“SAT® Vocabulary: A New Approach” for the Digital SAT is now available!

“SAT® Vocabulary: A New Approach” for the Digital SAT is now available!

Traditional vocabulary is back on the SAT, and I’m happy to announce that the second edition of SAT® Vocabulary: A New Approach, co-written with Larry Krieger, is now available.

The book has been completely revamped for the DSAT and features an extensive list of high-frequency, not-irrelevant vocabulary words (as reported by students who have sat for digital exam internationally), with definitions illustrated through a variety of entertaining pop-culture example. Numerous test-style practice questions then help students transfer their knowledge to Digital SAT format.

A separate section on transitional words and phrases helps test-takers simplify challenging questions by identifying common logical relationships and grouping words by category.

Reading & Writing Comparison: Paper-Based SAT vs. Digital SAT

Reading & Writing Comparison: Paper-Based SAT vs. Digital SAT

If you’ve taken the paper-based version of the SAT and are considering taking the DSAT as well, or if you’re a tutor/teacher who is transitioning to DSAT prep, the following charts cover the major differences between the paper-based exam (final administration December 2023 in the United States) and the new digital version. A free, downloadable PDF version will be posted in the Books section as well. (more…)

Digital SAT vocabulary and… Taylor Swift?

Digital SAT vocabulary and… Taylor Swift?

Larry Krieger and I have been hard at work on our digital-SAT edition of SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach, with release tentatively planned for December. Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty much out of commission with a bad cold the last couple of weeks, but Larry has come to the rescue with a fabulous post featuring the saga of Taylor and Travis… along with some top words for the new test. Even if you’re not a Swiftie, it’s good reading. Here goes: 

Students often complain that learning vocabulary words is tedious and boring. Not in our book! We have written a series of special chapters that use popular movies like Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Avengers: End Game to illustrate the words on our list. The following chapter on the possible romance between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce illustrates our unique method of helping your remember difficult DSAT vocabulary words.

1. Taylor Swift ECLIPSES the game
ECLIPSE – to overshadow

On Sunday September 24th the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs played the Chicago Bears before a capacity crowd of 76,000 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. Led by their Superbowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and their all-pro tight end Travis Kelce, the Chiefs quickly took command of the game. Within a short time the crowd’s attention switched to an unexpected global celebrity – Taylor Swift! Taylor’s presence in a luxury suite seated beside Travis Kelce’s mom quickly ECLIPSED interest in the game. Fueled by Swift’s 12-17 and 18-49 year-old fans, television ratings soared as an estimated 24 million people watched the game.

2. Swifties begin to make INFERENCES
INFERENCE – a deduction or conclusion based upon evidence and reasoning

Known as Swifties, Taylor’s fans quickly began to make INFERENCES about her unexpected appearance at an NFL game. Taylor is well-known for leaving her fans carefully planted clues called “Easter eggs.” Afterall in her song “Blank Space”, Taylor declared, “Love’s a game, wanna play?” Many INFERRED that this was Taylor’s way of signaling the beginning of a romantic relationship with Travis.

3. Taylor fails to RECIPROCATE
RECIPROCATE – a mutual or equivalent exchange

The relationship between Taylor and Travis did not get off to a promising  start. Travis attended Taylor’s sold-out concert at Arrowhead Stadium back in early July. He tried to send Taylor a friendship bracelet with his number. But Taylor did not RECIPROCATE. Ouch!

4. Travis is RESILIENT and refuses to give up
RESILIENT – able to bounce back from adversity; quickly recover

Taylor’s failure to respond to his invitation did not deter Travis. Although he admitted to feeling “a little butthurt,” Travis was RESILENT and refused to give up. He used his popular podcast to send Taylor this message: “I’ve seen you rock the stage at Arrowhead Stadium. You might have to come see me rock the stage in Arrowhead and see which one’s a little more lit>”

5. Would Travis’s AUDACIOUS invitation work?
AUDACIOUS – bold and daring

Travis’s AUDACIOUS but risky public invitation worked. Taylor attended the game and then left the stadium with Travis in his prized 1970 Chevolet Chevelle SS convertible. Wow – that really is AUDACIOUS. But Travis wasn’t finished. He drove Taylor to a private dinner party at a well-known and fully reserved Kansas City restaurant. Taylor reportedly had a great time dancing with Travis and meeting all-world Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

INDELIBLE – memorable; cannot be forgotten

Travis clearly seized the moment and tasted it. The game and the evening dinner party left him with INDELIBLE memories. Travis later reported that Taylor “looked amazing” and that “everybody in the suite had nothing but great things to say about her…It’s definitely a game I’ll remember, that’s for damn sure.”

