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*SAT For Dummies,® 7th Edition

Table of Contents

Introduction

About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Surveying the Field: An Overview of the SAT

Part II: Comprehending the SAT: The Critical Reading Sections

Part III: Getting the “Write” Answers: The Writing Sections

Part IV: Take a Number, Any Number: The Mathematics Sections

Part V: Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Practice Tests

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Surveying the Field: AnOverview of the SAT

Chapter 1: Pouring Your Brain into Little Ovals: The SAT

Sitting for the SAT Rather Than ACTing Up

Getting Set for the SAT: Registering for the Right Test at the Right Time

Meeting Special Needs

Measuring Your Mind: What the SAT Tests

Critical Reading

Writing

Mathematics

Scoring on the SAT

Chapter 2: Getting Ready, Set, and Going: Preparing for the SAT

Flying with the Early Bird: A Long-Range Plan

Hitting the Golden Mean: A Medium-Range Plan

Controlling the Panic: A Short-Range Plan

Snoozing through the Night Before

Sailing through SAT-Day Morning

Bringing the right stuff

Handling test tension

Starting off

Focusing during the test

Pacing yourself

Part II: Comprehending the SAT: The Critical Reading Sections

Chapter 3: Reading between (and on) the Lines: The Critical Reading Section

Getting Acquainted with the Critical Reading Section

Meeting SAT single passages

Doubling your trouble: Paired passages

Completing sentences

Conquering Passage-Based Questions

Speaking factually

Defining as you read

Decoding symbols and metaphors

Identifying the attitude

Understanding examples

Covering all your bases: The main idea

Making inferences

Skipping When You’re at the End of Your Rope

Making a Long Story Short: Reading Quickly

Deciding Which to Read First: The Passage or the Question

Chapter 4: Practicing Critical Reading Passages: Reading for Points

Hitting the Singles Scene: Full-Length Passages

Set one

Set two

Answers to set two

Doing Double Duty: Paired Passages

Set one

Set two

Answers to set two

Abbreviating the Agony: Short Passages

Set one

Set two

Answers to set two

Chapter 5: Filling In the Blanks: Sentence Completions

Sampling the Sentence Completion Menu

Simple vocabulary, one blank

Simple vocabulary, two blanks

Tough vocabulary

Uncovering Word Clues

Applying Real-Life Experience

Completing the Sentence: Steps That Work

Chapter 6: Practicing Sentence Completions

Set One: Tackling Some Guided Questions

Set Two: Practicing Some Questions on Your Own

Answers to Set Two

Part III: Getting the “Write” Answers: The Writing Sections

Chapter 7: Writing Your Way to a High Score: TheEssay

Answering Promptly: Writing about the Right Topic in Your Essay

Organizing Your Thoughts — Timing Is Everything

Mastering the Writing Process

Prewriting

Writing

Polishing

Scoring the Essay: Rubrics without the Cube

How graders score the essays

How you can score your practice essays

Chapter 8: Practicing Essays

Spying Some Samples: SAT Essays and Evaluations

The prompt

The good: Looking at a “5” essay

The not-too-bad: Examining a “3” essay

The not-so-good: Checking out a “1” essay

Practicing What I Preach: Your Turn to Write

Essay prompt one

Essay prompt two

Essay prompt three

Essay prompt four

Essay prompt five

Essay prompt six

Essay prompt seven

Essay prompt eight

Chapter 9: Joining the Grammar Police

Surveying Multiple-Choice Writing Questions

Bubbling the wrong answer: Error-recognition questions

Improving sentences: Sentence revisions

Revising for fun and profit: Passage revisions

Nailing Nouns and Capturing Commas: The SAT Grammar Review

Agreeing with the grammar cops

Tensing up

Casing the joint

Punctuating your way to a perfect score

Choosing the right word

Staying between the parallel lines

Chapter 10: Practicing Grammar Problems: Recognizing Your Mistakes

Examining Error-Recognition Questions

Set one

Set two

Answers to set two

Solving Sentence-Revision Questions

Set one

Set two

Answers to set two

Paragraph-Revision Questions

Set one

Set two

Answers to set two

Part IV: Take a Number, Any Number: The Mathematics Sections

Chapter 11: Meeting Numbers Head-On: TheSAT Math Sections

Having Fun with Numbers: SAT Math 101

Numbers and operations

Algebra and functions

Geometry

