the two independent clauses with a semicolon

    I went to the grocery store to buy some apples; I ended up buying a lot of snacks.

  • Add a conjunction (like “and” or “but”) after the comma

    I went to the grocery store to buy some apples, and I ended up buying a lot of snacks.

  • Separate the two independent clauses into two sentences

    I went to the grocery store to buy some apples. I ended up buying a lot of snacks.

Whenever you see a comma on the SAT, make sure it’s not being used to incorrectly connect two complete sentences!

3. Wrong Comparison

Check out this grammatically incorrect sentence: The performance of my sister’s band was better than my cousin’s band.

It can be tricky to spot, but that sentence is grammatically incorrect. Right now, it’s comparing a performance to a band. For wrong comparison questions, you want to ensure that you’re comparing like with like.

To fix this error, you want to be extra clear as to what’s being compared. Here are some ways you can fix that sentence:

  • The performance of my sister’s band was better than the performance of my cousin’s band.
  • The performance of my sister’s band was better than that of my cousin’s band.

It may seem repetitive, but whenever you have a comparison, ensure you’re comparing apples with apples!

4. “Who” versus “Whom”

It’s easy to get stressed about when to use “whom” since we don’t tend to use it on a daily basis. Though it’s not one of the most common types of grammar errors, knowing when to use “who” versus “whom” will make you feel more confident when taking the SAT.

On the test, “whom” usually appears after a preposition. Here’s an example of the incorrect use of “whom”:

Whom took my scarf?

In this example, you should say, “Who took my scarf?”

So when should you use “whom?” You should use it when it’s the object of a sentence. Still not sure what that means? No problem! In most cases on the SAT, there’s a preposition in front of “whom.” So if you see “to who” in a sentence, you’ll likely need to change it to “to whom” (think of the correct phrase: “To Whom It May Concern”).

5. Incorrect Modifier

Take a look at this incorrect example: After taking a long hike through Yosemite, Ryan’s sneakers were falling apart.

Here it seems like Ryan’s shoes went hiking, not Ryan. This is a great example of an incorrect modifier. The SAT loves to begin a sentence with a descriptive phrase but not immediately identify what is described. Ensure that whatever word follows the comma after the descriptive clause is what’s being described.

To fix that incorrect example, we should say:

After taking a long hike through Yosemite, Ryan noticed that his sneakers were falling apart.

Once you’ve gotten your head around these common grammatical errors, and sharpened your eagle eye with plenty of practice questions, you’ll be ready to rock the SAT Writing & Language!

While you’re at it, check out our helpful citation guides. You may not need to demonstrate how to cite a book, create MLA citations or an APA reference page for the SAT, but these guides will help you in many other language and learning situations!

Step Up Your Adjective Game!

Have you ever written a paper only to realize that you’re using the same, exact vocabulary over and over again? Acknowledged that you’ve totally used words like “logical”, “thorough,” and “crucial” so many times they’ve lost all meaning? Writing a paper for a college class can feel like a bit of a drag sometimes. When you’re working so hard on structure, citations, and formal academic voice, it’s easy to fall into a rut with your writing style.

 For your next paper, it’s time for you to mix it up! Adjectives are the spice cabinet of writing: you can’t have an interesting final product without them. You can also combine them in an infinite number of arrangements for different effects. If you’re tired of the same old words, try out some of these new ideas.

Thesaurus Time

The fastest way to finding new, exciting words to use in your papers? That trusty old friend, the thesaurus. If you’re a little nervous about trying to increase your vocabulary or you can’t think of something off the top of your head, using a thesaurus is a surefire way to ease into it. 

The trick here is to look up the ordinary or overused adjective and find a replacement that is a little more unusual or specific. The thesaurus has a ton of words that you can use to substitute for the same old adjectives—and this trick can work for a noun or verb too! If you’re not sure what to say, just use an “ordinary” word and then replace it with something in the thesaurus.

Pretty can become beautiful, cute, comely, attractive, elegant, or many more. Each of these adjectives is a little more evocative and a little less ordinary than just plain pretty. 


The issue with commonly used words is that they’re often on the generic side; switching them out for a different adjective can have the dual benefit of making your writing more interesting and making it more specific. When it comes to academic writing, the second-most important thing is that it’s specific. The most important thing, of course, is that you proofread or run a spelling and grammar check on your paper before turning it in!

