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Common Sense Method to Preparing for the SAT - page 9 / 11





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Based on past experience, we CANNOT trust the companies that have tried to write tests for the new books. The issue is that most of the tests DO contain mistakes that can lead to students' confusion. As an example, the SAT book of Barron's contains good strategies but the tests are mostly irrelevant as they do NOT match the difficulty of the test. It is worth noting that it does NOT help to take a test that is more difficult than the real thing: the extra difficulty does not help a student prepare for the SAT if the type of question will NEVER show up! It is a pure waste of time. It would be similar to using a book written for the former SAT Math-IIC test to prepare for the SAT. While you'll learn “something,” it won’t be what you seek to learn. The same can be said for books such as the Princeton Review 11 Tests for the New SAT. The book was rushed to capture last summer’s market. Notwithstanding that Princeton Review had never been able to write a single test that was valid for the “old” SAT, one had to question the integrity of PR to engage in such broad speculation about the contents and format of the March 2005 tests.

However, the situation is not as bleak at it seems. The College Board DID release an update to its must-have 10 Real Tests. At this time, I would encourage everyone to purchase and read the Official Study book, as well as consider subscribing to The College Board online help. I think it is important to understand HOW the writers of ETS/TCB think. Getting “in the head" of the test writers makes a lot of difference. When reading the solutions proposed by TCB, it is worth remembering that they usually offer lengthy solutions which cover all bases. Again, an important part of your preparation work is to devise shortcuts - some are available in the source books, but the best and most effective ones will be … your own.

Last, if you run into published test, do not hesitate to work with older tests. Obviously, you’ll have to discard the analogies’ and QCs’ sections, but the rest is still golden. Please consider that ETS will have their hands full with creating new content for Algebra II or Writing that they won’t consider throwing out their older questions for A LONG TIME. The conclusion is rather simple: there is no reason to use any of the non-official tests.

Should you read any of the famous lists of words?

Studying selected lists of words can be helpful, but in very limited occasions. For the overwhelming majority of students, lumbering through the list will provide a false sense of accomplishment and yield few positive results. I offered this opinion when analogies were on the test: you can safely assume that the removal of one of my favorite parts has done little to change my mind about the effectiveness of spending much time memorizing words out of their natural context.

In preparing for the SAT, it would be much better to simply read all the past SAT tests. You would be even better off by taking all the practice tests AND pay close attention to the style and tone of the test.

If you are set on spending the time working with lists and flashcards, you need to understand how the lists were compiled. Most of the lists started by compiling the words that appeared on past tests. The best lists are the ones that do NOT pretend to be more


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