The 17 Best SAT Prep Books Ever Written

With hundreds of SAT prep books in bookstores and on Amazon, it’s bewildering to make a choice of SAT prep books that will actually help your score.

That’s why I’m glad you found this article. You see, I’m a ridiculously experienced SAT prep tutor in Austin, Texas with multiple perfect scores, and I’ve read and used nearly every modern SAT prep book that’s been published.

From those hundreds of SAT prep books, I’ve selected the seventeen best SAT prep books. These are books that any student can use to raise their score at home or with a tutor. (Don’t worry, you probably won’t need all seventeen!)

I’ve provided a “quick list” of these top SAT prep books with links to more detailed descriptions of each book below. You can also easily order any of these books through the Amazon links.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting your SAT prep started, or if you’re already an SAT ninja. There’s something in this list for you. I promise, you will find a book that you can use to get higher SAT scores today. So let’s get reading!

Disclaimer: We receive a (very) small commission for your Amazon purchases through our links. This has not affected our choice of books.

 

Quick-List of the Best SAT Prep Books

The Official SAT Prep Book

This book provides the official prep materials released by the makers of the SAT Test.

High School Time Management Tactics

This book shows teens how to get everything done - from SAT prep and school classes to sports and leadership positions.

The Best Comprehensive SAT Prep Books

These massive textbooks cover comprehensive strategies and significant practice for all sections of the SAT test.

The Best Subject-Targeted SAT Prep Books

These expert-author SAT prep books offer specialized strategies and practice for specific sub-sections of the SAT.

Best SAT Reading & Vocabulary Books:

Best SAT Writing & Language Books for Grammar and SAT Essay:

Best SAT Math Books:

 

 

The Official SAT Study Guide (2018 Edition)

The Official SAT Study Guide (Best SAT Prep Books)

The Official SAT Study Guide, by The College Board

When it comes to the best SAT prep books, there’s really only one to start with: The Official SAT Study Guide.

This book is considered the SAT tutor’s bible. It represents the official intentions of people who write the SAT test. That means there’s absolutely no doubt about the accuracy of the practice materials.

True, it’s a bit skimpy on useful strategies. It doesn’t do a wonderful job of teaching the essential content. And the explanations of the questions and answers are notoriously useless. But that’s not why you buy this book.

You buy this book because it’s filled with eight - count ’em, eight - official practice SAT tests. These full-length tests can be used in a variety of ways to improve your SAT score. In my view, the correct uses of these official practice tests include weekly homework, timed practice testing, and careful question-by-question study. You can also get creative.

Every other SAT prep book on this list, no matter how good it is, represents an “interpretation” of the SAT test. Only the Official SAT Study Guide is guaranteed to be a current and accurate representation of real test material.

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Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students

"<yoastmarkUltimate Time Management for Teens and Students is the only book on the list that’s not directly related to SAT prep, although it does feature an extensive chapter on SAT and ACT prep.

Instead, this book was written by an experienced SAT prep tutor (that’s me, actually!) to help students and parents find time for everything that’s important in high school.

In other words, reading and applying the lessons in this book will help you find the time to focus on the other SAT prep books on this list.

It’s not just about the short-term of high school. It’s also about finding and setting your personal goals and direction in life. High school is the best possible time to make these kinds of decisions. But, I’d guess less than 10% of teens are being taught how to make such big life choices.

This book is the ultimate guide to managing your time in high school, including specific tips for SAT prep. It covers everything about high school time management for teens. For everything from high school homework to sports to college applications, there’s a tip or secret for managing your time.

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Cracking the SAT Premium with 7 Practice Tests (2018 Edition)

Cracking the SAT Premium Edition (Best SAT Prep Books)

Cracking the SAT Premium, by The Princeton Review

Used by students and tutors alike, Cracking the SAT Premium from The Princeton Review is one of the best supplementary sources for full-length practice SAT tests. I recommend using it after you’ve completed the Official SAT Study Guide.

This textbook is a comprehensive review and practice workout for every topic on the SAT. It also includes excellent, commonsense strategies to manage your time on the test.

From Math to Reading, this book covers it all. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about this textbook. It just covers nearly everything on the SAT with lessons and hardcore practice.

As you might guess, it’s not exactly short. This tome cracks in at 880 pages, but that’s about what it takes just to cover everything on the SAT test. Hey, no one said studying for the SAT was going to be fun (maybe that’s a good reason to hire a cool SAT tutor?)

