Gruber’s Complete SAT Guide 2012, 15th edition, is 1088 pages long, making it one of the fattest SAT guides on the market. On Amazon, it ranks behind books by Barron’s, The Princeton Review, McGraw-Hill, and Kaplan in sales.
As I have mentioned in earlier reviews, most of the strategies for the SAT that are found in these books were first published many years ago. Although there are some differences between the guides, they are mostly similar.
Obviously, people who write or publish an SAT book would like their product to stand out from the pack. Dr. Gruber has made an effort to do that, but in this case, different clearly doesn’t mean better.
On the back cover, it says:
“The Best Book On The SAT” – CBS Radio
Introduction – basics, thinking skills and modes, study program, SAT format
Small Diagnostic Test – 90 questions
Mini Diagnostic Test – 18 questions! (7 Reading, 4 Writing, 7 Math)
Strategies – Math, Reading
5 Practice Tests
The test is well written and easy to understand.
Helpful SAT tips are found throughout the book.
The practice tests have few errors.
The book is only $10.99 (eligible for free Super Saver Shipping) on Amazon.
The author goes out of his way to teach techniques that differ from those in other guides, and most of the ones here are inferior.
The practice tests differ more from the real SATs than the ones in the better guides.
Many strategies are not well explained and/or are insufficiently stressed.
The diagnostic tests are too short. The mini-test is laughable.
There are only 5 practice tests.
This book isn’t awful. I’m sure that many students could improve their scores with it.
I have mentioned in previous reviews that many of the comprehensive SAT study guides are very similar. The author of this one tried too hard to make it different, without substance to back it up.
I don’t want to list every example, but here are a few ways this book runs off the tracks:
I’ve already mentioned the ludicrous 18-question diagnostic.
There is a section on SAT strategies for women. Men beware!
Plugging in (perhaps the most useful strategy for the Math section) is mentioned almost as an afterthought, and is poorly explained.
Backsolving (plugging the answers into a variable in an algebra question) is also very useful. Every other guide, and every SAT teacher I’ve ever spoken to about it, tells you to start with answer (C). That’s common sense, since the answers are almost always in order, and you can usually tell if (C) is too large or small if it doesn’t work. But Dr. Gruber says to start with (E) and work backwards!
I cannot recommend this book.