Three best SAT prep books

Kailey Fralick

SAT prep books can only help you if you actually use them.

Taking the SAT is an important milestone in a student's life, and the score can sometimes mean the difference between acceptance or rejection at many colleges and universities. That's why it's important to put your best foot forward. An SAT prep book can help you do that, but not all prep books are the same. In order to choose the right SAT prep book for you, you need to understand exactly what you're looking for. Here's a short guide to walk you through your options.

Considerations when choosing SAT prep books

First, ask yourself what kind of instruction you need. Some students want a comprehensive review of all of the topics that could appear on the exam. Others just want an opportunity to practice with realistic test questions. Some might need to bring up their score on the entire exam, while others may only need to work on a single section.

Think about your goals and be sure that the SAT prep book you choose aligns with them. You don't want to get bogged down reviewing information you already know or accidentally skip information you should have studied.

SAT prep book features

SAT overview: The book should explain the layout and time constraints of the SAT, so you're familiar with them when you go to take the exam.

Content review: If you need to bring up your score significantly, choose a prep book that gives a detailed overview of all key concepts and topics to be covered on the exam.

Practice question bank: A question bank gives you an opportunity to target the types of questions that you're struggling with so you can learn how to master them.

Full-length practice tests: It's important that you take full-length practice tests so you can truly develop a feel for the duration and complexity of the exam. A standard SAT prep book contains between three and eight full-length tests.

Online materials: Some SAT prep books come with a code that you can use to access additional online study materials through the company's web portal. These can include video lessons, additional practice tests, or community forums.


Q. When should I start studying for the SAT?

A. That depends on how much studying you plan to do each day. Once you've chosen your test date, work backward from there. Determine how many sections there are in the book and decide how much you will do each day. Don't forget to set aside some time to take practice tests throughout and time to review challenging material at the end.

Q. How do I get the most out of SAT practice tests?

A. You should always take the tests under timed conditions, so you can practice your time-management skills as well. When you're finished, go back and pick out the topics or sections in which you did less well and review that material thoroughly. Chart your progress over time to measure your improvement.

SAT prep books we recommend

Best of the best: Kaplan Test Prep SAT: Total Prep 2018

Our take: The Kaplan guide is an excellent option for repeat test takers and those who want a thorough review of the exam before taking it for the first time.

What we like: Access to five full-length practice tests, plus thousands of additional practice questions, online instructional videos, content reviews, and test-taking strategies. If you don't score higher on the SAT, Kaplan will refund your money.

What we dislike: This book might be too overwhelming and intense for those who are only interested in a quick refresher on the material.

Best bang for your buck: The College Board The Official SAT Study Guide

Our take: This is the best resource available for practice tests because it has been created by the test makers.

What we like: Eight full-length practice tests written by the creators of the exam, so you know the questions are authentic. It integrates with the free SAT prep course on Khan Academy for those who like to switch up their study methods.

What we dislike: If you're not strong in math, you could find some of the explanations in this book a little confusing.

Choice 3: The Princeton Review Cracking the SAT Premium Edition

Our take: Consider this SAT prep book if you would appreciate a thorough review and some guidance on where to focus your attention.

What we like: Provides comprehensive content review for all sections of the exam, along with access to an online portal with video lessons and additional study tools. There are seven full-length practice tests that offer you detailed scoring guides to help you recognize the topics you need to review further.

What we dislike: If you're aiming for that perfect 1600 score, you might find that this SAT prep book doesn't provide enough of a challenge to get you there.

Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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