No “unofficial” SAT materials will ever be perfect, but this book is from a major company that stays current. Cracking the SAT Premium is a comprehensive textbook that covers everything you’ll need to know for the SAT. Combined with The Official SAT Study Guide, these two books could keep you busy on your SAT prep for a year.

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Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus 2018

The comprehensive textbook SAT Prep Plus 2018 is Kaplan’s take on the complete SAT prep book. Students who use this book praise its organization useful strategies for the real SAT test. When paired with The Official SAT Study Guide, It is an excellent reference book for your core SAT prep.

Like the other “comprehensive” books on this list, SAT Prep Plus will cover nearly every topic on the SAT test. That includes everything from basic Math concepts to advanced Grammar rules, and everything in between, including Reading and Vocabulary skills and Essay-Writing. It also includes over 1,400 practice SAT problems. As any professional SAT tutor will tell you, practice makes perfect!

It might just be me, but I tend to consider Kaplan’s SAT prep books slightly on the easier side of the spectrum. For comparison, I view The Princeton Review as being in the middle, with Barron’s often feeling the most difficult. Of course, these judgments are purely personal, so take them with a grain of salt.

As always, I highly recommend incorporating The Official SAT Study Guide alongside any “unofficial” SAT prep book. Don’t forget, you can also supplement your weak spots with additional subject-focused SAT prep books on this list!

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SAT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective SAT Strategies Ever Published

SAT Prep Black Book (2nd Edition) (Best SAT Prep Books)

The SAT Prep Black Book, by Mike Barrett

The SAT Prep Black Book was written by a full-time practicing SAT tutor who is regarded as one of the best in the business. His private tutoring lessons go for hundreds of dollars an hour. It’s a well-known book that’s like being inside the mind of a perfect-scoring, professional SAT tutor while he breaks down every important point and weak spot of each practice question.

The essence of the SAT Prep Black Book is its 600+ detailed breakdowns of real example problems from official SAT tests. It’s a strong combination of content and strategy. It doesn’t just cover the steps to solve the problems, but also often reveals how you might arrive at those steps yourself.

This is a dense textbook, so don’t go in expecting a light read. However, it’s particularly useful if you can’t afford a private SAT tutor, since it will go into detail on similar topics as your tutor would.

Note well: this book is not a standalone. It’s intended to combo with the first four official practice SAT tests released by the College Board. Not to worry. You should have The Official SAT Study Guide in your home library anyway. But if you don’t, it’s easy to get those practice SAT tests for free online, as long as you can print out paper copies.

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McGraw-Hill’s SAT 2018

McGraw-Hill SAT 2018 (Best SAT Prep Books)

SAT 2018, by McGraw-Hill

SAT 2018 from McGraw-Hill is one of the lesser-known comprehensive SAT prep book. You’re more likely to hear references to The Princeton Review or Kaplan Test Prep. Still, McGraw-Hill is among the best for a complete course of SAT prep - especially if you’re studying on your own, without a private SAT tutor to guide you.

This comprehensive SAT prep book will cover 90% or more of all material on the SAT. It takes you from Math concepts in Algebra and Geometry to the rules of English grammar. No stone is left unturned, so you’ll also learn about the SAT Essay, plus strategies for Reading Comprehension.

Choose this book if you need a second perspective, additional practice tests, or if the McGraw-Hill style fits you better than Princeton Review or Kaplan. This book is commonly considered slightly more difficult than the other popular “comprehensive” options, so take that into advisement - but judge for yourself.

SAT 2018 also includes 4 full-length practice SAT exams with a reasonably good degree of accuracy. Although the question distribution might not be perfectly realistic because of the book’s slightly elevated average difficulty, the SAT practice sets are still extremely useful for reaching a higher score.

As always, we recommend using any “unofficial” comprehensive SAT prep textbook in close conjunction with The Official SAT Study Guide. Use a book like SAT 2018 for strategy and content review. Then practice relentlessly with the official practice SAT tests. Then you can use any unofficial practice tests as supplemental materials.

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Barron’s New SAT Flash Cards: 500 Flash Cards to Help You Achieve a Higher Score

Barron's New SAT Flashcards (Best SAT Prep Books)

New SAT Flashcards, by Barron’s

Don’t like studying SAT prep from a textbook? This flashcard set provides you with an easy flashcard-based alternative!

