*what*you know, it’s

*who*you know.” I know this firsthand because when I first moved to Hollywood, I knew nobody. Hollywood?! Yep, if it weren’t for my truly selfless passion for teaching you the SAT/ACT, I could have been a famous director. Lol, just kidding. The truth is, after 400+ film job applications (with a dismal response rate of 1.7%), I gave up my vague Tinseltown dreams. I had zero connections, and the few gigs I did land weren’t teaching me anything beyond how to efficiently order lunch for the crew or memorize coffee orders. Once, I got to paint a wall (yay for manual labor). Sad times. Ironically, it wasn’t until I had thrown in the towel and moved onto college admissions/test prep that I really started connecting with interesting people. In the span of a few years, I had worked with the families of A-list movie stars, famous rock musicians, the CEO of a massive movie studio, big time film producers in charge of $300 million budget movies, the creators of hit shows on primetime television, and even a billionaire. I was already out of the film business by then, but it was sooo true that once I had worked with one of these people, the referrals streamed in. So what’s this all got to do with you? I promise you there’s a point. We’re going to apply this universal notion of “who you know” (with a twist) to your SAT/ACT prep.

**You have to know your enemies.**These are the concepts, grammar rules, vocab words, tricky question types, or approaches that you don’t know yet. These “enemies” are ravaging your score. The first step to an effective review program is identifying these enemies. If you do this, I promise you,

**you will end up spending LESS time to improve MORE**. It all starts with

*knowing what you don’t know*. Then you can systematically break down what you need to study and have a clear sense of how far away you are from your goal. It sounds so obvious, but most students never take the time to document their areas of weakness. Without an organized “hit list” of enemies, you are studying haphazardly. You’re probably just taking practice tests or sections and reviewing your mistakes. This is sloppy, ineffective studying because you’re not making a concerted effort to defeat any particular enemy. You’re doing a mediocre job at holding back all the various enemies (a little vocab here, a little geometry there, some subject-verb agreement elsewhere, and so on). Keep this golden principle in mind:

**the key to improving your score is NOT to know a**(you only need to master ALL concepts if you’re shooting for a perfect score). You can still obtain highly respectable scores, even in the 700s per section (or over 31 on the ACT) without knowing every tiny concept. If you’re taking the test this weekend or the next, you have limited time. So stop doing random practice tests and questions and flopping around like a goldfish. You need to target your specific weaknesses, even if it means you don’t get to review other concepts at all. For example, if you become a master at every possible verb and pronoun issue on the SAT, you just aced 35% of the writing test. If you master all function questions in math, you just made easy work of about 10% of the SAT math test. Would you rather master these big game concepts or some niggling concept that shows up once a test (or sometimes not at all)? Find your BIGGEST areas of weaknesses, and annihilate those enemies. One of my core concepts about studying is it’s not about HOW MUCH you do, but HOW you do it. When I used to study for tests in school, I would start by making an outline of every single concept that could possibly show up on the test. Sometimes, a good teacher would provide that, but more often than not, I had to make my own. So for math, you might start with something like this: Functions

*little*about*every*concept. The key is to know EVERYTHING about a good number of concepts- Equation functions
- Graph functions
- Table functions
- Shifting functions
- Symbol functions
- Box of equality of functions

- Difference of squares
- Sum of squares
- Stacking (system of equations)
- Factoring
- Substitution

- Triangles
- Pythagorean theorem
- Special right triangles
- Triangle inequality rule
- Area, perimeter, and angles
- Circles
- Radius tricks (inscribed and circumscribed circles)
- Arc lengths, sectors, and central angles