SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Dora Seigel

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

Recent Posts

Which Colleges Require the SAT Essay? Complete List

Posted by Dora Seigel | Apr 29, 2017 8:00:00 AM

SAT Logistics, SAT Essay

Planning to take the SAT? Before you sign up, you need to decide if you’re going to take the test with or without the optional essay. How should you pick? Well, some colleges require that you apply with the SAT with Essay; others don’t care whether you submit an SAT score with or without the essay. In this article, I’ll provide you with a complete list of colleges that require or recommend taking the SAT with the essay.

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How to Cram for the SAT: 10-Day, 200-Point Prep Plan

Posted by Dora Seigel | Apr 3, 2017 8:00:00 AM

SAT Strategies

If you’re reading this guide, I’m going to assume you don’t have a lot of time before your SAT test date. If you do have a lot of time before your SAT test date (1 month or more), feel free to read this article for useful tips, but I urge you to spread your prep out over the full amount of time you have. Do not wait to cram. The total amount of time spent preparing for the SAT matters, and though you can make great strides in just 10 days, you still need to put in the time. I’ll guide you through the steps to successfully cram for the SAT and raise your score by up to 200 points. 

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How Do You Calculate SAT Score? Raw and Scaled

Posted by Dora Seigel | Mar 31, 2017 11:30:00 AM

SAT General Info

The old SAT was scored on a 2400 point scale, and the new SAT is scored on a 1600 point scale, but you don’t answer 2400 or 1600 questions on these tests (or a number remotely close). So, how does your score get calculated? I'll show the steps to calculating your final SAT score for both the old (pre-March 2016) and new (March 2016 and on) SAT. 

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How Do You Calculate ACT Score? Raw and Scaled

Posted by Dora Seigel | Mar 30, 2017 12:00:00 PM

ACT Logistics

The ACT is scored on a scale of 36. How do you end up with a composite score from 0-36 when you answer a lot more than 36 questions? In this article, I'll walk you through the three steps to calculate your ACT composite score:

  1. Calculate section raw scores
  2. Convert raw scores to scaled scores
  3. Average section scores to determine composite
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The 11 Best Performing Arts Colleges in the US

Posted by Dora Seigel | Feb 9, 2017 12:00:00 PM

College Info

Attending a performing arts college is a big decision—you’re committing to focusing exclusively on your art for four years. Once you’ve made that choice, you need to find a school that will you accomplish your career goals. In order to help you find the right school for you, I’ve compiled a list of the very best performing arts colleges in the US.

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7 Most Common SAT Math Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Dora Seigel | Oct 22, 2016 8:30:00 AM

SAT Math

I spent several years tutoring students in SAT Math, and many found the section frustrating. The first test-takers for the new SAT in March felt the same. Some struggled because they felt their strong suit was English and were irked by the content, mental math, and the pacing of SAT Math. Others found that although they considered themselves excellent math students, they struggled to finish and get the score they want.

No matter what group they fell into, students tended to make the same 7 mistakes on the SAT Math section. In this guide, I’ll tell you what those mistakes are, give you examples, and let you know to avoid making these mistakes in the future.

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The 7 Fundamental Gemini Traits, Explained

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 24, 2016 6:00:00 PM

Gemini traits are more varied than those of other astrological signs. While most signs have one very prominent trait (for example, Capricorns are notoriously ambitious), Geminis, those born between May 21 and June 21, can be social, talkative, and whimsical, but they can also be indecisive or nosy. Some Geminis love to be the center of attention; others love to gossip. They’re typically passionate yet easy-going beings who are always down for an adventure or intellectual conversation.

If you hang out with a Gemini, only one thing’s certain: you’ll never be bored. 

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7 Most Common Mistakes on ACT Math & How to Avoid Them

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 3, 2016 8:00:00 AM

ACT Math

I've tutored many students on the ACT Math section, and they often found it frustrating. Some struggled because they considered themselves better English students and felt overwhelmed by the content and pacing of ACT Math. Others found that even though they considered themselves strong math students, they had a hard time getting the score they wanted in the ACT Math section. But all these students typically made the same types of mistakes. 

In this article, I’ll go over the seven most common mistakes students make on the ACT Math section and how to avoid them.

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The 9 Best Film Schools in the US (and 1 to Avoid)

Posted by Dora Seigel | Aug 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

College Info

In the past few years, applying to film school has gotten extremely competitive: top schools like USC’s School of Cinematic Arts now boast admission rates lower than the Ivies. Simultaneously, the number of film programs has grown—rising from about 300 in 2006 to almost 400 in 2010.

With so many programs available and so much competition for the top spots, where should you apply? In order to help you find the right school for you, I’ve compiled a list of the best film schools in the US, based on my experience as a film student and actress in LA.

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Does Messy Handwriting Hurt Your SAT Essay Score?

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jul 9, 2016 8:30:00 AM

SAT Essay

Worried about your messy handwriting? It’s tough not to have sloppy handwriting when you’re given only 50 minutes to read a passage, analyze it, and write an essay. How will your handwriting influence your SAT Essay score? Can it cause a lower score? Or even lead to a score of zero? I’ve got the answers along with more SAT Essay advice.   

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Can You Take the ACT After High School? Expert Guide

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jul 1, 2016 5:00:00 PM

ACT Logistics

If you're an adult who needs or wants to take the ACT, you might be worried. Most people taking the test are 16 or 17, but can you take the ACT after high school? Yes, you absolutely can! There are many valid reasons for taking the ACT after high school, and the process barely differs from taking it as a teenager.

In this article, I’ll discuss the reasons you may want or need to take the test as an adult, how to register, how testing as an adult will be different, as well as additional advice.

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The Best SAT Score Predictor

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jun 30, 2016 8:00:00 AM

SAT Strategies

The SAT can be mysterious and nerve-inducing; your score on this never before seen test will play a huge role in your college application process. When I took the SAT for the first time, I didn’t do any preparation and wasn't sure I could reach my target score.

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Does Messy Handwriting Hurt Your ACT Writing Score?

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jun 24, 2016 6:00:00 PM

ACT Writing

Do you have messy handwriting? If so, trust me, you’re not alone. Given only 40 minutes to plan and write an essay, most students end up with at least slightly sloppy handwriting. How does bad handwriting affect your ACT Writing score? Can you end up with a lower score? Can you end up with a score of zero? I’ve got the answers to these questions along with more ACT Writing advice.  

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Best ACT Math Practice Tests: How to Find and Use Them

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jun 17, 2016 8:00:00 PM

ACT Math

Whatever your ACT Math prep plan, whether you’re doing self-study, a class, or working with a tutor, you need to be working with real ACT Math practice materials. The ACT Math test will be unlike any other Math test you’ve taken. You need to work with the real material to get used to the pacing and style of this unique test. In this short guide, I’ll let you know where to find free and paid official ACT Math practice tests. 

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Book Review: The Official SAT Study Guide, 2016 Edition

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jun 17, 2016 6:00:00 PM


The College Board recently published a new version of the Official SAT Study Guide (3rd edition) to reflect the newly redesigned 2016 SAT. What’s the book like? Is it helpful? In this review, I’ll break down the strengths and weaknesses of the book, talk about how students feel about it, and tell you whether it’s worth buying.

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