Review – The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar by Erica Meltzer

Several SAT experts have enthusiastically recommended this book to me, and I’m pleased to add my own praise for this wonderful guide.

The grammar sections in the big commercial books aren’t bad. Grammar is grammar, and only a handful of errors are tested on the SAT. Other books list these errors, and offer illustrative questions.

But The Ultimate Guide goes further.

Organization

162 pages long, softcover

Introduction, parts of speech

Overview of error types, with emphasis on Error IDs

Fixing Sentences, more about error types

Fixing Paragraphs

Appendices – Summary of error types in the Blue Book

Answer Key

Pros

The text is straightforward and easy to understand.

Information on grammar errors is more thorough and accurate than that in other books. For example, there is a list of common idioms involving prepositions, and also a discussion of the use of this, which, and that.

The example sentences test the errors in a manner which is virtually indistinguishable from those on the SAT. That’s big, and the same is not true for any other book that I’ve seen.

There are many “predictive strategies” – i.e. methods of knowing which errors are likely based on the number or content of the question (e.g. the mention of a profession indicates a noun agreement question).

The book isn’t filled with “extra” grammar rules which aren’t found on the test. The author even let me know that a grammar rule that I posted on my blog was no longer found on the exam. Ms. Meltzer is an expert on SAT grammar, and you won’t waste your time studying superfluous material with this book.

Cons

I see none. I suppose I could point out that the author’s claim of having “cracked” the exam sounds a bit enthusiastic. However, she has written the best SAT grammar guide available.

Overview

In order to do well with this book, you’ll have to put in some hard work. But that will be true if you use any book.

The guide has mostly excellent reviews on Amazon (the two negative reviews are bizarre and lack substance).

What separates this guide from the others is that Ms. Meltzer has put tremendous effort into analyzing a ton of SAT questions. The appendices alone, which give the error type for every question in the College Board “Blue Book,” are alone worth the price (one appendix gives the questions in order, and the other is organized by error type).

Clearly, the author has analyzed not only the 10 tests in the Blue Book, but many others as well. I noticed that she mentioned a couple of questions that appeared on my students’ disclosure exams.

Ms. Meltzer stated that parallel structure errors are very common on question #11 of the long section, and #14 of the short one. Indeed, they occurred on 6 out of 20 such questions in the Blue Book, according to the appendix. I decided to test this by looking at 8 disclosure SATs which were administered in 2005 – 2007, and I found these errors in 7 out of 16 of these questions. The author has done her homework.

If you study SAT grammar from another book, you should improve, because you’ll learn some appropriate grammar rules and how to avoid errors. But you’ll do even better with this book, because you’ll gain knowledge of exactly how these errors are tested on the exam.

If you’re serious about doing your best on the SAT Writing multiple choice, this book is worth every penny.

Buy the guide here for $24.75

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