SAT Preparation - Official Guides
The College Board has published a 2016 SAT handbook entitled The Official SAT Study Guide. This 784-page book is available from the College Board website for $24.99, and at bookstores for similar cost. This official guide summarizes the changes to the SAT, explains the new scoring system, and thoroughly covers all sections of the SAT, including question types, skills tested, and tips to improve performance. Four complete SATs, which have been written by College Board test creators, can also be found in this official guide, along with answers and answer explanations. The official guide should be considered an essential resource for all students taking the 2016 SAT.
The Official SAT Study Guide is organized by content area (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math). Individual chapters within these sections discuss the tests in each section and the specific skills evaluated on each test. Students can also find detailed information about how the SAT's skills assessment relates to the coursework that they will be required to do in college, along with summaries of the number and type of questions they can expect on each test. The SAT Essay is covered in the section on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and this chapter includes the complete SAT Essay Scoring Rubric, sample essay prompts, sample student essays, and sample reader comments on those essays with associated scores.
The official guide includes an introductory section that provides detailed information on the 2016 SAT's enhanced scoring, which is constructed from test scores, subscores, and cross-test scores in addition to the traditional section and composite scores. The introductory portion of the official guide also features chapters on the PSAT/NMSQT, the SAT's latest revisions, and keys to the best possible SAT scores. Test-takers are advised to focus on their schoolwork, do plenty of reading and writing outside of school, and become familiar with the new SAT through ample practice on test passages and test questions.
The official guide's four included practice tests are identical to the actual SAT in appearance and content. The practice tests are given with answer sheets and pages for writing essays. The answer explanations for each test discuss why the correct choice is the best answer for a given question, and why the other options should be excluded.
Another important 2016 SAT publication released by the College Board is "Getting Ready for the SAT," a 104-page PDF that can be downloaded free of charge on the College Board website. This PDF gives an overview of the new SAT, and also includes an official practice test. This document duplicates much of the content of The Official SAT Study Guide, but in condensed and searchable format. Among the other official SAT resources available on the College Board website are an SAT Score Converter (which links 2016 SAT scores to those on the prior version), a video that explains score reporting, information for K-12 educators and higher education professionals, and a comparison of test specifications. PDFs of College Board studies on a variety of topics, including SAT validity, college outcomes, technical reports, and demographic analyses, can be perused and downloaded without cost.
Students are encouraged to take advantage of College Board resources, but they should also remember that SAT preparation is a complicated process. The best results are usually achieved through a combination of available official resources and professional SAT instruction. Although there are isolated cases of success through independent study, few students receive their highest possible SAT scores without informed guidance, structured learning plans, and regular assessments of progress.