In the spirit of the thread I created after taking physics and chemistry last May - http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-subject-tests-preparation/512788-some-advice-those-taking-chem-physics-june.html
- I feel obligated once more to share my advice on dealing with the Literature test since I got an 800 on it and missed only 1 problem (to my knowledge).
First off, in case you have read this thread: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-subject-tests-preparation/340613-advice-lit-test-i-scored-800-a.html?highlight=Literature
I completely agree with part 1 of disgraces' post ("Thinking Right"), but disagree heavily with the rest of the post - namely, all of the reading materials/websites. They aren't bad, but they will not help you score an 800. If you've already read disgrace's post (I recommend it so you have a 2nd perspective) you'll notice I repeat a few things because they are that important lol.
1. The SATIIs can be much harder to study for than the SATI - it seems like you can find SATI tests all over the place. No such luck for the SATII's.
2. You will need CB's blue practice test book for the subject tests. The one literature test in it is critical! Take it about one week before the real thing to gauge your level of preparation (doing this the night before isn't very helpful)
3. Vocab and technical terms - if you have worked with the Barron's book, like I did, you will be inundated with literary terms. This is huge overkill - there was ONE question on my lit test that had a direct vocab question ("Which of the following was NOT used in the passage" - Apostrophe, Metaphor, etc...). There is some basic literary vocab tested indirectly in some answer choices, and possibly 1-2 vocab-in-context questions, but studying for them is a waste of time given their low volume in the test and the fact that they aren't that hard.
4. Reading for the Literature test will help you score higher - FALSE, for two reasons: One - you cannot become a better reader overnight. Two - the Lit test will have obscure passages and you can't possibly hope to have already read them. If you insist on reading, I recommend reading some Shakespeare (google his sonnets) and reading it without translation. But the benefit is somewhat limited, so don't waste too much practice time doing this - only if you are really unfamiliar with poetry.
Literature is a fancy name for Critical Reading on steroids. No more easy short passages. And don't be fooled by the lack of vocab - it's sprinkled into the passages and answer choices.
Because of this, realize that every answer choice has to be 10000000000% the RIGHT answer choice. The college board can't afford to put ambiguous choices in the questions. I lost sight of this when I was preparing, and had a hard time until it "clicked" that it was just CR with poetry. There is a reason every wrong answer choice is wrong. Find it.
The Literature test also LOVES to put in two correct answer choices. But, the one that is ultimately RIGHT is the MOST CORRECT one. And it's very easy to tell the difference with practice. Remember that there can't be 2 right answers.
Don't try to bring your own interpretations to the table. The writers only test you on THEIR interpretation, which is sometimes so easy and obvious you can lose sight of think. Lesson - don't overthink things.
1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS LOOK FOR "NOT, EXCEPT" QUESTIONS. They appear so frequently on Lit that it almost gets tiring....and that's exactly the point! Don't overlook these!
2. Always choose the MOST CORRECT CHOICE. This is the one that is SUPPORTED by the text. The next best one "feels right" but there is no evidence to back it up. This is by far the trickiest thing about Lit.
3. Let the questions teach you the passage. What do I mean by this? A lot of the time you might have no clue what a poem meant. In this case, observe the five answer choices - one of those 5 is CORRECT! It becomes much easier to know what's going on when you're limited to 5 different interpretations of the passage. Some are obviously wrong, and then a quick re-scan of the beginning/end will tell you which answer choice is right, and now what the poem is about.
4. BEWARE the "wrong answer theme." I've noticed that many of the answer choices to different questions, all for a single passage, focus on a theme that is COMPLETELY WRONG. This means that if you falsely interpret the passage, you will be tempted down the "wrong answer path." That's why it's crucial to understand the passage, which you can improve through practice:
5. Passage comprehension by itself isn't too hard - of you have a ton of time. Doing it under pressure is what's difficult. This is why taking practice tests is THE BEST WAY TO GET A GOOD SCORE! After using practically all the Literature prep books, here are my thoughts on each of them:
Barron's - Ridiculously hard practice tests, too focused on the technical side of literature, some of the answer choices are ambivalent. What's good about it is sheer number of practice problems, and it provides great LESSONS on literary elements. Stay away from the tests though. My scores on Barron's tests were usually below 700.
Princeton Review - Terrible Review section, practice tests are fairly realistic, if not slightly harder. Problem is that there are only 4 tests. My scores were about 720 on PR.
Kaplan - By far the best prep book. The tests are very realistic, and the review is pretty decent. Try to do ALL of the 8 tests. My scores were about 780-800 on Kaplan.
6. Practice speed, speed, speed. Forcing yourself to move on quickly through the questions might actually make you more accurate (I find I scored higher on tests where I limited myself to 50 minutes, as opposed to tests where I gave myself unlimited time).
Final Thoughts: Don't take Literature unless you're fairly confident in your reading ability. The main thing that makes this test difficult is the time limit.
If you have any specific questions for me feel free to ask. Good luck to everyone who takes the test :)