I am the founder of Kweller Prep Advanced Tutoring and Educational Services located in Forest Hills, NY. I will be happy to respond to questions, comments from all over the country about my review via email.
The exams in the "updated, revised" college-board official SAT Study guide with CD are NOT so updated and revised. In fact, the only thing new about the book is the lighter blue cover design with a cute white sun-shaped border surrounding SAT. Oh, yes and there is a difference in price, from the former $22 dollars $32 dollars retail plus tax for the "new edition," which has all the same exams as the old edition. The price increase should come as no surprise, since the collegeboard is a multibillion dollar "non-profit" industry. I am not thrilled to report that there is NO NEW CONTENT to work from within the book. The only reason for spending ten more dollars is to use the CD, which has a few cute practice lessons and is 20 minutes long IN TOTAL, but nothing too spectacular. By the way, the CD is only 346 MB.
One of my top students, a junior from Stuyvesant High school, is next to me as I write this review. She said she thought that the CD would come with answers and explanations for all these answers, but alas, she was duped and very wrong. No wonder why the CD is in such secured packing! It only makes sense for someone o assume the CD at the end of a large book would have some neat answers and explanations. No no an d no. The CD is essentially a marketing tool set up by college board to buy more stuff.
I'll go even further, to elaborate on what you get for ten more dollars, plus tax.
Math Concepts Video-
There are only nine questions explained in total (wow!!), which is so unimpressive considering there are over 2,000 unexplained questions in this book. Furthermore, the instructor seems less than excited to be teaching this video tutorial. Can she at least pretend to like the subject matter? From a professional standpoint, it would have been nice of the teacher to at least introduce herself and her credentials prior to teaching the Collegeboard video tutorial. Either way, considering there are only 9 questions and all of the 9 out of 9 are extremely simple to explain, I was less than impressed. I was even more aggravated to see these questions explained in the longest way possible by the instructor. The SAT is filled with tricks and loop holes.
If you use the step by step process they suggest here in the tutorial, you will never get to complete all the questions on the exam. Remember, you have 25 minutes for 25 questions for the math section, 20 minutes for 20 math questions on the others. Spending five minutes on ONE question simply won't cut it. On the plus side, Collegeboard will make an extra ten bucks (times 1000000000000000000000000000000000 students buying these books) selling the "new books" with old questions and a slightly prettier cover. If you want tips, tricks, and efficient time saving/ life saving strategies, get the right tutor. (may I suggest Kweller Prep?)
SAT skills Insight video -
This part is really aggravating. Basically Collegeboard is selling their online testing tool, making "skills insight" sound like the next best thing since sliced bread. It is so not the case, skills insight is just a few (VERY FEW) questions on each topic. You need to PAY collegeboard (more money) to get more questions. They even have the audacity to offer you a "deal" if you buy multiple products. The elderly guy on the video here looks very rigid and intimidating. Again, there is no biography or credentials listed about this person. Who is he? Can he ace the SAT? Why is he selling this online tool? I'd much rather listen to more lessons. What a waste. As I continue listening, it gets worse, as the guy in this video talks about how important it is to know algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and functions, without teaching more about algebra and functions. In fact, he doesn't teach at all, but just talks.
I really expected more. So he goes on and on about buying the skills insight software (there is very limited free stuff available through college board. So this part of the video is basically designed to get you to buy more college board stuff, so that college board makes even more money. And of course, college board is clerverly attracting more traffic to their website. This entire section of the CD you just paid $10 extra to have is basically advertising for college board to go to their website ([...]) and sell you more stuff. I am under whelmed.
The woman reading on SAT test timer sounds like she is speaking to an audience of 5- year olds, in baby talk. So condescending. What I love most is how the reader here says that she will notify the class when 5 minutes are left and offer three five minute breaks.
Kweller Prep Tutoring and Educational services has worked with nearly 1,000 students in preparation for the SAT. It is very rare that we hear from students that they got all their 5 minute breaks and that the proctor always notified students when they had 5 minutes left before each and every section. Kids are lucky to even have a clock in the room. Even worse, The "seconds" counter keeps moving on the testing timer. Merely looking at this makes using the timer they provide very stressful. You are better off using a silent timer instead. Save yourself from the aggravation. I can't imagine looking up during the SAT to see this scary looking timer.
Bonus practice test -
an extra test can't hurt, but... I feel like I've already seen this before... hmmmm, I'm wondering if this is a new test, or simply a "bonus" test as they say. I will need to check with my other tutors on this.
Yup, they have seen this test before, and it is available for free online. Just run a quick google search. If you want another free practice test, go here, and save your money: [...]
Again, Collegeboard is selling you more stuff. Testing and torturing is a multibillion dollar industry and you would think that Collegeboard has enough money by now, but I guess I was wrong about that. I am so sick and tired and frustrated with how Collegeboard takes advantages of students and their vulnerabilities with the SAT and tests in general. I'm so happy that I opened my prep school to combat this. The key to acing the SAT is practice and good strategies that hopefully the best-of-the-best tutors can teach. Unfortunately, this DVD fell below my expectations, and they were already low to begin with. The entire DVD is under 20 minutes long btw.
For those for whom ten dollars matters, save your money and buy the old version, or at least definitely buy the new version on sale on amazon even this version has the same some of the same typos as the old one. You can read my review of the older version of college board's official study guide here: http://www.amazon.com/review/RAVNUZLL3HETO/ref=cm_srch_res_rtr_alt_1