My rating of The Princeton Review: 9 / 10
I saved the best one for last. The Princeton Review (also known as ‘TPR’) is one the leading companies in test prep, and at least in India, the most popular. Over here, the classroom courses are run by a franchise – the Manya Group. You can check out their site www.manyagroup.com for their SAT prep offerings. I would, however, give more general advice by talking about TPR books and their site.
TPR books are easily available in most major bookstores – you can read my review on SAT prep books for more info on other options. Despite the multitude of options around, I found TPR books to be the best. That’s because others try to teach the concepts behind solving a question, which is sometimes ridiculous when you’re trying to solve 20 questions in 25 minutes. TPR books tell you the concept, and also tricks to tackle questions. Sometimes, their methods like how to eliminate answers to get ‘ETS’s answer’ (that’s how they refer to it – ETS is the company which conducts the SAT); and the Joe Bloggs method of taking caution is pretty useful. I liked the style of the books, which comes across as pretty friendly. Written in a casual style, it gets its points across well, and always presents itself as a friend. It consistently calls the answers ‘ETS’s answer’, not correct answers. It also tries to sympathize with the reader by presenting ETS as a Big Bad Wolf to be defeated. That can be pretty confidence-inducing at times.
Some other books give some higher level questions too, but I found TPR’s to be the closest to the actual SAT. The most popular TPR book – Cracking the SAT – comes with 3 practice SATs, with option to take one more online. I’d suggest that you do one paper WITHOUT going through the book first to get your raw level, and then attempt the other two after reading the book. Don’t dismiss this exercise for the last few days. Also, instead of simply marking the answers in the book, tear out the OMR sheet they provide in the book, and fill them in. It’ll give you practice in filling in the answers in the real SAT, and believe me it’ll help you in staying within the time schedule. Remember, that on the SAT, you have to work on, solve, AND fill in our answers for a particular section within that small time period allotted to the section ONLY.
You can also access more resources on their site www.princetonreview.com, where anyone can take a free practice SAT. The site is a bit messy, with the navigation pretty disorganized. It might take you some time to find your way around. However, for access to more resources, you need to enter your book’s unique identification code (it’s on the last page) to get your own ID. Once logged in, you get access to some extra lessons and a few practice sessions. You also get one more full-length practice SAT, which was pretty well-designed, except for the English sections which used tiny, almost-unreadble image files for the sentence correction sections. Also, unlike other sites which use Java applets to create an actual grid-in form for the Math section, TPR’s use a simple HTML form entry (and thus, you should keep in mind that your answer should be no longer than 4 characters).
Overall, I’d say TPR’s books (and the accompanying site resources) are pretty good, and handy for SAT prep. And oh yes, before I forget, I still say that the girl on the cover of Cracking the SAT 2007 Edition is really hot (and cute and…). One more reason to buy the book ;)