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The first ACT was administered in 1959, over 30 years after the first SAT.  Students had to pay a test fee of $3 and were only permitted to take the test once.  At the time, the SAT was used primarily by selective colleges in the northeastern U.S. and considered an aptitude test or, more controversially, a “measure of intelligence”.  The goal of the SAT was to indicate aptitude for learning rather than mastery of subjects already learned.

Taking the opposite approach and attempting to fill a void, the ACT emerged in an effort to provide a measure of students’ achievement.  It advertised itself as the fairer test, one that reflected what students had already learned without prophesizing absolute intelligence.  From the first test on, ACT scores were reported directly to colleges as well as to the students.  Score reports included post-test results given to students with some words of encouragement, communicating that “these few digits, which represent your scores on the ACT, may help you make decisions that will affect many aspects of your future.”  I mentioned that students were only permitted to take the test once, right?  Sure.  That seems fair.  Your future.

Numbers-wise, the ACT trailed behind the SAT for several decades.  At first, college admissions departments did not accept the ACT as a valid admissions test.  I took the SAT in 1995, having never even heard of the ACT.  As of 2007, though, every four-year institution recognized the ACT as a valid admissions test.  More and more students started opting for the ACT based, in my opinion, on historic hatred for the SAT, unconscious draw towards novelty, misguided understanding of the guessing penalty, and warranted affection for a more linearly structured test.

Still, the ACT did not catch up to the SAT until 2010 when the number of high school seniors taking the ACT (1.57 million) was greater than those taking the SAT (1.55 million) for the first time since the former’s inception.  And that brings us to where we are today, with a revamped SAT reinventing itself in an effort to win back all of those lost students.

So what to take?  Contact us for a free diagnostic test and consultation.


Taking the ISEE, SSAT, or PSAT can be stressful on young students. For many of our students, it is the first time they have taken a test that “counts”. They compare it to the SAT or ACT and feel like their entire academic future hinges on this one performance. Aspire Prep helps these students stay calm and carry on. We provide knowledge and confidence while allowing students to understand that their future success will depend on many factors.

An ISEE, SSAT, or PSAT program with Aspire Prep is a customized experience. Your son or daughter will work with one of our tutors as well as an established prep book, received prior to their first session The first session involves a review of this diagnostic test, an overview of each section of the test, and development of a study plan. This is followed by a series of one- to two-hour sessions in which strategies for each section of the test are learned, practiced, and understood.

Our typical program provides a total of 15 hours of customized, 1-on-1 test prep, including proctored practice tests and a calm mentor holding each student’s hand through the process.

Contact us for a free diagnostic test and consultation.


Our AP Exam and Subject Test programs complement the academic tutoring we provide our students, as these tests are usually the culmination of a full year of course study in that subject. Still, focused AP Exam and Subject Test preparation, in addition to test bootcamps, allow students to zero in on the relevant course material as well specific test requirements (essays, FRQs, DBQs, True/False, etc).  Programs vary considerably in duration depending on the student’s goals and familiarity with the subject matter.


Aspire Prep offers the following AP Exam and Subject Test services:

Biology E/M
Math Level 1
Math Level 2C
U.S. History
World History


The GMAT and GRE are computer adaptive exam required for admission to most M.B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. graduate programs. For many students, preparation for these tests can be daunting because school was a long time ago. As someone who took the MCAT many years after graduating from college, I can attest to the fact that your brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised just like any other. The longer it’s been since you’ve exercised your standardized test brain, the earlier you should start preparation.

Aspire Prep recommends 3-6 months of preparation, depending on how long you’ve been out of school. Remember, you need to be able to recall all that early stuff – basic principles of numbers and operations, algebra, functions, data analysis, a little trig. You need to have your grammar on point. You’ll need to not just bone up but master reading comp again. Graduate programs are competitive. I recall that, when I was considering medical school, there were more applicants with 4.0 GPAs or higher than there were spots for med students in the country.  Just saying.

Aspire Prep’s GMAT and GRE programs are demanding – you’ll have homework assignments and required proctored practice tests in order to ensure that you are able to demonstrate your mastery of the test and its format when it comes time to head to that strange prometric test center.

Contact us for a free diagnostic test and consultation.


Practice tests, score reporting, and full proctoring services are available for each of our services (ACT, SAT, ISEE, PSAT, SSAT, practice AP exam, GRE and GMAT) including personalized consultations to review goals and develop individualized programs. We offer experienced proctoring services in Los Angeles in a secure and monitored environment. Local students taking classes or training at other colleges and institutions, not through Aspire services, may contact us for further information on contracting proctoring services as well.

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