Barron’s New SAT Flash Cards Set gives you 500 key SAT test concepts in flashcard form. So, you can quickly drill basic concepts without the need to make your own flashcards by hand. (Of course, I think it’s better to make your own flashcards - but in high school we don’t always have time for that, do we?)

This flashcard set covers a bit of everything on the SAT, from math techniques to vocabulary words, grammar rules, and SAT testing strategies. That’s also its main weakness, since it won’t provide enough focused practice to leave you feeling completely confident you’ve learned everything.

It may not be the most comprehensive way to prepare for the SAT. For that, you’ll want a more complete textbook with full-length practice SAT tests. But, for quick review and refreshing, these SAT prep flashcards can’t be beaten.

These cards are especially perfect for a warm-up on the morning of the official SAT test!

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The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to SAT Reading

The Critical Reader (3rd Edition) is one of many books by wonderful SAT tutor and author Erica Meltzer. At Love the SAT Test Prep, we’ve come to rely on her excellent textbooks as reference materials, and this book is no different.

Offering both strategy and practice for readers at any level, this is one of the truly useful specialized textbooks on the SAT Reading section. Many of the methods taught in this book overlap perfectly with my own observations after seven years of elite SAT prep tutoring.

In this book, each element of the SAT Reading passages, questions, and answer choices gets a detailed breakdown. Students should expect to do a lot of reading along the way (you should be doing that anyway). But, by the end of this book, they’ll see the SAT Reading test through the eyes of a perfect-scoring pro tutor.

If you need to break your SAT Reading score out of a rut, this is the perfect secret weapon to get your hands on. Order it from Amazon today, because you’re unlikely to find Erica’s books in a real-world bookstore!

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SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach

SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach (Best SAT Prep Books)

SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach, by Larry Krieger & Erica Meltzer

There’s a persistent myth that “vocabulary is no longer on the new SAT test,” but if you really believe that, you couldn’t be more wrong.

SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach will help you raise your SAT Reading score (and your overall reading-comprehension skills) by boosting your vocabulary. The vocab selection and teaching style are carefully tailored to the needs of SAT Verbal students.

Vocabulary skills are still a fundamental requirement for the kind of Reading scores that colleges expect. What’s more, the same words can appear again in the “grammar” section of the SAT. That’s why vocabulary is doubly important for a strong SAT Verbal score.

Co-authors Larry Krieger and Erica Meltzer are both excellent educators, writers, and SAT-testing strategists. I’ve worked with Larry in the past, and emailed a bit with Erica. I don’t know if they’d remember me, but I definitely remember them as two instructors I would trust with my own students’ SAT scores.

I predict that this book will become a sleeper hit for dedicated verbal students. It’s perfect for high school kids who are devoted not only to raising their SAT Reading score, but also their overall comprehension skills and personal verbal expressiveness.

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500 Essential SAT Vocabulary Flashcards

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a huge believer in the importance of vocabulary if you want to improve your SAT Reading score and your overall life as well. The 500 Essential SAT Vocabulary Flashcards from The Princeton Review are one of my long-time favorite flashcard packs for building your vocabulary - now updated for the new SAT Reading section.

This is a sturdy workhorse of SAT vocabulary flashcards, with an excellent selection of words and clear definitions. The set also includes a few useful extras - particularly the 50 bonus flashcards with important formulas and prompts for SAT Math, SAT Essay, and other topics.

I’ve been recommending this set of SAT flashcards for almost 7 years, so I was very happy when I saw that The Princeton Review had updated it for the New SAT.

As always, don’t be fooled by the rumors that “vocabulary is not on the SAT anymore.” Any good SAT tutor will tell you otherwise. Vocabulary is key to reading speed, comprehension, and confidence. You simply cannot get a good SAT score without a strong vocabulary.

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Barron’s SAT Vocabulary Flash Cards (2nd Edition)

As I’ve mentioned, building your vocabulary can have a remarkable effect on your SAT Reading score. I’m a huge believer in the old-fashioned methods, like making your own vocab flashcards by hand.

The problem is, the old-school way takes a lot of time, and high school students these days are extremely busy. That’s where Barron’s SAT Vocabulary Flashcards come in.

