ACT & SAT Test

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Summer Tutoring!

So, let’s state 2 very obvious facts to get them out of the way

¬†(1) IT’S SUMMER!!!

(2) And I have been severely delinquent in updating my website….

My business has taken off through other communication outlets (Yay!!!) and as a result I have not posted on here since…February 5th…

But enough of that! I am offering summer tutoring June 1-30 and July 21 through the start of school. So, if your student needs his or her maths skills polished in preparation for next year or ACT/SAT test prep help, contact me! Call me at 816-738-5685, post below, or e-mail me at

In the meantime, have a WONDERFUL summer!

Rachel Cheslik


2 (majorly helpful) tips: ACT & SAT Reading

It’s a snow day here in Harrisonville, MO, (And no, the photo is not from anywhere near here! I just thought it was cool. ūüôā ) and snow days are perfect for catching up on long over due tasks…i.e. posting on here! So, I’m going to share some tips I’ve been giving my ACT students for their test this Saturday.

* * * * * * * *

1. Use the “line 37” clues effectively

Each reading passage usually has questions referring to specific lines in the passage. “What is the best meaning of the word “saw” (line 37) in this passage?” These questions are awesome because you can go directly to that line and don’t have to search the entire passage for the answer. Now, most students read the entire passage first then answer the questions in order. My tip is to not do this!

Instead, before reading the passage, scan the questions for any that refer to specific lines. Go to those lines in the passage, [bracket them], and write the question # next to it. Do this for any questions that ask about specific people, places, or things, as well. Scan the passage for the name, [bracket it], and write the question # next to it.

After bracketing the lines, start reading the passage from the beginning. Stop when you get to a bracketed line or word. Go to the question and answer it! Do not read the entire passage first.

If you approach a passage the traditional way–by reading the entire passage and then answering the questions–you will most likely have forgotten the details and context around specific lines. By marking the question in advance and answering it right away, the details and context will be much fresher and the question will be easier to answer.

2. Improve your reading speed & comprehension

Slow reading speed and low comprehension on difficult passages are two major reasons the reading portion of the ACT & SAT is challenging for many students. I’ve found an excellent video published by Iris Reading–a company that teaches business professionals how to improve their work capacity and effectiveness through reading skills. It is a five-part video about an hour long. Here are the links:

Free Speed Reading Course —¬†Part 1 —¬†Part 2 —¬†Part 3 —¬†Part 4 —¬†Part 5

There are two articles they use to practice during the video. The links will pop up, but you can’t click on or copy and paste them, so here they are: Article 1; Article 2.

The ideas he talks about may seem strange, but if you practice them, they really do work.  I improved my own reading speed by 100 words per minute in just the hour it took to watch the video!

Happy Studying!

Rachel Cheslik

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Special Offer: $5 off first tutoring session!

Do you need help preparing for the December ACT or SAT? Do you need to raise your grade before the end of the term? I would love to help, and from now until the end of November I am offering $5 off your first tutoring session!

Give me a call at 816-738-5685, e-mail me at, or simply reply below! Click here to see the subjects I tutor in: Grades 5-8 & Grades 9-12.

Have a blessed November!

Rachel Cheslik

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SAT: Understanding and Strategy

My Two Keys for SAT Success

 1. Understand the Test

  • Know the types of questions on the test. Study and practice them over and over. You may not become an expert at solving every question, but at least you will know what to expect‚Ķand that will majorly cut down on your anxiety on test day.
  • Know what the pace of each section feels like. The SAT has 10 separately timed sections. Time yourself while taking practice tests. Getting used to this pressure is key because the SAT developers give you the minimal amount of time you need.
  • Make it your goal to feel in control of the test. By understanding the questions and timing, you will not feel as overwhelmed by the length and difficulty of the SAT.

 2. Think Strategically

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Which types of questions are you best at? Can you answer those first without spending much time identifying them? Is there a strategy that will help you narrow down answers?
  • No points are lost for unanswered questions. If you have absolutely no idea of the answer, should you guess or leave it blank? Can you narrow down the possible answers to increase your chances?
  • Skip questions that will take you a significant amount of time to answer. Some problems are long and confusing and will take a while to figure out. If you realize this quickly, you can save precious time for answering easier questions. (Just make sure you mark the questions that you skip, in case you have time to come back to them!)
  • Except for the passagebased reading and improving paragraphs sections, the questions are ordered from easy to hard. This helps significantly because you will know the beginning questions in each section are the easiest, and you will not have to spend valuable time searching for them.
  • Learn how to make educated guesses. Does your test prep book offer suggestions on the best way to do this? Look! Pay attention to the similarities between practice tests‚ÄĒespecially in the multiple-choice math sections. Are there similar problems with similar answers? Can you quickly weed out the false ones without computing the entire problem?

