June 11, 2017

SAT Physics Subject Test: The Best Prep Books

Use the books below to aim for a perfect score on the Physics Subject Test.

The Official SAT Subject Test in Physics Study Guide

If you can only afford one book, get this one. It has two official practice tests and answer explanations.

Neither of these tests is a copy of the one in The Official Study Guide for ALL SAT Subject Tests, so you should get both books if you can.

Pros
Official material is a true confidence builder. Every question you get wrong contains skills you need to practice.

Most prep books have poorly written questions, answer key errors, and questions that are unrealistically easy, difficult, or off-topic. If you get questions wrong or run out of time on unofficial tests, you'll have trouble figuring out whether the fault lies with you or with the book you're using.

Based on the raw-to-scaled score conversion tables in the book, a raw score of 58/75 and 59/75 will get you perfect 800's on the first and second practice tests,

Cons
There's no Kindle edition, so you'll have to plan ahead and order a physical copy from Amazon.


The Official Study Guide for ALL SAT Subject Tests

This book contains a unique official College Board practice test.

Pros
Official material is a true confidence builder. Every question you get wrong contains skills you need to practice.

Most prep books have poorly written questions, answer key errors, and questions that are unrealistically easy, difficult, or off-topic. If you get questions wrong or run out of time on unofficial tests, you'll have trouble figuring out whether the fault lies with you or with the book you're using.

Based on the raw-to-scaled score conversion table in the book, a raw score of 59/75 will get you a perfect scaled score of 800.

Cons
This book has only one Physics practice test and along with a few warm-up questions.


Cracking the SAT Physics Subject Test

This is a good all-around study guide. It contains content review, useful strategies, and decent practice tests.

Pros
The practice tests have no answer key errors. They're very similar to actual College Board tests.

The book's helpful content review chapters can keep you from feeling lost. The Physics Subject Test covers a broader range of topics than you're likely to learn in your high school class, so content review is a must.

Cons
The Princeton Review is all about giving you what you need and not one iota more. You don't have to know every topic covered on the test to score an 800. The book's content review is incomplete in a couple of areas; this might have been done purposefully to keep students from over-prepping. You can still Google the explanations for the those topics.


Barron's SAT Subject Test: Physics

This is another good all-around study guide. Instead of scattering practice questions throughout the chapter text like the Princeton Review does, the Barron's guide completely explains each topic in textbook format and puts all of the practice questions at the chapters' ends.

Pros
The Barron's book has the look and feel of a physics textbook, and its detailed explanations can be helpful as a supplement to your school's textbook.

Cons
The downside of completeness is the potential for information overload. You don't need to understand every topic on the Physics Subject Test: a raw score of 59/75 will get you a perfect scaled 800.


Physics Mastery for Advanced High School Students: Complete Physics Review with 400 SAT and AP Physics Questions (Tony Rothman and Steve Warner)

As the title suggests, this is an all-in-one prep guide for SAT and AP Physics.

Pros
The topics, language, and problem-solving approaches in this book are fairly advanced. If you're taking AP Physics, this book can be very useful as a supplement to your school textbook and as a study guide for the AP test.

Cons
This book does not resemble Steve Warner's SAT and ACT Math workbooks: in those books, Dr. Warner targets specific tests, and his practice questions realistically reflect the topics, formats, and difficulty levels of the official tests. This book tries to prep you for SAT and AP Physics at the same time, and the questions are much harder than anything you'll see on the SAT Physics Subject Test.


Sterling Test Prep SAT Physics Practice Questions: High Yield SAT Physics Questions with Detailed Explanations

This is an excellent source of extra practice questions.

Pros
Unlike Sterling's SAT Chemistry and SAT Biology books, the SAT Physics book contains answer explanations for almost all of its questions.

It contains four diagnostic tests, followed by banks of practice questions that are organized by topic.

Cons
This book doesn't have any organized content review. If you're not a superstar in your physics class, start with the Princeton Review's book and move on to this one if you need the extra practice.

Books to Avoid

Peterson's SAT II Success: Physics has some very badly written questions. It's not just the answer key is wrong: the questions themselves are written in a confusing way. Avoid this book at all costs.

Going for a Perfect Score

A raw score of 59/75 will usually get you a perfect scaled 800 on SAT Physics. Even after the test deducts a quarter of a point for every question you get wrong, you can afford to miss thirteen of the seventy-five problems. That's like getting an 83% on a comprehensive high school physics final.

The books above contain everything you need to get an awesome score, but if you'd like personalized help, you can sign up for in-home or online tutoring.

2 comments:

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  2. I love to read physics as I am a typical student in this subjects. I always looking for various blogs to learn something new.

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