So, do you just use past tests from College Board? Any other suggestions? I think it was your family that likes Ivy Global? Is Barron's any good?
No. Yes. Yes. No, well maybe a little.
Here is our current approach (number of each type of test we have is in parentheses):
The lists of tests below are in order of highest quality to lowest quality, but I administer them in the OPPOSITE order, giving the lowest quality tests first and then increasing the quality as the students approach the actual test. That said, I DO mix things up some so that they don't take all six Ivy Global tests in a row, for instance. Plus, the twins complicate things since they cannot use the same book at the same time.
9th grade or younger: Each year I give them one or two of Barron's PSAT practice tests that we have on CD-ROM (2) and online (1). The goal is to get them used to the test format while not "wasting" the better test prep materials until later years.
10th grade: We focus on PSAT prep materials in 10th grade and use a combination of the following materials: 2015 or later College Board administered PSAT tests (3), 2015 or later College Board PSAT practice tests (2), Ivy Global PSAT practice Tests (4), and Barron's PSAT practice tests from books (6). We also had DD15 and DS15 take two of the SAT practice tests and put their answers into Khan Academy along with transferring their test results from 9th grade so that they could do directed online SAT prep with Khan Academy. MomsintheGarden also has them do the Khan Academy High School Statistics mission (not AP Statistics) to help in that area. They get credit for that on their high school transcript.
11th grade: We focus on SAT prep materials in 11th grade (to over-prep for the PSAT) and use a combination of the following materials: 2016 or later College Board SAT prep tests (8), 2016 or later College Board SAT tests from the Q&A service (1), Ivy Global SAT practice tests: (6). DS17 took an SAT on the Saturday before the PSAT as an additional practice test. Also, MomsintheGarden had DS17 start preparing for AP English Language and Composition immediately following the PSAT in 10th grade. Her thinking was that having him read quality literature would help him with is reading comprehension skills and also that preparation would help him learn how to critically analyzed literature. (He didn't end up taking that AP last year because the AP Chemistry test was too consuming, but he will take it this year.)
I will say that our children are all strong in the writing section due to their many years of Rod and Staff training as well as competition in the National Spelling Bee. That's not to say they don't miss questions there - they do - but it is often a matter of being more careful. Sometimes it is a challenging topic such as the proper use of dashes. Did I get them right in the earlier sentence? I'm still not sure!
This is quite a bit of practice, but I am happy with the results. When DS17 dropped down from doing SAT prep this year and took two PSAT practice tests, he got a 1500 on each of them (though he had seen them both a year ago).
Regarding the quality of the Ivy Global tests, I have to say they are very high quality, but are just a bit below the quality that comes from the College Board. Here are some specifics:
1) In the Reading section, I sometimes found myself having difficulty justifying the answer Ivy Global listed as the correct one. Unfortunately, those tests do not have answer explanations available, so I did not have a good way to give feedback on reading unless I could see it myself. With the College Board SAT practice tests, I sometimes have the same problem, but I can always go to the PDF with the answer explanations for each test to find out why they chose a particular answer. DS17 consistently scored lower on the Ivy Global SAT Reading sections than he did on the College Board Reading sections.
2) I found the Writing section of Ivy Global to be very close to the College Board sections and DS17 tended to get similar scores on Ivy Global and College Board in this section. The same issue related to answer explanations applies in this section as well.
3) I found the Math sections to be a bit more challenging in the Ivy Global SAT practice tests than in the College Board SAT tests. Some problems were harder and/or more time consuming and DS17 did not complete several of the Math No Calculator sections in the Ivy Global tests. That's not a bad thing for a practice test, but it can make it difficult to gauge where the student stands. It can also be a bit demoralizing. Again, the lack of answer explanations was a bit of an issue. In the math sections, I can always get the answer, but sometimes I don't always find a fast way to do it. I recently posted one of their problems upthread to see if there was a quick way to do it and I got no reply. By way of contrast, challenging College Board math problems almost always have a fast way (and slower ways) that they can be solved and those different ways are discussed in the answers PDF file.
My dds both need to work on the reading/writing sections more than math. They seem to consistently miss between 3 and 5 total on those sections and are having a hard time improving at that level. We have Erica's grammar workbook, which seems pretty good for drills. I wish she had a reading workbook like she does for grammar.
This is precisely where DS17 was when he took the official PSAT in 10th grade. But when he started prepping for this year's test in June, everything was different: He often missed 0, 1, or 2 questions with an occasional time when he would miss something like 5 (these results were on SAT tests having 52 questions). But the lower scores were usually on the Ivy Global tests. Frankly, I think the prep for AP English Language and Composition really made a difference for him. MomsintheGarden also believes that his brain has simply matured during that time.
BTW, I also gave DS17 the following goals for his official PSAT test: Miss two or fewer questions on Reading and miss no more than one question each on Writing, Math No Calculator and Math With Calculator. My thinking is that he needs SOMETHING to shoot for, but I don't think it is reasonable to expect a perfect score on ANY section since mistakes inevitably happen. The goal is to try to limit them to a suitable level. (Hopefully he did that today! )
The twins (DD15 and DS15) have already consumed all of the PSAT prep materials we have, so they will be using SAT materials almost exclusively next year (except for one or two PSAT practice tests right before the official test).