Statistics, probability, and data interpretation

Calculating Your Way to SAT Success

Taking Your Time versus Getting It Right

Knowing When to Grid and Bear It

Planning for the Battle: Some Math Strategies That Work

Chapter 12: Numb and Numbering: The Ins and Outs of Numbers and Operations

Meeting the Number Families

Getting Your Priorities Straight: Order of Operations

Playing Percentage Games

Keeping It in Proportion: Ratios

Getting DIRTy: Time, Rate, and Distance

Demonstrating the Value of Radicals

Computing Absolute Value

Finding the Pattern

Setting a Spell

Chapter 13: Practicing Problems in Numbers and Operations

Set One: Trying Out Some Guided Questions

Set Two: Practicing Some Questions on Your Own

Answers to Set Two

Chapter 14: X Marks the Spot: Algebra and Functions

Powering Up: Exponents

Putting It Together and Taking It Apart: FOIL and Factoring

Solving Equations: Why Don’t They Just Tell Me What X Is?

Absolute value

Radical equations

Rational equations

Direct and inverse variation

Barely Functioning

Functioning at a Higher Level

Figuring out linear functions

Thinking through quadratic functions

Decoding symbolism

Chapter 15: Practicing Problems in Algebra andFunctions

Set One: Getting Started with Some Guided Questions

Set Two: Practicing Some Questions on Your Own

Answers to Set Two

Chapter 16: Checking More Figures Than an IRS Agent: Geometry Review

Playing the Angles: Knowing What Makes One Angle Different from Another Angle

Increasing Your Polygon Knowledge: Triangles, Quadrilaterals, and More

Figuring out what you need to know about triangles

Taking a quick look at quadrilaterals

Considering some other polygons

Getting the Lowdown on Circles

Avoiding Two-Dimensional Thinking: Solid Geometry

Volume

Surface area

Chapter 17: Practicing Problems in Geometry

Set One: Getting Started with Some Guided Questions

Set Two: Practicing Some Questions on Your Own

Answers to Set Two

Chapter 18: Playing the Odds: Statistics and Probability

Working with the Odds: Probability

Psyching out multiple-probability questions

Surviving geometric probability

Saying “MMM”: Mean, Median, and Mode

Reading Graphs

Bar graphs

Circle or pie graphs

Two-axes line graphs and scatterplots

Multiple graphs

Analyzing Logic Questions

Chapter 19: Practicing Problems in Probability, Statistics, and Logic

Set One: Trying Your Hand at Some Guided Questions

Set Two: Practicing Some Questions on Your Own

Answers to Set Two

Part V: Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Practice Tests

Chapter 20: Practice Exam 1

Answer Sheet

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Chapter 21: Practice Exam 1: Answers and Explanations

Section 1: The Essay

Section 2: Critical Reading

Section 3: Mathematics

Section 4: Critical Reading

Section 5: Mathematics

Section 6: Multiple-Choice Writing

Section 7: Critical Reading

Section 8: Mathematics

Section 9: Multiple-Choice Writing

Answer Key for Practice Exam 1

Chapter 22: Practice Exam 2

Answer Sheet

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Chapter 23: Practice Exam 2: Answers and Explanations

Section 1: The Essay

Section 2: Critical Reading

Section 3: Mathematics

Section 4: Critical Reading

Section 5: Mathematics

Section 6: Multiple-Choice Writing

Section 7: Critical Reading

Section 8: Mathematics

Section 9: Multiple-Choice Writing

Answer Key for Practice Exam 2

Chapter 24: Practice Exam 3

Answer Sheet

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Chapter 25: Practice Exam 3: Answers and Explanations

Section 1: The Essay

Section 2: Critical Reading

Section 3: Mathematics

Section 4: Critical Reading

Section 5: Mathematics

Section 6: Multiple-Choice Writing

Section 7: Critical Reading

Section 8: Mathematics

Section 9: Multiple-Choice Writing

Answer Key for Practice Exam 3

Chapter 26: Practice Exam 4

Answer Sheet

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Chapter 27: Practice Exam 4: Answers and Explanations

Section 1: The Essay

Section 2: Critical Reading

Section 3: Mathematics

Section 4: Critical Reading

Section 5: Mathematics

Section 6: Multiple-Choice Writing

Section 7: Critical Reading

Section 8: Mathematics

Section 9: Multiple-Choice Writing

Answer Key for Practice Exam 4

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Chapter 28: Ten Ways to Maximize Your Score

