SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Dr. Anna Wulick

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

Recent Posts

What Is the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE)?

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Aug 20, 2020 11:11:00 AM

Other High School, Coursework/GPA

For students looking for a more challenging high school experience or for a chance to earn college credit, many high schools offer advanced college-level programs. The newest one of these is the Cambridge AICE, an international diploma program created via the University of Cambridge in England.

Curious about whether this program is right for you? In this article, I'll explain the AICE approach, the coursework necessary to get the diploma, and how it compares to AP and IB classes.

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140 College Essay Examples for 11 Schools + Expert Analysis

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Aug 17, 2020 12:00:00 PM

College Admissions, College Essays

The personal statement might just be the hardest part of your college application. Mostly this is because it has the least guidance and is the most open-ended. One way to understand what colleges are looking for when they ask you to write an essay is to check out the essays of students who already got in—college essays that actually worked. After all, they must be among the most successful of this weird literary genre.

In this article, I'll go through general guidelines for what makes great college essays great. I've also compiled an enormous list of 100+ actual sample college essays from 11 different schools. Finally, I'll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work. With links to 140 full essays and essay excerpts, this article will be a great resource for learning how to craft your own personal college admissions essay!

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How to Write a Perfect "Why This College" Essay

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Aug 14, 2020 5:00:00 PM

College Essays

Did you think you were all done pouring out your blood, sweat, and tears in written form for your personal statement, only to be faced with the "why this college" supplemental essay? This question might seem simple but is in fact a crucial and potentially tricky part of many college applications. What exactly is the "why us" essay trying to understand about you? And how do you answer this question without falling into its many pitfalls or making any rookie mistakes?

In this article, I'll explain why colleges want you to be able to explain why you are applying. I'll also discuss how to generate and brainstorm topics for this question and how to make yourself sound sincere and committed. Finally, we'll go over some "why this school" essay do's and don'ts.

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How to Write a Perfect UC Essay for Every Prompt

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Aug 9, 2020 12:15:00 PM

College Essays

If you're applying to any University of California campus as an incoming freshman, then you have a special challenge ahead of you. Applicants need to answer four UC personal insight questions, chosen from a pool of eight unique prompts different from those on the Common App. But not to worry! This article is here to help.

In this article, I'll dissect the eight UC essay prompts in detail. What are they asking you for? What do they want to know about you? What do UC admissions officers really care about? How do you avoid boring or repulsing them with your essay?

I'll break down all of these important questions for each prompt and discuss how to pick the four prompts that are perfect for you. I'll also give you examples of how to make sure your essay fully answers the question. Finally, I'll offer step-by-step instructions on how to come up with the best ideas for your UC personal statements.

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Getting College Essay Help: Important Do's and Don’ts

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Aug 8, 2020 7:00:00 PM

College Essays

 

If you grow up to be a professional writer, everything you write will first go through an editor before being published. This is because the process of writing is really a process of re-writing—of rethinking and reexamining your work, usually with the help of someone else. So what does this mean for your student writing? And in particular, what does it mean for very important, but nonprofessional writing like your college essay? Should you ask your parents to look at your essay? Pay for an essay service?

If you are wondering what kind of help you can, and should, get with your personal statement, you've come to the right place! In this article, I'll talk about what kind of writing help is useful, ethical, and even expected for your college admission essay. I'll also point out who would make a good editor, what the differences between editing and proofreading are, what to expect from a good editor, and how to spot and stay away from a bad one.

 

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Which Common App Essay Prompt Should You Choose?

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Aug 7, 2020 8:30:00 AM

College Essays

On the one hand, the fact that the Common Application has five essay prompts to choose from is great news! No matter what your story, you're sure to find a good fit. On the other hand, having five prompts means you can write five different kinds of essays, each with its own potential pitfalls and clichés to steer around.

In this article, I'll outline two totally different approaches to figuring out which Common App essay prompt is right for you and help you brainstorm possible ideas for each. I'll also talk about what makes great college essays great, and give examples of what you want to avoid when crafting your essay.

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How to Come Up With Great College Essay Ideas

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Aug 3, 2020 8:30:00 AM

College Essays

Writing the college application essay is a tough gig. You've got to be charming, personal, memorable, and insightful--all in under two pages! But I'm going to tell you a secret: half of a great personal essay is a great topic idea. If you're passionate about what you're writing, and if you're truly documenting something meaningful and serious about yourself and your life, then that passion and meaning will come alive on the page and in the mind of your reader.