This box set provides you with 500 vocab words that commonly appear on the SAT. Each word is pre-made into a flippable flashcard that you can use to drill with, right out of the box. Of course, it would be even better to make your own cards by hand, but who has time for that?!

If you can drill these SAT vocab flashcards for 15 minutes a day, you’ll be ahead of 9 out of 10 students on the SAT Reading test. They’ll also help you with your college coursework in a year or two!

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The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar

Want the best book for a higher SAT Writing and Language Test score? Your best choice by far is The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar, by Erica Meltzer. It’s now in its 4th edition, but we’ve been using it since the first version was released years ago.

This a truly comprehensive (but highly approachable) guide to the grammar rules on the SAT. Every possible grammar-question type is clearly identified and explained in approachable terms. No stone is left unturned, from the most obvious and critical rules of grammar, to some of the rarest and “weirdest” grammar rules on the SAT. The author literally knows *everything* about the SAT grammar test, and it shows.

But it’s not overwhelming - the organization of the book is excellent for students and tutors alike. It’s structured to start with fundamental English rules in isolated, simple situations. Gradually more difficult grammar concepts are layered on, and the practice sessions become more complex and realistic until they feel exactly like real SAT questions.

By the end of the book, you’ll be almost as familiar with the SAT grammar section as a perfect-scoring tutor. And that’s not all - if you complete this book, not only will you have a much higher SAT Verbal score, you’ll also be genuinely more confident with the rules of English grammar. The payoff will continue long past your next SAT test and help you in college and career as well.

P.S. Don’t forget to get the companion workbook for even more delicious SAT Grammar practice!

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The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar Workbook

For students who want to truly dominate the SAT Writing and Language test with dependable confidence, pick up this matching workbook to go along with The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar.

Written by the same author, this SAT grammar workbook contains six unique multiple-choice exams designed to prepare you for the SAT grammar test. Every question and answer also has a thorough explanation provided by an excellent SAT English tutor.

As a pro SAT tutor and perfect-scorer myself, I put a lot of faith in understanding a concept deeply, but I’m also a huge believer in “grinding it out.” In other words, “practice makes perfect,” and once you understand the rules of English grammar, it’s time to practice them. This is the best book to help you with that for the SAT Writing and Language test.

By the way, this SAT grammar workbook could be used for standalone practice, but keep in mind that it works best when used alongside the original textbook. And remember, grammar skills aren’t just good for your SAT score - they’re good for college and for the rest of your life!

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The College Panda’s SAT Writing Guide and Workbook for the New SAT

Nielson Phu’s SAT prep books are among the best in the industry, and The College Panda’s SAT Writing Guide and Workbook is no exception.

Every significant SAT grammar rule is covered, from the most common (like commas and clauses) to the most obscure and technical. That makes this book an excellent resource for students in all SAT score ranges. It includes hundreds of practice SAT-style questions that are tailored to help students lock in the grammar lessons they are learning as they go along.

For targeted SAT grammar review and practice, the only possible rival to this book is Erica Meltzer’s Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar. If you want to achieve ultimate mastery of English grammar for the SAT test, consider working through both books, plus Erica’s additional workbook.

Don’t forget one of my favorite aspects of SAT grammar prep as a tutor: your improvements will also help you in high school classes, on the ACT test, in your college coursework, and in your career. That’s why you can’t go wrong picking up this book and improving your SAT Writing and Language score at the same time.

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The College Panda’s SAT Essay: The Battle-Tested Guide for the New SAT

Want a tested, proven template for a repeatable perfect score on the SAT Essay, test after test? Not sure exactly what you’re supposed to write for the SAT Essay? Or, feel anxious and stressed whenever you have to write a high-stakes timed essay?

No matter what your personal SAT essay-writing challenge is, The College Panda’s SAT Essay Guide is the book for you.

This no-frills, high-impact book comes straight from the source: a teacher who cracked the new SAT Essay personally on official SAT tests. He figured out how to get perfect scores on the SAT Essay whenever he wanted. Then he codified his approach into a repeatable method that other students can copy and put it into a short book.

The key to acing the SAT Essay is understanding exactly what this unique essay demands. Only then can you consistently reproduce an essay that dependably satisfies the requirements for a top score, according to the SAT grading rubric.

