Do books like this help? When I attended a decent public high school, we were told that outside preparation was a good way to spend a lot of time and money on statistically insignificant returns. This doesn't bother private high school students I've met recently. I don't know if preparation has improved, or if the "cost" side of cost/benefit inhibits them less. Familiarity with the format and grounding in tactics has got to be worth something.
I think Lance Armstrong likes to ride the course before the Tour de France starts. His margin of victory is statistically insignificant, but it seems to work for him.
In rebuttal to another reviewer's comments: You *can* improve your ability to write essays (assuming there's room for improvement to begin with). I'm coaching a student whose essays just improved dramatically after she studied the tactics recommended by the Princeton book (e.g. add some literary or historical references). Of course some essay topics are easy to get one's teeth into, others are intractable, and we can't tell how she'll feel about the one the test puts in front of her--but she has a better template to work with than she did before.
Not bad, eh? I think I tossed this together in 20 minutes or less, with an illustrative reference to sports! I've had more practice than my student, but improvement is possible!