Stash Your Admission Ticket in Plain Sight

Keep Your Blanks in the Right Row

Follow All Directions

Face the Grid-Ins Head-On

Order the Operations

Give Them What They Want

Stay in Context

Scrap the Meaningless Scrap Paper

Erase Your Errors

Write Legibly

Chapter 29: Ten Ways to Calm Down

Prepare Well

Sleep It Off

Start Early

Make a List

Stretch Your Muscles

Roll Your Head

Breathe Deeply

Isolate the Problem

Become Fatalistic

Focus on the Future

Appendix: Scoring Your Exam

Essay score

Multiple-Choice Writing score

Combined writing score

*SAT For Dummies®, 7th Edition

by Geraldine Woods with Peter Bonfanti

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About the Authors

Geraldine Woods has prepared students for the SAT, both academically and emotionally, for the past three decades. She also teaches English and directs the independent-study program at the Horace Mann School in New York City. She is the author of more than 50 books, including English Grammar For Dummies, 2nd Edition, English Grammar Workbook For Dummies, Research Papers For Dummies, College Admission Essays For Dummies, AP English Literature & Composition For Dummies, and AP English Language & Composition For Dummies, all published by Wiley. She lives in New York City with her husband and two parakeets.

Peter Bonfanti has taught high school math in New York City since 1996. Before that, he lived in Pennsylvania and was a monk. Before that, he went to school in New Jersey, where he was born and hopes to return some day.

Dedication

For Linda, friend of 40 years; for Gillian, an honorary New Yorker; and for Jacqueline, kindness personified.

Authors' Acknowledgments

Geraldine Woods: I would like to thank Peter Bonfanti, good friend and accomplished mathematician, who created the math explanations and examples for this book. Always courteous, even when his computer and mine refused to communicate, Peter is a fine teacher and a valued member of “The Supper Club.” I also thank Albert Wu, a former student and aspiring comedy writer, who came up with the idea for mock SAT questions and graciously allowed me to use it. I appreciate the efforts of Tim Gallan, Amanda Langferman, Caitie Copple, and Lindsay LeFevere of Wiley, as well as those of my agent, Lisa Queen.

Peter would like to thank his parents, for making it possible for him to get up every morning, and Lorraine, for making it worth his while.  (Also his brother, Paul, who put up with sharing a room with him for many of those mornings.)

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at http://dummies.custhelp.com. For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Senior Project Editor: Tim Gallan

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Copy Editors: Amanda M. Langferman, Caitlin Copple

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Editorial Assistants: Jennette ElNaggar, Rachelle S. Amick

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: © iStockphoto.com / Chad Anderson

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (www.the5thwave.com)

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Sheree Montgomery

Layout and Graphics: Carrie A. Cesavice, Melissa K. Smith

Proofreaders: Rebecca Denoncour, Jennifer Theriot

Indexer: BIM Indexing & Proofreading Services

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

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Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services

Introduction

First, lower your shoulders. Now unclench your knees and take a deep breath. No, I’m not a yoga instructor. I’m giving you these directions because if you’re like most people, the very thought of the SAT makes you huddle into a basic turtle shape. As you may already know, the dreaded test asks you to read and write, to identify and use correct grammar, and to solve both simple and complex math problems. Are you really surprised that your head tends to tuck protectively close to your chest whenever you contemplate the SAT?

But you don’t have to turn into a candidate for physical therapy just because a standardized test looms in your future. I have a little secret: The SAT isn’t as bad as you think, especially now that you’ve shown wisdom and foresight in buying this book. (Yes, I count modesty as one of my many virtues.) The SAT is horrible in some ways. For one thing, the test kills a perfectly good weekend morning, when you could be sleeping or doing something noble, such as discovering a cure for nail fungus. Yet, although it is challenging, the SAT isn’t any harder than your everyday school tests; in fact, in a lot of ways, it’s easier.

