SAT Prep for English Language Learners

For many English Language Learners (ELL), the SAT Reading and Writing can be particularly daunting. The good news is that it can be learned, and many ELL catch on to the strategies very quickly once they begin training.

Starting test prep early—but not too early—is key. Middle school is too early! Freshmen and sophomores should focus on academics and shoot for As in English classes (in all classes, really). Excelling in challenging high-school English classes will naturally improve students’ verbal scores before beginning any formal SAT prep. Summer after sophomore year is a great time to take a practice SAT. The data from this test will help an experienced tutor gauge the amount and type of prep needed to master the Reading and Writing portion of the test.

Something ELLs should be doing now, in addition to coursework, is reading short articles about topics that they find interesting. A great exercise is for students to spend 15-20 minutes reading and then write a short paragraph about what they’ve just read. We have seen this short exercise pay off big time for ELL in PSAT/SAT and TOEFL prep. And reading is free! We’ve had students choose articles about cooking, video games, snowboarding, travel, anime, and more. There is no wrong theme, as long as the articles are engaging and, of course, in English. Try introducing this assignment over spring break. It is easy to do even if you are traveling.

After the summer practice test, formal prep might begin with a classroom program, one-on-one tutoring, or a combo of the two. We will be able to better assess a student’s needs when we can compare sophomore PSAT scores with the summer practice test. You can find more information on taking a practice SAT here:

Parents may also want to inquire with their student’s counselor to see if they are eligible for extended time on the PSAT and SAT. You can read about extended time for ELL here:


If you have more questions or would like to schedule a free consultation, contact us at [email protected] or 512-453-7272. We look forward to hearing from you!

New Online ACT Will Be Ready for Spring Testers in 2024

Starting in February of 2024, students will have the option to take the ACT online on a computer at an approved testing center. The content and format of the ACT is not changing. Students simply have the option of paper-and-pencil or online when registering.

The students who will benefit most from choosing the computer test are those with accommodations that have proven difficult to implement on the paper test. A text-to-speech option, for example, eliminates the need for a human reader. The ability to zoom in will help the visually impaired.

Of course, most students don’t require these accommodations, but some may prefer the online format, which includes an onscreen timer. For students who opt to take the essay, typing may be easier than writing by hand. The online test also includes a built-in Desmos calculator, which some students may prefer to a regular graphing calculator.

You can read more about the new online ACT here. If you would like to discuss test options with one of our experts, call or email for a free consultation!