“After Matt Drury earns a perfect score on the SAT, he soon finds himself working for a vast cheating network at his high school, getting paid for services ranging from taking the SAT for classmates with a fake ID to providing social studies homework and test answers for the entire ninth grade. But once inside the cheating network, he encounters corruption, beatings, and even murder. With the help of his oddball friends, Matt soon decides he must expose the network and bring down its nefarious leader, Emil Updike. And he just might be able to, if Updike and the network don’t destroy him first.”
Want to find out what happens next? Then you’ll have to read “The Great SAT Swindle: A novel featuring more than 1,500 vocabulary words in a tale of deception & punishment” by Michael Hartnett. As soon as I became privy to this work of fiction, I knew that parents and students alike would be interesting in not only a good read, but an opportunity to improve their vocabulary. And for those students who are preparing to take the SAT they’ll kill two birds with one stone: a great story and a creative study guide.
“The Great SAT Swindle” is a book that I wish I’d had in high school and one my rising college junior, Amber, wishes she’d been able to read as well. Even though it’s a novel written for high school students, or those in that age range, I found it to be quite humorous*. The plot moves a bit slowly in the beginning, but the way the words are used made a “word hog” like me really get into the book. And, believe it or not, even the definitions (they’re numbered and at the bottom of each page) are engaging. For instance, when defining the word ‘ogling’ Hartnett writes, “to stare at, usually with love or sex on the mind. Ogle is what seventeen-year-old boys like me do in the hours left when they’re not talking about sports or playing video games.”
The idea that a creative work can help with learning SAT vocabulary words was initially lost on me because I thought the person reading the book wouldn’t be able to absorb the words when only encountering them once. However, further along in the book I found some words – I didn’t make it through the entire book before this review – repeated and reiterated. In fact, the use of words is fantastic (“… I would say to Constance if I were some kiss-ass sycophantic toady”) albeit sometimes redundant (“… inclined to foster monotony, tedium and ennui with less effort than I had anticipated.”), but the author is successful in capturing your attention while improving your vocabulary. This is a book that parents will want to read as well. The one downfall from the adult perspective: No pronunciations.
With the stress that test taking causes it’s a good idea to find something that isn’t as stressful as some study guides. Of course, there are practice tests and other means of studying (like guides, tutoring, etc.) that should be utilized, but with “The Great SAT Swindle” students can have a little fun while expanding their brains.
Don’t take my word for it; judge for yourself and get a copy at Amazon. (Yup, that was a shameless plug to get you to purchase through my link …)
*Humorous example: In the first chapter of the book the protagonist is talking about a hairstylist acting as a psychiatrist and says, “Watching her attempt to smile was like watching a dog with no legs try to chase down a stick.”
First-time college mom