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

The Complete List of the 25 CUNY Colleges

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Feb 14, 2020 2:00:00 PM

College Info

The City University of New York system is the lesser-known member of New York State's public university system. Unlike New York's SUNY colleges and universities, however, all the CUNY schools are located in NYC.

In this article, we'll go over a list of CUNY schools in NYC and CUNY locations along with what to consider when choosing which CUNYs to apply to.

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Should You Go to a Women's College?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Feb 6, 2020 12:00:00 PM

College Admissions, College Info

Many people are familiar with the idea of all-girls' schools for elementary, middle, and high school, but did you know there are also women-only colleges?

In this article, we discuss what women's colleges are and why you'd want to apply to them. We'll also go over the top 17 women's colleges in the US and explain why these schools made the cut.

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Seven Sisters Colleges: Should You Go to One?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Feb 2, 2020 12:00:00 AM

College Admissions, College Info

If you're looking at applying to elite liberal arts colleges, you've probably come across the Seven Sisters schools. But what schools are Seven Sisters colleges, and what makes them so special?

In this article, we explain what the Seven Sisters schools are, which of them still exist, and which of them are still all-women's colleges. I'll also use my expertise as an alum of a Seven Sisters school to break down what the benefits are of applying to a Seven Sisters school and five tips for getting admitted.

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ACT International Test Dates Guide, 2020-2021

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Feb 1, 2020 3:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

When are the ACT international test dates? If you're an international student thinking about taking the ACT, you might be surprised to learn that the dates the ACT is offered on are different internationally than in the US. 

Find out what the ACT international test dates are for 2020 and 2021 and which dates you should choose in this article.

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Best Abigail Williams Analysis - The Crucible

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 28, 2020 9:57:00 AM

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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The Ultimate Prep Guide to ACT Reading: Strategies, Tips, and Practice

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 21, 2020 9:00:00 AM

ACT Reading

This is the best study guide to ACT Reading out there.

No kidding, no exaggerating, and no doubt about it. We've read many ACT prep books, studied ACT, Inc’s resources, and taken the best aspects of each to combine into this magnificent patchwork quilt of a guide. Each question type is covered in detail, organized not by how the questions are asked, but by the essential underlying skills the questions are testing. We cover the best ACT reading tips and strategies and how to get the most out of your ACT Reading practice and prep.

Looking for a comprehensive guide to ACT Reading and how to improve your ACT Reading score? Want to master the important concepts, grapple with practice questions from ACTual (I will probably never stop doing this) ACT Reading tests, and make sure you're taking the most away from questions you miss? This is the ACT study guide that will help you improve your ACT Reading score dramatically by focusing on all those areas (and more!).

I've divided this guide into three sections, based on level of information. We'll start with understanding the ACT Reading section at a high level, move on to the ACT reading test and the different question types therein (divided by the underlying skills that are tested), and end with study plans and how to maximize your study time for score improvement.

I suggest reading all of the articles below in order to start off, then using this guide as a reference page to come back to as you progress in your test prep.

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(Updated) ACT Essay Scoring: Completely Explained

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 19, 2020 9:00:00 AM

ACT Writing

It's finally that day you've circled on your calendar—the day when ACT essay 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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How To Attack ACT Essay Prompts and Raise Your Score

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 18, 2020 9:30:00 PM

ACT Writing

The update to the ACT Writing test has many students confused about how best to prepare. With so much more information to read before you start writing, the ACT essay's got to be more complicated right? Nope, not necessarily. Join me as I journey deep into the land of ACT essay prompts.

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How Does ACT Essay Length Affect Your Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 16, 2020 8:00:00 PM

ACT Writing

There's not a whole lot of information out there on how essay length affects ACT Writing scoring. Are longer essays better? But the essay scoring rubric doesn't say anything about essay length, so maybe it doesn't matter? Fear not—your questions will be answered in this article.

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Most Important Quotes From The Crucible, Analyzed

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 14, 2020 5:00:00 PM

Book Guides

The Crucible is four acts of tight dialogue and 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, explaining both their literal meaning and why they're important. For clarity, the quotes are grouped into four themes: irony, fear and hysteria, pride and reputation, and power and authority. Each section also includes additional quotes that fall under the same general theme for you to practice analyzing on your own.

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105 Creative Writing Prompts to Try Out

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 14, 2020 1:00:00 PM

General Education

The most common advice out there for being a writer is, "if you want to write, write." While this is true (and good advice), it's not always that easy, particularly if you're not writing regularly.

Whether you're looking for help getting started on your next project, or just want to spend 20 minutes being creative, writing prompts are great ways to rev up your imagination. Read on for our list of over 100 creative writing prompts!

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The Ultimate ACT Writing Study Guide: Tips, Strategies, and Practice

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 14, 2020 12:00:00 PM

ACT Writing


We've written the best study guide to ACT Writing section and the ACT essay available anywhere.

This is a bold statement, but it's not an exaggeration. We have read many, many different ACT prep books and thoroughly studied ACT, Inc's resources. Based on our research, we believe that this guide is the best resource available by far for ACT Writing.

In this guide, we cover each aspect of the ACT essay in detail, from what kinds of prompts you'll be asked to write about to the essential underlying skills the essay prompt is testing. You'll learn the best ACT writing tips and strategies as well as how to get the most out of ACT writing practice and prep.

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ACT Writing Tips: 15 Strategies to Raise Your Essay Score

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 13, 2020 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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ACT Essay Format and Templates You Can Use

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 13, 2020 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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How to Get a Perfect 12 on the ACT Writing Essay

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 12, 2020 2:58:00 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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