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

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

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | May 23, 2021 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

 

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

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | May 15, 2021 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!

Read More

 

Duke TIP SAT Score Requirements

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | May 15, 2021 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

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | May 15, 2021 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

Read More

 

The Most Reliable SAT Essay Template and Format

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Apr 15, 2021 6:00:00 PM

SAT Writing

Aside from the “grid in” math questions, all you have to do for most of the SAT is answer multiple choice questions.

And then, if you've chosen to take it, there's the essay. Or, more accurately, "To finish up, there's the essay." Because the last thing you'll do on the SAT (with Essay) is read a passage and write an essay analyzing its argument, all in 50 minutes.

How can you even begin to read a passage, analyze it, and write an essay about it in 50 minutes? What SAT essay structure should you follow? Is there an SAT essay format that’ll score you a top score for sure? Read on to find out the answers to these questions!

Read More

 

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

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 29, 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 NYSED Regents as well as the (limited) Regents testing schedule for 2021.

Read More

 

New SAT Essay Prompts: How Are They Changing?

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2021 9:00:00 PM

SAT Writing, New SAT

The CollegeBoard has once again completely revamped the SAT — the changes debuted in March 2016 (tests can have debuts right? Right). We have an overview about all of the changes that have been made, but how do the changes apply to the SAT essay questions in particular? Read on to find out more about the new SAT Writing prompts.

Read More

 

How Does SAT Essay Length Affect Your Score?

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2021 8:30:00 PM

SAT Writing

True or False: Since essay length is not mentioned in the SAT essay grading rubric, it doesn’t matter how much you write in your essay.

Answer: True...but also false. Read on for an explanation of why and how the length of your SAT essay can affect your score.

Read More

 

What Is A Good SAT Essay Score?

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2021 10:30:00 AM

SAT Writing

SAT Essay scoring can be tricky to figure out. Maybe you've already created target goals for your SAT score, following our guide, so you at least have that score goal set.

But where does your essay score fit into all this? What is a good SAT essay score? This article will answer those questions.

Note: The information in this article is for the old (pre-March-2016) SAT essay, which was scored out of 12 and part of the Writing section. Scores for the March 2016 SAT were only released May 10th, 2016, which means that data on percentiles and averages aren't going to be available for a while yet. We'll update this article as soon as the information comes out.

Read More

 

How To Attack SAT Essay Prompts and Raise Your Score

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2021 9:00:00 AM

SAT Writing

The SAT essay is very different from any essay you’ll be asked to write in school. One key part of mastering the SAT Writing section is understanding how SAT essay prompts are structured. Join me as I (figuratively) dissect an SAT Writing essay prompt!

Read More

 

SAT Essay Strategies from Real SAT Essay Graders

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2021 8:30:00 AM

SAT Writing

If you've spent any time doing SAT prep, you probably are familiar with what it’s like to write an SAT essay. But what’s it like to be an SAT essay grader? Find out what essay graders look for, what the essay grading job involves, and effective SAT essay tips you should use as a result of this information as I bring you...insights from real SAT essay graders.

Note: The information in this article is for the old (pre-March-2016) SAT essay, which was scored out of 12 and part of the Writing section. Because the new SAT essay has been administered (and graded) so few times, there's not much information out there yet about the grading process for the new essay. We'll update this article as soon as the information comes out.

Read More

 

Why You Shouldn't Copy Skeleton Templates for the SAT/ACT Essay

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2021 8:30:00 AM

SAT Writing, ACT Writing

Creating your own essay skeleton can go a long way towards helping you prepare for the SAT or ACT essay. Having an essay template ready to go before you take the test can reduce feelings of panic, since it allows you to control at least some of the unknowns of a free-response question. It can even be helpful to look at other people’s essay skeletons to get an idea what your own essay template should look like.

But when does using an essay skeleton go from a great idea to a huge mistake? Keep reading to find out.

Read More

 

SAT Essay Scoring: The Real Story

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 15, 2021 8:00:00 AM

SAT Writing

It's 17-19 days after your SAT test date, so you log into the CollegeBoard website, eager to see how you did. You look at your essay score and see...“9.”

You check for more detail in your score report and see that Grader 1 gave you a 5, Grader 2 gave you a 4...and that's it.

So how are SAT essays graded, and how can you use this information to your advantage? Read on to find out!

Read More

 

What You Must Know About Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Feb 7, 2021 4:38:00 PM

Miscellaneous

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is one of the most iconic pieces of Western classical music. The arpeggiated, fantasy-like beginning of the first movement in particular has made its way into the collective cultural musical knowledge. But what should you know about the Moonlight Sonata? Read on to find out!

Read More

 

Historical ACT Percentiles for 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016

author image
Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 1, 2021 4:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

Whether you're currently studying to take the ACT or took it in 2016-2020, 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, and 2020 so you can see how your score compares to historical ACT scores.

Read More

 

Student and Parent Forum

Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub.PrepScholar.com, allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers.

Join the Conversation

Ask a Question Below

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