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SAT II Biology For Dummies

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2005

    An entertaining romp through the science of life on this earth

    It is 2005 and the Kansas Department of Higher Education is once again debating the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Boycotted by most, if not all, proponents of natural selection, the main thrust of the legislative testimony was in favor of a concept called 'intelligent design.' Once again, as in the famous Scopes 'monkey trial' of 1921, the writings of Charles Darwin, particularly on his 'The Origin of Species' are inspiring a political firestorm. (Nearly forgotten is the work of Alfred Russell Wallace, from whom Darwin lifted most, if not all, of his world-wrenching work). Intelligent design may be a hot item in Topeka, but it won't get you far on the SAT II. The Hatches approach the whole study of evolution and natural selection with an intelligent, clear focus. To quote their work: 'It seems weird to think that all life on earth evolved from the same basic, simple cells so long ago. Darwin made an amazing claim when he said that all life on earth is fundamentally related, so scientists have needed some strong evidence to be convinced.' From there they go into a step-by-step explanation of evolutionary thought, including an easy-to-understand comparison of Lamarck's theory of acquired characteristics, and the contrasting Darwin-Wallace work on natural selection. The treatment of evolution is typical of the clear and journalistic style of the Hatches' approach to scientific thought. The book in question is a review text called 'SAT II Biology for Dummies'. In contrast to the catchy title, the book is really designed for the intelligent high school student who is undertaking a systematic preparation for the Biology examination of the Scholastic Achievement Test (SATII) The reason for this volume is the emergence of a new test program, which actually is two tests based on high school biology. The two tests, named E and M, have different emphases The E test includes evolution and ecology, dealing with the environment in which organisms live and function. The M test is concerned with cells, genetics, and heredity. There is also a key biological core common to both tests. That information is helpful whichever version of the test the student picks. Part I of the book deals with test-taking strategies, how to avoid wild guesses, and how to get yourself in a good positive psyche for facing this ordeal. Part II deals with the fundamentals of biology, starting, as nature does, with the individual cell. The book then proceeds to biochemistry and molecular biology. How organisms eat and breathe is covered in the chapter entitled 'Getting Energized: Respiration and Photosynthesis.' From there we move to DNA and proteins, and finally the continuation of the organism through sexual and asexual reproduction. Part III, the most complex section, deals with the above-mentioned concepts of evolution, the classification of plants and animals (taxonomy--supposedly Adam's first job was to name the animals) . The cycle of life and interaction with the environment are described in the chapter on Ecology. Part IV is all about organism biology, the structures of plants and animals (botany and zoology). Chapter 14 deals with the complex systems that make up the physiology of animal bodies, including our own, and the final chapter is whimsically named, 'Dating and Behaving: Animal Behavior and Reproduction.' WHEW! Between two covers the Hatches have managed to cover the explosive, expanding world of biology and do it in an interesting, informative, and entertaining manner. Their pedagogical method is the same as in their other SAT II books: they present the information, explain how it works, and then show possible questions immediately after explaining the material. In that way, students learn the test design as they learn the substantive material. Oh, yes...the last section of the book is practice tests, enough to satisfy curiosity and build confidence at the same time. It also gives instructi

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2005

    A Must!!!

    SAT II Biology is somewhat of a saga for me. I started out with the Barron's Review Book (which I reviewed, by the way, so to get my full opinion, just take a look) and scored in the seven hundred's on the practice tests. I went into the real thing confidently, only to come out with a lower grade than I'd wanted. Several months later... SAT II for Dummies had been recommended to me through a friend who did well on the test. I decided to give it a try. This book was SOOO much more entertaining than Barron's! Plus, it is a bazillion times more approachable - there are not pages upon pages of dense, miniscule black scrawl and tedious diagrams. Secondly, the authors interspersed some humor (albeit incredibly corny) that lightened the mood of the book. It made reading so much less painful than it needs to be. Plus, I found that this book, because it gave only the information really necessary, was a lot lighter reading. This way, I could absorb more information because it wasn't constantly being crammed down my throat! I read this book once (as compared to the multiple times I read Barron's) and scored low on the practice tests. We're talking low 500s, for the most part. I was daunted, because I felt that the practice tests were ultra-specific. However, the answers were provided with very detailed explanations. I really was able to focus. There were also practice questions throughout the book to help the reader focus. It was helpful. I went into the test, and achieved a perfect score. I think I really owe it to this book, SAT II for Dummies. I can't begin to explain how helpful it was. Yes, the practice tests are hard, but don't let them get you down. This book really helps, if you use it right. Complement it with the Princeton Review Book, which is also something to try.

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