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What’s the Best Study Guide for SAT?
Read Our Comprehensive Review

Last Updated On: May 5, 2021

With over 2000 SAT Prep books on the market, choosing the right one has never been more critical. Unfortunately, these options can be overwhelming, leading to confusion or loss of motivation – when you could be focusing on studying instead!

In this SAT books review, we will help you choose among the top-rated SAT books so you can focus on acing your SAT prep exam in 2020.

Dedicated to saving you time and frustration, our team of educators has spent hundreds of hours reviewing the best SAT prep books for 2020.

13 Best Sat Prep Books in 2021

1 - The Official SAT study guide

Official SAT Study Guide 2020 Edition

The Official SAT study guide is considered the bible of SAT prep books, being one of the best SAT books on the market.

This high-quality guide was written by the test-makers themselves and provides an inside look at the practice test questions and required materials.

The SAT prep book provides an accurate description of the kind of question you can expect on SAT test day. It has eight full-length practice tests in the new SAT exam format. Outside of the SAT practice tests, this book explains the test prep structure and techniques to help you answer individual questions for both SAT Math and SAT reading and writing.

Access to all SAT practice tests is available online on the College Board's website. This is part of the Board's mission to promote transparency. But this prep book is the only place where you can find all the study guides and practice tests in print.

The official SAT practice book also contains additional test prep information and up-to-date instruction straight from the exam makers.

Pros
  • Prepared and written by the makers of the SAT exam
  • SAT practice tests can be obtained from the College Board’s website
  • 8 full-length practice tests in the new SAT format
  • Frequently updated with each test revision
Cons
  • No study material per chapter

2 - Barron’s SAT (29th edition)

Barron’s SAT (29th edition)

Barron’s New SAT Premium Study Guide is SAT preparatory book that gives you a brief explanation for each of the core concepts.

This study guide will provide you proper guidance for building strong SAT fundamentals, with all SAT concepts integrated, promoted, and backed by several examples. It includes one full-length diagnostic test to assess which section you're good at and which area you need to focus more on.

The SAT study book offers up-to-date reviews, study advice and test-taking tips, and expert views on SAT essays. It also provides several strategies for tackling mathematics questions.

Aside from quantitative strategies, you'll also find useful material for SAT writing and reading section. The verbal section consists of a list of word definitions instead of concrete advice and strategies.

Another thing that we found helpful is the SAT overview and the scoring method some advice from experienced educators.

Pros
  • Contains full-length SAT mock tests
  • Free access to Barron’s online SAT prep course
  • Includes an additional set of SAT practice questions and useful inputs for SAT writing
Cons
  • No updates on majority of the math questions
  • Question types are confusing and have complicated words
  • Lower difficulty level than real SAT

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

SAT Prep Black Book The most effective SAT strategies ever published

The SAT Prep Black Book is an SAT preparatory book covering practical strategies for each section of the test.

Based on our extensive review, this study companion offers specific tricky wordings and answer choices for the SAT reading and SAT writing sections. If you want to learn about the structure, format, and tricks of the SAT, we recommend you take a look.

The Black Book contains more than 600+detailed SAT questions from the College Board so that you can attack the test in an ideal way possible. It expounds on how each question works and how you can answer it in the least amount of time.

One particular downside that we've noticed is that the book hasn't been updated to answer all of the official SAT guide exam questions.

Nonetheless, it may still be helpful as a supplemental study material during your SAT review for SAT Math and Reading.

 

Pros
  • Offers practical strategies for SAT sections
  • Provides thorough explanations of practice test answers
Cons
  • No SAT practice tests
  • Not a useful resource for reviewing concepts and exam topics on a broad scale

4 - Kaplan SAT Prep: 2 Practice Tests + Proven Strategies + Online

Kaplan SAT Prep 2018

Based on our research, Kaplan SAT Prep Plus is considered one of the best SAT books available when preparing for the SAT.

This SAT guide offers a significant number of practice questions. With over 1,500 questions, it can allow you to implement the strategies taught within.

Since there are several difficult questions in its content, most students we've talked to find it helpful if you wish to go the extra mile during SAT preparation.

You also need to know that the pre-quizzes will help you identify what topics you are familiar with to move forward to other areas that you may find challenging.

However, during our review, we've seen that most practice questions are not entirely similar to the real SAT exam, potentially a drawback. While we like the mathematical section, we do not recommend the SAT reading and verbal portion of the book.

Pros
  • Focused on test-taking strategies
  • Good math section
  • Has a large number of practice questions
Cons
  • Practice questions not similar to the actual SAT exam
  • Poor verbal section

5 - Princeton review 500+ practice questions for the New SAT:

500+ Practice Questions for the New SAT

The Princeton Review is an SAT prep book that offers an introductory guide to the essential changes made to the SAT.

If you're looking to explore various practice problems without delving into the theoretical concepts, you may find this helpful.

