How to Turn Your Top SAT/ACT Score into a Scholarship

Education is expensive. Collectively, Americans spent almost four hundred billion dollars in the 2010–2011 academic year alone and with college tuition only getting more expensive, you can just imagine what that number looks like today. So, when it comes to tutoring and test prep, the added expense might not seem so appealing. However, what you may not know is that earning that higher score on the SAT or ACT can actually pay for itself. Here’s how:

1. National Merit Scholarships

The National Merit Scholarship Program awards scholarships to the top PSAT scorers in each state. Every year, some 50,000 students are recognized and 7,500 are awarded one of three scholarships: a one-time payment of $2,500, a corporate-sponsored scholarship, or a college-sponsored scholarship. By listing a college as their top choice through National Merit, a finalist can be awarded up to a full-ride scholarship by that school if selected to attend. Baylor University, Drexel University, and the University of Mississippi are just some of the schools offering full-tuition scholarships through National Merit.

2. Automated Scholarships

There are many colleges that offer guaranteed scholarships to accepted students with exceptional test scores. The amount awarded differs from school to school, so be sure to check with the admissions office at any university to which you are considering applying. They should be able to tell you if there’s a deadline for consideration, as well as the amount offered per score range.

3. Outside Scholarships

Though outside scholarships may sometimes be designated for students accepted to a particular school, they are not awarded by the school and may require a separate application. There are many of these that are merit-based and focus on SAT or ACT scores. For example, the Flinn Foundation Scholarship awards a full-ride scholarship to Arizona residents who plan to attend one of the state’s public universities. A minimum score of 29 on the ACT or 1300 on the SAT is required to be considered. A quick google search can provide many more scholarship opportunities for top scoring students.

Improving your score on the SAT or ACT can be beneficial for many reasons, not least of which being the sense of pride our students always experience when their hard work pays off (check out our Student of the Month series for some success stories!). Receiving a higher score on an exam can take as little as six weeks of extra preparation and can result in thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Financial aid packages can also be increased based on merit (why wouldn’t you want as much free money as possible?). No matter the student, a little hard work and dedication to improving their score will always pay off.


By: Emily Sahli, Staff Writer, Curvebreakers


Curvebreakers’ Student of the Month series features students who go above and beyond to achieve outstanding results. They take full advantage of everything Curvebreakers has to offer by improving their scores, being accepted to top schools, or receiving exceptional scholarships. We recognize them to inspire all Curvebreakers students to reach for their dreams! Our Student of the Month for February 2018 is Caroline K., who increased her ACT 7 points. Great job, Caroline!


Caroline is a Senior at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, NY

CURVEBREAKERS TEST PREP: What were your thoughts on the ACT before you took it the first time?
CAROLINE: I was a little afraid. But there’s a challenge in everything so you just have to take it with a grain of salt and just go for it.

CTP: What was your score the first time you took a practice ACT?
C: I got a 24.

CTP: What did you think immediately after taking your first practice ACT?
C: I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know the scoring or the timing, but I didn’t think it was that bad. When I got the score back, it was a little discouraging and I knew I was going to have to [work] my way up.

CTP: When you signed up for tutoring, what did you think the sessions were going to be like?
C: I went in with an open mind. I knew [Nick] was a respectful tutor. I hoped
he would bring me to a better score and he did.

CTP: What was it like working with your tutor?
C: He’s great — he really helped. I went from a 24 to a 31. I never expected
to improve 7 points.
CTP: How did you prepare for the official ACT?
C: I worked really hard over the summer. I worked at St. Francis Hospital three days a week and I studied four hours a day two days a week for four months. Nick never lost faith and was always very encouraging. Each time the score went up a little bit he would encourage me and say, “That’s great, we just have to keep working on it.”

CTP: How did your feelings change when you took your actual ACT compared to when you first started?
C: It definitely felt nice — I worked so hard and this was the moment I was waiting for. When my friends were at the beach having fun over the summer I was at the library studying. Knowing all of my hard work paid off was a very rewarding feeling.

CTP: What was the best part about tutoring with Curvebreakers?
C: There were so many opportunities and a lot of supportive people who work there. Everyone is so sweet and really cares. They want everyone to do well.

5 Biggest Differences Between the SAT and ACT Explained


Possibly the most important difference between the two tests is timing. In short, you get less time per question on the ACT. Check this out:

As you can see, you get much less time to complete any one question on the ACT. One of the most important examples is on the Reading tests. On the SAT you get 13 minutes per passage, on the ACT you get 8 minutes 45 seconds per passage. That is a huge difference! ​So, if you struggle with timing, the SAT is likely for you.


2.Question Distribution

The SAT and ACT have vastly different distribution of questions in terms of subject matter. This is especially true in the Math section of the tests, as the ACT has a large amount of Geometry and Trigonometry questions and the SAT does not. The SAT is more Algebra focused.

Further, the ACT is considered an achievement test (What you learned) whereas the SAT is often considered to be a trickier, more aptitude based test (based on skills). ​If you hate Algebra, and like straightforward word problems, the ACT Might be for you.


3.No-Calculator Math

A similar but important consideration is how one will handle no-calculator Math. Many students are used to punching every question and operation into their calculator, and are totally reliant upon the calculator for basic multiplication and division. These students will struggle on the no-calculator portion of the SAT, as you may have to do long division. Some schools do not allow students to use calculators until a certain grade level – those students will be better equipped to tackle this section.​ If you really struggle with no-calc, the ACT might be for you.


