No student should ever take a standardized test like the SAT without seeing it first. That simple but undeniable truth explains why the Official SAT Study Guide has been a perennial best seller in its many incarnations. The 2019-20 Edition (reminiscent of the classic 10 Real SATs book, delivers a whopping eight full-length practice tests, two of which were unavailable in previous editions. But is this book really worth buying?
For one, all eight tests in the Official SAT Study Guide can be found–and downloaded–on the College Board website, along with a couple more. Purchasing the new book saves the trouble of printing tests, but offers little beyond that because of its second and more critical failing: the College Board has yet again published an incomplete Official SAT Study Guide.
If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you probably remember the episode when Jerry uncovered a fatal flaw in a car rental company’s policies:
Jerry: I don’t understand. Do you have my reservation?
Rental Car Agent: We have your reservation, we just ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Rental Car Agent: I think I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. You see, you know how to *take* the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation: the holding.
What is the problem with this new book? You can take a practice SAT, but you cannot *score* your practice SAT. And that’s a really important part of taking a practice test: the scoring.
To clarify, the 2019-20 edition of the Official SAT Study Guide includes eight full-length practice tests, each with a complete set of solutions. Thus, you can take a test and identify which answers are right and wrong. However, the book lacks score conversion tables, so you will have no idea whether your performance is any good. (SAT percentile data is absent as well, but that’s a whole other complicated story.)
Fortunately, all is not lost. You can either score your practice test using the official College Board app or determine the score manually. The College Board provides complete scoring instructions for each of the 8 practice tests in the book. Each test has a concise answer key, raw score conversion table, conversion equation, and additional tables for subscores and cross-test scores:
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 1
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 2
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 3
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 4
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 5
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 6
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 7
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 8
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 9
— Scoring Practice SAT Test 10
Then again, while you’re on the website, you can just download all available tests for free and save yourself the frustration of dealing with this incomplete book. On the other hand, if you know you’ll be taking a few tests and want to avoid all that printing, you cannot go wrong with your own copy of the Official SAT Study Guide. Just make sure that, if you buy it, you use it!