Did I really just use a form of the word easy to describe the SAT? Yes, I did, but “easy” doesn’t mean you can throw away this book and forget about preparation. You can’t go cold to the SAT and expect to give it your best shot. A little preparation goes a long way (all upward), and your score will climb nicely if you invest just a small portion of your life getting acquainted with the ultra-annoying exam. Don’t you at least want to be prepared so the directions and format aren’t a surprise on SAT day? Furthermore, a little practice can help you avoid the SAT’s tricks and traps after you discover how to spot them. Working with SAT For Dummies, 7th Edition, ensures that when everyone else’s shoulders rise with tension, you’ll be poised and relaxed, ready to show the world (well, the part of the world that most concerns you at this stage in your life — the colleges) how brilliant you are.

About This Book

The SAT is one of the standardized tests that fall like mudslides on almost everyone applying to a college or university in the United States and to some English-speaking institutions abroad. A few schools don’t require any standardized tests, preferring instead that their applicants concentrate on answering questions like “Why breathe?” and “Peanut butter — inevitable or technological?” If you’re planning to attend one of those schools, I offer my congratulations. You can put this book down now and go bowling or dancing (or do whatever it is that makes you happy). But if your college — the one that you hope will be your college someday — requires a standardized test, you’re probably facing either the SAT or the ACT. I’m assuming the SAT because you plunked down the cash for this book. (What? You charged it to Grandma’s trust fund? No matter. The point remains the same: You’re reading this book because you have to take the SAT.) If you just love tests and want to take both (in which case you should seriously consider getting a life), check out The ACT For Dummies, 4th Edition, by Michelle Rose Gilman, Veronica Saydak, and Suzee Vlk (Wiley).

In theory, the SAT gives colleges a way to measure your ability to succeed in their hallowed halls. Although the test itself doesn’t really determine whether you’ll excel in the world of higher education, it does give the admissions people a number (a set of numbers, actually) with which to compare you to all their other applicants. In case you didn’t know, if you have a high SAT score, you have a better chance of getting into Really-Wanna-Go-There University.

Just to make your life a little more confusing, two SATs are out there, waiting to torture you. The biggest and the one most colleges require is the SAT, formerly known officially (and still occasionally) as the SAT I or the SAT Reasoning Test. That’s the one I’m preparing you for in this book. The other SAT, cleverly named the SAT Subject Test and formerly known as the SAT II, is a set of exams geared to subjects in school — languages, sciences, math, history, and so on. SAT For Dummies, 7th Edition, doesn’t deal with those tests, though you may want to check out some other For Dummies titles (such as Algebra I For Dummies and Algebra II For Dummies by Mary Jane Sterling, Biology For Dummies, 2nd Edition, by Rene Fester Kratz and Donna Rae Siegfried, and so forth, all published by Wiley) to get a good review without a lot of hassle.

SAT For Dummies, 7th Edition, takes you through each section of the SAT, explaining what the test makers are looking for and how you can deliver it. In this book, you find a few easy ways to increase your vocabulary as painlessly as possible, because, as Yogi Berra (famous Yankee shortstop and language-wrecker) didn’t say, “Nine tenths of the SAT game is half vocabulary.” As a bonus, I scatter SAT words and definitions throughout the book, including in paragraphs that have nothing to do with vocabulary per se. (By the way, per se means “as such” or “for itself.”) In addition, I include a quick but effective review of the math and grammar essentials that tend to pop up on the exam.

To help you step up your game on the SAT, throughout this book, I include in-depth analysis and sample sets of each type of question that the SAT dumps on you — sentence completions, math grid-ins, and so forth. And to kill still more of your free time (and help you improve your SAT-tested skills), I include a detailed explanation with each answer so you know what you answered right and wrong and why. To help you get a feel for how ready you are to take the real SAT, I give you four practice tests that you can take under true-test conditions. (No, they’re not real SATs because the company that produces the actual test is sitting on those rights and making a ton of cash by doing so. The test you get on test day may not have exactly the same number of questions in exactly the same order as the ones I provide here. But the tests in this book are as close as anyone can come without invoking lawyerly attention, and they’ll do the job.) Finally, I tuck plenty of extra practice questions into other chapters so you can party it up with math, critical reading, and multiple-choice writing whenever you’re in the mood.

Just as in every For Dummies book, you don’t have to read this book from cover to cover. No, I don’t mean that you should skip the entire book. (Pause for a shudder of horror at the very thought.) Instead, pick and choose just what you need from the wide range of topics in SAT For Dummies, 7th Edition. For example, if you’re a whiz at reading comprehension but math sends you screaming into the night, don’t bother focusing much on Part II. Instead, concentrate on Part IV. Check out the table of contents to see what areas you want to focus on and then start chugging away. You can also check out the intro bullets at the beginning of each chapter under the heading “In This Chapter” to see specifically what you can accomplish by spending your precious time going through that text. Be selective and take your time as you move through this book, and you’ll be prepared for the exam and caught up on your sleep — and homework — when you face the SAT.

