SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Laura Staffaroni

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

Recent Posts

How to Write an ACT Essay: Step-by-Step Example

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 14, 2017 3:30:00 PM

ACT Strategies, ACT Writing

Sometimes writing—especially writing for standardized tests—can feel like something you "get" or "don't get." That's primarily because it's very difficult to explain and teach writing in a mechanical way, especially when you're up against time limits.

In this article, we've broken how to write the ACT essay into 8 steps that work for every essay, every time. Then, we show you exactly how to do it with an actual ACT essay example.

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How to Get a Perfect 12 on the ACT Writing Essay

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 13, 2017 4:00:00 PM

ACT Strategies, ACT Writing

There is no part of the ACT more mysterious to students than the essay, and very few people seem to know what exactly the ACT is looking for in a "perfect" essay (particularly since September 2015 was the new ACT Writing test's debut). Luckily, we've got the expertise to give you some insight into how the essay works and what you can do to push your score those extra few points up the scale.

Whether you're trying to impress your dream school or just want to boost your ACT score, the essay is a great thing to work on. Some of the tips below stand alone, while others are part of larger categories that have been assembled based our ACT expertise.

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ACT Writing Tips: 15 Strategies to Raise Your Essay Score

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 13, 2017 11:00:00 AM

ACT Strategies, ACT Writing

Whether you've never thought about ACT Writing strategies or have worked hard on the ACT essay, you can benefit from knowing more: about the essay itself, and what really matters when the graders are reading your essay. In this article, we offer a number of ACT Writing tips as well as a foolproof template for putting them into practice.

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New SAT Scoring Advantage

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 18, 2016 8:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

While the new SAT is out of 1600 and the old SAT is out of 2400, the two aren't directly proportional; you can't just multiply your old SAT score by 2/3 and expect the result to be how you'd do on the new SAT.

The only way to know for sure how you'd do on the new test (besides taking the new SAT exam) is to use the College Board's data to convert your score from old to new SAT. To find out if you’d score higher on the new SAT and why that might be the case, read on!

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ACT Practice Tests: What They Can and Can't Do

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 18, 2016 7:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

ACT practice tests are invaluable for any level of ACT preparation, from those just beginning their study to those who have studied for months already. There are limits, however, to what ACT practice tests can do.

Read on to find out what things ACT practice tests are good for and what they just can’t accomplish.

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ACT Subscores vs. SAT Subscores: How to Compare

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 18, 2016 6:00:00 PM

SAT versus ACT

Both the ACT and SAT subscores provide students with detailed information about their weaknesses and strengths in categories more specific than English, Reading, Math, Science, and Writing (ACT) or Reading, Writing, Math, and Essay-writing (SAT). Understanding the implications of that detailed information, however, can be difficult, due to the sheer number of scores.

In this article, we'll discuss how subscores can be useful to students and whether or not subscores on one test can indicate how a student would do on the other.

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Good SAT Scores: Ivy League Plus Edition

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 10, 2016 6:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target

Setting a target SAT score to aim for is important, but what if you want to shoot for the moon and get an Ivy League-caliber SAT score? Read on to find out what SAT scores Ivy League Plus schools require.

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How to Take Both the SAT and ACT...and Who Should Take Both

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 10, 2016 5:00:00 PM

SAT versus ACT

The SAT and ACT may both be college entrance exams, but the way they test students on their college readiness is subtly different. Most students will do better on one test than the other, so why would you want to go through the hassle of taking both exams? And is it even feasible to do so? We’ll answer those questions in this article.

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3 Dangers of ACT Practice Tests

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 10, 2016 3:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

Practice tests are key to good ACT prep, but just taking full-length practice tests isn’t enough to guarantee a good score. In this article, we'll go over the three major pitfalls that many students stumble into when attempting to use ACT practice tests.

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What's a Good SAT Math or Reading/Writing (EBRW) Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 10, 2016 2:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target

In this article, we’ll go over how to calculate target SAT Math, Reading, and Writing scores, as well as why you might want to do this.

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How Often Should You Take Complete Official ACT Practice Tests?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 10, 2016 1:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

Taking official ACT practice tests under realistic testing conditions is vital to good ACT prep, but after a certain point you can hit a wall and stop getting any benefit out of it. In this article, we’ll discuss the frequency with which you should take ACT practice tests.

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How Close to the ACT Should You Take a Practice Test?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 10, 2016 12:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

It’s extremely important to take full-length practice tests under realistic conditions when studying for the ACT. However, you need to make sure you’re getting the full benefit by spacing out the practice tests correctly. In this article, we'll discuss both the earliest and the latest you should consider taking full ACT practice tests.

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Most Important Quotes From The Crucible, Analyzed

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jul 8, 2016 5:00:00 PM

Book Guides

The Crucible is four acts and 134 pages of tight dialogue, economical action. It can be hard to pick out particular moments or quotes as being key, since everything moves along so quickly. Never fear! I have your back with this complete guide to The Crucible quotes.

I’ll go over the most important quotes from The Crucible by theme, explaining both their literal meaning and why they’re important. I’ll also list some additional quotes that fall under the same general theme for you to practice analyzing them.

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Best Rebecca Nurse Analysis — The Crucible

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jul 8, 2016 4:00:00 PM

Book Guides

In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Rebecca Nurse is a prominent and respected older woman in Puritan Salem, drawn into the witchcraft trials because of her and her husband’s friction with the Putnams. Though she has the least stage time of any of the major characters, Rebecca is important because of the moral ideals she represents.

This guide goes over what we do know about Rebecca and explains why she is so important to the play despite her limited time in the audience’s eye.

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(Updated) ACT Essay Scoring: Completely Explained

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jun 30, 2016 9:00:00 AM

ACT Writing

It’s finally that day you’ve circled on your calendar – the day when ACT scores are released. You log into ACTstudent and look at your essay score. There's an "8" for your overall Writing score as well as four different "domain" scores of 6, 8, 9, and 10. What does your ACT Writing score mean and how is your ACT essay scored? This article will shed some light on both of these things.

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