May 23, 2010

Why I Don't Trust Prep Books

In my efforts to be an awesome test-taker, I have been taking practice tests. The spanish ones have been going decently, high 700s. The English I thought was manageable--I took the first practice in the back of the book a couple weeks ago and got low 700s, so I figured, like Spanish, I'd jump about 50 points after the first one.

So, after discovering that the McGraw-Hill book had a diagnostic exam in the front that I'd originally missed, so I took that.

I got a 590.

I'm still rather confused. My theory is that they put in a hard diagnostic test so that you read the rest of the book, look at your scores at the ones in the end and say "gosh, look how I've improved." If that is the case, it's very manipulative of the book. If it's not, and I'm suddenly experiencing an outpouring of stupidity, well, I'm going to have some severe end-of-year issues.

I'll have to take another test from the back for comparison. I am really not looking forward to this.


Ginny said...

Diagnostics are weird. I usually just use them to see which subjects I need to reread on (but mine are all math/science stuff).

Also, the level of difficulty among books are also different. I always got high 600s for one of my SAT prep book, and then mid 700s for another.

vicky/bruney said...

I have gone through the books: barrons, kaplans, macgraw hill, REA, sparknotes, princeton review and really old released tests for the math subject test (signed up for level 2 but may chicken out and do level 1 at last minute). (Hahaha, at the end of the year I should count how many thousands of math problems I did to prepare for the SATi and SATii). The difficulty changes a lot between all the books so maybe it was just the brand you got. I've also signed up for world satii but have only done 3 practice tests so far...haha, luckily the curve is huge: -15=800.