An anecdote*: while browsing in a bookstore during my junior year of high school, I happened to pick up a book called The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. It's the story of a Hmong refugee family and their struggles to navigate the American healthcare system for their severely epileptic daughter. It was well-written and an interesting read, if somewhat sad, so I stood there in the bookstore perusing it for maybe 45 minutes. I assure you that the SAT was the furthest thing from my mind.
But guess what:
An excerpt from it showed up when I took the SAT. (The same one also resurfaced in 2005, so who knows, they might reuse it again...) Guess how much trouble I had figuring out what that passage was talking about.
Now, was I actively trying to study for the SAT when I walked into the bookstore? Absolutely not. But that's what I mean when I say that studying for the SAT isn't just about prep books.
I'm never know quite how to respond when a student tells me that he or she doesn't enjoy reading and rarely does it for pleasure but will settle for nothing less than a perfect score. The truth is that the people at the College Board know exactly what sorts of words and phrases will throw off the people who don't read sophisticated material on a regular basis, and they make sure to include just enough of them (10 questions, to be precise) to make getting above a 700 in Reading a real challenge.
So if you really, really want that fantastic Reading score, put down your Kaplan guide, get yourself to the bookstore or the library, and pick up an actual book. What a shocking idea.
*bold denotes a common SAT word