As most people probably already know, the SAT is a standardized test that is not only required for admission into many schools but also measures the student’s skills in several key areas. It tests the student’s proficiency in Math, Writing, and Critical Reading. This test is usually taken by students in their junior or senior year of high school so that their scores can be included as a part of the college application process. Although parents can hire tutors to help their child score well on this test, a more practical and less expensive method of preparing for it is by buying the best SAT prep books. Below are the books that we feel will help students perform the best on this test.
Quick Summary of the Best SAT Prep Books
- Best Comprehensive Prep Book
Cracking The SAT Premium Edition (Amazon) – Review
- Best SAT Strategies
SAT Prep Black Book (Amazon) – Review
- Best Study Overview
The Official SAT Study Guide (Amazon) – Review
- Best Easy-To-Read Study Guide
Kaplan SAT Prep Plus (Amazon) – Review
- Also Consider
Barron’s Test Prep SAT Premium Study Guide (Amazon) – Review
Best Comprehensive Prep Book: Cracking The SAT Premium Edition
Many students and their parents don’t want to have to buy several different books that help with SAT prep and that’s why we’ve recommended this one. It’s designed to be an all-in-one solution that will help students achieve the highest score possible without the student having to juggle several different books. It goes into great detail on every section of the SAT so that the student has the skill set they need to rise to the challenge. It’s a book that’s written by the experts of The Princeton Review, an organization that’s been writing great study material for students, parents, and educators since 1981. And this is probably one of their best books to date.
This book starts with a brief orientation that helps the student learn exactly what the SAT is and what to expect from the test. It then moves on with practical advice on how to crack the reading portion of the test. Once that’s been completed, it then turns its attention to helping students crack the writing and language portion of the test with sub-sections on words, questions, and punctuation. Also included in this book are sections on cracking the math and essay portions of the test, a section on actually taking the test and eight practice tests that will help students hone their skills to a fine point.
Best SAT Strategies: SAT Prep Black Book
This SAT prep book is written by Mike and Patrick Barrett, two people who have developed some of the most remarkable strategies for approaching the SAT, and this book is the culmination of their hard work. The strategies they present in this book are unlike any of the other strategies found in the leading SAT prep books of today. Although the book does seem a bit long, coming in at a whopping 575 pages, the material is presented in a way that shouldn’t be too difficult for the average student to consume and digest. And if the student does take the time to read the material, it will help them achieve the highest score they can achieve.
Some of the sections that readers of this book will find in it include SAT math training and math walkthroughs: including subsections on algebra, exponents, points, and lines, squares, circles, areas, trigonometry, and solving quadratic equations. It also has a section on writing and language, including subsections on style, grammar, punctuation, and the unique phrasing of questions by the college board. And of course, there’s a section on essays that will help students to prepare for dealing with this section of the SAT. If this is all taken together, it can be easy to see how this book can be a great tool for any student.
Best Study Overview: The Official SAT Study Guide
Upon initial review of this SAT prep book, we can see how many students (as well as parents) might be intimidated by its sheer size. After all, this book is 1,300 pages in length, so it might seem like a mighty tome that has to be conquered to be understood. Fortunately, that just isn’t the case. Although it is large, it is well organized so that the student doesn’t feel lost as they read it. And since its the Official SAT Study Guide, it’s sure to give the student the information they need to get a decent score on the SAT. All of these are reasons why we’ve decided to recommend it in this review.
This book provides seamless integration with the SAT practice on Khan academy and comes with targeted practice questions for each of the SAT types of questions. It has a detailed section on the math portion of the test, and also provides a detailed section on the reading and writing sections of the test. Another thing we liked about it was that it included guidance on the test’s optional essay, as well as sample responses for the essay questions. And finally, it comes with eight SAT practice tests that are written in the same way as to how the actual questions on the SAT are written.
Best Easy-To-Read Study Guide: Kaplan SAT Prep Plus
Kaplan is probably one of the most widely recognized publishes of test study guides and that’s because they’ve been doing it for over 8 decades. With so much experience, it’s easy to see how they can create a study guide as well as this one. Although we didn’t feel this guide had as many practice tests as other guides do, it otherwise presented information to the student in an easy-to-read manner. It provides all the information the student needs to get a good score on the SAT and it’s presented in a way that’s accessible and easy to digest.