So how do you come up with an essay idea? The best way is to brainstorm your way to an event from your life that reveals a core truth about you. In this article, I will help you do just that. Keep reading to find 35 jumping off points that touch on every possible memory you could harness, as well as advice on how to use your brainstorming session to fully realize your idea for an essay topic.

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Important: Read This Before Sending ACT Scores to Colleges

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Jul 11, 2020 5:30:00 PM

ACT General Info, ACT Logistics


No college application is complete without test scores. But sending scores to colleges doesn't have to be a confusing and frustrating process! Read this article to understand all the options for sending out your ACT scores, to get help with the many decisions you will have to make, and to know what to do if you run into problems.

I'll describe the basic process of how to send ACT scores, how to take full advantage of the ACT's individual score reporting, when to send scores, and how to make sure your scores don't get lost. At the same time, I'll go through the pros and cons of every option and suggest a recommended course of action.

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Important: Read This Before You Send SAT Scores to Colleges

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Jul 11, 2020 9:00:00 AM

SAT Logistics, SAT General Info

No matter how stellar your transcript, no matter how mastered your extracurricular activities, no matter how lyrical your essay—no application is complete without your SAT scores.

So how do you make sure your SAT scores are sent properly, at the right time, and with only the scores you are most proud of? Read on for our best advice on the decisions you'll be faced with and what to do in case something goes wrong.

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How to Write Perfect ApplyTexas Essays

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Jun 28, 2020 8:00:00 AM

College Essays

The ApplyTexas college application contains many essay prompts, and each of the most popular colleges in Texas has different requirements for which essays they expect applicants to answer.

So how do you get advice on writing your best ApplyTexas essays, no matter which school you're applying to? Look no further than this article, which completely unpacks all possible ApplyTexas essay prompts. We'll explain what each prompt is looking for and what admissions officers are hoping to learn about you. In addition, we'll give you our top strategies for ensuring that your essay meets all these expectations, and help you come up with your best essay topics.

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Free Older Official ACT Practice Tests

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Jun 4, 2020 12:30:00 PM

ACT General Info

There's one thing that every student studying for the ACT definitely needs: practice tests that are almost identical to what you will face on test day. No matter how you study, we've found that most students really benefit from taking a full ACT practice test several times in as close to official test-taking conditions as possible. This is the best way to get comfortable with the pace, timing, and format of the exam, and to work on both your endurance and stress-management techniques.

So how do you get your hands on enough ACT tests to put yourself in the hot seat for practice? In this article, we'll link to all the official tests and question sets released by ACT, Inc. and give you suggestions on where to find others so that you have more than enough practice materials to get ready for this important college admissions test.

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What Is High School Honors? Societies and Classes

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Apr 12, 2020 7:12:00 PM

Coursework/GPA

High school honors can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes it refers to honors courses in your school. Other times it refers to specific honors societies that you can join, like the National Honor Society.

Most high schools offer classes at three different levels: standard, honors, and AP. Standard will set you up with the basics, and AP is clearly connected to the AP exam—but what exactly does it mean when a class is honors level? And are honors classes connected to the various academic honors societies?

If you are having trouble figuring out which is the right fit for you, or deciding which one would do more for your college application, or trying to make sense of the many honors organizations out there, read on for our explanation.

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How Do You Calculate Your GPA? Step-by-Step Instructions

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Feb 29, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Coursework/GPA

How exactly do you take a document that's as complicated as your transcript and shrink it all down to a single number? If you're wondering how to use the final grades you've gotten in high school to determine your GPA, then you've come to the right place. This article will show you how to make this calculation, step by step. But first, what exactly is a GPA?

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How GPA Conversion Works, With Charts

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Jan 29, 2020 1:30:00 PM

Coursework/GPA

Because final class grades in high school are usually given as either letters (A-, B+, etc.) or percents (87, 92, etc.), you might be a little stuck on how to convert these marks into the decimals that are used to calculate your GPA. No worries—this article is here to help! Keep reading to see how to translate all your grades into GPA-ready numbers.

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GPA Chart: Conversion to 4.0 Scale

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | Jan 23, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Coursework/GPA

Are you looking for an easy way to understand just how your final class grades become GPA decimals? If so, then you've come to the right article. In just two simple charts, I'll show you how this conversion works for both a weighted and unweighted GPA.

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