Why You Should Only Study with Official College Board Tests

As the pressure to perform well on standardized tests like the SAT grows, students often seek out various resources to help them improve their scores. It’s not uncommon for families to invest in SAT test prep books or enroll in coaching programs that promise quick and easy tricks for success. However, relying on these resources may not always be the best approach.

In this article, we’ll explore why studying with College Board tests, the organization that designs and administers the SAT, is crucial for effective SAT preparation. We’ll debunk the myths surrounding so-called “tricks” for achieving high scores and shed light on the importance of using authentic materials.

1. Mastering the SAT Requires More Than Just Tricks

It’s a common misconception that there are secret techniques or shortcuts that can guarantee a high SAT score. While there are definitely strategies that can help you perform better on the test, there is no magic formula. Simply memorizing tricks or relying on shortcuts will not lead to significant improvements.

Consider this scenario: I once worked extensively with a highly intelligent student who had a strong grasp of the test material and pacing. I was confident that she would achieve an exceptional score. However, on our final session, she asked me for the “secrets” to the test. This situation is not uncommon. Even dedicated students often believe that there must be an easier way to succeed. In reality, achieving a high SAT score requires a combination of helpful techniques, expert guidance, and self-discipline.

2. Be Aware of Questionable SAT Prep Books

Not all SAT prep books have your best interests in mind. Some companies create their own tests and design questions that align with the specific techniques they endorse. Unfortunately, this approach is not always in the students’ best interest. In an attempt to present exclusive strategies, some books provide inefficient or counter-intuitive advice that fails to help students reach their full potential.

It’s crucial to carefully select study materials that prioritize your learning and growth. Instead of relying on books that may promote questionable tactics, consider using resources that align with the Official College Board tests.

3. The Value of Official College Board Tests

The Official College Board tests are the gold standard for SAT preparation. They offer authentic SAT questions that accurately reflect the format and difficulty level of the actual exam. Practicing with these materials allows you to become familiar with the patterns of repeated concepts and similar questions, helping you gain a deeper understanding of the test structure.

When seeking a SAT tutor, it is essential to find someone who relies on the College Board guide as their primary resource. A trustworthy tutor will jump straight to the practice tests in the back of the book and teach you how to approach each type of problem. In fact, an exceptional tutor may have a well-worn College Board guide, its cover protected by duct tape from constant use. This dedication to using official materials indicates their commitment to providing quality instruction.

Remember, the SAT is primarily a familiarity test. While familiarizing yourself with the questions from third-party resources can be helpful, relying on the Official College Board tests ensures that you are practicing with the most accurate and reliable material.


When it comes to SAT preparation, solely relying on tricks or unauthorized study materials is not an effective strategy. Achieving a high score requires thorough understanding, diligent practice, and the use of reliable resources. By studying with the Official College Board tests, you gain access to authentic questions and valuable insights into the test structure.

Investing time and effort in preparing for the SAT using the College Board’s official resources will provide you with the best opportunity for success. Don’t compromise your preparation—trust the materials developed by the organization that designs the exam itself.

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