We particularly like the official SAT practice guide's four-choice format and the multi-step practice problems that may be suitable materials for students who are about to start reviewing for the SAT. The grammar rules and questions are also passage-based to give you a clearer picture.

For the drawback, we find several questions too elaborate, something that doesn't match the simple and straightforward format of the official SAT practice questions.

Pros
  • Includes a question bank of 500+ practice problems
  • Offers an introductory guide on the new SAT exam
Cons
  • Lacks techniques and methodologies
  • Lack of details for certain sections or areas
  • Some question types are too elaborate
  • Some questions are too conceptually easy

6 - McGraw-Hill Education SAT

McGraw-Hill Education SAT

The McGraw-Hill Education Sat prep book is unique in that it provides the practice questions and strategies and explains the format of the test in detail.

It has 8 full-length practice tests, reading comprehension tips, and challenge problems to test your knowledge at the end of every section. We like how the practice questions are cognitive and similar to the real SAT exam.

The prep book helps to set a time frame for each section, so you know how to address the exam. It also includes progress reports, learning analytics, games, and quizzes.

This SAT practice guide will help you build a strong mathematical base from algebra and trigonometry to geometry and complex number topics. It will also hone your problem-solving and data analysis skills.

One drawback we've noticed is that the writing section of the SAT is not thoroughly discussed. For students aiming to ace the test, we recommend getting other practice materials.

Pros
  • Five full-length practice tests
  • Math practice questions are realistic
  • May help you build a strong mathematical base
Cons
  • Grammar rules, including the reading and writing sections are not covered in detail

7 - Boot Camp for Your Brain: A No-Nonsense Guide to the SAT

Boot Camp For Your Brain

The Boot Camp for Your Brain SAT prep book is an SAT study guide that adopts the concept of repetition - a technique that works for many students.

The Boot Camp test prep method helps strengthen the memory by intentionally repeating study material throughout the book, with each section of the test being given the same weight.

The use of mnemonics and cartoons in SAT books aims to provide a fun learning approach to SAT  reading, SAT vocabulary building, and grammar rules.

Based on our research, the makers claim that students will have a better chance to retain knowledge and, eventually, a higher SAT score because of the book's creative approach to learning.

Pros
  • Gives equal weight to each section of the exam
  • Concepts are delivered through cartoons and mnemonics,
  • May be a fun learning experience
Cons
  • Format is a little hard to follow
  • Practice test may not work for some

8 - Gruber's Complete New SAT Guide

Gruber's Complete SAT Guide 2019-2020

Gruber’s complete SAT guide is a prep study material that uses the traditional textbook learning method in place of any online learning approach.

It is written by Dr. Gary Gruber and is considered one of the most popular books among SAT competitors. With more or less 37 illustrated strategies and two full-length practice tests, the Gruber Method is known to have helped students prepare for the SAT in the most straightforward and efficient manner.

Most students we've talked to refer to this study guide as a refresher material of some sort, especially if you don’t have enough time to prepare for the SAT exam.

It includes 101 math questions, a mini math refresher, and a complete math refresher. It also has a mock-up test with 90 question types, along with brief explanations.

Pros
  • Available at an affordable price
  • Includes 5 full-length practice tests
  • Provides an additional 1,846 practice questions
Cons
  • Doesn’t have any additional online features
  • Strategies and techniques are not explained properly

9 - The Critical Reader (3rd edition)

The Critical Reader 3rd Edition

The Critical Reader SAT prep book aims to boost your reading skills as you prepare for the SAT.

You'll find each chapter dedicated to a particular question type so you can quickly locate and identify essential information. This chapter-by-chapter breakdown also includes detailed explanations and examples of how you should attack each reading section question.

Based on our research and interview with former Critical Reader users, the this SAT reading book's passages are sensible and have improved their reading skills.

The SAT reading comprehension questions are also straightforward and efficiently written so you can identify essential information quickly.

We particularly like the alternate list of common word definitions that contain strategies for deciphering unfamiliar vocabulary context clues before the test day.

However, one disadvantage that we've seen is the unappealing layout and design of this SAT prep book.

Pros
  • Quality explanation for SAT reading comprehension questions
  • Passages in the book is similar to SAT test
Cons
  • Dry design and layout
  • No full practice tests

10 - KALLIS' Redesigned SAT Pattern Strategy + 6 Full Length Practice Tests

KALLIS' Redesigned SAT Pattern Strategy

Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy is a prep book covering the SAT's structure, format, and exam topics. Based on our research, the prep bookmakers have selected the most common SAT problems to master critical concepts for each section of the test.

There are six full-length practice tests with over 100 question topics and include a step-by-step explanation for each question. It contains detailed answer explanations to help you discover any mistakes on tests or knowledge gaps.

The short practices may also assist you to gauge your understanding of each concept.