Let’s try out an example. Imagine you’re writing a paper, and at a certain point, you want to talk about a scientific discovery.

In 1967, scientists made a big discovery.

There is nothing technically wrong with this sentence, but “big” is one of the most generic adjectives out there. Try to find a substitute that adds nuance to your sentence. Even if it’s not an exact synonym, it’s more important to find an unusual adjective that gives more meaning.

 In 1967, scientists made an extraordinary discovery.

In 1967, scientists made a game-changing discovery.

In 1967, scientists made a tremendous discovery.

Each of these words carries its own connotations that give a little more texture to the sentence, and that’s important for giving readers a sense of what to expect.

A Word of Warning (Caution, Guidance, Advice)

When you’re using unusual adjectives (or nouns, or verbs), it’s easy to get carried away and include really obscure words just for the fun of it or to try to sound extra smart. Doing this, however, usually leads to the exact opposite effect: a paper full of words like pulchritudinous or capacious will often distract from the actual point of the paper and it won’t sound like you wrote it anymore. Try to walk a middle ground between using words that are unusual enough to spice up your writing without intruding on the style and flow of the paper, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can expand your vocabulary and improve your writing skills!

Now, let’s switch gears and end this post with a friendly reminder to always cite your sources. BibMe.org is here to help you develop your MLA works cited pageAPA reference page, an annotated bibliography, and more! 

SAT Reading Prep You Can Do Daily

Without the stress of group projects, quizzes, or formatting a works cited page, summer is the perfect time to start gearing up for the SAT Reading. Whether you’re on the road or at the beach, there are a few ways you can start prepping bit by bit.

Have you ever read a sentence three times only to find yourself wondering, “what the heck did I just read?” You’re not alone: one of the most common obstacles students encounter in the SAT Reading is remembering information from the passages. 

To help you work on the valuable SAT skill of retaining information, here’s a four-step process you can use to get ready for the fall SAT on a daily basis.

Step One: Figure Out How to Get the Newspaper

To start prepping, all you need is access to a good ol’ fashioned newspaper. You might be thinking, “But no one reads the newspaper anymore!” Here’s the thing: using a newspaper is a great way to prep for the SAT because one newspaper contains articles on all sorts of topics. Just like the SAT, you can read about arts & culture, current events, and more. Plus, an actual newspaper mimics the SAT since both are on paper.

An easy and free way to read the daily paper is to visit your local public library. You can try several different newspapers to see which one you like best.  

 Daily 5 minute task: none – one time task!

Step Two: Get in the Habit of Reading an Article a Day

Once you have access to the newspaper, start reading one article per day. That’s it! Don’t worry if you don’t totally understand the article. Getting in the habit of reading is the important part.

The SAT Reading will ask you to answer questions on different types of passages. To help you prepare, below is a sample weekly schedule of what kinds of articles to read. That way, you can get accustomed to reading about topics that might be unfamiliar.








Arts & culture

International news


National news


Local news

Whatever you like!

Like what you read? Save it to incorporate it into a research paper next year!

Daily 5 minute task: read one article a day

Step Three: Create Your Own Note-Taking System

After getting into the habit of reading an article a day for one week, begin determining your preferred note-taking method. By learning how to take notes in a way that works for you, you’ll retain more information while maintaining test-taking stamina. Taking notes on your daily newspaper article is a great way to practice.  

Most people know that underlining main ideas is helpful. Other ways to take notes include circling proper nouns, dates, and numbers, marking off lists of examples, etc. Feel free to get creative, but keep in mind that you’ll only have your #2 pencil on test day (i.e. don’t use highlighters or multi-colored pens).

 Bonus: learn how to cite sources here.

 Daily 5 minute task: take notes while reading an article

Step Four: Learn How To Identify the Main Idea

Once you’ve gotten used to taking notes while reading your daily article, end your five-minute routine by identifying the article’s main idea. A lot of the SAT Reading questions will ask you to determine the author’s main point, a skill that takes real-time practice.

Keep in mind that the difference between a main topic and main idea is that a topic refers to  the article’s subject matter, whereas the main idea is the argument behind the topic. For example, a science article’s topic may be climate change, but the main idea is that human activity is contributing to climate change.

Daily 5 minute task: write one sentence identifying the main idea after taking notes while reading.

This four-step process over time will help to improve your reading comprehension and retention. Not only will this help you be ready for the SAT Reading, but you’ll also find that you can apply this process to your class readings too!