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What are the BEST books to buy for ACT prep AND SAT I prep...?

Discussion in 'Exam HQ' started by jefgreen, Feb 8, 2009.

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  1. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    My friend scored somewhere between a 1600-1700 on the SAT that is out of 2400 and got into some great schools (more competitive than my top choice which is University of Kentucky.) He has a 2.99 GPA.

    He gave me one of his prep books. It is Kaplan. It says:

    SAT Premier Program 2008 Edition. So far, this book is FANTASTIC. He said that it is the best because not only does it tell you the answers, it actually tells you EXACTLY HOW TO DO THE PROBLEM. Which helps, because I never learned half the material on the math section in school anyway.

    I have the next 10 days off for winter break. My parents have signed me up for the next SAT and ACT. I really need to score a 2100 on the SAT and I am determined to obtain that score. I need to do well.

    I also need to score around a 30 on the ACT. I know I can do it.

    I do not want to do the prep classes because they are a waste, everyone says to invest in books.
    ---
    This is where you guys come in.

    See, the princeton review, it didn't help. My friends Kaplan book DOES. My question is...Are there any other books that are better than Kaplan's for the SAT I? I need a book that tells me how to do every single problem in the fastest way possible. I need major help if I am going to score high.

    And what about the ACT? Which is the best for the ACT?

    Please help guys, I know most of you have scored in the range I want to score as well.
  2. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    The Official SAT Guide by the College Board (often referred to as "The Blue Book") should be your only source of SAT practice tests, as they are from past tests that were actually administered. All others are imitations that don't quite follow the SAT "metagame", and so practicing with those will ruin your mindset when taking the actual test.

    If math is where you need improvement, Gruber's Complete SAT Guide is the place to go. The reading and writing sections of that book are best used as toilet paper, though.

    If you aren't satisfied with anything less than 2250, Kaplan is where to go (after doing the aforementioned prep, of course). They really get into stripping down each type of question to its core concept and its method of being solved, but this is only useful once you're at the point where you should worry about that stuff.

    I managed a 2130 (up from a "raw" score of 1660 on my first practice test, done before any other sort of prep) using the first two books. Admittedly, I was too lazy to go into hyperdrive and master the stuff Kaplan gets into.


    As for the ACT, I have no idea as people in my state rarely take it.
  3. tennisball80

    tennisball80 Removed

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    For ACT, get the read book published by ACT Inc.

    And, get the Kaplan premier **** and Princeton Cracking the ACT ****.
  4. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    I need to get a 600 on the MATH and CR. If I can get a 650, that is better, and a 700 on both would make me golden for UK. Basically I need to score 500-700. Somewhere in there, for the SAT I.

    For the ACT, the magic number is 27-28.
  5. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    Have you taken the test already before? You need to know where you're good and where you need work. My critical reading score was always >700, even on my very first attempt, but my Math and Writing were horrific at first.
  6. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    I love you, thank you. Honestly, If I can pull the score you got, I will get into so many universities it won't even be funny. UK might even give me money :).
  7. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Yes, once. I scored a 1410 (terrible). PSAT was 1350. This is out of 2400. So I need to get a 2100. I kind of need work in all of the areas. I need to know which books to use for each section.
  8. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    Do you remember what you got on your essay?

    On a SEEMINGLY unrelated note, have you taken AP US History?
  9. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    -No

    -Next year.

    So, I should pick up the collegeboard book. Then the math book. What about critical reading and then the writing section? Besides the collegeboard book, which ones should I use to master each section?
  10. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    Wait, so you're a sophomore right now? I haven't heard of seniors taking APUSH.

    The Blue Book will take care of you on the MC part of the writing portion and the comprehension parts of CR, and for vocab any "SAT Word List" thingymajigger will do.
  11. Forkit

    Forkit

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    ACT Books:

    Science: Princeton Review
    Reading: Princeton Review
    English: Kaplan English Workbook
    Writing: Grammatix (essay section)/Rocket Review (Essay section)

    Serious, get your hands on Grammatix. I got a 12 on the essay thanks to it (both SAT and ACT).

