The big name test prep companies such as Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Sparknotes, to name a few, tend to focus on "tricks" to try to beat the test. What these tricks really are, unfortunately, is just a collection of common sense strategies such as Princeton Review's vaunted "Joe Bloggs" stragegy which is just "cross off answers that the average student will pick." They do give a review of the material -- and don't get me wrong, these books are good -- but they're not aimed toward someone who wants to master the material. They simply aim to allow you to maximize your score as painlessly as possible. Okay, there is a valid reason to publish books with that aim -- most students don't want more than that.
Barron's How to Prepare for the SAT, on the other hand, is the complete antithesis of the standard preparation book. Written in true textbook style, it's the ultimate guide to the SAT. It's all here and if you're really, really dedicated to that high score to get into that shiny, prestigious university, then Barron's is just what you need.
The first section, strategies, just goes over a bunch of test taking strategies -- much like the ones found in the aforementioned books. Then, the subject matter begins.
Critical reading, widely considered the hardest section to study for, is given just the right treatment here. First, the book gives a myriad of general reading strategies (luckily, the book advocates reading the passages unlike, *ahem*, other companies). Then, as any good book on how to read would do, it gives the reader a multitude of practice passages that are much harder than the real thing (excerpts from great literary works, such as Dickens' "Great Expectations", are present) with many SAT-like questions.Read more ›
I am very thankful to have purchased this book - it has helped me a ton! My first score on the SAT was a 2080. I used Barron's to study for my second SAT. Today, my score is 2250 - that's a 170 point score improvement for a score that was already excellent.
Pros: --The book explains certain "tactics". These "tactics" are like strategies for test taking and for each individual subject. Some of them are common sense, but many of them - especially in the math portion - are incredibly helpful. --The book stresses guessing. There's an entire chapter devoted to why students should guess on the SAT. I was one of those students that would omit a question rather than risk a quarter point reduction. This book had some eye-opening, cold, hard statistics to show why students should guess. --The math is pretty straight forward and well-divided. I had McGraw-Hill's SAT 2009 for the first SAT. The math was strong, but it was not nearly as relevant as Barron's. Barron's didn't even bother to teach students what types of math you'll see on the SAT; it gives students just enough background information as well as test-taking strategies. --The practice tests are realistic in both scoring and content. I'm not sure whether or not Barron's used SAT licensed questions, but you probably wouldn't know, either way.
Cons: --The vocabulary section is useless. It's one massive list of words. There are hundreds of words. The pull out vocabulary cards are kind of useful, but the entire vocabulary section did not seem to stress vocabulary in context or word parts. --The writing section was comprehensive and helpful, but I very much preferred McGraw-Hill's in-depth, worksheet method for writing.Read more ›
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The 24th edition of SAT provides the latest review and practice tests available, pairing a detailed review of the SAT with study advice, five full-length practice tests that reflect the latest SATs in length and question types, and comprehensive reviews of all test topics. A CD-ROM comes with two more practice tests, making this a 'must' for any college-prep student.
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