Review: Are you ready for the SAT & ACT?

Are you ready for the SAT & ACT? Building Critical Reading Skills for Rising High School Students, 2nd Edition

By the Staff of the Princeton Review

One of the biggest problems for students studying for the SAT and ACT is the knowledge gap. That is, students don’t know what they don’t know, and all too often teachers assume the students have been told explicitly what a comma splice is or how to effectively read a complex passage. However, they haven’t been told (or don’t remember being told), and so they get stuck. They rely on gut instinct too much and just run through practice test after practice test without making much progress. That is usually where I enter the picture and have to peel back the layers of assumptions and find the problems.

This book is a great first step if you are just starting your SAT/ACT journey, but it can also help students who are stuck in the 600s. It focuses on Reading skills, a skill set that is woefully ignored in most test prep books, and gives practical advice in how to deal with the type of vocabulary, complex reading passages and the new SAT essay.

Structurally, I like this book because it breaks down complex tasks into manageable steps. For Example the section entitled “Word Play” has 17 short concept lessons. This enables students to work through the book is small chunks (15 minutes or less). Beginning students who are presented with the typical SAT tome are often daunted by the sheer size and procrastinate rather than trying a little at a time.

The most helpful lesson is one which guides students through tacking difficult or unfamiliar reading passages. It lays out steps that strong readers unconsciously use to wade through jargon. It also sets up skills such as annotating the passage that I struggle to convince grade 11 students is necessary and helpful on both the SAT and ACT.

While I am usually not a huge fan of the big test prep companies’ books, I think this is a great choice for struggling readers. Just remember that it is a book focused on building skills and not just test prep.

Just the Facts:

  • 239 Pages
  • Targeted Reading Skills and SAT/ACT Essays prep
  • No full tests
  • Paper quality: Fair, not the thickest, but no so flimsy that you can’t erase mistakes
  • Quality of Answers- Fair- Not the most in depth explanations, but there are answers
  • Should I buy this? Yes, I found it really helpful for my students.

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