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 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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Best Abigail Williams Analysis - The Crucible

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jun 17, 2016 4:00:00 PM

Book Guides

In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Abigail Williams is the pebble that gets the avalanche of the Salem witch trials started. It is Abigail who first says Tituba has been using supernatural powers to corrupt her and Betty, and it is Abigail who jumps on the (metaphorical) accusation train after Tituba has been coerced into confessing her involvement and naming co-conspirators.

In this guide, we’ll go over Abigail’s entire sphere of influence, from her role as the lead accuser in the witch trials to the relationship between Abigail and John Proctor, and discuss what drives Abigail to act as she does throughout the course of the play.

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Complete List of Crucible Characters

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jun 3, 2016 4:00:00 PM

Book Guides

Who are The Crucible characters? What do they do and when do they show up in the play? Find out in this overview of the characters in Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

In this article, I'll go over each of the Crucible characters by name, pinpoint which act(s) each character appears in and/or is mentioned in, and briefly describe each character and what she/he does in The Crucible.

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Think Your New ACT Writing Score Is Wrong? Recent Issues, Explained

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 22, 2016 6:00:00 PM

ACT Writing

If you took the ACT with Writing in September, October, or December of 2015, you may have been taken by surprise by the change in the essay prompt (compared to previous ACT Writing tests). And when you got your scores back...well, you may have been even more confused.

While the change in the ACT essay format was announced ahead of time, the full explanation of how the Writing scores would be normalized was not made clear until after the first administration of the new ACT Writing test. Because of this, ACT, Inc. faced a bit of controversy about the scoring of the new Writing test. Now they've returned to a 12-point scoring scale, with a more transparent calculation system. Read on to learn what all this means for you. 

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Taking The SAT In 7th Grade: Should You Do It?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 8, 2015 5:00:00 PM

Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

Imagine: you’re in Social Studies. You hear a fellow 7th-grader sitting next to you say “Ugh, I have to take the SAT this weekend.” What is this person talking about? Why would you take the SAT in middle school? Is there even such a thing as a 7th grade SAT score?

If you're a parent, you may have heard of various advanced programs for gifted and talented children that require taking the SAT. But is it worth it to have your child take the SAT so early? Why start the stress around college applications earlier than high school?

In this article, I’ll go over the pros and cons of taking the SAT in 7th grade and the programs you can get into with high 7th grade SAT scores.

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What's The Average SAT Essay Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 18, 2015 11:00:00 AM

SAT Writing

You've gotten back your SAT scores. On your score report, there's information about how you did on Math, Reading, and Writing, compared to the previous year's graduating class who took the SAT.

But what about your essay? How does your essay score compare to everyone else? There's no percentile information for that in the score report.

Find out what an average SAT essay score looks like (and how you stack up) in this article!

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What Is A Good SAT Essay Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 18, 2015 10:30:00 AM

SAT Writing

SAT Essay scoring can be tricky to figure out. Maybe you've already created target goals for your SAT score, following our guide, so you at least have that score goal set.

But where does your essay score fit into all this? What is a good SAT essay score? This article will answer those questions.

Note: The information in this article is for the old (pre-March-2016) SAT essay, which was scored out of 12 and part of the Writing section. Scores for the March 2016 SAT were only released May 10th, 2016, which means that data on percentiles and averages aren't going to be available for a while yet. We'll update this article as soon as the information comes out.

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SAT Essay Scoring: The Real Story

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 18, 2015 8:00:00 AM

SAT Writing

It's 17-19 days after your SAT test date, so you log into the CollegeBoard website, eager to see how you did. You look at your essay score and see...“9.”

You check for more detail in your score report and see that Grader 1 gave you a 5, Grader 2 gave you a 4...and that's it.

So how are SAT essays graded, and how can you use this information to your advantage? Read on to find out!

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The Most Reliable SAT Essay Template and Format

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 17, 2015 6:00:00 PM

SAT Writing

Aside from the “grid in” math questions, all you have to do for most of the SAT is answer multiple choice questions.

And then there's the essay. Or, more accurately, "To start with, there's the essay." Because the first thing you'll do on the SAT is write an essay in 25 minutes flat.

How can you even begin to write an essay in 25 minutes? What SAT essay structure should you follow? Is there an SAT essay format that’ll score you a top score for sure? Read on to find out the answers to these questions!

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ACT Essay Format and Templates You Can Use

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 11, 2015 8:00:00 AM

ACT Writing

Most of the ACT is entirely multiple choice. All you have to worry about when answering the questions is that you’re filling in the correct answer bubble!

But then there’s that (optional) Writing section, which requires you to give your answer in words. How are you supposed to write a persuasive essay in 40 minutes? What format should your essay have? Is there an ACT essay template that can guarantee you a high score? We'll answer these questions in this article.

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What's an Average ACT Writing Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 10, 2015 8:00:00 PM

ACT Writing

It's approximately one month after your ACT test date. You get your ACT score report and see your ACT Writing score. But what does that number actually mean? Did you do better than average? Worse? Exactly average? Learn what an average ACT Writing score is in this article.

Note: The information in this article is for the ACT Writing test as it was scored September 2015-June 2016, which was on a scale of 1-36. The scoring of the ACT Writing test is changing in September 2016 to be on a scale of 2-12 (with the total ACT Writing score being an average of the 4 domain scores), which means that data on percentiles and averages aren't going to be available for quite some time. We'll update this article as soon as that information comes out.

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