SAT Preparation in 28 Days is subtitled “A Companion to The Official SAT Study Guide,” and should be purchased with the version of the Blue Book with the DVD. It is meant to guide students on a four week course of study.
The guide is only 35 pages long, and as such, it contains minimal SAT strategy and illustrative questions. no problem – but do you get what you pay for?
Before You Begin – take a diagnostic test
Weeks 1-4: Each week begins with a list of just over 100 vocabulary words and definitions, followed by a handful of SAT strategies and concepts.
There is a short list of vocabulary roots.
Finally, there is a page on timing the SAT, and a “syllabus” advising you to study one page of the guide each day.
The guide is very brief, and the course only lasts four weeks. That’s very short, but a student might only have four weeks to prepare.
The language is easy to understand, and the author gets right to the point in every case.
The concepts and strategies all relate to questions found on the SAT, and most of the vocabulary words are commonly found on the test.
There is not sufficient material to optimally prepare a student for a test as involved as the SAT. Four weeks is also insufficient, so this guide is only appropriate for students who lack the time to study more.
There are a few words that I’ve never seen on an SAT (I’ve seen hundreds of SATs). No biggie – I’m talking about 4 or 5 out of over 400. More important, many of the most commonly used words are absent. Learning the words in this guide will help, but there are better vocabulary guides. Finally, only words and definitions are offered – no strategies or helpful mnemonics.
Some of the advice is so minimal that it is hard to understand, and other advice is plain wrong. For example, the tiny paragraph headlined “Avoid Predictable Traps” says to eliminate wrong answers first (which isn’t always the best approach), and mentions nothing about traps! Furthermore, it goes on to advise you to guess only if you can eliminate all but two answer choices, which is just plain wrong (see here).
Here is an excerpt from the guide:
“Follow the Five Paragraph Rule
Write five paragraphs per essay. Write five sentences per paragraph. The five paragraph rule applies EXCEPT that there is not enough time to generate a cohesive, five paragraph essay. Aim for four (4) paragraphs instead.”
Is that telling you to write a four- or five-paragraph essay? Did the author mean to say “EXCEPT when there is not enough time”? Even if that is so, there is no advice on how to decide that.
Although several useful techniques are presented, some of them have no accompanying examples, or even pointers to which questions in the Blue Book apply. Many of the most effective (and well known) SAT strategies aren’t here; how can any SAT math guide omit plugging in?
Although there are a few errors in this book, they aren’t overwhelming. Still, the guide is nowhere near comprehensive. Its greatest weakness is also its biggest selling point – this is a guide for someone who doesn’t have much time to prepare for the SAT, and is looking for a short and sweet approach.
Early in this article, I asked whether this guide is worth the money. Recently, I have reviewed several books that are over 500 pages in length, and they typically go for around $13 on Amazon. SAT Preparation in 28 Days costs $9.99 – that’s too much (there is very little information in this book). The Kindle edition isn’t much of a bargain at $7.99. This isn’t necessarily the author’s fault; it may be impossible to offer a cheaper book and recoup publishing and distribution costs (and Amazon’s cut). Still, most people want value for their buck. However, the ebook is currently being offered for FREE to Amazon Prime members. You can’t go wrong with that (just ignore the guessing advice).
Buy the paperback here