Many ambitious, self-starter, Students are capable of learning how to master standardized testing on their own. There are numerous websites, companies, tutors, books, and other tools. Which ones work best?
I have found that in the high school years, on-line learning is difficult for several reasons. Many students in secondary school have a lot of extracurricular and outside commitments, which leave little time for sitting at a computer and absorbing challenging information. Further, the text and example material in many programs are difficult to retain. Even watching the same DVD or tutorial over and over again seems a waste of time.
The secondary student, often wants to excel, but the actual physical and mental time to do so, are truly lacking. There was an article several years ago listing 10 of the most stressed people in the NYC metro area, and one example was an 11th grader! The choices many students make with AP courses, sports, clubs, activities and employment are rigorous and do show a serious willingness to rise to a challenge, but there is, of course, a downside to such demands.
Our younger people are bearing a great deal of stress with such demands
What works best for the extremely motivated student who is willing to crack open a book and study on his or her own? Note, that many need the discipline and organization imposed by another source, such as a class or private instructor, and this by no means, implies such students are any less ambitious!! Remember understanding or knowing best learning style is the “best practices” manner to gaining mastery over these tests, which represent a hurdle to many.
Below are a list of books, which I have always felt offered the best amount of practice questions. Further, these books are available in almost every single public library for those who cannot afford to spend $300+ dollars on resources. These books offer the most amount of practice in the format that most mirrors the actual tests. I have been working with the texts for studying these tests for 20 years. Many are excellent, but some stand out as having the best format to learn, offer the most useful strategies, or simply offer the greatest amount of actual practice which is extremely valuable.
Many students feel simply doing question after question will advance their scores….I strongly urge against this technique. I urge taking the practice tests as tests, which can be a challenge, but I do feel pays off ultimately.
My favorite picks for the SAT are:
- The Official SAT Study Guide by The College Board (the makers of the SAT)
- Cracking the SAT by The Princeton Review
- 11 Practice Tests by The Princeton Review
- Math Workout for the SAT by The Princeton Review
- Reading and Writing Workout for the SAT by The Princeton Review
- Kaplan SAT Premier
- Kaplan Math Workbook for the SAT
My favorite picks for the ACT are:
- The REAL ACT Prep Guide by Peterson’s
- Cracking the ACT by The Princeton Review
- 1296 ACT Practice Questions by The Princeton Review
- ACT Elite 36 by The Princeton Review
- English and Reading Workout for the ACT by The Princeton Review
- Math and Science Workout for the ACT by The Princeton Review
- Kaplan ACT 6 Practice Tests and 12 Expert Tutorials
One Cautionary Note: If you are a serious independent learner and very motivated to spend the money to buy these books, please make sure you buy the most current editions!!!
The SAT will be changing its format in March of 2016. So there will be new books to go with the new format! Look for an updated version when the newer books are published….so for the summer of 2015, be cautious if you will not be taking the current version the test. Perhaps wait and purchase your books in the fall when the new format and new books are in print!