7. The game was PERIPHERAL
PERIPHERAL – of secondary importance; not central

The Kansas City Chiefs narrowly defeated the New York Jets in an exciting Sunday Night Football game. But the game was a PERIPHERAL sideshow to the night’s real story. All eyes were focused on a private suite containing Taylor Swift and her entourage of Hollywood pals that included Deadpool 3 actors Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackson and Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. The NBC camera crews obliged Taylor’s legion of Swifties by cutting from the game to her box 17 times.

8. Taylor is an economic CATALYST
CATALYST – any stimulus that causes significant change or action

Over 27 million viewers tuned in to watch Taylor Swift and her entourage of celebrities watch the Sunday Night Football game. Taylor’s economic impact is much greater than prompting her legion of Swifties to watch a football game. Taylor is a significant economic CATALYST. Her Eras Tour is on track to become the biggest and most profitable in concert history. When Taylor
comes to town her fans go on a spending spree by filling hotels, packing restaurants, and purchasing everything Taylor-themed bracelets to expensive cloths.

9. This is INTRIGUING!
INTRIGUING – arousing great interest and curiosity

So what will happen next? Sports fans and Swifties are INTRIGUED! Is this the beginning of a new romantic relationship? Will Travis + Taylor = Traylor? Or will Travis end up in one of Taylor’s songs? But one of Taylor’s most popular songs does offer a ray of hope: “I’ve got a blank space baby and I’ll write your name.” Could Travis be the one? Stay tuned!!

10. Questions and CONJECTURES
CONJECTURE – an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete evidence; speculation

The apparent romantic link between Taylor and Travis is like an unexpected meteor strike that has ignited a social media firestorm. Commentators on podcasts, TikTok, and Instagram are all spreading rumors, providing breathless headlines, and asking endless questions. But their revelations are all CONJECTURES. The reality is that no one knows what Taylor and Travis will do next. But one thing is certain – Erica and I will keep you posted on all the breaking news!!!

Weighing in on the digital SAT: 6 key points

Weighing in on the digital SAT: 6 key points

At this point, I’ve spent many months picking apart released dSAT questions and attempting to use their logic and patterns to construct hundreds of my own. I realize that I haven’t offered much in the way of opinions about the digital exam, but that’s mostly because I’ve been spending so much of my time over the last six-plus months trying to get the new editions of my SAT books finished. I assure you that I have been thinking very, very hard about the alterations.

So that said, are six key changes—both positive and negative—that I think are particularly deserving of attention, and I’d like to discuss them here.

1) Short-Passage, One-Question Format

Without a doubt, this changed makes the exam more streamlined and is ideally suited to the online format. Longer passages would require test-takers to continually scroll up and down, making the process of answering questions somewhat awkward and increasing the chances important information will be overlooked.

This shift also brings the SAT closer to exams such as the GRE and GMAT, which have been offered electronically for many years and feature primarily short passages.

As much as I appreciate the practical aspects of this decision, however, I still find it worrisome because it so clearly panders to ever-decreasing expectations about the amount that students in both high school and college should be expected/able to read. Anecdotally speaking, several colleagues who teach at the secondary and post-secondary levels have told me that they can now only assign a fraction of the reading they regularly assigned even five or ten years ago, and one (non-tenured) friend who teaches at an extremely selective university was recently reduced to bargaining with her students about the amount of reading they would tolerate—not for one assignment, but for the entire semester.

This really does not bode well.

In theory, at least, dealing with complex arguments in writing is one of the main purposes of college, and most serious ideas cannot be boiled down into a paragraph. Call me old-fashioned, but from my perspective a student who seriously cannot handle even 500-750 words of text is not ready for a university-level education. (more…)

“The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar, 6th Ed.” (final) is now available

I am happy to report that Amazon/KDP has approved the file for the final version of The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar, 6th Edition, making both the grammar and reading books available for through Amazon and The Critical Reader.

At this time, we do not yet have copies of the new editions in our warehouse, so books must be sent directly from the printer. As a result, orders may take longer to arrive than would normally be the case. If you need the books urgently, please order directly from Amazon.

In addition, please note that if you are located outside of the United States and wish to purchase the books on Amazon, you must order through the corresponding Amazon page in your country of residence.

If you have a question regarding the new editions, please contact us directly.

Update: release of final versions of books for the digital SAT

I am happy to announce that the new editions of my SAT grammar book (6th ed.) and reading book (5th ed.) are undergoing final checks and are almost ready to be released.

Now for the less-good news: Because Amazon’s file-approval process has become unpredictable, there is unfortunately no way to set a firm date when the books will be available.

In the best case scenario, the books could be ready for purchase sometime this week (3/16/23); however, it is also possible that the approval process for one or both of the books will take up to several weeks, as occurred during a previous round of submissions.

I will post an announcement as soon as the books can be ordered, and in the meantime, I appreciate everyone’s continued patience.