The SAT, The Princeton Review, and You - Orientation - Cracking the New SAT with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition

Cracking the New SAT with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition (2015)

Part I. Orientation


You are about to unlock a vast repertoire of powerful strategies that have one and only one purpose: to help you get a better score on the SAT. This book contains the collected wisdom of The Princeton Review, which has spent more than 35 years helping students achieve higher scores on standardized tests. We’ve devoted millions of dollars and years of our lives to cracking the SAT. It’s what we do (twisted as it may be), and we want you to benefit from our expertise.


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full of awesome online
resources, including two
more full-length practice
tests, as well as videos,
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admissions articles, and
more. See “Register Your
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The Princeton Review is the leader in test prep. Our goal is to help students everywhere crack the SAT and a bunch of other standardized tests, including the PSAT and ACT as well as graduate-level exams like the GRE and GMAT. Starting from humble beginnings in 1981, The Princeton Review is now the nation’s largest SAT preparation company. We offer courses in more than 500 locations in 20 different countries, as well as online; we also publish best-selling books, like the one you’re holding, and online resources to get students ready for this test.

Our techniques work. We developed them after spending countless hours scrutinizing real SATs, analyzing them with computers, and proving our theories in the classroom.

The Princeton Review Way

This book will show you how to crack the SAT by teaching you to:

•extract important information from tricky test questions

•take full advantage of the limited time allowed

•systematically answer questions—even if you don’t fully understand them

•avoid the traps that the SAT has laid for you (and use those traps to your advantage)

The test is made by Educational Testing Service (ETS), and it knows that our techniques work. For years, ETS claimed that the SAT couldn’t be coached. But we’ve proven that view wrong, and ETS has struggled to find ways of changing the SAT so that The Princeton Review won’t be able to crack it—in effect, acknowledging what our students have known all along: that our techniques really do work. (In fact, ETS has recently admitted that students can and should prepare for the SAT. So there!) The SAT has remained highly vulnerable to our techniques. And the current version of the SAT is even more susceptible to our methods. Read this book, work through the drills, take the practice tests, and you’ll see what we mean.


If you were getting ready
to take a biology test,
you’d study biology. If
you were preparing for a
basketball game, you’d
practice basketball. So, if
you’re preparing for the
SAT, you need to study
and practice for the SAT.
The exam can’t test every-
thing you learn in school
(in fact, it tests very little),
so concentrate on learning
what it does test.

Chapter 1. The SAT, The Princeton Review, and You

Welcome! Our job is to help you get the best possible score on the SAT. This chapter tells you what to expect from the new SAT as well as some specifics about the test. It will also explain how to make the most of all your Princeton Review materials.


You may have bought this book because you know nothing about the SAT, or perhaps you took the test once and want to raise your score. Either way, it’s important to know about the test and the people who write it. Let’s take a second to discuss some SAT facts: Some of them may surprise you.

What Does the SAT Test?

Just because the SAT features math, reading, and writing questions doesn’t mean that it reflects what you learned in school. You can ace calculus or write like Faulkner and still struggle with the SAT. The test writers claim that the test predicts how well you will do in college by measuring “reasoning ability,” but all the SAT really measures is how well you take the SAT. It does not reveal how smart—or how good of—a person you are.

Who Writes the SAT?

Even though colleges and universities make wide use of the SAT, they’re not the ones who write the test. That’s the job of Educational Testing Service (ETS), a nonprofit company that writes tests for college and graduate school admissions on behalf of the College Board, the organization that decides how the tests will be administered and used. ETS also writes tests for groups as diverse as butchers and professional golfers (who knew?).

ETS is often criticized for the SAT. Many educators have argued that the test does not measure the skills you really need for college. This led them in 2005 to overhaul the entire test, shifting from a 1600- to a 2400-point scale, which is probably the test you’re most familiar with. But beginning in March 2016, the test is changing again, and this book covers everything you need to know about the new SAT. The important takeaway here is that the people who write the SAT are professional test writers, and, with some practice, it’s possible to beat them at their own game.

Wait, Who Writes
This Test?

You may be surprised to
learn that the people
who write SAT test
questions are NOT
necessarily teachers or
college professors. The
people who write the
SAT are professional test
writers, not superhuman
geniuses, so you can beat
them at their own game.

