The SAT’s goal is to measure both what the student has learned in High School, as well as what they will need to succeed in College. Around 2 million students sit for the SAT every year, and if your chosen institution requires the exam, it’s well advised to be prepared going in.
Good scores on the SAT can open doors to incredible opportunity in the future, and prep books are proven to boost scores. We’ll cover the exam in detail, and give you our picks for the best SAT Prep Books and Review Guides for test year 2020!
If you just can’t wait, here’s our short list:
Best SAT Prep Books
The SAT has several strong contenders for the best brep books and study guides, which we’ve ranked for you above. A quality prep book can prepare you for what to expect on test day. Don’t go into the exam blind! At minimum, sit through one of the practice exams included with each book. Familiarity with the types of questions you’ll be asked can make a huge difference.
Continue on for detailed information on each book on our list of top SAT prep guides below!
The College Board: Official SAT Study Guide
Pros: Full length practice tests (8) created by the actual exam maker
Cons: Some explanations lack clarity.
Best For: Review ahead of test, and knowing what to expect.
Our Rating: 5 / 5
The College Board: Official SAT Study Guide is written by the same organization responsible for the SAT itself, and takes the top spot on our list. The book contains a wealth of review materials, and practice tests that are as accurate as anything you’ll find. Don’t get us wrong, there are some great 3rd party SAT review guides out there too… but you just can’t go wrong when you learn from the ‘source’.
Key features include:
- Seamless integration with Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy
- 8 official SAT practice tests, written in the exact same process and by the same team of authors as the actual exam
- Guidance on the new optional essay, including practice essay questions with sample responses
- Targeted practice questions for each SAT question type
The production value for the content in this guide is best in class, and it has excellent practice questions and answers. The organization and layout of this book is logical, and makes it easy to digest. This is great for making the most of you limited time. If you’re only planning to pick up one resource on this list, make it this one!
SAT Prep Black Book
Pros: Unique and effective tips and tricks for the test.
Cons: Works best when paired with the Official Study Guide.
Our Rating: 5 / 5
SAT Prep Black Book is our second choice in the Prep Guide category, but we actually recommend you pick up both this and the one above. The Official guide is known as the ‘Blue Book’, and this one is meant to complement it (hence the title ‘Black Book’). In addition to extensive and effective training on every aspect of the SAT, the SAT Black Book gives you detailed, systematic, easy-to-follow walkthroughs for every question in 4 official SAT Practice Tests.
Some of the content you’ll find inside:
- The unwritten rules for every kind of SAT question
- The many ways to approach an SAT Math question, and which ones are likely to work best for you
- Why it’s so important to work with real SAT questions from the testing authority
- Why every real SAT question can potentially be answered in under 30 seconds
This book is written by professional SAT tutors who charge hundreds of dollars an hour to share their tips and tricks for the SAT. All of the information it contains is great, but we especially love the in-depth walkthroughs.
Cracking the SAT Premium Edition
Pros: 8 Practice tests (4 in book and 4 online)
Cons: Some material will seem overly basic
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
Cracking the SAT Premium Edition is our next book on the list of top SAT prep guides. It comes with both in-book and online content like full-length practice tests and questions. Among the key benefits are:
- 8 full-length practice tests, with detailed answer explanations
- Drills for each test section—Reading, Writing and Language, and Math
- Exercises to help prepare for the Essay
- In-depth online score reports for all practice tests to help analyze and track your progress
The book provides a comprehensive subject review for every section of the exam, which can be a huge boon for making the most of your time. Having realistic hands-on experience with the actual look and feel of the test is one of the most important ways to increase your score and do well overall!
Barron’s: SAT Premium Study Guide
Pros: Tons of relevant practice questions.
Cons: Some answer explanations are vague or incorrect.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
Barron’s: SAT Premium Study Guide rounds out our list! You might be aware of Barron’s other titles if you’ve studied for other types of standardized tests. They’re a world-class resource for test takers in all sorts of subjects, and the SAT is no exception!
