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David Recine

SAT Prep Effectiveness

Of course preparing for the SAT is more effective than not preparing. But SAT prep effectiveness is different for different kinds of prep resources. Today we’ll look at some common SAT prep materials and examine just how effective they are.

SAT prep effectiveness for official SAT prep materials

There’s no doubt about it. Official prep materials from the College Board–the company that makes the SAT–are a must-have. These materials are very effective. After all, no one knows the SAT better than the people who actually put the test together.

The newest edition of The Official SAT Study Guide has tons of current practice tests and questions. The exam questions in this book, along with the SAT practice questions on the College Board website, are very effective tools for success on test day. Authentic materials like these really help students understand the nature of the exam.

Still, no prep resource is perfect–not even the real deal from the test makers. Certain aspects of official SAT prep leave something to be desired. Specifically, College Board resources often lack helpful, effective answer explanations and strategy tutorials. This is where our next resource comes in…

SAT prep effectiveness for third-party SAT prep materials

Unofficial third-party materials that are not from the College Board are also an effective and important part of SAT test prep. Supplemental materials from many companies–including our very own Magoosh SAT–provide a lot of really helpful supplemental materials on SAT test strategy. Good unofficial test prep works with the real SAT prep resources, giving additional answer explanations and support for the College Board’s official materials.

Be careful, though. Like the College Board’s prep materials, third-party SAT prep materials are not perfect. For one thing, not all unofficial SAT practice tests are well-designed. Some of them are quite inauthentic, and even the best prep materials may not perfectly match the real SAT. So relying exclusively on unofficial practice materials is generally ineffective. These prep resources become powerful and useful when used alongside the stuff from the College Board.

As you look for the most effective materials to go with your College Board Prep, bear in mind that if a company creates particularly ineffective sets of SAT questions, it probably also offers less-than-effective test strategy tutorials. So be sure to carefully compare real College Board SAT tests to any unofficial SAT prep you are thinking of using. With the College Board as your meter for effective SAT prep, you’ll be able to create a truly useful blend of effective SAT prep for your studies.


P.S. Ready to get your highest SAT score? Start here.
About David Recine

David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent. Currently, David lives in a small town in the American Upper Midwest. When he’s not teaching or writing, David studies Korean, plays with his son, and takes road trips to Minneapolis to get a taste of city life. Follow David on Google+ and Twitter!

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