When to Start Taking the SAT or ACT?

Taking the SAT or ACT requires a large amount or preparation ahead of time. In order to get the best results, you should give yourself both enough time to properly study for multiple attempts as well as the time needed to prepare for each attempt. Just as you wouldn’t start studying for the SAT a week before the test, you shouldn’t take the SAT or ACT for the first time in December of your senior year.

Now, there is no correct answer or specific day of the year that someone should start studying for the SAT.  One of the most important aspects of test preparation is that every student will (and should) have a different road to success. Different students may be ready to prepare early during their high school tenure, other students may need more time to catch up to relevant material, or mature enough to handle the pressure of the exam. Some students may only need to take the exam once or twice to obtain the score they’re looking for, others may want to take it three or four times to ensure they get the score they want.

Before you begin to set a schedule for when you should take your first exam, you should look up when the exam dates are ahead of time. If there are two dates that work for you, let’s say one them is October, then you know you should begin to prepare for that test during the summer. Most students should begin preparing 4 months prior to taking their first SAT or ACT exam. Anything less leaves students prone to cramming, which does not work on standardized tests.

After you have determined when the optimal test dates are that work with your schedule, you then have to decide which year you would like to begin taking the exam. Senior year is usually not an ideal time to start the process (although it is a great time to squeak out a few more points). You would be really limiting yourself to one or two relevant exam dates, plus you would be missing out on some important time to polish your college applications. You also never know if you might get sick the day of the exam and underperform.Then you would be in a serious predicament!

Starting to take the SAT or ACT your freshman year is also not usually the best idea. There are still parts of the exam that most students are either still learning or have yet to learn, so achieving the most amount of success would not be favorable. The best time to start preparing for the SAT or ACT for many students (but not all) would be the end of Sophomoreyear. This allows the students  time to obtain knowledge necessary to ace the exam. This also grants students enough time to take the exam multiple times if they think they continue to improve. Starting to take the exam around this time offers the student a nice chunk of time to prepare for each test as well.

Being a high school student requires having many responsibilities. So, choosing when to start taking the SAT should be a simple and well-prepared decision. Don’t wait before it’s too late!


If you have any questions about when you in particular should start prepping for the SAT or ACT, or better yet which test would be better for you, contact our experts at (516)728-1561 and we will set you on the right track to success.


By: Chris Desimone, Test Prep Expert, Curvebreakers

Essay writing

Let’s be honest. At some point, you may have dreamed of being in Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes, especially the Manolo Blahnik ones that she could afford while writing columns from the comfort of her home. But it’s not just because of the shoes and the materialistic perks why we are in such an awe, it’s about that special power and pride you get by calling yourself a writer. The successful writers that we all know and admire make writing seem like a talent that all of us possess up until the moment when we find ourselves staring at the blank page, having no idea what’s supposed to happen next.

It gets even harder when you have to construct your thoughts on an academic level. Suddenly, you realize that the span of your abilities and vocabulary are quite limited. Not everybody struggles with putting his or her thoughts into a written whole that makes sense, but for those who do, this one is for you:

Need Essay Help? Curvebreakers offers college application & essay services. Learn more here.

Simple guidelines on writing the most exploited form of writing – his majesty, The Essay.

Writing essays, especially for the purpose of college assignments, is not that difficult. It just requires a special combination of skill set and structure that can be easily applied no matter the topic. While mastering these skills won’t make you an instant writer, they will certainly contribute for better grades.

Before starting to write the essay, it is important that you have a clear idea of what you are about to write. Selecting a topic is the first challenging hurdle in college essay writing. Your topic needs to reinforce what you want to say about yourself to your prospective school.

With your mind set on the particular essay thesis that has to be discussed, the next step is to organize your thoughts. Spend some time on thinking and reflecting, on forming your own point of view, and putting your raw ideas on a paper. Organizing your thoughts will help you distinguish between them and will easily enable you to see the bigger picture.

The essay itself has to be structured in three main parts: the introduction, the body and the conclusion.

The Introduction

The introduction is simply about introducing the subject and describing how the narrator will deal with it in the subsequent paragraphs. It is important to keep it short and to the point, but captivating at the same time. You want to get your readers ‘hooked’. In order to do so, ask yourself what the reader needs to know and what is the best way to deliver your message to them.