The full list of features includes:
- 6 Full length practice tests (4 in book + 2 online)
- One full-length diagnostic test to help identify strengths and weaknesses
- An overview of the SAT, an explanation of the test’s scoring method, and advice from experienced teachers
There’s really no shortage of great SAT Prep Books out there, but each one of the books on our list is perfectly suited to being either your only resource, or just 1 of many. Having a good idea of what to expect on the test is super important to success, and this book will make sure you show up ready on test day!
The SAT has evolved over the years, but it’s always aimed to serve as a way to evaluate both what a student has learned in High School, as well as their likely potential to do well in College. It’s one of the most popular entrance exams, with millions of students sitting for the test each year.
The test is broken up into 4 sections as follows:
- Writing and Language
- Essay (Optional, but required by some schools)
The College Board will tell you they key to doing well on the SAT is to take challenging courses in school, and do your homework. This is true! However, it’s also extremely important that you know what to expect on test day. Students who have sat for a practice test or done thorough review with questions that accurately reflect what you’ll find on test day, have a huge leg up over those who are coming in cold.
The reading section tests a students ability to take in information through reading, and apply it with critical thinking. It’s a fundamental skill you’ll need to succeed in college, so it’s no suprise it’s highly emphasised on the test. Some quick facts from the official SAT Reading Test page:
- All Reading Test questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
- Some passages are paired with other passages.
- Informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts, accompany some passages—but no math is required.
- Prior topic-specific knowledge is never tested.
- The Reading Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.
Writing and Language
The Writing and Language section will test a student’s ability to read a passage, find mistakes or weaknesses in the text, and fix them. Most college classes require strong skills to succeed, so again, this is a foundational skill.
The Quick Facts from the official SAT Writing and Language Test page:
- All questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
- Some passages are accompanied by informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts—but no math is required.
- Prior topic knowledge is never tested.
- The Writing and Language Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.
Math is the next area tested on the SAT, and one that many students dread. It tests your ability to use everyday math to solve real world applicable problems. Strong scores in math are critical for Engineering and Science majors, but everyone should do their best! From College Board
- Most math questions will be multiple choice, but some—called grid-ins—ask you to come up with the answer rather than select the answer.
- The Math Test is divided into two portions: Math Test–Calculator and Math Test–No Calculator.
- Some parts of the test include several questions about a single scenario.
The essay section isn’t required for all students, but many Colleges will demand it, so make sure you know the policies for the schools you’re applying to. During the test, you’ll get 50 minutes to complete an essay related to a reading passage. You’ll explain how the author of the passage builds their argument, and support your explanation with evidence from the text.
The scoring for the exam will include a total score ranging from 400-1600. The Math section accounts for 200-800 points, while the Reading plus Writing and Language sections will account for the other 200-800. The SAT essay will include 3 scores ranging from 2-8.
The best way to register for the exam is Online. You’ll go to the portal and setup an account if you don’t already have one. Then you’ll need to add a photo of yourself, register for a date, and pay.
SAT Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use old SAT books to prepare for the new SAT?
You can definitely use old books to prep for the SAT if you have them from a sibling or friend. The test is redesigned from time to time, most recently in 2016, but you’ll still get value from old material.
What is the best way to prepare for the SAT?
There are a few ways to prepare, including:
- Prep Books (this list!)
- Tutoring (online or in-person)
- Prep classes (online or locally)
- Online videos (e.g. from Khan academy or Udemy.com)
When was the SAT last redesigned?
The most recent major update to the exam format was 2016.
What’s an ideal SAT score?
A perfect score on the SAT, as of 2016, is 1600. The minimum you can get is 400.
Doing well on the SAT can open up a pathway to prestigious schools, scholarships, and other opportunities critical to your future. With a strong understanding of the topics and questions you should expect to face, you’re best positioned to do well.
We’ve rounded up some of the best SAT prep materials out there, which can help you succeed.
Our pick for best SAT prep book is The College Board: Official SAT Study Guide. It’s got high production value, and comes straight from the folks who create the test.
Whatever your circumstances, supplemental study and review prep materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best SAT prep resources available. Good luck!