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The College Board official SAT study guide 2016 practice tests edition is light years ahead of its competition. Yes, there are dozens of other SAT prep books out there on the market, so why narrow it down specifically to the one put out by College Board?
Think of it this way. If you’re already in the market to purchase a brand new Rolex, are you going to scour Craigslist ads looking for someone who will meet you in a back alley and demand to be paid only in cash? Or are you going to research the official retailer nearest your home, set aside a block of time to peruse the merchandise, and proudly leave with your new watch clasped around your wrist, secure in the knowledge that you own an authentic model?
The same can be said for most anything in life: if you are looking for success, look straight for the source. The College Board has been around since 1899, and they are the ones who designed the SAT as we know it today. Who better to prepare you for this exam than the very same people who have been creating and administering it for over a hundred years?
The Official SAT Study Guide 2016
College Board published the first edition of their ever-popular SAT study guide a number of years ago, but just as the test has evolved over time, so too has the way of preparing for it. Using an old edition to study might still teach you valuable strategies and tips, but obviously it is ideal to prepare using the most up-to-date information available, which only the newest College Board guide can provide.
This official study guide for the new SAT includes 4 official SAT practice tests, plus more than 300 pages of additional preparation for the test. Learn all about the exam structure, necessary information, and testing strategies.
Let’s start at the very beginning, though – a very good place to start. For many students, taking the PSAT comes before the SAT itself, and this review book includes a complete chapter on the new PSAT, which launched this past October 2015. The PSAT is connected to over $180 million of scholarships available for students, so think of it this way: not only does preparing for the new PSAT help you study for the SAT itself, but doing well might even earn you some nice cash to use towards that very college education!
New SAT Format vs Old SAT
The new SAT, which will launch in March 2016, introduces new content and question format. Unlike the old SAT, which consists of three sections and a highest possible score of 2400, the new SAT has only two mandatory sections and a highest possible score of 1600 (as had been the case back before the 2005 changes to the test). Additionally, whereas the essay portion had previously been required, now it will be optional. Furthermore, difficult vocabulary words are being switched out for words that are more likely to be encountered in college or the workforce. Students will no longer be penalized a quarter-point off for incorrect answers, which means that there will no longer be a penalty for guessing. Lastly, there will be the possibility of taking the exam over a computer format in addition to old-school pen and paper.
Since the College Board is the entity who knows exactly what these new changes will entail, it only stands to reason that they are the only ones who can adequately prepare students for said changes. Really, any other practice SATs are just imitations, and you deserve no less than the real thing.
While it’s true that these practice exams are available online in PDF format, there is still something to be said for having a paper copy of the exams to work off of. Test preparation is most effective when the conditions closely resemble those of the actual exam, so being able to set aside 3 hours of time, with a hard copy of the test and a watch to time yourself on each section, is the greatest way to ensure success. Plus, after you’ve completed each practice test, the detailed answer explanations are a great way to further review areas which may be of more difficulty to you. If for no other reason, purchasing this book for the practice tests alone might still be cheaper than printing out for yourself all the hundreds of pages of practice tests, plus their answer sheets and explanations.
For further study, this guide can be used in conjunction with Khan Academy's free online SAT practice resources, which offer further practice questions, diagnostics, and tools.
Using SAT Study Guide for Best Results
I bought this book for the same reasons detailed above: a desire to maximize my limited study time using the most updated, relevant, insider information possible. I set aside small intervals of time each day, generally 5-30 minutes at a time, depending on how busy I was from homework or other activities at that particular moment. I did this for a few months, and once I started getting closer to my actual test day, I stepped up my studying and did as much as an hour of prep work a day. Notice, if you will, that I do NOT recommend waiting until the month before the test and then spending three hours a day cramming your head full of knowledge. The human brain is not designed to retain information as well that way, and through careful, calm, measured planning, I was able to obtain all of the necessary test prep without making myself crazy or giving up my life outside of school.
I saved the four practice tests till the very end, and each Sunday, I set aside a block of time to take the practice test under simulated conditions of the actual test. I turned off my phone and computer, put away any snacks or cups of coffee, and settled in with my water bottle, pencils, and a clock. I deliberately timed it so the final practice exam was a full week before my actual SAT, since these tests can be tiring and I wanted my brain at full potential and not tired out from practice. And it worked! I am proof that obtaining a great SAT score is possible, and does not require you to go insane in the weeks leading up to your test.
Just remember: get a good night’s sleep the night before your exam, eat a healthy breakfast, and remain calm in the knowledge that you are adequately prepared thanks to your College Board study guide!