I apologize for the delay and appreciate everyone’s patience. This is the fastest I have ever had to revise such a huge quantity of material (there was no way for me to begin serious work on the updates until the College Board released the first full digital practice test at the beginning of October). And because I am an actual person who sometimes has to deal with life beyond test preparation, I needed to take a break for a couple of weeks during the holidays.
Happy New Year, congratulations to everyone who got done with testing or into college, and wishing you a good 2023.
Update 12/1: As of the beginning of December 2022, I have completed drafts of new editions of The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar (6th edition) and The Critical Reader (5th edition).
While the books retain many key elements, they have been substantially overhauled and are now fully aligned with the digital exam—based on the four practice tests released by the College Board—and will be available for purchase for international test-takers in some capacity by late December or January 2023.
Both books will be in something very close to their final form; the only major difference will be in the number of exercises (particularly in certain chapters of the Reading book) and the presence of detailed explanations for every question in the end-of-chapter exercises, which are likely to be too time-consuming to produce in full for both books by the end of the year.
Also, full disclosure: there will only be time for the books to undergo one round of proofing, so there may be a few lingering typos (this is the unfortunate price for getting them out so quickly).
Otherwise, as in previous editions, each guide contains a full chapter devoted to each question type; numerous worked, in-chapter examples with step-by-step explanations; and numerous strategies for simplifying questions and zeroing in on key information.
I’ve worked incredibly hard on the revisions over the last couple of months, and I feel confident that they will provide thorough preparation for students taking the digital test in March.
I expect finalized versions that have detailed explanations for the end-of-chapter exercises and that have undergone multiple rounds of proofing to be available sometime in the spring of 2023. Current sophomores who are preparing for the digital PSAT next fall should have plenty of time to work with them over the summer.
I appreciate everyone’s patience and will be posting previews of both books as soon as possible.
I apologize for not having posted an update sooner, but I’v had an unusual number of projects to juggle over the last several months and have only been able to begin serious work on the updated SAT books in the last few weeks. I understand, however, that everyone is very anxious for information regarding the new exam as well as eager to work out a prep plan, and that the earlier international rollout of the digital test has made things challenging for current eleventh graders living outside the U.S. So I’ll do my best here to outline my own timeline regarding book releases here and to provide some interim options for prep materials.
First, the basics. Yes, I will revising my SAT reading and grammar books to reflect the content and structure of the digital test. They updated versions will be completely new editions: 5th edition of The Critical Reader, 6th edition of The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar.
The essential content and structure of the books will not change, although they will likely be somewhat slimmed down to reflect the shorter, more focused digital reading and writing sections (two sections, 27 questions each, with performance on the first section determining the difficulty of the questions seen on the second). (more…)
Although but and however have the same meaning, they are punctuated differently when used to join complete sentences:
- but follows a comma and is not followed by any punctuation
- however follows a period or semicolon and is followed by a comma
Correct: An increasing number of people at the company bike or take public transit to work, but many employees still prefer to drive.
Incorrect: An increasing number of people at the company bike or take public transit to work. But, many employees still prefer to drive.
Correct: An increasing number of people at the company bike or take public transit to work. However, many employees still prefer to drive.
Correct: An increasing number of people at the company bike or take public transit to work; however, many employees still prefer to drive.
Incorrect: An increasing number of people at the company bike or take public transit to work, however, many employees still prefer to drive.
On the surface, the fact that these two words must be punctuated differently might seem odd—the kind of persnickety little rule that tends to give grammar a bad name. However, it actually exists for a reason. (more…)
I recently encountered someone who, after many years of hearing tutors advise students to “pick the shortest” answer on ACT English and SAT Writing, decided to see how often that option actually was correct. After going through a bunch of ACTs, she discovered that the shortest answer was in fact correct only a relatively small percentage of the time. She was quite incensed about this fact, and took it as evidence that students should not be encouraged to select their answers based on length.
Now, for a tutor who advises a blunt, just-pick-the-shortest-answer-if-you’re-not-sure approach, this is a reasonable criticism.
Otherwise, however, I think it misses the point.
Fundamentally, “shorter is better” is a general guideline; it is not intended to be an ironclad rule for choosing answers. If the shortest answer were indeed always correct, even just on rhetoric questions, then SAT and ACT grammar would be far too easy to game, and many more students would receive high scores than is actually the case. (more…)
It’s not exactly a secret that many IELTS candidates are unpleasantly surprised when they receive their Writing scores; it’s not uncommon for marks in this area of the test to be a full band, or even a band-and-a-half, lower than in the other three sections. Very often, they wonder whether there has been some kind of mistake, and one of their first question is usually whether it’s worth it for them to request an Enquiry on Results (EOR) and have their essay re-marked.
As I’ve written about before, one of the overlooked challenges of the IELTS Writing test is that it is always administered third, after Listening and Reading. By that point, most test-takers are already starting to get tired from the intense concentration required in the previous sections, and shifting into writing mode can be very difficult. If a normally strong writer does take a little while to warm up, it is entirely possible that the beginning of their Task 1 response will not in fact be representative of their overall skill level.
In other cases, a test-taker may get through Task 1 without a problem and then crash at the beginning of Task 2, only to recover partway through their essay. By that time, however, the damage may have already been done. (more…)
During my post-college/pre-tutoring admin stints in two Ivy League humanities departments, I became heavily involved in the administrative side of graduate admissions and consequently developed a familiarity with many reputable undergraduate programs located outside the U.S.
Over the years, I’ve come to take this knowledge for granted, but I became newly aware of it recently while listening to Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin of Tests and the Rest’s interview with Brandon Miller, an immigration consultant who has helped many American students study in Canada at the post-secondary level. Although the discussion was extremely informative from a logistical and financial perspective—I actually had no idea that U.S. federal loans could be applied to Canadian institutions—there were a handful of schools and programs that I would have liked to hear (more) about, hence the inspiration for this post.
So that said, these are four Canadian universities/university programs that, in my experience, often fly under American applicants’ radar but that deserve a serious look from anyone considering attending college outside the United States. (more…)