Guest Author - Lorel Shea
This book is a refreshing and very welcome departure from the usual dry SAT preparation materials. Sister authors Michele and Jacqueline LoBosco present a solid and useful guide in a friendly and down-to-earth manner. The narrative format is very appealing and accessible. I really enjoy the conversational tone of the book; it seems as if a friend has stepped in to act as tutor.
How to Ace the SAT without Losing Your Cool utilizes a concept referred to as “the way of the enlightened SAT warrior”. Reminiscent of Sun Tzu's doctrine from The Art of War, students are presented with three goals: knowing yourself, knowing your opponent, and knowing your strategies. These goals are discussed throughtout the book, with specific examples and worksheets set up to assist in meeting them. Prospective test takers are also encouraged to set goals for their SAT performance, and to consider a personal strategy for each type of test question.
It was interesting to see an omitting table and note exactly how many correct answers correspond to a particular score, as long as no points are taken for incorrect answers. The authors make it clear that in some cases it is best to leave a question blank, and readers will learn exactly when “the omitting strategy” should be adopted. Every incorrect answer costs the student ¼ of a point.
The book devotes relatively few pages (17 in total) to the SAT reading section. There are 28 sentence completions for practice, which I think is a bit sparse. Reading comprehension has some useful tips, but only six practice passages. Perhaps a future edition will remedy this situation.
The math prep section is over 100 pages in length. Mathematical concepts are broken down into consecutive integers, exponents, averages, percents, ratios, basic shapes, triangles, circles and arcs, shaded region, systems of equations and substitution, probability, permutations, conversions, functions, funky symbols, rate/distance, and slopes. These subsections each have descriptions and strategies, as well as practice problems. The overview reviews terminology and a topic chart where the reader can check off their comfort level with each type of problem. Choices are offered as “not very”, “kinda”, or “very”.
The final section offers very helpful SAT writing preparation tips. Very specific suggestions to improve essay writing are easy to implement. There are five sample essay questions. I particularly liked the “get your feet wet” exercises. Practice questions for the writing section are also useful.