This guide starts with covering math, including subsections on calculator use and the prerequisites required for the SAT, and then it moves on to algebra. Other sections found in this book include sections on data analysis, tables, and statistics, quadratics, trigonometry, imaginary numbers, SAT reading and writing, language, literature passages, organization skills needed for the test, and the SAT essay. Just about everything the student could need to get a good score on the SAT can be found in this book and that’s why we recommend it.
Also Consider: Barron’s Test Prep SAT Premium Study Guide
Even though this SAT prep book might not be as expansive as other study guides, we feel that it’s still a good place for many people to start studying for the SAT. This book starts with an overview of the SAT, but then it moves on to the actual subjects that the student is going to have to master to complete the exam. This book includes sections on reading, writing, language, and mathematics, but that’s only the start. It also has a full-length diagnostic test to help the student identify their weaknesses, two full-length online practice tests, and four full-length in-book practice tests. Although it could’ve gone a little deeper into each of these subjects, we do feel it did a satisfactory job of covering the basics.
Preparing For The SAT
Now that we’ve shown our readers some of the best SAT prep books available, we feel like we’d be negligent in our duty if we didn’t take the time to teach our readers how to most effectively use that information. That’s why we’ve decided to write this guide. Although some of the points on this guide might seem obvious, we hope that most of what we discuss is information that will help the student achieve the highest score they’re capable of receiving. Let’s begin this guide with a little discussion on how how to choose prep books and then move on from there.
Step One: Purchase The Best SAT Prep Books
As we stated earlier, it’s a lot easier for the student to achieve a good score on the SAT if they have the best materials available to them. Students should look for a good general-purpose prep book—like our Editor’s Choice—or buy several books that cover one of the three main cores. The areas that most students have the most problems with are Math and Writing, so the student might want to find books that cover those categories specifically—especially if they anticipate they’re going to have problems in this area.
Step Two: Read A Lot
It’s also very important for the student to do plenty of reading up until they take the SAT. And we’re not just talking about the reading that’s being done in the classroom. The student should take it upon themselves to read other books, particularly non-fiction books that aren’t specifically a part of most high school reading curriculums. Unlike other college preparatory tests, the SAT is very reading centered and requires the student to read many dense passages of text over an hour. The best way to build the mental fortitude for this job is to read extensively, preferably for at least the entire year before the SAT. We’ve included some of the books that we feel are important and will help students develop the reading skills required for the SAT.
Suggested Reading List For SAT Preparation:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of course, many books on the above list are a part of the reading curriculum for many schools, but if some of them aren’t, the student should read them anyway. The student is also going to want to spend time reading non-fiction materials such as their local newspaper or a magazine such as Time.
Step Three: Use Practice Tests
Many of the prep books that we’ve recommended have practice tests included in them and the student should take the time to use them for practice. Many studies have shown that organized periods of time set aside for math, writing, and reading produce better results than the student trying to practice a different subject each night.
Step Four: Don’t Cram!!
It’s also a good idea that the student avoids cramming before the test. Some students try to cram right before the test and that has shown to produce some very bad results. It’s far better to learn over a longer period than try to cram it all in your brain at the same time. Longer-term learning allows for better retention of the material and prevents the brain from becoming overwhelmed. Anyone who wants to get a good score is going to want to learn the material slowly over some time. We also suggest that most study sessions should stay within the 2.5 to 3-hour range for the best results.
Additional SAT Studying Tips
Before we conclude this article, we would like to take a few moments to leave our readers with a few additional tips. The following tips are designed to help students get the best SAT scores that they can get. Although not every student may want to follow every point of advice below, we do feel the following tips will help the student get a better score on their test.
- Get a full 8-hours of rest before the test.
- Don’t pass over breakfast on the day of the test.
- Eat a breakfast that high’s in protein.
- Avoid excess sugars on the day of the test.