Conventions Used in This Book

To help you navigate this book, I use the following conventions:

Italics have two different duties:

• To introduce new terms, particularly in the math and writing chapters

• To emphasize a particular word or point

This font highlights vocabulary words that I define in the text. (Pay attention to these terms because increasing your store of words can really improve your score on the SAT.)

Boldface indicates the action part of numbered steps and the main items in bulleted lists.

Monofont denotes Web addresses.

When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that happened, rest assured that I haven’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. When using one of these Web addresses, just type in exactly what you see in this book, ignoring any line breaks you encounter.

What You’re Not to Read

Like many teachers, I love trivia, but I understand that useless facts are an acquired taste, and you may have something better to do than read about the development and use of the SAT. Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist throwing in some interesting information about the exam, which you can find in some of the gray boxes, called sidebars, and which I cleverly disguise as SAT questions. Skip them, unless you’re trying to take your mind off your next dental appointment or your last big breakup. You don’t need to know anything about the exam except how to ace it. And if you memorized the dictionary when you were 12, feel free to skip the vocabulary-specific sidebars, too!

Foolish Assumptions

I recently met a graduate of a university famous for the ivy climbing over its brick wall who told me that he had taken the SAT an extra time — after he had already been accepted — just to see whether he could achieve an even higher score. As I gave him a discreet once-over, checking for other signs of mental illness, he added, “I like taking tests.”

In writing this book, I assume several things about you, including that you have nothing at all in common with my friend, who is actually quite sane, despite his love for sharpened No. 2 pencils.

My other assumptions include the following:

You hate standardized tests but want to achieve a high score on the SAT.

You have plenty of better things to do with your time than to plow through a ton of useless information. For you, then, I put in what you need to know and what you need to practice, and nothing else except for a few lame jokes, but hey, humor me. (No pun intended.)

You’ve taken the usual math and language arts courses in elementary and early high school — through, say, algebra, trigonometry, and sophomore English. So even though I review the basics of those subjects, I’m not actually trying to teach you something you’ve never seen before.

If you know that English grammar is a pitfall for you, feel free to increase my profit margin by purchasing English Grammar For Dummies, 2nd Edition, which provides a complete tour through the wonderful world of nouns, commas, and all that stuff. You can find tons of grammar practice in the English Grammar Workbook For Dummies, which I also wrote. Those of you who are math challenged will find these books helpful: Algebra I For Dummies and Algebra II For Dummies by Mary Jane Sterling and Geometry For Dummies, 2nd Edition, by Mark Ryan. Wiley publishes all these titles.

I hope (but don’t count on the fact) that the SAT you’ve signed up to take isn’t less than 12 hours or more than two years away. This book is useful to would-be SAT takers who think planning ahead involves putting your foot on the floor a nanosecond before standing up, as well as those who are sitting around watching their teeth just in case they get a cavity someday. In Chapter 2, I provide a schedule for the obsessively late, the obsessively early, and the normal crowd in between.

Finally, though a lot of the silly jokes in this book arise from interactions with my teenage students, I don’t base everything on that age group. If you’re hitting college after living a little, good for you. This book can help you find your groove, too. (You’ll have to handle the all-nighters yourself.)

How This Book Is Organized

You don’t need any extra chores if you’re in the last year or two of high school. You’re at maximum warp in sports or other extracurriculars, and you’ve finally figured out how to impress the freshmen. Now’s the time to enjoy life. Nor do you need a million-hour SAT prep course if you’re holding down a job or burping a baby (or doing both simultaneously). Luckily, this book doesn’t take a thousand hours of your life. In fact, this book should claim only about 25 or 30 hours or perhaps even less of your valuable time, depending on how fast you read and how often you stop to check your instant messages. (Chapter 2 gives you a couple of possible schedules, geared to when you’re starting your SAT prep and how harried your life is.) The following sections outline what’s where in this book.

