High school classes that help prep you for the ACT/SAT

If you’ve ever read another page on our site, or thumbed through one of our test prep books, you know that standardized tests are coachable exams that you can crack through practice and mastering simple strategies.

The folks who make the tests would disagree with us, of course—their goal is to try to test what you’ve learned in high school and predict your potential for success in college. By the time you sit down to start learning those invaluable test-taking tips and tricks (likely your junior year), you’ve probably already taken the high school classes that you’ll need to ace the SAT or ACT. So, what are they, exactly?


  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • rhetorical skills
English/language arts. You probably covered grammar basics in middle school, if not earlier!
  • pre-algebra
  • elementary algebra
  • intermediate algebra
  • geometry
  • 4 out of 50 questions will cover trigonometry
Geometry, algebra II. Don’t sweat if you haven’t taken trig—most people don’t until senior year.
  • reading comprehension
English/language arts. If you’ve ever written a book report, you’ve got this section on lock.
Science Understanding and inferring information from:
  • graphs
  • charts
  • table
  • research summaries
  • scientific arguments
No scientific knowledge is necessary for this section, but you probably acquired the necessary analytical skills in biology and/or  chemistry .


  • reading comprehension
  • Passages (500-750 words) will draw from significant historical or scientific documents, and may include informational graphics, such as charts.
10th grade English. While the passages on the new SAT will require close attention and focus, you’ve been building your reading comprehension skills since you started school back in first grade.
Writing and Language  
  • Passage-based grammar and vocabulary
  • You will be asked to identify the best changes to phrases and punctuation, and to identify errors, for each of four short essays.
Like reading comprehension, you’ve been building vocabulary and grammar skills cumulatively in English/language arts and other classes. Practice questions will help you apply these skills in this context.
  • application based, multi-step questions
  • word problems
  • some trigonometry
Geometry and algebra II are important prep for this section, and we strongly recommend brushing up on the basic principles of algebra as well—a strong handle on foundational concepts will make it easier to break down complex problems.
  • Analyzing a 600–700 word passage and how the author built his or her argument.
You most likely learned how to write this type of analysis in 10th grade English or social studies.

Note: Did you know the SAT and PSAT are almost identical? That means your high school courses are setting the stage for both!

Want more advice for crafting your high school schedule? Check out our tips for choosing high school classes that colleges love.

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