    Practice: Official ACT Practice tests.
  12. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Ok so I could use the Princeton Review book "Hit Parade" for the vocab, right?

    Use the Blue Book for what you mentioned

    and use the other book you mentioned for the math.

    What about the actually SAT Essay?

    I really want to score a 650-750 on all of these sections.

    Anything else I didn't cover? I really want to do well.

    I'm a junior actually, there are tons of people I know who are taking APUSH next year, IDK you mean by that.
  13. EyEnStein 07

    EyEnStein 07 Senior ΙΈ Member

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    That is EXACTLY what you need. Those tests are probably the most accurate, and its really good practice. I used it, along with some kaplan books, and i got into great schools.
  14. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Ok so you used the BB. And Kaplan books. Can you tell me all the books you used? I know I'm being annoying but seriously, tell me all the books you used, your scores, and strategies...Please :oops:
  15. Sttebbs

    Sttebbs

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    Some advice from someone who conquered the SAT (800M,800W,680CR):

    I'll vouch for the blue book. Make sure you do all the practice tests in there (I personally didn't read any of the other crap in it) and when you miss something, figure out why you missed it before going on. Hopefully you will have gotten better by the last practice test.

    Also you should start seeing patterns in the types of questions that are asked, particularly in the multiple choice writing section. It is, imo, the most "studyable" part of the SAT. I brought my writing up from like a 50 something on my soph PSAT to a 73 junior year and then an 800 (no thanks to my crappy 9 essay :(), so it is definitely possible to make some big improvements.

    I think for the essay you just gotta make sure you have a good thesis statement and some decent support. I was always told to memorize some quotes to open the paper with, but I can't even remember if I used it or not. I did, however, make a list of books I had read recently (in the past two years) and considered some of the themes in each that I could potentially use as examples to support my thesis. I ended up using a book and a personal experience to support mine. If you're nervous about writing the essay like I was, I would practice writing in the 20 minute time limit or whatever it is they give you. I did a few practice ones in the week leading up to the essay and it helped.

    Reading I always regarded as a crapshoot. I practiced it but realized that ultimately my score would come down to how many of those "hard level" vocab words I knew/could guess correctly.

    Math I never had any trouble with. If you feel you're weak though you probably want to review some basic geometry rules (circles, triangles, quadrilaterals particularly) and algebra 1 concepts. The best thing I learned for math at the test prep class I went to was the art of "plugging in."

    Say you get one of those problems that says something like: "Bill has p potatoes and cuts each potato into x slices. Which of the following represents the number of slices Bill will have?" Then you get a bunch of answer choices that are in terms of x and p like xp, x/p, p/x, etc. Well what you can do is just come up with arbitrary values for the variables like 3 for p and 2 for x. Now it is obvious that if Bill cuts the three potatoes into two slices each, he will end up with six slices. Now what you can do is plug your made up values (the 3 and 2) into each of the answer choices until you find one that gives you six. Note: you do have to plug them in to each equation because sometimes you will end up with the "correct" answer (six) for two of the answer choices, in which case you will have to come up with new numbers to plug in. This is a simplified example; I typically would use this method on problems that had 3-4 different variables interacting.

    Good luck!
  16. broken tibula

    broken tibula mostly sleeping

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    Word to the Sttebbs. Practice the essay. I didn't and, while I did above average, I'm certain that if I had I would have knocked it out of the water.

    So many people overlook the essay. Don't.
  17. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Alright, I have the Princeton review hit parade thing, will that suffice to help me with the vocab.

    I will pick up Gruber's Complete SAT Guide, for the math

    and of course the Blue Book. I would be more than happy with a 2100/2400. Writing is my strong point. How should I practice the writing?

