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

Which Schools Use the Coalition Application? Complete List

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 19, 2022 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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Writing the Why NYU Essay

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Sep 17, 2022 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

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The 15 Best Music Schools in the US

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 21, 2022 12:00:00 PM

College Admissions, College Info

Many students learn some kind of musical instrument in elementary school. Some continue through high school, and some even plan on continuing to do some kind of musical activity in college.

For a small fraction of students, though, music is not only something they want to continue studying, but it is the only thing they want to focus on studying in college.

If you're one of these students who wants to go to music school, then this article is for you. We'll go over what kind of experience you can expect to have at the best music schools and what you should look for in a top music school. We'll also introduce you to our ranking of the best music schools in the US (for undergraduates).

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Good SAT Scores: Ivy League Plus Edition

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 20, 2022 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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ACT International Test Dates Guide, 2022-2023

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 16, 2022 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 ACT testing dates are different internationally than in the US.

Find out what the ACT international test dates are for 2022 and 2023 and which dates you should choose in this article.

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Seven Sisters Colleges: Should You Go to One?

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jul 3, 2022 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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Should You Go to a Public Ivy? 5 Factors to Consider

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | May 15, 2022 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.

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What Are the Ivy League Schools' Acceptance Rates for 2022?

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | May 1, 2022 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 2026.

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

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2022 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.

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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Duke TIP SAT Score Requirements

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2022 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.

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Duke TIP ACT Score Requirements

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2022 10:30:00 AM

ACT General Info, Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

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

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Historical ACT Percentiles from 2021 to 2016

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Dec 23, 2021 4:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

Whether you're currently studying to take the ACT or took it in 2016-2021, you might be curious about how your ACT percentile compares to students who took the ACT in past years.

In this article, we'll go over what percentiles are, how percentiles work on the ACT, and why ACT percentiles matter. We also lay out ACT percentile charts for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 so you can see how your score compares to historical ACT scores.

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

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 18, 2021 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 Regents as well as the (limited) Regents testing schedule for 2022.

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What Is a Good ACT Writing Score?

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 17, 2021 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?

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Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Nov 17, 2021 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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