Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SAT study guides: which ones to use?

Late night studying view.

I have a friend, J, who tutors high school students in the SAT and AP maths. I visited her in San Diego last month and borrowed one of her books to do one of the practice tests. Oh boy did I perform embarrassingly low. But I suppose that's only to be expected when the highest level math I've been teaching - and hence doing - have been pre-algebra. I'm out of practice.

So I've been studying higher level math again, not just the elementary stuff my students do. I borrowed a few SAT study guides from the library. I pulled out my old math textbooks. It's really fun and relaxing to do math problems. And I know there are many people out there who will think I'm insane for that previous sentence.

I borrowed some Princeton and Pearson books initially, looking forward to getting back into that math groove. Which costed me so much blood, sweat, and tears before, but is so enjoyable now. Did I get a shock to find how simple the Princeton and Pearson practice tests were!

According to J, Princeton and Pearson deliberately make their SAT study guides super easy, "probably as an ego booster." Barron and Kaplan books are much tougher.

I'm confused here. What if a student only got the Princeton books and studied off of that? Then they really are not getting the complete story. I see the usefulness of starting with an easy book first, then gradually moving up to the more difficult stuff. So those companies should advertise as such and not make those misleading promises on the cover.

Hm, another thing to teach students: do your own homework! Study from a wide range of sources! And perhaps get a tutor, a good one. They are probably worth the money.

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