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Melissa Brinks

Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

Recent Posts

What Does "Veni Vidi Vici" Mean? Why Do People Say It?

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Jul 15, 2019 6:00:00 PM

General Education

Veni, vidi, vici. You’ve probably heard the phrase—or its English counterpart, “I came, I saw, I conquered”—before. But where did such a phrase come from? Why are people still saying it today?

In this article, we’ll cover what the expression means, its historical context, and why it’s still commonly said today.


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What Is Statistical Significance? How Is It Calculated?

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Jul 7, 2019 7:00:00 PM

General Education

If you've ever read a wild headline like, "Study Shows Chewing Rocks Prevents Cancer," you've probably wondered how that could be possible. If you look closer at this type of article you may find that the sample size for the study was a mere handful of people. If one person in a group of five chewed rocks and didn't get cancer, does that mean chewing rocks prevented cancer?

Definitely not. The study for such a conclusion doesn't have statistical significance—though the study was performed, its conclusions don't really mean anything because the sample size was small.

So what is statistical significance, and how do you calculate it? In this article, we'll cover what it is, when it's used, and go step-by-step through the process of determining if an experiment is statistically significant on your own.


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The 20 Poetic Devices You Must Know

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Jul 5, 2019 3:00:00 PM

General Education

Looking to spice up your writing? Poetic devices are the salt and pepper (and, if you get really into them, the saffron and caraway) of writing; when deployed effectively, they add flavor and texture to your work.

But what is a poetic device? Do they only work in poetry? In this article, we’ll cover what they are, when you can use them, and how to better understand their function in any literary form!


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3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Jun 17, 2019 3:00:00 PM

General Education

A narrative essay is one of the most intimidating assignments you can be handed at any level of your education. Where you've previously written argumentative essays that make a point or analytic essays that dissect meaning, a narrative essay asks you to write what is effectively a story.

But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif—a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout. Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.

But not to fear—in this article, we’ll be covering what a narrative essay is, how to write a good one, and also analyzing some personal narrative essay examples to show you what a great one looks like.


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50 Great Argumentative Essay Topics for Any Assignment

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Jun 11, 2019 8:00:00 AM

General Education

At some point, you’re going to be asked to write an argumentative essay. An argumentative essay is exactly what it sounds like—an essay in which you’ll be making an argument, using examples and research to back up your point.

But not all argumentative essay topics are created equal. Not only do you have to structure your essay right to have a good impact on the reader, but even your choice of subject can impact how readers feel about your work.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of writing argumentative essays, including what argumentative essays are, how to write a good one, and how to pick a topic that works for you. Then check out a list of argumentative essay ideas to help you get started.


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The 9 Most Common Shapes and How to Identify Them

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Jun 10, 2019 1:00:00 PM

General Education

You’ve probably learned a lot about shapes without ever really thinking about what they are. But understanding what a shape is is incredibly handy when comparing it to other geometric figures, such as planes, points, and lines.

In this article, we’ll cover what exactly a shape is, as well as a bunch of common shapes, what they look like, and the major formulas associated with them.


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Announcing Accepted - The PrepScholar College Admissions Podcast

Posted by Melissa Brinks | May 16, 2019 1:27:52 PM

College Admissions

If you love our strategy guides, we have great news: PrepScholar is launching a college admissions podcast! It's hosted by PrepScholar co-founder and Harvard grad Allen Cheng and writer Melissa Brinks.

Download our podcast now at iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and Libsyn (or wherever you get your podcasts).

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What Is the Specific Heat of Water? How Is It Special?

Posted by Melissa Brinks | May 15, 2019 2:00:00 PM

General Education

If you’ve ever walked along a beach on a sunny day and dipped your toes in the water to cool them off after the hot sand, you’ve taken advantage of the specific heat of water.

Despite how it may sound, specific heat doesn’t refer to the exact temperature of something. It’s a larger scientific concept that has to do with the energy it takes to heat a substance up. As you might have noticed from the example, not all substances warm up at the same rate—hence the different temperatures of the sand and water.

