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

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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New York State Regents Exams: What Are They? When Do You Take Them?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Dec 16, 2019 6:00:00 PM

General Education

If you're in middle school or high school in New York State, chances are that you've heard of the NYSED Regents exams. In fact, all NY public high school students have to take (and pass) a certain number of these exams to graduate from high school.

In this article, we'll discuss exactly what the Regents are and which Regents you'll need to take. We'll also give you tips on how to prep for the NYSED Regents as well as the Regents testing schedule for 2019-2020.

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Vertex Form: What Is It? How Do You Calculate It?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Dec 9, 2019 10:00:00 AM

General Education

Once you have the quadratic formula and the basics of quadratic equations down cold, it's time for the next level of your relationship with parabolas: learning about their vertex form.

Read on to learn more about the parabola vertex form and how to convert a quadratic equation from standard form to vertex form.

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What Is a Good ACT Writing Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 27, 2019 4:07:00 PM

ACT Writing

As you study for the ACT, it's easy enough to calculate your ACT composite target score. But where does your essay score fit into all this? What’s a good ACT Writing score? Read on to find out how to figure it out!

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What's an Average ACT Writing Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 27, 2019 1:22:00 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.

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What Is The Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search, and Why Do It?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 13, 2019 5:30:00 PM

Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

What is the Duke TIP, and what is the 7th Grade Talent Search? In this article, I'll be writing about the Duke Talent Identification Program, also known as Duke TIP, also known as the Duke TIP Program. The Duke TIP is a conglomeration of multiple subprograms, one of which is the 7th Grade Talent Search.

While you can find all the information about it on Duke's own website, as I did, the information is spread out and a little tricky to track down (hence the confused panda at the top of this article). For your convenience, I've compiled everything here into one magnificent blog post/guide. I recommend reading it all the way through, but if you only want to read one particular section, you can pick and choose from the Table of Contents.

A disclaimer: I've done a lot of linking in this article to the Duke TIP website, and while all links and information were correct (to the best of my knowledge) at the time of this article's publication, things may have changed since then.

Now that that's out of the way, let's dive into the Duke TIP and the 7th Grade Talent Search!

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Historical SAT Percentiles: New SAT 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 6, 2019 12:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

If you took the new SAT in 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019, you might be wondering what percentile your score is in. Is a 700 on Math in 2016 the same as a 700 in Math in 2019? How much do percentile scores change from year to year?

In this article, I'll explain what new SAT percentile scores are and how they've changed over time. I'll also provide percentiles for SAT combined and section scores for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

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What Is CTY at Johns Hopkins? Complete Guide

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 6, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

CTY, or Center for Talented Youth, at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) offers an assortment of resources to gifted students. These resources include summer programs and courses, written resources, community awards/recognition, and college counseling.

The first step to many of the CTY programs is registering for the Talent Search. Even the programs that are open to everyone give priority to students who participated in the Talent Search. For your convenience, we've compiled everything here into one magnificent blog entry guide. I recommend reading it all the way through, but if you only want to read one particular section, you can pick it out from the Table of Contents.

I'll start off by going in depth into the Talent Search and then mention other programs along with links if you want more information than I give in this article.

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CTY SAT Score Requirements

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 6, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

You've decided that you want to take part in the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University. Good for you! Having made this decision, however, you probably have some questions about test score requirements. Do you have to take the SAT to apply for CTY or its programs? What does taking the SAT qualify you for, and how well do you have to do on it?

I'll answer all these questions, and even manage to squeeze in an example from Shakespeare, if you'll just read on.

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What's the Average SAT Essay Score?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 6, 2019 12:00:00 AM

SAT Essay

You've gotten back your SAT scores. On your score report, there's information about how you did on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math, compared to students in 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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SAT Standard Deviation: What Does It Mean for You?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 29, 2019 12:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

If you've ever glanced through any of the year-end College Board data reports, you may have seen information about the SAT standard deviation. Unfortunately, the reports just list the numbers and then move on, without explaining at all what these numbers mean.

So how is info about the SAT mean and standard deviation useful to you? In this article, we’ll explain what the term standard deviation refers to and what it means for you and your SAT score.

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What Are the Ivy League Schools' Acceptance Rates for 2019?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 22, 2019 12:00:00 PM

College Admissions, College Info

The eight schools in the Ivy League are among the most well-known and selective universities both within the US and in the world at large. Because of this, Ivy League (and similarly selective non-Ivy) schools have tens of thousands of students from whom to choose their class of 2024.

But what are Ivy League schools' acceptance rates, and how have those rates changed over time? In this analysis, we'll look at Ivy League admissions, from the number of applicants to the number of students who ultimately end up attending.

In addition to the eight Ivy League schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn, and Yale), we'll also consider eight equally selective non-Ivy League national universities: Caltech, Duke, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Northwestern, Stanford, UChicago, and Vanderbilt.

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Which Schools Use the Coalition Application? Complete List

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 8, 2019 12:00:00 PM

College Info

Ah, October. The changing of the leaves, the onset of autumn allergies...and the knowledge for high school seniors that slowly but surely, college application deadlines are drawing ever nearer.

If you're applying to schools in the U.S., you've probably heard of the Common App before, but you may not know about the relatively new Coalition Application.

The Coalition Application works pretty much the same way as the Common App—it's an online application that you only have to fill out once (aside from supplements for certain schools). This centralized application system is a big time saver if you're applying to multiple Coalition Application schools.

To help you figure out if you can use the Coalition Application for the schools on your college wishlist, we've listed all the current Coalition Application schools in this article, broken down by state.

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The 25 Best Engineering Schools in the US (and How to Get In)

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 8, 2019 12:00:00 PM

College Info

Do you dream of building driverless cars or a space elevator? You should check out the best engineering schools in the US!

But with so many different engineering schools out there and intense competition for the top programs, how can you figure out where should you apply? To help you decide, we’ve compiled a list of the best engineering schools in the US. We’ll explain a little bit about each school on the list as well as provide rankings within specific subfields of engineering.

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Good SAT Scores: Ivy League Plus Edition

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 25, 2019 6:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target

Setting a target SAT score to aim for is important, but what if you want to shoot for the moon and get an Ivy League-caliber SAT score? Read on to find out what SAT scores Ivy League Plus schools require.

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