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

What Are the Ivy League Schools' Acceptance Rates for 2018?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 12, 2018 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 and outside of the U.S. Because of this, Ivy League (and similarly selective non-Ivy) schools have tens of thousands of students from whom to choose their class of 2023.

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.

Read More

 

Which Schools Use the Coalition Application? Complete List

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Oct 9, 2018 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.

Read More

 

Writing the Why NYU Essay

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 27, 2018 12:00:00 PM

College Essays

If you're applying to New York University, you'll need to submit both the regular Common App materials as well as the NYU supplement, which includes a short essay. At its heart, the NYU essay prompt asks you to answer a single straightforward question: why do you want to go to NYU?

In this article, we'll fully analyze the "Why NYU?" essay prompt and what successful essays need to accomplish. We'll also go over potential topics to write about and look at the essay that got me into NYU's College of Arts and Science.

First, however, we'll begin with a quick discussion of why schools ask students to write "why this school?" essays

Read More

 

What's a Good PSAT Score for 2018?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 24, 2018 12:00:00 PM

PSAT Info and Strategies

The 2018 PSAT is coming up in mid-to-late October, and scores should come out by mid-December.

When you get your score report, you'll see a bunch of different kinds of scores, including your total score (out of 1520), your section scores (out of 760), and your Selection Index (out of 228).

Sorting through all of this data to figure out what's a good PSAT score can be tricky, so we've written this guide to understanding your PSAT score report. We'll begin with a quick run-through of the different types of PSAT scores, then get into how you can figure out how your score compares to that of other students.

Read More

 

How To Attack Paired Passages in SAT Reading

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 20, 2018 6:00:00 PM

SAT Reading

Answering questions on multiple passages is a little different from answering questions on just one passage. Some of the same advice is still applicable, but there are strategies specific to multipassage questions as well. I’ll go over the different topics you might see covered in paired passages on the SAT as well as giving strategies for paired passage questions.

Read More

 

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

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 13, 2018 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.

Read More

 

SAT Standard Deviation: What Does It Mean for You?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 11, 2018 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.

Read More

 

Should You Prep for the PSAT? 3 Reasons Why

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 10, 2018 12:00:00 PM

PSAT Info and Strategies

Even if prepping for the SAT or ACT isn't the most enjoyable of activities, it's easy to see why it's important to do well on these tests. Depending on your point of view, SAT and ACT scores are either tools that colleges use to help figure out if you're a good match for them and if you'll succeed at their schools...or are admissions gatekeepers that you have to conquer if you want to attend most American colleges*.

By contrast, PSAT scores are never seen by colleges. Even if you get a perfect score on the PSAT, it's really only useful for helping you qualify for a National Merit Scholarship—something that only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for.

So why prep for the PSAT, and what do you need to know about PSAT prep if you're interested in trying it out? Keep reading to find out more about the pros and cons of focused PSAT prep (rather than joint PSAT/SAT prep) and what our PSAT prep recommendations are.

 

Read More

 

The Ultimate SAT Essay Study Guide: Tips and Review

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 30, 2018 12:00:00 PM

SAT Essay


We've written the best guide to the SAT essay available anywhere.

To craft this guide, we have carefully read all official material available on the SAT essay from the College Board and read the best SAT books we could find and extracted the most important things you need to know to succeed on the essay section. Based on this research, we're confident that this is the most complete and comprehensive resource available for the SAT essay.

This guide gets deep into every aspect of the SAT essay, from the rubric to prompts to the nuts and bolts of how to write a high-scoring essay. You'll learn the best tips and strategies to use to maximize the value of your SAT essay practice as well as how much time to devote to prepping for the essay.

If you're looking for a comprehensive guide to SAT essay and how to improve your SAT essay scores, this guide is invaluable. Rather than trying to put all the information we've distilled into one long article, we've created this multi-sectioned guide to serve as a table of contents to each of our more in-depth articles.

We'll start by taking a high-level look at the importance of the SAT essay to colleges and which schools care about your SAT essay score. The next section delves into more of the details of the SAT essay prompt and rubric and outlines step-by-step how to write a perfect-scoring SAT essay. Finally, the third part of this guide takes you through tips and strategies to use with the SAT essay.

We suggest reading through this guide in order your first time through, as you would any other test prep resource. Alternatively, if you're just looking for a refresher on certain areas, you can use this guide as a reference you can jump around in as needed.

Read More

 

Should You Go to a Public Ivy? 5 Factors to Consider

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 16, 2018 12:00:00 PM

College Info

Most people have heard of the illustrious eight private schools that make up the Ivy League. But what about high-quality public universities, or "Public Ivy League" schools? Are there any public schools out there that can match the caliber of top private schools?

Find out what the Public Ivies are and why you should consider applying to them.

Read More

 

Seven Sisters Colleges: Should You Go to One?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 15, 2018 11:00:00 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.

Read More

 

Duke TIP SAT Score Requirements

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 9, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

Perhaps you’ve read our article about Duke’s Talent Identification Program (TIP), maybe you’ve heard about it from other students, or maybe you did your own research. You've heard vague hints of "score requirements," but don't know exactly what that means - do you have to take the SAT in order to take part in TIP? How well do you have to do on the SAT in order to become a TIPster? (I refuse to believe that students who participate in TIP do not go by this name.)

There are SAT (or ACT) score requirements for the Duke TIP: specifically, there are score requirements for Summer Studies programs and eStudies courses. I'm going to cover this complicated topic in exhaustive detail, explaining what the programs are, what the SAT score requirements are, and giving you some tips on how to meet these requirements.

Read More

 

Duke TIP ACT Score Requirements

Maybe you’ve read our article about Duke’s Talent Identification Program (TIP), maybe you’ve heard about it from other students, or maybe you did your own research. You've heard vague hints of "score requirements," but don't know exactly what that means—do you have to take the ACT in order to take part in TIP? How well do you have to do on the ACT in order to become a TIPster? (I refuse to believe that students who participate in TIP do not go by this name.)

There are ACT (or SAT) score requirements for the Duke TIP: specifically, there are score requirements for Summer Studies programs and eStudies courses. I'm going to cover this complicated topic in exhaustive detail, explaining what the programs are, what the ACT score requirements are, and giving you some tips on how to meet these requirements. These requirements all refer to the regular ACT, not the ACT Aspire or ACT EXPLORE.

Feature image credit: Ilyse Whitney/Flickr
Read More

 

The Ultimate SAT Spanish Subject Test Study Guide

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 2, 2018 12:00:00 PM

SAT Subject Tests

Applying to highly selective schools often means submitting SAT Subject Test scores along with your regular SAT or ACT scores. Si español es pan comido para usted, then taking the SAT Spanish Subject Test is a great way to fulfill part of the subject test requirement.

Read this guide to learn more about what’s on the SAT Spanish Subject Test and whether or not you should take it. We’ll go over format, test content, where to find good practice material, and tips to help you when studying and taking the test.

Read More

 

Good SAT Scores: Ivy League Plus Edition

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 1, 2018 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.

Read More

 

You should definitely follow us on social media. You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed. Follow us on all 3 of our social networks:

Twitter and Google+



Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!