Preview copies of “The Critical Reader,” 3rd Edition, are now available

Preview copies of “The Critical Reader,” 3rd Edition, are now available

Pre-publication copies of “The Critical Reader,” 3rd Edition, are now available for purchase ($24.95) through CreateSpace.

This updated version includes:

-A revised chapter on paired passages, designed to reflect the focus on historical documents.

-Additional material on vocabulary-in-context, inference, and graphic/data analysis questions.

-New passages more closely aligned with the readings on the redesigned SAT.

-An index of questions covering all eight tests in the Official Guide, 2018 Edition.

Please note that the content of this book is effectively final. Any changes made to the version released on Amazon (estimated 8/15) will be minor and stylistic.

Update: SAT books, release of new editions

Update, 7/25: Pre-publication copies of The Critical Reader, 3rd Edition, should be available on CreateSpace mid-week, hopefully by tomorrow (Wednesday, 7/26). I’ll post as soon as the book can be ordered. Again, I appreciate everyone’s patience.

Update, 7/16: Because I need to make an additional few edits to The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar, it’s going to be another day or two before I can get the book up on CreateSpace (probably 7/17-18). I apologize for the delay and am working to make it available as soon as possible.

P.S. This is frustrating for me. These revisions have been going on for almost three months now. There are so many things I want to blog about, but as I keep explaining to people, 20% of my work takes up 99% of my time. I think I might be glimpsing some light at the end of the tunnel, though. Thanks for your patience.

For those of you waiting for the new editions of my SAT books, I have some news.

Because the manuscripts still need to go through a second full round of proofing, it’s going to be another few weeks before the books get up on Amazon. I’m aiming for around the 25th for The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar, 4th Edition; The Critical Reader, 3rd Edition, should follow two or so weeks later.

I will, however, be making pre-publication copies of The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar available through CreateSpace by the end of this week (7/14-15); I will aim to do the same for The Critical Reader by the weekend of 7/21-22.

While the final versions may contain a handful of minor stylistic changes, the actual content will be effectively identical. So if you’re planning to take the new August test, you will be able to use the new editions to study. (And if you have the current versions, please rest assured that they are still extremely comprehensive and will prepare you just fine.) 

I’ll post as soon as the books are available.

Preview copies of “The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar,” 4th Edition are now available

Preview copies of “The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar,” 4th Edition are now available

Pre-publication copies of The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar, 4th Edition, are now available through CreateSpace ($21.95).

I’m hoping to make the final version available on Amazon by the end of the month, but any changes will be minor and restricted to stylistic issues; all content updates are complete.

This new edition is aligned with The Official SAT Study Guide, 2018 edition, and includes questions from all eight exams categorized both by concept and by test.

Click here to read a preview.

I am aiming to make preview copies available for The Critical Reader, 3rd Edition, available this weekend (7/23-24) or early next week as well.

New: SAT/ACT Reading Resources Page

New: SAT/ACT Reading Resources Page

From time to time, I get emails asking me to provide suggestions for SAT/ACT reading prep materials, and it finally occurred to me that I should create a formal SAT/ACT Reading Resources Page with all of my recommendations grouped in one place.

In the past, when I’ve received these types of requests, I’ve simply pointed people to Arts & Letters Daily; however, that site contains a huge number of links, some of which go to publications well beyond the scope of college-admissions exams. As a result, I’ve identified a smaller group of (online, free) magazines whose articles I find most reflective of SAT/ACT reading, and provided links to those.

I’ve also included a list of suggested authors, both fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary, in case you want to do some poking around on your own. And if you’re studying for the SAT, I’ve included links to a number of key historical documents.

If you’re not much of a reader, though, I’d recommend that you start by focusing on broadening your general knowledge and read shorter pieces about a variety of topics. I strongly suggest you start by picking one of the linked periodicals (magazines) such as Smithsonian or Scientific American and spending a good 15 minutes or so a day reading a couple of articles. That’s probably a better approach than getting bored and frustrated with a 350-page book you don’t really like. Besides, two out of four ACT passages involve natural or social science, as do three out of five SAT passages, so those are the areas you stand to benefit most directly from learning about.

Moreover, the more you know about a lot, the better a chance you’ll have of encountering a familiar topic when you take the test. Studies have actually found that weak readers with strong knowledge of a subject actually outperform ones who have stronger overall reading skills but weaker subject-specific knowledge.

Despite the usual cautions against injecting your outside knowledge into the test, in my experience the issue is usually too little knowledge of a subject rather than too much.

Also, despite the College Board’s insistence that the redesigned SAT reflects “what students are learning in school” (a nonsense statement if ever there was one, given the curricular inconsistency that characterizes the American educational system), the reality is that there continue to be plenty of passages that have, quite frankly, nothing in the least to do with what gets taught in the average high school classroom. As has always been the case, students who read on their own about a lot of different subjects will be at a significant advantage over those who don’t.

New: SAT/ACT reading quizzes!

New: SAT/ACT reading quizzes!

While going through all of my quizzes to make some edits/updates, I noticed that while there were an awful lot of grammar exercises, I was sorely lacking in the reading quizzes department — and that was really a major oversight (oops!) since for a lot of students, that’s the hardest part of the test. So I’ve decided to remedy the issue. (more…)

Yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition

Yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition

There is a certain type of language enthusiast who, at the mention of English grammar, will jump to reassure you that they would never, ever dream of ending a sentence with a preposition. While their ardor for linguistic correctness is admirable, in this case I find it a little misplaced.


Well, when it comes to English, it there are two main types of grammar rules: those that came about in order to improve clarity and facilitate comprehension; and those that developed somewhat arbitrarily, more from convention than from logic. Things like period and comma usage are good examples of the former. In contrast, the infamous “don’t end a sentence preposition” rule is a stellar example of the latter. (more…)