Cracking the SAT, 2012 Edition (College Test Preparation) Original Edition
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- Item Weight : 2.75 pounds
- Paperback : 720 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0375428291
- ISBN-13 : 978-0375428296
- Dimensions : 8.34 x 1.69 x 10.8 inches
- Publisher : Random House; Original edition (June 7, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,095,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Since 2005 when they revamped their textbook for the new SAT, they have annually produced a new edition. Every year a shiny new cover with a new student of different ethnicity. And every year they managed to adjust the layout a wee bit: change a word or two here or there, but keep essentially the EXACT SAME TEXT from year to year! As a test prep tutor who uses this otherwise helpful book for her students, it is infuriating to be forced to buy a new book every year - rewriting all my notes - just to match the new page numbers.
In 2010, they added another practice test into the book, the only real, if small, improvement, since the rest of the text either stayed the same or lost some of its punch. It is well known that as one edits something repeatedly, it tends to lose energy, as any student working on his or her college application essay is aware. This certainly happened to The Princeton Review SAT text: The Critical Reading section in particular lost a lot when they chose, in 2007, to merge the Long and Short Reading Passages techniques, resulting in a confused and less effective approach to these passage types which require very different techniques and focus.
But this year -or rather, next year, since the 2012 model arrives with almost a half year to go- they gave up all pretense at creating new value. Shamelessly, they radically changed the cover to a dull black and white with a single student smiling in the void. (At least I'll be able to differentiate it from the army of their 2005-2011 editions on my bookshelves!) But the interior of the book is absolutely identical to 2011! I have compared the two texts side by side and flipped at random to dozens of pages in both books and they are the same, totally.
So, pick up a good second-hand copy of 2011 or 2010 if you like and save some money. The Princeton Review is a good course and their basic test-beating techniques are definitely helpful. This text in conjunction with the SAT 'bible' ("The CollegeBoard's Official Guide to the SAT") used for its practice tests, accompanied by "Tutor Ted's SAT Solutions Manual" are the best study trio I have found. For students seeking extra math help, Barrons dedicated "SAT Math Workbook" is terrific, as is the collection of free lessons and CollegeBoard math questions explanations available for free online at Khan Academy.
Update - I have 2 girls that recently took the SAT. My oldest took it 2 years ago and did not particularly care for this book, and primarily used a different one. My youngest liked this book better than that other one. So it depends on the person. This also requires discipline on the child's part - they have to study on their own. A class may be better for someone who cannot get started on their own, but I'm cheap and really encouraged them to spend the time. My oldest scored 2330 and the youngest over 2100, so these books do work.
My recommendation -
Even with a class, get them to study on their own. A class alone is not enough (I've seen examples with friends/neighbors).
Purchase more than one book, because they do have different styles. This also provides more example tests for them to complete.
There are concept reviews,tips, hints, as well as, commonly seen vocabulary words. The practice tests have the problems worked out so the student can see where they went off-track. If you want to improve your SAT or ACT scores, then get the Cracking books from Princeton Review....well worth the investment if you will put in the effort.
While I would never encourage last minute cramming, this is also the book that you want for quick preparation. Not only does it cover all of the material, you will be able to work through it for hours on end with out feeling compelled to nap.
As any SAT preparatory book, It starts giving you a review of the SAT topics. The reviews are very week, specially in the writing section, with the exception of the reading section, which I find very compelling; if have been out of school or if you want to review the topics, I would not recommend this book, I think Gruber's and Barron's offer a more extensive review of the topics. It has 4 practice test and 1 online. The online resources are not very good. The practice test are very difficult, some math problems require a lot of time. They differ a lot from the real test. but I think they would prepare you well, especially in the reading section.
Bottom line: It is an average-to-good quality book. It has good techniques, and it teaches how to give the best estimation of an answer. But, I think the best way to master the SAT is taking as many practice tests as you can and develop your own strategies that would fit better to your specific abilities.