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Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
    (1964-1969)
  • Stanford University
    (1969-1984)
  • Princeton University
    (1988-2003)

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    (1966-1977)
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    (1977-1987)
    International Office Director
    (1987-2002)

The SAT Essay Gets A Big Yawn

Essay  News  SAT  Writing
Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep videoA recent New York Times article discusses the tendency of many colleges to ignore SAT essay scores when reviewing applications. Some colleges are even ignoring results of the Writing section completely. (Note: While it is scored separately on a 0-12 scale, the essay accounts for 30% of the Writing section’s 800 points.)

“We didn’t look at even one of the essays” or consider their scores, says Lee Stetson , dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, echoing the sentiments of colleagues at Harvard, Brown and Dartmouth.

The article bears out what I have seen on a small scale and somewhat anecdotal basis — colleges are not sure what to make of the new SAT Writing section and its 25-minute essay.

How the SAT Essay is Scored

Essay  SAT
Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep videoMany students wonder how the SAT essay can be graded consistently across tests. Certainly, they understand how a machine can read the bubbled in answers on a data sheet, but what about a hand written essay? Rest assured there is a method to the SAT’s essay madness.

Your SAT essay will be reviewed and graded by two readers. All readers are thoroughly trained before they are actually permitted to review and grade real SAT essays. Most readers are professionals with backgrounds in English, writing, composition and/or the language arts in general.

The readers use a grading rubric and sample essays to guide them in their work. As mentioned above, your essay will be reviewed by two readers. Each will grade your essay using a 1 to 6 scoring scale (more…)

SAT Vocabulary – Lesson 1

Karl Schellscheidt

free sat test video This is the first entry in a four (4) part series in which I’ll discuss the best steps to tackle the vocabulary on the SAT test. If you are anything like me, you probably scoff at the idea of looking up a new word in the dictionary when you come across it. Who has time for that? You might think you’ve heard it before, but I’ve got news for you. (more…)

Driving the SAT Essay Like a Bus

Karl Schellscheidt

free sat test videoIn this prepcast video, I tackle the SAT essay section and focus on the fundamental do’s and don’ts to maximize your score. How is the SAT essay like being a good or bad bus driver? What is the SAT essay rubric (or how the College Board scores your SAT essay)? Watch and find out…. (more…)

The Writing Section Should Be Taken Out to Pasture

Essay  SAT  Writing
Karl Schellscheidt

I still cannot figure out why the College Board added the Writing section to the SAT. I really think the members of the College Board made a bad decision. What was wrong with offering Writing as a separate SAT II for those students who were applying to schools that required it?

Furthermore, as far as I know, many competitive colleges and universities have not followed the College Board’s lead. In other words, they have not made the results of the Writing section an important part of their admissions thinking. Kudos to them.

That is, they’re not ignoring the scores but they’re also not giving them the same weight that they accord to the Critical Reading and Math sections. What we’ve been telling new-SAT takers is this: If you do well on the writing test (as you did), (more…)

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