7 cheap ways to study for the SAT and ACT


(MoneyWatch) It's SAT and ACT testing season, which means millions of teenagers are now stressing about these high-stakes college entrance exams.

One thing parents don't have to fret about is whether to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on classes to prepare their kids for the tests. There are plenty of excellent free or affordable SAT and ACT resources that can help your child perform well. Here are seven resources to check out:

1. Khan Academy. Millions of people, including Bill Gates's children, have watched this popular site's online tutorials. Using videos, Khan Academy provides the answers and explanations for every math problem in the first edition of the the College Board's official SAT study guide, which was published in 2004. This book is out of print, but you can find many used copies on Amazon for as little as $2.96. Don't worry that your child will be studying old material. The nature of the math questions haven't changed.

2. PWN the SAT. Want your teen to ace the math section of the SAT? Try PWN the SAT. (PWN is a video-gaming term that means "own.") At this blog, a math tutor in Manhattan shares his vast knowledge of the SAT math section. This isn't just a site for students who need math help -- it's also a valuable resource for ambitious students who want to earn a perfect math score.

3. College Board. Buy a copy of what test-prep insiders call the "Blue Book," which is the College Board's own thick SAT guide. The latest version is called "The Official SAT Study Guide DVD Edition" or "The Official SAT Study Guide 2nd edition." Buy the book and your teen will have access to the College Board's online site for the book owners.

4. ACT. An inexpensive way to study for the ACT is to buy "The Real ACT Prep Guide," which includes five retired ACT tests. Your teenager can also study online at the ACT site for $21.95 for a year.

5. The Critical Reader. It's difficult to improve upon the reading score of the SAT, but this site, courtesy of another test-prep tutor, can help. The Critical Reader is the site of Erica Meltzer, who provides a great deal of free advice via her test-prep blog on the critical reading and writing portion of the SAT test. You'll also find free study guides on her site. Including the "Complete SAT Grammar Rules" and the "Complete ACT Punctuation Rules." You can get even more advice by reading her book, "The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar."

6. Number2.com. Students can study for the SAT and ACT at this site, and one of the best parts is that parents can track the time that their teens spend on it, as well as their progress. No need to rely on your children to tell you if they've actually been studying.

7. EriktheRed. This helpful site belongs to Erik Jacobsen, an East Coast math and physics tutor who helps students prepare for the math section of the SAT and ACT. Students will find lots of free materials to download for the SAT test, including quizzes, formulas and exam strategies.