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Common Sense Method to Preparing for the SAT - page 7 / 11

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should encounter very few surprises on THE official test.

However, some students may require or desire more practice sessions. As time passes by, more tests will become available through releases by The College Board. A subscription to the online course of TCB gives access to six additional tests as well as access to the grading system for essays. My recommendation is to sign up for the service, especially if you need more tests.

This brings us to the question about source books. While I recommend acquiring as many books as feasible, this does not mean that one has to buy and read ten to twenty books cover to cover. For the old SAT, the recommended books composed a pretty short list. For general strategies, most of the books published by Princeton Review, Kaplan, or Barron’s represented a good start: the strategies for the math sections were pretty interchangeable, but the verbal strategies offered a few variances. As usual, during the preparation phases, a student should try the strategies that fit him or her better. I found that concepts such as “read the passage first” or “read the questions first” were NOT as important as the techniques needed to approach the sentence completions and reading comprehension sections. Among the books, one deserves a special mention: and that is Gruber’s. In general terms, Gruber went further and faster than the other authors, and its math section was deeper and better. Alas, Gruber’s also included many elements that went beyond the scope of the old SAT. I am not sure if Gary Gruber intends to update his book soon, but it is still a very good choice as a source book. Again, the source books are NOT meant to be studied cover-to-cover but are meant to be used as you would use an encyclopedia. You look up concepts when needed, and not in anticipation of possible questions. Let the practice tests guide what you need to review!

With the changes for the new SAT, we also witnessed the arrival of a few new books. So far, the books written by Adam Robinson (Rocket Review) and Pete Edwards (Maximum SAT) have raised the bar considerably, especially in clarity and focus. I would highly recommend making the books part of your library. However, this does not mean that students should follow Adam Robinson’s –often pompous and grandiloquent- recommendations and subject themselves to his recommended game plan. Use Robinson’s book as a source to clarify a few blurry concepts, but again, let the practices dictate what you need. In this regard, Maximum SAT provides a cleaner and more subtle approach. Without the annoying –and mostly unfounded- rhetoric of Robinson, Maximum SAT is able deliver what it promises! In the same vein, the solutions’ book published by the Houston-based Testmasters should be a very valuable tool for everyone, especially for developing a set of shortcuts and tools.

To round up your source books, I would also recommend to add a good grammar book as well as the Grammatix guide. Guide books are different from source books that tend to focus more on theoretical approaches and try to be more complete. Some people may not like the more direct and shorter style of a guide book, or even doubt the effectiveness of the methods. However, when it comes to the most challenging part of the SAT (critical reading) I have yet to read a book that can help anyone as much as and as fast as the Grammatix guide. However, I view source books and guide books as being complementary. Being able to cherry-pick the best from all sources is the key to a good

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