The Main Body

Usually comprised of several paragraphs, the purpose of the main body is to elaborate the thesis in further detail. Even though we may have generated a lot of thoughts and ideas about the particular thesis, we must stick to the strongest arguments and try to explain their relevance with supporting evidence. The best way to do so is by balancing with researched evidence and personal opinions, or experiences. The balance will vary between different subjects, but the general idea is to back up the points as much as possible with the combination of the two.

The conclusion

Same as the introduction, the conclusion is a short summary of the general idea of the arguments. In most of the cases it should not be just an afterthought, but rather a last chance to prove your point and to indicate what has been learned. Also it can serve as an introduction to further issues that have been recognized, but are not in the scope of the present essay.

General rules

Despite following the general structure for writing essays, there are several other aspects that you should pay attention to.

Style clarity

All of the sentences should be complete, precise and simple. This means writing shorter sentences with clear expressions; in addition, each sentence should follow one another in a logical order, enabling the reader to follow more closely. Also, it is important to divide the text in paragraphs so that the reader finds it more understandable and more attractive. Transitional phrases, such as “furthermore”, “on the other hand”, “moreover”, etc. play a big role in connecting the dots and are the key of good writing. Because the essay is all about the reader, these statements will guide the reader throughout the paragraphs, keeping them informed.


Probably one of the most important things that most students neglect is the adequate list of references used for the purpose of writing the essay. If another author is directly quoted, there should be an indication where the evidence originated. Failing to do so can cause someone to be accused of plagiarism and face consequences.

In the end, don’t forget to review what you have written. Make sure everything is correct and flows smoothly. Don’t panic if don’t have everything in control from the very beginning. Mastering essay writing takes time and practice makes it perfect.


By: Nicholas LaPoma, Owner, Curvebreakers


Curvebreakers’ Student of the Month series features students who go above and beyond to achieve outstanding results. They take full advantage of everything Curvebreakers has to offer by improving their scores, being accepted to top schools, or receiving exceptional scholarships. We recognize them to inspire all Curvebreakers students to reach for their dreams! Our Student of the Month for January 2018 is Grace Aulisa, who improved on her SAT by over 100 points. Way to go, Grace!

Grace is a junior at Bishop Kearney High School in Brooklyn, NY

CURVEBREAKERS: What were your thoughts on the SAT before you took it the first time?
GRACE: I was really nervous going into the whole process.

C: When you signed up for tutoring, what did you think the session were going to be like?
G: I knew that I was going to have to really work at it because I genuinely wanted to improve from when I took the practice SAT at Curvebreakers. So I knew going into it that I was going to have to put the work in otherwise I wasn’t going to get the results [that I wanted].

C: What was it like working with your tutor?
G: I thought he was always willing to focus on exactly what I wanted to focus on. With math especially, he walked through each problem with me until I really got it. The math and the writing especially — getting down all the rules — he was really helpful with that.

C: How did your feelings change when you took your actual SAT compared to when you first started?

G: When I took the actual SAT I walked out of there and I was kind of relieved just to have gotten the first one over with. Even though I had prepped so much, I feel like when you’re there it’s so different because you’re just so nervous. But I was really happy after I took it and got the score back. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be when I was walking into it. I did feel like I was prepared when I was taking it so it didn’t feel as scary afterwards. I pretty much worked myself up over it for no reason just worrying about it.


C: What was your score the first time you took the SAT?

G: I got a 1360.


C: What was your score for the official SAT?

G: 1470. I was so happy to have gone up 100 points just from 9 sessions. I was really happy to be boosted that much.


C: What was the best part about tutoring with Curvebreakers?

G: They really focused on what I wanted to focus on so I loved that since it was one on one I got to decide what we were going to work on that day. It was totally up to me and at my pace. That’s what I really needed because I know that I wouldn’t have been able to focus in a big group.


Grace has since improved her score another 60 points to 1530!


The 5 ways students get themselves rejected from reach schools (and how we get you in)

1. Poor common app essay topic

One of the easiest ways to get rejected from a reach school is to have a sub par common application essay. The difficult part of the common application essay is often picking a great topic that will “wow” the committee. Here is an example of a common mistake: Student writes a passionate essay about her Grandfather who served in World War II and won a purple heart. Only a few sentences are about how this impacted her. Her Grandfather is accepted to Harvard on the spot, but she unfortunately is rejected. (That was a joke. But the committee is saying “Great, your Grandfather seems awesome. What about YOU?”)

