I recommend anyone who’s planning to prepare for the SAT purchase The Official SAT Study Guide (you’ll see me refer to it a lot on this site simply as the Blue Book), but that doesn’t mean I think it’s the world’s greatest prep book. In fact, I find the whole first half of it to be pretty weak.

It makes sense that it would be, if you think about it. The College Board wants to sell books, but at the same time prop up their test as the go-to exam for college admissions. They can’t very well sell you a book that’s going to reveal every strategy necessary to ace the test, they’d be putting themselves out of business. So they sell you a book full of very good practice tests, and very mediocre strategies.

They know that the back cover of their book (you’ll see it when you buy it – it insists that there are no tricks to help you get a better score) is baloney. They know that the first half of the book isn’t that helpful. But they need to prop up the myth that their exam is a pure measure of your academic prowess. They can’t very well admit that it’s susceptible to test-specific strategies and tricks, and that kids who prep with someone who knows them have a huge advantage!

So buy the book, and do ALL the tests. They’re written by the same people who write the SAT, and in fact the first three tests in the 2nd edition were real SATs (they’re the October 2006, January 2007, and May 2007 (Saturday version) tests, respectively). But don’t take the back cover, or the first half of the book, too seriously.

Comments (6)

I was initially weary of purchasing this book for exactly this reason. Why would the college board want to reveal all of the secrets to pwning their own test? There is some good basic review in there but it definitely isn’t helpful for stratagizing those tough level 4 and 5 questions.  What do you think of Chung’s book for math? I’ve read good things on Amazon but I want your input first if you’ve ever gone through it.

Right, I’m using practice tests for that. I’ve worked through one in the blue book and one on collegeboard.org and I’ve gottten in the mid 600s. for math on both of them. I’m looking to expand my horizons and leapfrog in to the 700s. I just need more practice on the tough ones, so it sounds like Chung’s book is a good choice.

True, but I feel like the more experience I get with solving difficult questions, the easier the easy – medium ones will become. And if it does come down to it I want to be able to solve the hard ones also. Understand where I’m coming from?

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