In the battle between the review books, I have a new favorite: McGraw-Hill.
I used to be a Princeton Review fan, (let's call it, "PR"), what with their creative “Joe Bloggs” concept. In "Cracking the SATs", the PR authors address the student reader as someone who could relate to the “average Joe”, (changing that nickname to “Joe Bloggs”). They describe SAT sections as being ordered from easiest to hardest (in some parts), and they advise Joe Bloggs not to waste any time on the hardest questions – spend more time on the easier and medium questions where you’re more likely not to be tricked and lose 1/4 point per wrong answer.
I like presenting this idea – but only for certain students. Mainly the ones that are very nervous because they feel they are poor test takers. It feels empowering to approach the test ready to just say no to certain questions, with the backing of a certified test prep company. PR also presents it in a way that leaves the student feeling positive- use your time on questions you *will* get right.
As a SAT Prep workbook, however, “Cracking the SATs”, in my humble opinion, is not as effective as McGraw-Hill’s 2012 SAT prep book. Just looking at the Vocab section, the PR book has a promising start with the catchy “Hit Parade” list of popular words. But there is no work laid out to really learn the words. Where M-H has challenging review questions, PR just describes the best way to study the words and memorize them. Any good teacher knows that a student has to actually work with new material, thinking about the words, answer questions about them, etc… rather than be instructed to go get flash cards and memorize them. The other skills addressed in both books are again handled more effectively in M-H’s book – more practice, practice, practice.
Both books are available in the BCCLS catalog. Check them out and see for yourself. You might do what I did: learn some innovative tips from PR, but then use the M-H as your actual workbook.