    And, just curious, what is so great about Gruber's, for the math section? Does it basically tell you exactly how to solve each problem if you haven't learned it in school or something?

    What exactly should I buy?
  18. Cass

    Cass

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    I haven't really looked at any ACT prep books, but a friend of mine picked up ACT for Dummies and after skimming through it I though it was a pretty good book. It teaches you alot of test taking and time management skills. It also has two full practice test with questions from previous ACT tests along with answers and explanations for each and every problem.
  19. tennisball80

    tennisball80 Removed

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    Dude, Jeff, why do you have to take ACT and SAT ? I thought most universities only require either of them.
  20. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    I just want to take both, get the highest scores I can, and just pick whichever one is higher, and that will be the one that I will send the universities. I might just take the ACT. I don't know yet.
  21. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Really? I honestly might just pick that up tomorrow. I've seen it at Barnes and Noble.
  22. Cass

    Cass

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    Yeah. Really. It helped my friend alot. Raised his composite by 4 points.
  23. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    What was his score before the four point raise? If you don't mind me asking. It's ok if you don't know, I am just curious.
  24. glowworm

    glowworm inching along

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    i liked the "real act prep book" its a red one, made by the act company. i liked the princeton review act book better than the dummies one, but that might be just me.
    princeton review math book is good.

    for the sat, just memorize vocab words, and know your grammar rules. i got an 800 3 out of 4 times on CR, and thats basically all i did. and most of the books don't explain all that well how to do a problem...they seem to be mainly intended as a review. i just googled how to do math problems that i hadn't had before. good luck! :luck:
  25. kasoy

    kasoy

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    i just actually bought the real act prep book and got it in the mail today and i have to say this is a great book i would recommend getting this one:thumbup:
  26. huskerdye

    huskerdye

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    I don't know a lot of information about the SAT, I'm from the Midwest and most schools only require a ACT from around here..

    Anyway, the best book I had was The Princeton Review, for the ACT.. You'll find that this book will do the same thing as the one you discussed, not only explains answers, but tells you how to do them for each section..

    I read the entire book cover to cover over a week and a half and I improved my score from a 25 to a 32.. I also took 4-5 practice tests under "real test" circumstances.. I would take at least three practice tests if I we're you..

    EDIT: The book also comes with two practice tests ;)

    A 30 is a pretty tough score, but obtainable if you work for it..

    Good luck!
  27. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    I'd love to get a 32. I am looking at 75th percentile ACT for Cornell and it is 33. That is still pretty high though and on par for that kind of school. Hmm. I guess a 34 would be fantastic but that is an insane score to get.

    How much time would I have to put in to score a 34?
  28. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    And should I take some SAT II subject tests next year?
  29. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    Only if a university you want to apply to "recommends" (see: requires) to.

    What's your GPA?
  30. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    2. something. It was because I basically failed freshman year and changed my outlook. End of 10th grade it was a 2.2 UW. It might be like a 2.5 or something now. I have no idea. It is pretty bad. I am trying to do some dual enrollment this summer somewhere so that it shows that I really wanted a challenged and wanted to improve my grades.

    It isn't that I'm an idiot. I'm pretty smart I just didn't apply myself before and that is why my GPA is what it is. That doesn't mean I shouldn't shoot for the stares on the SAT's.
  31. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    Dude...at this point I just wouldn't bother. Go to community college for two years to save yourself a ton of headache and cash.
  32. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    I still want to take it though.
  33. Maygyver

    Maygyver

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    His GPA is around a 2.2 I think he said. But anyway, Jef, if you want to take it, take it and do the best you can. It is pointless to ask "how much should I study?" Study until you are ready. Only you know that answer.
  34. tennisball80

    tennisball80 Removed

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    ACT is a big mother fu*ker I haven't taken down him yet.

