1. 10 Real SAT’s (the good old red book)
Ah, pre-2006. That was when the SAT was out of 1600 (though it will be again in 2016), the verbal section contained analogies, and the math contained “quantitative comparisons.”
Instead of the blue book (The Official SAT Study Guide) we have now, students back then had this red book, which you can still buy used on amazon for quite cheap.
What most students don’t know is that this resource is a goldmine for official practice, especially for those seeking tough questions to drill on.
Here’s how I use the red book with advanced students:
- Pick out a test from the red book and a section to focus on (reading or math).
- Go to the answer sheet for that test in the back and make note of all the question numbers that are level 4 or 5.
- Go do those questions from the section, including the types that don’t appear on the current SAT.
- Review your work.
You see, the old SAT was known to be even trickier than the current one. It forced you to be thorough. That’s why I recommend doing the question types that don’t appear today (analogies, quantitative comparisons); they were some of the trickiest, and doing them will not only improve your awareness but also sharpen your test-taking skills.
That being said, you will get great mileage from the practice in this book even if you don’t want to practice the obsolete question types as there is SIGNIFICANT overlap between the current SAT and the old one. Much of the math is the same and the reading will have both passages and sentence completions.
Lastly, all 10 tests in this book contain difficulty scores in their respective answers sheets, with 1 being the easiest and 5 being the hardest. This has proven to be invaluable in focusing my students’ studies. Don’t waste time with the easy questions. Pick out the level 4 and 5 questions and just do those.
Tumblr is a blogging platform that’s extremely popular among teenagers. The #appblr tag is just the term for posts/blogs related to college applications. Just browsing around, you can find some very useful insights from students who are in currently in the trenches, going through everything you might be going through, from taking the SAT to writing the college essay.
I’ve hand-picked a few that I’ve personally learned a lot from to get you started:
- Appsademia (a bit disorganized but worth sifting through—she explains how she scored 2300+ on the SATs on her youtube channel)
- Northeastcollegiate (current Harvard student, don’t miss the massive spreadsheet of available scholarships)
Aside from being a great way to prepare long-term for SAT/ACT Reading, The New York Times has tons of articles on college admissions, including examples of amazing college essays and an inside Q&A on how admissions panels operate.
It’s a big site but worth exploring; don’t be afraid to browse around for articles relevant to you.
Don’t get me wrong—this is a resource for math competitions. They offer high-level training to advanced math students of all ages, all geared towards competitive math.
However, this site is also great for SAT/ACT math training. Here’s how I use it:
- Go here for past AMC 8 (American Math Competition) exams.
- Do #1-12 in each exam (difficulty is comparable to SAT/ACT).
- Review your work.
The questions here are great for building up logical thinking and reasoning. I use them for freshman students who are looking for early SAT/ACT prep but aren’t quite ready to handle the concepts taught in later years. Giving them actual SAT/ACT exams can be frustrating because they’re guaranteed to run into topics they haven’t covered.
On the other hand, the AMC 8 is a math competition meant for high-performing 8th graders, which means algebra II and pre-calculus material taught in high school courses won’t appear. Instead, the questions are made difficult by the level of thinking required (and yes, the later questions can get very difficult). I find that questions 1-12 are of the right difficulty—challenging enough but not so much that it’s beyond the level of thinking required on the SAT/ACT.