Start Practicing Your Reading Comprehension for the SAT with These Classic Fiction Books!

Most students agree that the trickiest SAT Reading passages are those that come from books written in earlier eras. Because we’re not accustomed to reading and thinking through literature with a more antiquated idiom, it’s wise to familiarize ourselves with such literature. This article will suggest the best books and essays with which to do so. Let’s take a look!

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Touching and relatable, this novel follows the journey of four sisters, Meg, Beth, Jo, and Amy, from childhood into adulthood. As Alcott’s writing is challenging, but not insurmountable, this book makes the perfect introduction to 19th-century literature for girls and boys alike.


Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Chances are you’ve heard the name Pride and Prejudice before. Perhaps you’ve even seen one of the movie adaptations. Why not read Jane Austen’s incredible novel to prepare yourself for the SAT Reading test? Austen writes beautifully, and as you follow the incredible romance she creates, you’ll also be acquainting yourself with 19th-century literature!


Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Another great book by a 19th-century author, Jane Eyre is certain to be a challenging and worthwhile read. It follows the story of young Jane, a governess, and charts her growing relationship with her employer, Mr. Rochester. Little does Jane know, Mr. Rochester has a secret! Things are not what they seem in this classic novel that is sure to help boost your SAT Reading comprehension.


Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

Both challenging and enjoyable, this classic novel by Charles Dickens is a coming-of-age story that follows the growth and development of a young orphan named Pip. Making your way through Dickens’s prose will be a rewarding exercise if you hope to do well upon the SAT Reading test. Dickens was a prolific writer, so be sure to check out other works by him, such as Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities.


The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

Boys and girls alike will be thrilled by this revenge novel. Jailed for a crime that he did not commit, the protagonist of this gripping adventure story returns to seek his revenge! Alexandre Dumas is a talented writer, and you won’t feel like reading this book is a chore. You’re also doing yourself a favor: every minute you spend reading is one more minute of strengthening your reading comprehension skills for the SAT!


Silas Marner, by George Eliot

A passage from Silas Marner has appeared on the SAT, so it’s pretty safe to assume George Eliot’s writing will make for great SAT Reading preparation. Follow the redemptive story of parental love as a greedy weaver’s world is changed when he adopts a young girl! If you enjoy this 19th-century classic, perhaps you should also read another one of Eliot’s novels, Middlemarch.


Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo

Did you love the musical? Why not read the book? Victor Hugo stands as one of the greatest writers in the history of literature, and this timeless tale will be sure to move you. At the same time, it will help you hone your reading skills and build your vocabulary for the SAT. What are you waiting for?

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

I recommend Frankenstein to all of my students. It’s a gorgeously-written horror story that yields new resonance with each read. Shelley’s writing is difficult but worthwhile. This story will haunt you and make you think. It’s rich with philosophy and with narrative. Read and re-read Frankenstein, and feel confident that you’re doing good work prepping for the SAT while you do!

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Sister to Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë is an incredibly gifted writer in her own right. This meticulously-crafted novel will be sure to delight and enchant you, and reading it will afford you great practice for the SAT! Not only is it a love story–it’s also a page-turning revenge novel! You won’t regret reading this book and honing your reading and vocabulary skills along with it.

The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner

A list of classic books wouldn’t be complete without an addition by William Faulkner, one of the great novelists of all time. Set in Mississippi and employing a vast range of narrative styles, this incredible novel charts the decline and dissolution of the Compson family, once Southern aristocrats but struggling as time passes with one hardship after another. This novel will certainly help you strengthen your reading skills. And who knows? A passage from it just might appear on the SAT…

Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

Widely considered to be one of the greatest novels ever written, Moby-Dick is essential reading for students who aim to do well on the SAT. Ishmael, a sailor, relates the tale of Captain Ahab and his obsessive desire for revenge against a whale, Moby-Dick, that big his leg off. Beautifully written, this novel will grip you until the very end. It’s filled with philosophical ideas and is an unparalleled study of human psychology. Pick up a copy of Moby-Dick today and feel good about making the commitment to improve your reading skills! Great readers get high SAT scores. Period.


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That’s it! Stay tuned for more reading recommendations. For more SAT and ACT prep advice, check out the rest of our blog. Looking for 1-on-1 ACT or SAT prep tutoring? Want to join an SAT or ACT group class? Contact us today!

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