If you have questions about my suggestions or about my tutoring services, please comment below! Also, check out my ACT vs. SAT page!

Rachel Cheslik

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Back-to-School Special Offer!

It’s time to pull out the books, backpacks, and sharpened pencils! School is back in session next week in Harrisonville, MO, and the surrounding districts, so I’m offering $5 off your first tutoring session if you sign up between August 12 and September 13, 2013! Contact me by emailing, by posting a comment below, or by calling 816-738-5685. Mention you saw this post, and I’ll deduct $5 off your first session.

Learn more about me here! Click here for grades 5-8 and here for grades 9-12 to see the subjects I offer tutoring in.


Have a great week!

Rachel Cheslik

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Which test is best?

One question I am asked quite often when discussing the ACT and SAT tests with students and parents is “Which test is best?” The short answer is it doesn’t matter¬†because¬†colleges accept both¬†(see¬†College Preferences¬†below). However, the long answer is it does matter¬†because there are major differences between the tests that can optimize a student’s strengths and enable him or her to get a strong score. So I’ve created a comparison between the two tests from personal experience, observation, and articles.

Test Details


  • Actual Test Time: 2 hours 55 minutes without essay (with essay = 3 hours 25 min)
  • Subjects: English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing (optional)
  • No points deducted for wrong answers


  • Actual Test Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Subjects: Writing, Critical Reading, and Math
  • ¬ľ point deducted from score for every incorrect answer (besides the student- provided-answers math section–see Content)

Test Content


The sections always follow the same order:

  1. English (75 questions in 45 minutes)
  2. Math (60 questions in 60 minutes)
  3. Reading (40 questions in 35 minutes)
  4. Science (40 questions in 35 minutes)
  5. Writing (Optional, 1 essay in 30 minutes)


  • Writing (49 questions + essay in 60 minutes)
  • Critical Reading (67 questions in 70 minutes)
  • Math (54 questions in 70 minutes)

The three sections are split into smaller segments and put in random order–besides the essay portion, which is always first. The writing section is a 25-minute written essay plus one 25-minute & one 10-minute multiple choice segment. The critical reading and math sections both consist of two 25-minute segments and one 20-minute segment. All these segments are put in random order that changes from test to test.¬†

Test Comparison

  • The SAT test is known as a reasoning test, while the ACT is a content-based test. This is because the SAT questions are a little harder to understand and take longer to decipher, while the ACT questions are more straightforward.
  • Because of the frequent breaks and subject changes, the SAT works well for students who have a shorter attention span and who like variety. However, it is 50 minutes longer than the ACT without writing and 20 minutes longer than the ACT with writing.
  • The SAT Critical Reading requires the test-taker to have a good vocabulary so he/she can fit the correct words with the sentence context, while the ACT only has a few vocabulary questions.
  • The ACT Math section contains a few trigonometry problems, while the SAT does not. The main difference between the SAT and ACT math sections is that one of the SAT math segments consists of problems requiring a student-created response–meaning it is not multiple choice. The student has to create the answer.
  • The SAT does not have science section, while the ACT does. The ACT science portion doesn’t require memorization of science formulas or facts. Rather, it is mainly science-reasoning. All the information you need to answer the questions is provided in graphs, tables, and paragraphs of scientific information. Familiarity with scientific vocabulary and process is helpful, but reading comprehension speed is especially important.

College Preferences

So, which test is preferred by colleges and universities? According to¬†StudyPoint¬†and¬†Princeton Review, all 4-year colleges and universities accept both tests. (I would recommend checking your prospective college admission’s page to make sure, though). StudyPoint also says that the SAT is more popular among test-takers on the east and west coast, while the ACT is popular in the middle and southern states. Check out StudyPoint’s test popularity map¬†here.

Resources:,,,,, and The Official SAT Study Guide.

Ed-u-ca-tion: Three parts determination and one part learning

“The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.” — Aldous Huxley¬†

Recently, I’ve been considering how to motivate students to work hard at subjects they do not enjoy. I listen and encourage; I create worksheets that relate to their interests; I help them set goals and reward them when they succeed. Yet what do I do when that is not enough? What do I do when what students lack is not the ability to learn but the determination to do their best?

And then I realized something: education itself–reading, writing, math, history, science–isn’t valuable without the determination and character to learn and apply it. What allows us to succeed in this world is not so much what we know, but the determination to use our knowledge to do the things we have to do, when we have to do them, whether we like it or not.

So to the students who lack determination to learn when learning is hard and inconvenient and very unfun,¬†don’t give up…determine to apply yourself now and you will be building a successful foundation for your future.¬†

Rachel Cheslik

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