    I am trying to use princeton book, how do you guys think.
  35. kasoy

    kasoy

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    I have read several ACT books and they have helped my succeed on my ACT I got a honorable 31, and the two books that you really need are:

    Kaplan ACT: This is good because it provides excellent advice and statistics that you normally wouldn't get from ACT books and is organized so you don't get overwelmed. The narriration of this book is also humerous in a cheesy kind of way just to take the edge off and remind you not to freak out. Just a few minuates a day for a month and you could improve your score by 5 points!

    ACT prep book by the makers of ACT: Theres no better way to study for the ACT then by the people who made it. It goes in a more get-to-the point sort of way but if you sit down and have two weeks to study for the exam and really study this book will teach you all that you need to know.

    But either way for the ACT pretty much all books are the same in nature, they tell you the structure of the test, give you tips, and practice problems. So you just need to find information that helps you get the edge of and not panic so when you finally really do take the ACT you will succeed. Good Luck my friend.
  36. Gallix23

    Gallix23

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    Up Your Score: The Underground Guide to the SAT

    It's an amazing book. It's the only thing I read before taking the SATs, and I ended up with a combined score of 1800.
  37. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    The ONLY thing you read?

    And where can I buy this book? :cool:
  38. DearSky

    DearSky

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    Wow, I've never heard of that book. I went with Barron's SAT review book and attended prep courses at a korean hakwon. My score went up by hundreds in just a few months. Alot of effort was put into my score though; I plan on giving the SATs another shot to hopefully get a higher score.
  39. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Alright. So. I just bought three books for 70 bucks. I just bought

    The blue book
    The official ACT prep book
    and
    Barrons SAT 2400.

    I also have Kaplan SAT Premier Program 2008
    and Princeton Review SAT 2009 Edition.

    Are these five good enough or should I be ordering a few more other SPECIFIC books?
  40. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    BB and Barron's are more than enough...
  41. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    I am also thinking of picking up Grubers and Rocket Review to fine tune my score. Hopefully I will get better scores with the BB+whatever else...
  42. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Any other books I should pick up?

    I will be studying for both the SAT I and ACT.

    Should I buy Grubers?

    What else?

    What about for the ACT.

    I bought the red book yesterday. Anything else I need.

    Any videos I should be watching.

    DVD's I should buy?

    Seriously. I have like 300 bucks I'd be willing to spend on this crap if it means a higher score.
  43. Maygyver

    Maygyver

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    Paying a ton of money won't give you good scores. Seriously, buy what you need. No use spending 300 dollars if you don't even get through all of the material. Buy a TPR book and go through it. That should be plenty.
  44. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    TPR?

    If you mean The Princeton Review, I went through it already. I hate it.
  45. CScull

    CScull Is Positive, O Positive

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    ...

    All the books say pretty much the same thing. I've used the Kaplan before and that helped me but if you've already got 5 I don't see the need to buy more stuff you'll probably never look at.
  46. DLi

    DLi

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    For the SAT, those are the same exact books that I used for studying. And I studied them for months. I had Kaplan, Princeton Review (2007 edition), blue book, and SAT 2400.

    If it makes you feel better, I came out with a 2200 by the second time I took it. Good luck!
  47. xnfs93hy

    xnfs93hy I'm a patient man, Martin. Bronze Donor

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    Nice. That score will def. help me.
  48. DLi

    DLi

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    By the way, the only practice tests worth taking are the 8 in the Blue Book. They are the only tests made by College Board and that are completely accurate. Princeton Review and Kaplan have large budgets to make their tests as accurate as possible, and rumored to even have former SAT-authors in their staffs. Barrons practice tests are complete crap. I remember some of the older editions had the most typos ever published.

    Princeton Review, Barron's 2400, and Kaplan give very good test strategies, but I recommend you stick with Barron's 2400 once you get your score in the 2000s range.
  49. AwptimusPrime

    AwptimusPrime

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    Instead of worrying if you have the "best" books, I suggest that you actually start the studying. Seems like you are spending more time buying the books than actually using them...
  50. yanorglu

    yanorglu

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    ^

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