(Note: Following is the text of my original review in March 2005. I have updated the review with new comments under "NEW review" below.)
Let me start this review by stating that this is a great book, obviously written by someone who knows the SAT (and the New SAT) VERY well. Mr. Robinson understands how the exam works and provides some very useful strategies for tackling all of the question types. This book is not perfect (hence, the 4 stars), however, and several things really take away from the utility of the book. First of all, the CD is practically useless. The reader is misled into thinking that the CD allows him to use many valuable bonus features on the website. Close inspection will inform the reader, however, that FREE registration on the website offers him the exact same features. The RocketScore engine (which supposedly scores essays to a decimal accuracy) is not terribly accurate. I had students submit good essays and earn 0s (they were told it was off-topic, when the essays were clearly ON-topic), while others submitted mediocre essays that earned top scores from the engine. There wasn't often a rhyme or logic to it; the scores were very misleading. The author had also promised illustrative problems on the website for all the math review chapters at the end of the book. He only just posted a handful of questions, many of which look to be replicas of questions from the practice test. They are not nearly enough questions; I was looking for more ample practice material. The CD adds an entirely unnecessary cost to the book; the book can easily be sold for $10 less without the CD. And while the author presents himself as the ultimate authority on the SAT, there are a few errors, major and minor (not all of which have been corrected with the errata on the site), that belie that claim. The main flaw with the book is the lack of practice material. Although he provides some questions to illustrate the strategies in the book, he only offers one complete practice test, while other books give at least three or four. And no explanations accompany the answers, making it a sub-par exam (although the questions themselves are good). He did not even give short practice sets for the chapters. He might be partly forgiven, though, since the book already runs over 700 pages. Use the Official SAT Study Guide with this book. Overall, a good book, with some major deficiencies.
Since I wrote my first review of this book (the first edition) more than two years ago, I thought it would be prudent to update my thoughts on the book. On the whole, my impressions of the book remain largely the same. I should point out that my earlier criticism of the CD was not entirely fair. Registration with the CD is necessary to access some features, including RocketScore (the essay-scoring engine) and OmniProctor (which offers audio samples that attempt to simulate a real, proctored exam) (OmniProctor STILL, by the way, does not offer a 10-minute section). I have not used RocketScore since the first year; I certainly hope that Mr. Robinson has improved its effectiveness and accuracy since then. Some might think that these features are worth the extra $10 or so; I don't, especially since new updates and additions are now virtually nonexistent. Mr. Robinson seems to have been a bit indolent since the first year after the publication of the first edition. Despite his promise on the website, for example, that he would update the vocabulary list with some new words, the word list remains exactly the same as that in the first edition. There is still a paltry number of practice questions on the website for the Math section (although these are NOT duplicated in the practice test in the book, as I wrote earlier), even though he promised a large number of questions in the book. Some blatant errors (many of the ones I noticed in the first edition) remain in the third edition, and some parts of the book have still not been updated (after more than two years!!) to reflect the changes that the author surely must have noticed since seeing the first administrations of the new SAT. Thus, it's apparent that Mr. Robinson has nearly, or entirely, stopped doing new work on and updating his book and website. This is a disservice to the reader, and, if he's reading this, I would urge him to start working on the book and website again! Finally, the practice test is not perfect. Particularly, the Critical Reading questions are not always in the precise style of the official SAT, and the stated correct answer is not always unambiguously the best answer. (The Math and Writing sections are much better.) These gripes notwithstanding, the reader should know that this is an excellent book -- one of the best on the market -- for preparing for the SAT and PSAT. Even with its flaws, this book, teeming with great strategies and insights that only an experienced, expert SAT tutor can offer, will probably help nearly every student in raising his or her scores, sometimes significantly.