4.Science Section

As you probably know, the ACT contains a science based section. This is actually a reading / chart reading / graph reading task, so it often correlates well with reading score. That means that the ACT is mostly based on reading skill, whereas the SAT is mostly based on Math skill.

As indicated above, the Science section actually makes the ACT a more reading based exam, where the SAT is a more math based exam.

5.Question Difficulty

The SAT is typically considered an aptitude test. It is based on your skills in each area that is tested. The acronym SAT initially stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, proving the point. The SAT is unable to move away from its roots and become a totally achievement based exam, so many students “feel” that the questions are more tricky or difficult. ​If you like more straightforward questions, the ACT may be a better test for you.​ We find little difference when preparing students for the exams, but some students in particular find one test more appealing than the other for this reason.


By: Nicholas LaPoma, Owner, Curvebreakers

7 Ways to Make the Most of Your College Tours

Are you thinking about college, wondering how to choose the one that’s best for you? Or maybe your parents are pushing you to schedule some college tours to get you acclimated to the atmosphere. Either way, knowing how to make the most of each tour is an essential part of choosing the college that is right for you. It will make starting out the next four years of your life on the right foot easier. Here are some ways we’ve found to be successful during college tours:

1. Get there a little early

Any concerns you have about the college itself or your ability to succeed there should be addressed before you start your tour. Take some time to talk to the people in charge before you go out and see the campus and the world you’ll soon be stepping into. Once you’re out on the tour you may forget some of the main concerns you had before.

2. Bring a pen and a notepad with you

Take notes on the pros and cons of the college, anything that interests you or that could be a potential disqualifier. These notes will come in handy when you are comparing choices for schools when you start applying, or even when you get your acceptance letters.

3. Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your guide is there to answer your questions, whatever they may be. Your questions make better tours for the next group of prospective students. While it may seem rude, don’t hesitate to ask how the school you are touring compares to another school you are interested in. It is important for your guide to explain what makes their school the one you should dream of getting accepted to.

4. Pay attention to everything

I’m sure you know those parts of any tour where you zone out for lack of anything better to do. Don’t! Even things that don’t pertain to your intended major or buildings you may not use, (i.e. the science lab) you should know about. Who knows, you may just end up changing majors and there may be some valuable information you might have missed.

5. Make friends with your tour-mates

It’s always odd going to a school where you have to make all new friends. If you have at least one friend from your tour it won’t be as frightening of a change. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your tour-mates are probably just as apprehensive as you are. Even if you don’t end up going to that school, making a new friend is hardly ever a bad thing.

6. Don’t forget the contact information

What if you think of a question a few days after your tour? Having the contact information of the offices best suited to help incoming students is a valuable tool. It decreases the time you have to sit on hold, being transferred from one office to another in hopes of someone being able to answer your question.

7. Have Fun

College tours aren’t meant to be a boring experience. They are supposed to be a way for you to get even more excited about choosing the school of your dreams. Just relax and chime into the conversation every now and then. Your tour guide might even have a fun group game for you to play as you go around the campus.

What have we learned?

You are your own best resource toward success. Only you can decide which school is the best option for you. Making the most out of college tours is one of the easiest ways to gain the most information about a school in order to make the best possible decision for your future. Never forget that the best decision for you may not be the best decision for someone else.

6 Steps for Earning Scholarships Based on Test Scores

Have you taken your ACT or SAT yet? Have your guidance counselors been pestering you about the importance of those scores? Well, they’re right. Your scores can land you some sweet scholarships based if you are ready to put in some coffee-fueled, sugar-crammed, study hours.With these tips, you may just be able to test your way to some large-summed scholarships.

#1 Study

This is generally a given for any type of test. To do well you should study at least a little bit. With tests changing every year and the exam creators seeking to find new concepts to challenge students with, knowing how to apply your knowledge to different problems is essential. Most would say studying is the key to success and this is certainly the easiest way to help yourself score high.

#2 Do your college research

Different colleges have different standards when it comes to scores on different test types. Researching your colleges will help you determine the minimum scores you need to be accepted there. If you score higher, which we hope you do, colleges often offer scholarships and occasionally even full rides. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to college without having to worry about student loans?

#3 Take some practice tests

Practice tests will give you an idea of what to expect. While there may be different concepts on the actual exam, at least you have a little bit of knowledge about the way the exam is supposed to be proctored and the sections that you will be required to take. It will also allow you to see how you currently would fare on that specific test so you can figure out which sections you should focus on studying in order to get a better score.

#4 Browse scholarships

Certain scholarships require you to have a minimum score according to the test you take, as each test is scored differently. The larger the scholarship, the more likely it is that the required test score will be higher as well. Simply put, the more successful they think you will do in college, the more money they will be willing to give you.

#5 Plan ahead

While you may want to put off taking your tests until you feel adequately prepared, don’t. You can take a majority of these tests more than once. It may be of use to take them multiple times so you can see what they are more likely to test on this year. Hopefully you will also see yourself improving with each time. By planning ahead you don’t have to worry about getting the best test score in one shot before submitting your college applications.

#6 Don’t sweat it

Tests can be scary and the thought of not getting a scholarship because of them can be even more frightening. Don’t worry though. Let yourself relax a bit and just study as much as you can to prepare. Worrying generally won’t make you do any better. It may even make you do worse. College is definitely important but don’t stress yourself out about it. Success comes in many different forms from many different places.
Are you ready to take your exams now? Hopefully these steps will help you land the scholarship you need to go where you want.