What’s on the SAT?

The redesigned SAT is 3 hours long, or 3 hours and 50 minutes long if you choose to take the “optional” 50-minute essay. (Note: The essay is optional for colleges, but many schools require it. Be sure to research and determine if you need to take the essay for the schools you’re applying to!). The test is divided into two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing—which consists of the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test—and Math, which has two sections: Math Test—Calculator and Math Test—No Calculator. The Math Tests contain some student-produced responses (called “grid-ins”), but all other questions are multiple choice. All multiple-choice questions have four possible answer choices, which is a departure from the five choices on the old SAT.


ETS is incredibly confusing
(and perhaps confused!)
about what it refers to as
a “Test” versus a “section.”
What really matters to
you as a test-taker is how
the test is divided up and
what YOU need to know
to crack it!

Each part of this book covers these tests in detail, but here’s a brief rundown of what you can expect.

Reading Test

Your score on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT is comprised of your scores on the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test. The Reading Test is 65 minutes long and consists of 52 questions, all of which are passage-based and multiple choice. Passages may be paired with informational graphics, such as charts or graphs, and there will also be a series of questions based on a pair of passages. The selected passages will be from previously published works in the areas of world literature, history/social studies, and science. Questions based on science passages may ask you to analyze data or hypotheses, while questions about literature passages will concentrate more on literary concepts like theme, mood, and characterization. The main goal is to measure your ability to both understand words in context and find and analyze evidence.

Want More?

For even more practice,
check out 500+ Practice
Questions for the New SAT

Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language Test is 35 minutes long and consists of 44 questions, which are also multiple choice and based on several passages. However, instead of asking you to analyze a passage, questions will ask you to proofread and edit the passage. That means you’ll have to correct grammar and word choice and make larger changes to the organization or content of the passage.

Math Test

You’ll have a total of 80 minutes to complete the Math Test, which, as we mentioned earlier, is divided into two sections: No Calculator (Section 3; 25 minutes, 20 questions) and Calculator (Section 4; 55 minutes, 38 questions). Most questions are multiple choice, but there are also a handful of student-produced response questions, which are also known as Grid-Ins. (Instead of choosing from four answer choices, you’ll have to work through a problem and then enter your answer on your answer sheet by bubbling in the appropriate numbers. We’ll discuss this in more detail in Chapter 17.) Exactly 13 of the 58 math questions will be Grid-Ins.

The Math Test covers four main content areas, which the test developers have named the following: (1) Heart of Algebra, (2) Problem Solving and Data Analysis, (3) Passport to Advanced Math, and (4) Additional Topics in Math. This last section includes topics in geometry and trigonometry. Part IV of this book covers each of these content areas in depth.

Optional Essay

While the old SAT required students to write a 25-minute essay as part of the test, the new SAT has an “optional” essay. This word is in quotes because many schools may require the essay portion of the SAT, so be sure to do your research and determine if you need to take this part of the test! But if you must take this part, you’ll have double the amount of time than you would have on the old SAT—50 minutes!—to write it. The essay will not require you to write about a personal experience or argue with a position; rather, you’ll have to read a short passage and explain how the author effectively builds his or her argument. The test writers want to see how you comprehend a text and demonstrate that understanding in writing, using evidence from the text.

Expand Your

Learn more about the new
SAT by logging into your
Premium Portal, which is
filled with great stuff like
a slew of video tutorials
and the “SAT Insider” to
help you navigate
college admissions,
applications, and test prep.

Scoring on the SAT

The new SAT is scored on a scale of 400–1600, which is a combination of your scores for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (scored from 200 to 800) and Math (also scored from 200 to 800). However, the redesigned exam also introduces a more detailed scoring system that includes cross-test scores and subscores based on your performance on each of the three tests. Your score report for the new SAT will feature scores for each of the following:

Total score (1): The sum of the two section scores (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math), ranging from 400 to 1600

Section scores (2): Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, ranging from 200–800; Math, also ranging from 200 to 800

Test scores (3): Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, Math Test, each of which is scored on a scale from 10 to 40

Cross-test scores (2): Each is scored on a scale from 10 to 40 and based on selected questions from the three tests (Reading, Writing and Language, Math):

1.Analysis in History/Social Studies

2.Analysis in Science

Subscores (7): Each of the following receives a score from 1 to 15:

1.Command of Evidence (Reading; Writing and Language)

2.Words in Context (Reading; Writing and Language)

3.Expression of Ideas (Writing and Language)

4.Standard English Conventions (Writing and Language)

5.Heart of Algebra (Math)

6.Problem Solving and Data Analysis (Math)

7.Passport to Advanced Math (Math)

This new scoring structure was designed to help provide a more holistic profile of students’ skills and knowledge, as well as readiness for college.