This is not the same generic “essay fluff” advice you get from so many other sources on the SAT Essay. While that type of basic high school essay advice doesn’t necessarily hurt, what you really want is a strategic approach custom-tailored to the demands of the SAT Essay. Order this book and that’s exactly what you’ll get.

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PWN the SAT: Math Guide

PWN the SAT Math Guide (Best SAT Prep Books)

PWN the SAT Math Guide, by Mike McClenathan

When you’re looking for specialized Math prep for the new SAT, look no further than the PWN the SAT Math Guide. Written with a lot of personality by a great SAT Math tutor, this medium-sized textbook is perfect for any hardworking student who wants a higher SAT Math score.

This SAT Math prep book covers everything you need for a perfect score, including Calculator and No-Calculator questions. Mike breaks down the book contents according to the SAT test itself, so that all useful SAT math topics from Algebra to Geometry to Statistics are covered in great detail.

Emphasis in this book is on problem solving, rather than rote learning. As a perfect-scoring SAT tutor myself, I can confirm that this flexible, adaptive, and optimistic problem-solving is exactly what students need to succeed on SAT Math.

A highly respected independent tutor and SAT prep blogger, author Mike McClenathan keeps his material current for each update to the SAT test. He seems to know exactly the math topics you need to know, and how to teach them clearly and simply. I would trust him with my own SAT Math tutoring students any day.

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The College Panda’s SAT Math Guide and Workbook for the New SAT

One of the best SAT math prep books for ambitious and hard-working high school students. The College Panda’s SAT Math Guide and Workbook is written by a perfect-scorer and professional engineer. He also happens to be a top-rated SAT prep tutor on the side!

This book isn’t like the giant 800-page textbooks of test prep that some of the big companies put out. It’s a more focused and slightly slimmer book (about 300 pages) written by a single individual tutor, which is a great style for students.

However, don’t worry about it being incomplete - there are over 500 practice problems included with all the SAT math concept review you’ll need to succeed. It also covers some of the most common careless math mistakes that students make on the SAT test, and how to prevent them.

The extraordinarily high customer ratings speak to the quality of the SAT math prep in this book: it’s rated 5 stars with over 140 customer reviews. In fact, it’s single best-rated SAT or ACT prep book that I know of.

If you like this author’s style, be sure to order his supplementary SAT math textbook, College Panda’s 10 Practice Tests for the SAT Math. It’s equally good and offers hours of useful and realistic SAT Math practice. He’s also written several of the other SAT prep books on this list such as the College Panda’s SAT Writing Guide!

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The Best SAT Prep Books: Conclusions & Review

There are more great SAT prep books out there than you could read in a lifetime. But, for me, this list represents the pinnacle of the best SAT prep books.

Remember, each book has been hand-selected by a perfect-scoring SAT prep tutor with hundreds of successful students.

Also remember: you should always start with official SAT Prep Book. Right now, that’s The Official SAT Study Guide.

Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses, get specialized SAT prep books to target your weak spots. Also, read some of our key articles on SAT Reading, Grammar, Math, and the Essay - plus how to get a higher SAT score from home.

After you’ve worked out your weak spots, get new copies and do The Official SAT Study Guide again. This time, the practice tests will have an entirely new set of lessons to teach you. Mastery of the SAT test will be ever-closer to your fingers for each practice test you complete.

Beyond that, if you need extra practice - use the comprehensive SAT prep books on this list.

Last but not least, a human touch can work wonders. Get an SAT prep tutor to help you with the parts you can’t figure out.

 

Prefer Not to Learn from a Book? Contact Us for Personalized SAT Prep!

It’s great to teach yourself from the best SAT prep books, but not every high school student can sit down with a pile of SAT textbooks and be self-motivated (or find the time) to use them.

If you need a higher SAT score, but aren’t sure if you have the willpower (or the time) to grind through all these SAT workbooks, then we can help.

At Love the SAT Test Prep, we focus on getting higher SAT and ACT scores for teens and high school students so they can get into their favorite colleges and win more scholarship money.

Contact us today for a FREE personalized consultation for your SAT and ACT Prep. We can help you plan for 1-on-1 SAT Tutoring, practice testing, or small-group SAT Prep Classes.

Before you go, be sure to join our SAT Prep email list! And, don’t forget to leave a comment or question below the article. Talk again soon!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our similar list on the 14 best ACT prep books ever written!

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