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
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

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
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

Tips for Acing CR and Writing

Guest Columnist -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.com4 Tips to Ace Your SAT Verbal and Writing

Every kid has nightmares about facing the SAT exams, one of the hurdles to their progress to a good college. Enough cannot be said about the importance of these tests, so it is imperative that preparation is thorough, because only with intensive study and planned strategy can you ace the SATs. Most students find it hard to score high marks on the verbal and writing portions; although mathematics is difficult, it can be aced if you study diligently. With the essay, sentence completion and other parts of the verbal and writing tests, you never know how you’re going to be judged, so the best you can do is prepare as well as you can by:

Starting young: The SATs may come into your life only when you graduate from high school, but that’s no reason to wait till your senior year to prepare for them. In fact, the groundwork for the SATs has to begin when you’re old enough to understand how important these exams are in your life. If you practice improving your vocabulary and reading as a daily habit right from the time you can read, you’re going to have an edge over the competition when you take the SATs.

Reading the right kind of books: It’s not enough that you read; what’s more important is that you read the right kind of books. There are some authors who improve your English and vocabulary and entertain as well, so make sure you include their books as part of your education. While your interest may lie with popular best sellers, you must make an effort to get through and enjoy books that are known to have words that are commonly found in SAT vocabulary questions, like Brian Aldiss, Kim Stanley Robinson, Vladimir Nabokov and K.W. Jeter.

Improving your handwriting: You’re going to have to write the essay using pen and paper, without the help of a word processor. So work on writing a few pages everyday so that your handwriting is neat and presentable even when you’re writing at top speed. You also need to be able to write a complete essay without your fingers cramping or your writing going awry.

Improving your presentation: You need to work on your presentation skills and learn how to use intelligent quotations in your essay, understand how to split it into paragraphs, and most important of all, know how to organize your thoughts and put them down in a cohesive format, one that flows from beginning to end and makes sense.

Remember, acing the SATs is a task that’s all in the mind. If you train yourself to think positively, you’re definitely going to be able to do well.


This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of engineering degree online at her blog The Engineering A Better World Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

New WordSmith High Score

Karl Schellscheidt -

I just wanted to congratulate minireb123, along with mickhick and Luo, for their amazingly high (i.e., sick!) WordSmith Challenge scores. Over the winter holidays this year, I promise to clean up the WordSmith database in order to remove all minor glitches in the Challenge. In the meantime, I hope ePrep visitors continue to have fun with the WordSmith Challenge as they work to develop (and show off) their “large and varied working vocabularies.”

Shermaine G.

Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoAll of us at ePrep are thoroughly impressed with the new WordSmith Challenge top score. Shermaine G. appears to have what the College Board calls “a large and varied working vocabulary.” Not only are we convinced that Shemaine will do well on the CR section of the SAT, but we are also convinced that her verbal skills will help her succeed in college and life beyond.

Please tell us your secret, Shermaine.

WordSmith Challenge High Score

Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep video“jendend” just upped the ante with 103,500. (Sick score.) Did she stop intentionally or loose her last life due to exhaustion?

WordSmith Challenge

Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep video“bertthehurt” has set an incredibly high bar for ePrep’s WordSmith Challenge. Great job! If no one beats the new high score within the next week or so, we may have to retire it, . . . so others feel like they have a chance.

Take the WordSmith Vocabulary Challenge!

Eric Barnes -

It’s time to have fun with SAT vocabulary. Last night we launched the “WordSmith Challenge” vocabulary game on ePrep. This addictive game tests your knowledge of common SAT vocabulary words in a fun, simple and competitive quiz. You can check out WordSmith Challenge by clicking on the “Vocabulary” tab above or simply here. WordSmith Challenge is an extension of our full WordSmith Vocabulary Builder which is included in all our ePrep for the SAT programs (including the free ePrep Express).

We often talk about the “long ramp” required to master vocabulary. Essentially, the argument is that unlike math or critical reading, where you can short-cut your knowledge in preparation for the SAT, vocabulary requires consistent and progressive focus over time. You cannot simply master 2000 common SAT vocabulary words in a few weeks or months. However, you can start your long ramp now and easily pick up 3 to 5 new words a day, thereby expanding your vocabulary by 1,000 to 1,500 words in only a year. Take a look at ePrep’s previous posts on SAT vocabulary:

Complete list of ePrep posts on Vocabulary

And somebody please knock me off the leaderboard of WordSmith Challenge!

2007 PSAT Scores - SAT Vocabulary

PSAT   Vocabulary   SAT
Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep video Within the next ten days, juniors will be getting their 2007 PSAT scores back. Some students and their parents will be sorely disappointed. Trust me; it happens every year. They will be completely dumbfounded. How can a student with a GPA (grade point average) above 3.5, score below the 70th percentile on the PSAT? It just doesn’t make sense.

Parent Response Options: (1) my child is simply not a good standardized test-taker, and there is nothing we can do about it; (2) the SAT is a flawed test, and my child is perfect; once colleges discover these truths, they will disregard his/her scores completely; (3) my child should definitely take the ACT; I heard that it’s easier and that it doesn’t require preparation; (4) preparing for the SAT the “right” way will be challenging, but ulitmately rewarding.

My thoughts on the parent response options above are briefly as follows: (more…)

SAT Essay Rubric - Sentence Structure

Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoThis entry is the fourth of five video posts dedicated to explaining the 5 different categories of the SAT essay grading rubric - or scoring guide. In this entry Karl talks about Sentence Structure.


SAT Essay Rubric - Use of Language

Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoThis entry is the third of 5 video posts dedicated to explaining the 5 different categories of the SAT essay grading rubric - or scoring guide. In this entry you’ll find out how essay graders view your choice of vocabulary words.


SAT Vocabulary Building Options

News   Vocabulary   Reading   SAT
Michelle Hartwell -

eprep test prep videoSAT Vocabulary Building Manga?

For SAT students that dread traditional vocabulary building techniques but love manga media, there is a new product on the market — the manga graphic novel edited to contain SAT vocabulary words. Take a popular fantasy book, rewrite it a bit to include SAT required vocabulary words and you have an academic twist on a manga story. (more…)

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