A Note on Essay

If you choose to write the
essay, you will be graded
by two readers in three
areas: Reading, Writing,
and Analysis. Your total
essay score will be on a 2-
to 8-point scale for each of
the three areas. See Part V
for more on the essay and
how it is scored.


The SAT schedule for the school year is posted on the College Board website at There are two different ways to sign up for the test. You can either sign up online by going to and clicking on the SAT hyperlink, or sign up through the mail with an SAT registration booklet, which may be available at your school guidance counselor’s office.

Try to sign up for the SAT as soon as you know when you’ll be taking the test. If you wait until the last minute to sign up, there may not be any open spots in the testing centers.

If you require any special accommodations while taking the test (including, but not limited to, extra time or assistance), has information about applying for those accommodations. Make sure to apply early; we recommend applying six months before you plan to take the test.

Stay on Schedule

Although you may take
the SAT any time starting
freshman year, most
students take it for the
first time in the spring
of their junior year and
possibly retake it in the
fall of their senior year. In
addition, you may also
need to take SAT subject
tests (many competitive
colleges require them), so
don’t leave everything to
the last minute. You can’t
take SAT and SAT Subject
Tests on the same day. Sit
down and plan a schedule.


This book is organized to provide as much—or as little—support as you need, so you can use it in whatever way will be helpful to improving your score on the SAT. But before you can decide how to use this book, you should take a practice test to determine your strengths and weaknesses and figure out how to make an effective study plan. If you’re feeling test-phobic, remind yourself that a practice test is a tool for diagnosing yourself—it’s not how well you do that matters, but how you use the information gleaned from your performance to guide your preparation.

So, before you read any further, take Practice Test 1 that starts on this page of Part VII. Be sure to take it in one sitting so as to mimic the real test-taking experience, and remember to follow the instructions that appear at the beginning of each section of the exam.

After you take the test, check your answers against the Answers and Explanations that start on this page, reflect on your performance, and determine the areas in which you need to improve. Which sections or types of questions presented the most difficulty to you? Which sections or types of questions did you feel most confident about? Based on your performance on each of the sections, should you focus your study more on math, reading, or writing?

How you answer those questions will affect how you engage with Part II (How to Crack the Reading Test), Part III (How to Crack the Writing and Language Test), Part IV (How to Crack the Math Test), and Part V (How to Crack the Essay) of this book. Each of these parts is designed to give a comprehensive review of the content tested on the SAT, including the level of detail you need to know and how the content is tested. At the end of each of these chapters, you’ll have the opportunity to assess your mastery of the content covered through targeted drills that reflect the types of questions and level of difficulty you’ll see on the actual exam.

In addition to content review, this book also provides essential test-taking strategies that will help you avoid traps and manage your time in order to maximize the number of points available to you. Strategies are discussed in every content chapter, but you can also find a helpful overview in Chapter 2 of the ones that come up frequently throughout the book. This chapter will help you think about your approach to the various question types on the exam.

You’ll have the chance to apply these strategies in Part VII, which contains the remaining practice tests. If you need additional practice, you can download two more practice tests online by registering your book on our website and following the steps to access your online resources. (See “Register Your Book Online!”.) You do not have to take every practice test available to you, but doing so will allow you to continually gauge your performance, address your deficiencies, and improve.

And remember, your prep should not end with this book. There are a host of resources available to you online, including the online tools accompanying this book (see “Register Your Book Online!”) as well as the College Board website,

Get More Online

Want even more practice?
Be sure to register your
book to gain access to our
Premium Portal, which is
filled with a ton of great
content to help boost
your test prep, including
two additional full-length
practice tests, along with
answers and explanations.