Part I: Surveying the Field: An Overview of the SAT

This part provides an overview of the SAT so you know what’s facing you. It’s the spot for practical stuff: what to expect on test day, what you’re permitted to bring into the test room, how to order (or cancel) score reports, and so on. It includes a bowl of alphabet soup (ACT, SAT, SAT Subject, PSAT/NMSQT), as well as information on what colleges expect and how they interpret your scores. This part also helps students with special needs (foreign students, students with learning disabilities, and so on) navigate the exam and tells everyone how and when to study for it.

Part II: Comprehending the SAT: The Critical Reading Sections

Part II takes you through the wonderful world of reading comprehension, explaining the four types of questions you’ll find on the Critical Reading sections (sentence completions, short reading passages, paired passages, and long passages) and the best strategies for each. Tons of practice questions get your reading muscles in shape and ready for the real SAT.

Part III: Getting the “Write” Answers: The Writing Sections

Part III opens the grammar toolbox so you can tackle the Multiple-Choice Writing sections of the SAT. It explains how to apply grammar rules to error recognition questions as well as to sentence- and paragraph-revision questions. It also describes the best approach for succeeding on the essay portion of the test and shows you how to beat the clock when you write your own essay.

Part IV: Take a Number, Any Number: The Mathematics Sections

Time to fire up the calculator — either the one in your head or the little plastic doodad with batteries. This part takes you on a whirlwind tour of the concepts most likely to help you answer the questions on the SAT Math section. It includes a ton of sample problems (no, not the “I wouldn’t date you if you were the last person on earth” type but the “what is the value of x” sort) and shows you the most efficient way to solve them, with or without a calculator, which you’re allowed to bring to the test.

Part V: Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Practice Tests

This part contains four practice tests that prepare you well in terms of style and content for the SAT. However, the number of questions and the placement of sections (whether the Mathematics or Critical Reading section appears as Section 2, for example) may vary on the real SAT. No matter. If you practice with the sample tests I give you in Part V, you’ll be well prepared to face the big, ugly SAT come test day.

So sharpen your pencil, lock the door, turn off the DVD player, and prepare for take-off!

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Ah, the famous For Dummies Part of Tens. In this part, I include two quick, light-hearted chapters about how to de-stress and what to double-check when you’re taking the SAT. I also include an appendix that shows you how to score your practice SAT exams so you can get an idea of how ready you are for the real test.

Icons Used in This Book

Icons are those cute little pictures that appear in the margins of this book. They indicate why you should pay special attention to the accompanying text. Here’s how to decode them:

tip.eps This icon points out helpful hints about strategy — what the all-star test takers know and the rookies want to find out.

warning_bomb.eps This icon identifies the sand traps that the SAT writers are hoping you fall into as you take the test. Take note of these warnings so you know what to do (and what not to do) as you move from question to question on the real SAT.

remember.eps When you see this icon, be sure to file away the information that accompanies it. The material will come in handy as you prepare for (and take) the SAT.

example_gre.eps This icon identifies questions that resemble those on the actual SAT. (Be sure to read the answer explanations that always follow the questions.)

Where to Go from Here

Okay, now that you know what’s what and where to find it, you have a choice. You can read every single word I’ve written (I love you! I’d marry you if I weren’t already hitched!), or you can check out only the parts of the book that address your “issues,” as they say on daytime talk shows. In other words, if you feel confident with your math skills but panicky about the critical reading related questions, hit Part II first and give Part IV a pass for now, at least. Or, if vocabulary is your personal monster, read the long-range vocabulary-building tips in Chapter 2 and flip through the whole book, scanning all the vocabulary words that look like this. Another good way to start is to take one of the sample tests in Part V, score it using the appendix, and then focus on your weak spots.

No matter what you do next, start by doing something simple: Lower your shoulders. Calm down, stay loose, and score big on the SAT.

Part I

Surveying the Field: An Overview of the SAT

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In this part . . .

As an SAT candidate, you need to follow one cardinal rule as you prepare to take what is perhaps the most important test of your life to this point: Know your adversary. In this case, your adversary is a little paper booklet with a deceptively innocent appearance. Don’t be fooled; the SAT holds one key to your future. To make your fight with the SAT fair, you must tour the SAT’s native habitat and figure out how to speak its language.

Part I is a field guide to the SAT: what it tests, when you can and should take it, where you can find it, and how it affects your chances for admission to college. Part I also explains when to guess and what to do to stay calm on SAT day.