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Worrying Biology E/M prep scores

DesperatefrenchDesperatefrench Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
I am a regular reader of College Confidential's threads . I am an international applicant and, considering the relatively low-incomes of my parents, I am only applying for need-blind colleges for Internationals (Dartmouth, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, MIT and Amherst). Well, these are particularly prestigious schools and one of my biggest fear is my school record. I am a good student, but not exceptionnal. i know I'll have great teacher reports but I know it is far not enough. That is why I am counting on my SAT's and essays to make up for it. However, it's only been a few weeks I decided to apply abroad (I am french). Therefore, I am only preparing for my SAT's now . I am currently freaking out because I did some mock tests, and, whereas I am supposed to be very good in maths (I'm taking level 2) and biology, my scores are litteraly pityful : around 550 . Considering that i am aiming for a perfect score, I orderd the Barron's prep books for both subjects+world history. But I'll only have 1 month to greatly increase my scores, and that is really panicking me ! Maybe the fact that I don't really understand many words is for something but, do you think it is realistic to aim for such scores ? Or should I lower my expectations ? but, therefore, my application would surely be refused ;(
Post edited by Desperatefrench on

Replies to: Worrying Biology E/M prep scores

  • IceQubeIceQube Registered User Posts: 3,187 Senior Member
    Which test (E or M) do you plan to take?

    On which book's practice test did you score a 550?

    The Barron's SAT II Bio E/M book is good. Similarly good is the PR Bio book. Also, for an off-the-beaten-road suggestion, the Biology for the IB Diploma book (by Andrew Allott), is actually amazing for SAT II biology ... believe it or not, it nails a ton of really nitty-gritty stuff on the SAT II biology test without going overboard in detail. And it's great for general review.

    It's well-organized - each page is dedicated to just one topic, unlike in PR or Barron's or your conventional books, in which authors ramble on for page after page on a single topic. In the Allott book, one page, with a lot of useful diagrams, and captions, and that's it. Every page a topic, very-well summarized. Each page tells you everything that PR or Barron's tells you in a dozen pages. And the diagrams are infinitely useful.
  • DesperatefrenchDesperatefrench Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    Well, I'm taking M . Thanks a lot for your advice : I'll check on the Allott . Indeed, I used a prep I found on internet (my Barron's have not arrived yet) : it is "Thomson/Peterson's" . And to be completely honest, I just couldn't read every pages of explanations (hundreds ! O_O), that is why I guess the Allott might be very very useful .
    I don't want to be indiscreet, but may I ask you when you took the test (or when you're planning to take it) and which score you had (or aiming for) ?
  • IceQubeIceQube Registered User Posts: 3,187 Senior Member
    Oh, the Peterson's book. Well, it's OK. I judge SAT II Bio books by how similar their practice tests are compared to the real thing, and how well the book covers what's actually on the test. The Peterson's tests are somewhat similar to the actual test. The main problem is that Peterson's goes in to way too much detail sometimes.

    I got an 800 on Bio E in Oct. 2012. I'm eminently qualified; of the four SAT II tests I've taken, I've received 800s on three of them ;). Bio is just one of the 800s. As a matter of fact, I'm actually planning to put out a review book for Bio ... one that'll hopefully be found at local brick+mortar stores sometime in the future.

    Barron's definitely goes into a fair bit of detail in the review section but the tests are actually fairly similar in terms of scope and difficulty. Ignore all the Hardy-Weinberg questions on the practice tests. The review part of the book is uneven. Some areas are covered in way too much detail; some areas are lacking. I still recommend memorizing the whole book, minus the Hardy-Weinberg section, and a few other sections.

    PR is also fairly similar, but PR's review is a little deficient in a few areas. The tests are similar to the real test. I recommend knowing everything in PR backwards and forwards.

    The Allott book is really great in that it hits stuff that PR and Barron's ignore and it's really concise - only ~100 pages ... compared to the 200 to 300 page monstrosities of PR and Barron's.
  • DesperatefrenchDesperatefrench Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    Waouh ! I guess you're definitely not worrying at all for your applications ! Well, did you prepare a long time before the test ?
    I would love to take these three books but I only got a month and I have to maintain my grades in France (I've got 8 hours classes everyday), and furthermore, I am taking three subjects (math level 2, bio and world history). So, which one, between the Allott and the PR would you recommend, for such a desperate case ?
  • IceQubeIceQube Registered User Posts: 3,187 Senior Member
    Allott crushes PR. Go with Allott, and know what's inside well.

    Heck, for that matter, Allott whips PR and Barron's combined in terms of covering what's on the test. Use PR, Barron's, or even both, and you might be blind-sided.
  • DesperatefrenchDesperatefrench Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    Right. Got it : I should use Allott, so I can understand and then, if I got time, I'll use Barron's for intense practice ?
This discussion has been closed.