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.

Sun.

Mon.

Tues.

Wed.

Thurs.

Fri.

Sat.

Arts & culture

International news

Business

National news

Science

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! 

ACT Prep You Can Do Daily

By Jillian Schleiden

When you picture studying for the ACT, you might imagine yourself surrounded by piles of books with dark circles under your eyes from the long hours of work. But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can prepare for the ACT bit by bit, everyday. It just requires a little planning and a dash of strategy.

Here’s how you do it: 

1. Choose Your Resources

There’s a positive sea of prep material for the ACT. Walk into a bookstore and you’ll see a dozen manuals, tomes of practice questions, and even more “quick and easy” guides to getting a great score. The good news is, you only need a few specific resources:

  • A book of practice questions
  • A guide to the material covered in the test
  • 2-3 practice tests 

You can usually find these combined in one book, but feel free to mix and match. Make sure your practice tests address specific content areas within each section. For instance, the English section should show you how you did with grammar, as well as main ideas and vocabulary. (For a comprehensive review of parts of speech, check out our pages on conjunctions, nouns, adverbs, and more.)   

The ACT website also offers some free resources for studying, including recommendations for printed materials.

In addition to a book, you’ll likely find it helpful to have:

  • Sticky-note style tab markers for your books
  • A notebook and pen
  • Index cards 

2. Pinpoint Your Weak Areas

The next step is to complete a practice test. Give yourself the same testing set-up as you’ll have on the real test. This means:

  • Basic calculator only
  • No resource materials outside of what the test provides
  • No phone or other devices
  • Time limit per section

Make sure you take the test somewhere you won’t be disturbed so the setting is as realistic as possible. If you really want to be on the ball, take it in the morning. This will be especially enlightening for you if you’re not a morning person!

 Grade your test and then analyze the areas where you need the most work. Self-grading the essay portion can be a challenge, but you can ask a friend or parent to grade yours against the ACT rubric, as well as run it through our grammar checker to spot writing mistakes.

 Rank the test areas from “Help, I have no clue what I’m doing” to “I can do this in my sleep.”

3. Create Your Guide

Get out those fancy colored tabs you purchased and the study guide you chose. Color code the areas you just ranked. Your weakest areas could be red, your strongest areas could be green, and so on. Choose up to five colors.

Now, create your schedule for the week. Plan a day each week to review the areas where you already do well. Then, give two to three days to the areas where you really struggle, and the last day or two days to the middle areas. You won’t need to spend much time each day studying if you’re being this strategic.

From here, the way you attack the material at hand is up to you. You can:

  • Work from the beginning to the back of the material by color code
  • Work by subject area each week (if certain areas are a big struggle for you)
  • Start with the familiar material and work your way into the unfamiliar

Stick with your schedule every day! This daily routine is what saves you from long study sessions.

4. Study smart

Research has shown that trying to answer questions, even when you’re really not sure, and then checking your work is one of the most successful ways to learn. This is why there are so many books of practice questions! Add at least five practice questions to your studies each day.

As you create your study schedule, remember to review any test-taking vocabulary you need to know. Formal test taking language may vary from what you learn in high school. Flashcards are an easy way to master these words. If you have someone in your life willing to help, use one of your study days to have them check you card by card.

5. Re-check and Repeat

About halfway through your summer break, take another practice test in the same setting. Keeping the variables the same gives you more honest results.

You’ll see that you have new areas of need because you’ve started to master the old areas. Go back through your guide book and practice questions and reassign your colors and days of work. Now keep at it until the end of the summer!

By carefully structuring what material you study by day, you’ll master new material without forgetting the old. Long hours of cram sessions are not needed to master the ACT!    


Still need to create citations? BibMe is here for you. Learn how to cite a website in MLA
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4 Ways to Battle Writer’s Block (and Win)

by Amanda Clark

Writer’s block. We’ve all experienced this demon. You get an assignment, sit down to begin, and BAM! Nothing. Or you write a stellar first page, feel like a writing rock star and then—BAM! Nothing.

When you have deadlines to meet, a foggy brain can be more than a nuisance. Next time, skip the stress and try these techniques for battling writer’s block—and winning. (And don’t forget to run your paper through a grammar checker before handing it in!)

  1. Take a break

It may sound counterproductive, but one of the best things you can do to battle writer’s block is take a break. Go for a run, watch an episode of This is Us, or even do your math homework. Whatever you do, the important thing is to take a break from slaving over your assignment.

Sometimes our minds just need a writing siesta. When you return in an hour or two, you might be surprised to find that when you sit down to type that paper on the periodic table, your fingers fly with style.


  1. Read something related to your topic

It’s easy to get writer’s block after you run out of ideas. After getting off to a strong start, your train of thought derails, frustration sets in, and before you know it, an hour has rolled by and you’re still staring at a blinking cursor.

Don’t let this happen to you! When you’re out of fresh ideas, hit the books.

Let’s say you’re writing a paper on the Civil War. Well, bust out your old history textbook and get reading. Or maybe you have to write a poem, and you happen to have your favorite book of poetry by Billy Collins lying on your desk.

Read these nuggets of inspiration, and they could very well get your thoughts flowing again.

They might even beef up your works cited page. Sweet!


  1. Reach out to others

It’s easy to stay connected through Snapchat updates and Instagram stories. So why not use your friends and family as resources to help you out when you’re stuck?

Having some issues writing about music theory? Facebook your Uncle Ronny who majored in music. Can’t think about how to develop the plot of your story for a creative writing class? Text your friend Lila whose last short story received an “A.” Just make sure to cite sources!

You can even get coffee and have a face-to-face conversation about your struggles, and let collaboration magically heal writer’s block.


  1. Change your surroundings

So you may love to study and write at the local pizza joint because it has great munchies and free Wi-Fi. But if you’re finding it difficult to concentrate with the football game playing on TV and the soda fountain gurgling, it might be best to move to a different environment.

Try to find someplace quiet and uncluttered. Maybe you’re most productive at a small park or the library. Finding your ideal work location could save you hours of time in the long run.

If you’re sick of staring blankly at that computer screen, take a deep breath. Then try one of these four techniques for battling writer’s block. You should be finishing that assignment in no time!

Once your paper is written, make sure your bibliography is just as sharp! BibMe’s citation generator is an easy and fast way to create citations in MLA style, APA style and more.