Curvebreakers will help you brainstorm & select a topic for your essay. Once the student has written the essay, we will proofread it and provide feedback until the essay is ready for submission.

Learn more about our college application services

2. Sub-par research about the College

Many supplemental essays are geared towards why you want to go to the College, or what about the College appeals to you. Students do not do enough homework in researching Colleges to learn the ins and outs of the culture. We assist our students in doing vast research on reach schools so that we can make sure to let the committee know that our student is very, very interested… which leads to my next point!

3. Not showing enough interest

Another common mistake is not showing enough interest. One student we worked with last year told us of a rumor that no one from her school has been accepted to Stanford in recent memory. My explanation for that trend is that none of the students have shown enough interest in the school to be accepted. Since the student is based in Nassau County, New York, a student who wants to be accepted to Stanford needs to show REAL interest in going there. That starts with a visit if possible, calls, e-mails, letters, etc. They need to know that they are your top choice, not second fiddle to the equally great east coast schools.

4. Mismanaged early action application

Another common mistake is applying early to a reach school as early action. Early action is simply a way to have your application processed more quickly – it is not binding (Early Decision is the binding one) In many cases, the chances of getting rejected to a reach school in Early Action exceed the chances of getting rejected regular admission. Early Action is often a strong pool of students with great test scores (sometimes above the median for what the college normally accepts). Basically, Early Action is sometimes a bad strategy for someone applying to a reach. Early Decision, on the other hand, could be a better play if it is offered, as it shows a great deal of interest (see above) due to the binding nature of the deal.

5. Not requesting an interview

An interview is a great way for many students to show a college that they are mature and a great fit for the school. Not only does requesting an interview help you show great interest in the school, but it also lets you win over another recommender (the interviewer) if you do a great job. This could be a nerve wracking experience, but luckily we provide our clients with mock interviews with a real interviewer to make sure they are ready.

Luckily, we are here to help you. Need some advice? We’re happy to discuss any of the above in a FREE consultation. We are happy to assist whatever way we can. Please call the office at (516) 728-1561 or learn more about our college application services.

By: Nicholas LaPoma, Owner, Curvebreakers

Top 5 simple ways to improve your SAT and ACT score

1. Time yourself

The most baffling mistake in all of test prep – never timing yourself. Year after year we see students that do not accurately time themselves for standardized tests and suffer unnecessarily for it. There are timing devices available on amazon, or even better yet, come to one of our practice exams. The first one is on us!

2. Get Diagnostic Results

Another simple error is never getting a diagnostic report done. Many students self-study or go through school programs that do not have detailed diagnostics. Heck, even the SAT and ACT have very inadequate reports that come with their tests. “I got a 26 out of 40 on Math, what does that mean?” Yup, you guessed it, nothing. The fake data given out by the testing companies is made to give you a false sense of assurance. Luckily we have the most detailed diagnostics possible. Once again, the first one is on us, and we send you one every time you take a test with us.

3. Learn Math Formulas

Another very simple solution to a higher SAT or ACT score is to simply know every math formula cold. We can provide you a list of formulas you need to know on the test to get you started. It is senseless to lose points because you forgot the special right triangles, or the pythagorean theorem. Anyways, remember that knowing the formulas is step 1, but being able to apply them is step 2. We can show you both.

4. Learn Grammar Rules

Another obvious but overlooked aspect of the SAT/ACT. You MUST know every grammar rule tested on the exams. You must understand the parts of speech, independent and dependent clauses, and how to use punctuation. This is not a sounding test, and anyone that tells you to sound out answers is simply incorrect. You must analyze the grammatical issues in each sentence in and out. Knowing the rules is the first step to a higher score on these questions. We can teach you the rest.

5. Know when to Skip/Guess

A final easy way to improve your score is to simply guess on questions you do not know. For starters, you should leave no questions blank, even if you run out of time. There is no longer any penalty for wrong answers. Second, it is crucial that you do not get bogged down on one question at the expense of others. Each question is worth the same number of points!

– Take these 5 simple rules to heart and really try to absorb them. You are already on your way to a higher score! –

For more information

Call (516)728-1561 to speak with our expert about how to prepare, or explore our Classes & Events.


By: Nicholas LaPoma, Owner, Curvebreakers