Water’s specific heat is one of its most interesting characteristics. In this article, we’ll be covering what specific heat is, what equation you use to find specific heat, and why water’s specific heat is so high.

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How to Say Good Morning in French Correctly

Posted by Melissa Brinks | May 14, 2019 3:00:00 PM

General Education

Who hasn’t dreamed of having breakfast in an adorable French cafe, dipping a croissant into a delicious coffee, and chatting with a new friend over pastries? Only—quelle horreur!—when you go to greet your friend, you suddenly can’t remember how to say “good morning” in French.

In this article, we’ll cover not only how to say “good morning” in French, but how to address the greeting to different people, and even how to say goodbye.

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How to Add and Subtract Fractions: 3 Simple Steps

Posted by Melissa Brinks | May 2, 2019 2:00:00 PM

General Education

Adding and subtracting fractions can look intimidating at first glance. Not only are you working with fractions, which are notoriously confusing, but suddenly you have to contend with converting numerators and denominators, too.

But adding and subtracting fractions is a useful skill. Once you know the vocabulary and the basics, you’ll be adding and subtracting fractions with ease. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know for adding and subtracting fractions, including some example problems to test your skills.

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4 Popular Camel Spider Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Apr 3, 2019 7:00:00 PM

General Education

You’ve no doubt seen pictures of camel spiders before, usually accompanied by a story about deadly bites, camel eating, or chasing people across the desert. Thanks to chain letters, camel spiders have a reputation as being fearsome, terrifying predators—but is that warranted?

In this article, we’ll be covering the facts and fictions of camel spiders, including where they’re found and what they eat, as well as some biological information about how camel spiders fit into their environment. Read on to learn more about camel spiders!

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What Is Muriatic Acid? Is It Dangerous?

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Apr 1, 2019 7:00:00 PM

General Education

Acids get a bad rap—when we hear the word, we often picture some kind of vat of flesh-eating, lime-green liquid. But acids of all kinds, including muriatic acid, have tons of practical uses, and not just for super villains! Homeowners, leatherworkers, and even the pearl industry use muriatic acid on a daily basis.

This guide will cover what muriatic acid is, some common uses for it, and how to handle it safely.

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How Many Seconds Are There in a Day? A Week? A Year?

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Apr 1, 2019 4:00:00 PM

General Education

Ever wondered how many seconds there are in a day? How about a week? A year? Thanks to Rent, we might know the number of minutes in a year (525,600), but how many seconds is that?

Whether you’re trying to get even more granular about how you measure a year or you’re just trying to figure out how many seconds are left until summer vacation, this guide will teach you how many seconds are in a day, a week, a year, and beyond. Not only will we teach you how to calculate these problems, but we’ll also give you a handy chart to keep track of them.

Read on to find out how to swap one unit of time for another!

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Who Is Aleister Crowley? The Truth About His Life and Work

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Mar 26, 2019 3:00:00 PM

General Education

The name “Crowley” has become synonymous with occultism, magic, and secret societies—but who was the man behind it all? Who was Aleister Crowley, really, and why has his name come to be synonymous with esoteric writings?

In this article, we’ll discuss who Crowley was, including his life story, the many controversies he inspired, his connection with the occult, and all his famous writings. If you’ve ever wondered about the inspiration behind characters like Supernatural or Good Omens’ famed demons, it all comes back to one famed occultist.

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2 Tricks for Remembering Greater Than and Less Than Signs

Posted by Melissa Brinks | Mar 3, 2019 1:00:00 PM

General Education

What do those little sideways carat symbols mean? They're inequalities! Inequalities can be difficult to get a handle on, especially because the greater than and less than signs look so similar. But these symbols are very useful, because they help us show the relationship between numbers or equations in a way that doesn't just say that they're equal.

In this article, we’ll be talking about what inequalities are, how they’re represented, and how to remember which sign means what.
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