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

The Complete IB Extended Essay Guide: Examples, Topics, and Ideas

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jan 11, 2021 12:00:00 AM

International Baccalaureate (IB)

IB students around the globe fear writing the Extended Essay, but it doesn't have to be a source of stress! In this article, I'll get you excited about writing your Extended Essay and provide you with the resources you need to get an A on it.

If you're reading this article, I'm going to assume you're an IB student getting ready to write your Extended Essay. If you're looking at this as a potential future IB student, I recommend reading our introductory IB articles first, including our guide to what the IB program is and our full coverage of the IB curriculum.

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The Best IB English Study Guide and Notes for SL/HL

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jan 10, 2021 10:00:00 AM

International Baccalaureate (IB)

Are you taking IB English and need some help with your studying? No need to reread all the books and poems you covered in class! This study guide is for IB English A students (students in IB English A: literature SL/HL, IB English A: language and literature SL/HL, or IB English literature and performance SL) who are looking for additional guidance on writing their commentaries or essays.

I've compiled this IB English study guide using the best free materials available for this class. Use it to supplement your classwork and help you prepare for exams throughout the school year.

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Every IB English Past Paper Available: Free and Official

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jan 9, 2021 3:30:00 PM

International Baccalaureate (IB)

In this article, I cover IB English Literature SL/HL, IB English Language and Literature SL/HL, and IB Literature and Performance SL exams. These are the core language A options for English speakers.

The IB English exams are essay based tests that require you to either a) analyze texts provided on the exam, or b) write analytical essays based on the books, poems, and other literature you've studied throughout the semester. That means one of the best ways to prepare for the exam is checking out past essays to see what writers did right...and where they got off track.

But where can you find IB English past papers, free and paid? Don't worry: we'll help you find past papers to study with and talk about how you can get the most out of these past papers during your study time.

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Historical ACT Percentiles for 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011

Posted by Dora Seigel | Dec 31, 2020 1:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

For those currently taking the ACT or who took it in 2011-2015, you might wonder: how does your percentile compare with students who got the same score in other years? In this guide, I'll explain what percentiles are, how they work for the ACT, and why they matter. I'll also give you ACT percentile charts for 2011-2015 so you can see how your scores stack up against historical ones.

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Which Colleges Require the SAT Essay? Complete List

Posted by Dora Seigel | Dec 26, 2020 7:00:00 PM

SAT Logistics, SAT Essay

Planning to take the SAT? Before you sign up, you need to decide whether 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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Does Messy Handwriting Hurt Your SAT Essay Score?

Posted by Dora Seigel | Dec 26, 2020 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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When Do IB Results and Scores Come Out?

Posted by Dora Seigel | Dec 13, 2020 10:02:00 AM

International Baccalaureate (IB)

You're in an IB Diploma Programme or a few IB classes, and you've tirelessly worked all year (or two years) studying for your SLs and HLs. You sat for the exams, where you probably developed carpal tunnel syndrome. And you can relate a little too well to this video, but you're hoping you did a bit better on your IB exams.

So when do you get your IB exam scores? How do you get your scores? What does your score mean? I will answer all these questions and more in this article.

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The 44 Colleges With the Lowest SAT Scores, Ranked

Posted by Dora Seigel | Nov 3, 2020 3:30:00 PM

College Info

Applying to college is a nerve-wracking process, but have no fear: if you want to go to college even with a low SAT score, there is most likely a school for you!

In this article, I'll list the colleges with the lowest 25th percentile SAT scores for their admitted students. The 25th percentile SAT score means that 25% of admitted students to that university scored at or below that number; the 75th percentile SAT score means that 75% of admitted students scored at or below that score (25% scored higher). I'll also explain why their low SAT criterion doesn’t necessarily mean the university is bad.

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Colleges With the Lowest ACT Scores, Ranked

Posted by Dora Seigel | Oct 30, 2020 5:00:00 PM

College Info

The college application process can be stressful, but don't worry, if you hope to attend a four-year university and have a low ACT score, there is quite possibly a college for you!

In this article, I list the universities with the lowest 25th percentile ACT scores for their admitted students. The 25th percentile ACT score signifies that 25% of admitted applicants to the school received an ACT score at or below that number. The 75th percentile ACT score signifies that 75% of admitted applicants to the school received an ACT score at or below that score (25% scored higher). I will also explain why you shouldn't always judge the colleges by their low 25th/75th percentile ACT.

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What Is NUMATS? Should You Participate?

Posted by Dora Seigel | Oct 23, 2020 1:00:00 PM

Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

In this guide, I'll be discussing the Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search Program, or NUMATS. NUMATS provides advanced tests to younger students to find their academic strengths and weaknesses and to suggest academic supplements to help these gifted students thrive. Depending on your score on the test, you may be offered a chance to attend one of their subprograms.

While you can read all about this program on the NUMATS website, the information can be difficult to dissect. That's why we've put it into this easy-to-read guide. I recommend reading the entire guide, but I've created a Table of Contents that lists the specific sections to help you find whatever information you need.

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The Best SAT Math Practice Tests and Questions

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 27, 2020 6:00:00 PM

SAT Math

For SAT Math prep, no matter your strategy—whether you're doing self-study, taking a prep class, or working with a tutor—you need to be working with real SAT Math practice materials. The SAT Math test will be different from 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 guide, I'll show you where to find official SAT Math practice tests and questions, and go over what materials to avoid.

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Complete List of Performing Arts Colleges in California

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 23, 2020 10:30:00 AM

College Info

If the stage calls your name, and you're interested in pursuing a degree in one of the performing arts (theatre/dance/music) in California, then this article is for you. I've compiled a comprehensive list of all of the universities and conservatory programs in California that offer performing arts degrees (Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate's).


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PSAT Score Needed for National Merit Scholarship

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 16, 2020 12:00:00 PM

PSAT Info and Strategies

Each year about 1.6 million juniors take the PSAT in the hopes of qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship Program. But what score do you actually need to earn Semifinalist distinction? In this guide, we'll tell you what PSAT score you need in order to qualify for Semifinalist status in your state and potentially move on to win a National Merit scholarship.

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The 13 Best Performing Arts Colleges in the US

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 12, 2020 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 this choice, you need to find a school that'll allow you to accomplish your career goals.

In order to help you find the right school for you, I've compiled a list of the best performing arts colleges in the US. Keep reading to see what these are!

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Complete List of Performing Arts Colleges in New York

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 12, 2020 10:00:00 AM

College Info

If you're hoping to attend a performing arts college in New York state or New York City, this article will get you one step closer to that goal. I have compiled a comprehensive list of the over 70 universities and conservatory programs in New York that offer performing arts degrees (Bachelor’s or higher). I have also chosen the top 3 performing arts schools in New York.


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