While reading through the material, we've seen that each question type is presented in detail for a more strategic approach.

It provides fundamental concepts in both mathematics and language sections.

Pros
  • Contains fundamental concepts in SAT math, literature, and grammar rules
Cons
  • A bit expensive
  • Doesn’t provide enough OMR sheets

11 - 500 New SAT Math Problems by Topic and Difficulty Level

New SAT Math Problems

The SAT Math Problems, written by Dr. Steve Warner, offers a brief review of the SAT exam content.

It is primarily intended for many students who find SAT math to be complicated. It contains 500 SAT math problems on mathematics, aptly arranged by section and difficulty level.

You'll also find complete explanations for all the questions to help you pinpoint which area you're having difficulty with.

The study guide explains algebra, advanced math, data analysis, geometry, and trigonometry systematically, with the concepts arranged adequately by the level of difficulty.

Each question also contains answer explanations that show different approaches to tackle each practice test.

Pros
  • Concepts are arranged by level of difficulty
  • Answer explanations show different approaches
Cons
  • Poor printing quality
  • Low number of problem sets

12 - Dr. John Chung’s SAT Math

Dr. John Chung's SAT Math 3rd Edition

This prep book is another math SAT study guide designed for students who find math questions challenging and aims to help you obtain a strong base in the mathematics section.

This SAT math book explains various subject-specific concepts, including exponents, transformations, and linear functions.

For students who already have a strong mathematics foundation, you'll find the tips and practice questions useful as you continue with your SAT review.

During our review, we've learned that this particular SAT prep book doesn't work well if you have just started your SAT preparation.

Pros
  • Suitable for advanced math preparation
  • Includes SAT questions
  • Useful for students with strong math base
  • Includes 10 practice tests
Cons
  • High difficulty level
  • Not recommended for beginners

13 - The Vocabulary Builder Workbook by Magoosh

The Vocabulary Builder Workbook

Magoosh’s Vocabulary Builder Workbook is one of the best SAT prep books for the SAT's vocabulary section.

It includes 1,400 words that are organized by theme to help you identify roots and form associations, and recognize thousands of additional vocabulary words.

For continued advancement, each vocabulary lesson's levels steadily increase in difficulty through progressive learning techniques.

Most of the students we've talked to claim that they can remember the words long after the SAT is over. Thanks to the book's retention focused elements.

This vocabulary workbook is ideal not just for the SAT but also for ACT and GRE.

Pros
  • Progressive learning techniques
  • Retention-focused
Cons
  • Only good for the vocabulary section
  • Not a standalone SAT prep book

5 Tips When Buying A Study Guide

1. Do Your Research

If you think you can just buy the first SAT prep book you get your hands on, you're wrong. The best SAT study guide may help you ace the test just as much as the worst one could slow down your dream of even passing it. Aside from quality, each book's coverage generally differs, including the topics, learning styles, and strategies. Check out the top SAT books, do a content review, and learn what their differences are. This will help you narrow down your choices and select what reading and writing material contains high-quality content to help you in your review.

2. Ask Previous Test-Takers

Who else can give you the most reliable information on the best SAT prep books but the people who've used them before? It could be your older siblings or friends who are now in college. Previous test-takers are good sources of information when you're looking for different SAT books and practice problems to use for your review. Consider their recommendations before you take the SAT, but be very discerning about it.

3. Know the Area You Want to Focus On

Some people find the math section quite a challenging subject, while some find the SAT reading section and verbal reasoning more difficult. If you know which areas you're good at, then you may go easy on the subject and focus more on the sections that you think you're most likely to get a lower SAT score in. SAT prep books come in different approaches. Some books offer more practice tests in math, and some materials solely cover vocabulary. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can be more efficient during your review for the SAT.

4. Choose Updated Content Review

Go for the updated versions when you're looking for the best SAT prep books. The College Board redesigned the SAT a few years back, and it's imperative that only use study materials that are in harmony with the recent changes. Pay attention to details indicated in the book, like the date it was published or if the material is updated.

5. Seek Advice From Your Teachers

Educators like your teachers or tutors can also offer you useful resources as they've also used different study and review materials themselves. They've most likely talked to other students in the previous years, as well.

Types of SAT Prep Book - All You Need to Know

  • Content-Heavy

These study materials cover SAT information, including the overview, concepts, and explanations. You won't find many practice tests for this category as the primary focus is on building a strong conceptual foundation.

However, the practice tests included in this type are usually full-length, so you'll still have a good number of mock tests to cover. Content-heavy preparatory materials are recommended for students who need to get a good recap or bridge academic gaps.

  • Exam-Heavy

Prep books that contain quite a good number of questions, essays, practice tests, and quizzes are referred to as exam-heavy review materials. While they also focus on concepts and specific subject matters, their main goal is to efficiently prepare you to answer the SAT based on proper wording and style.

These study companions generally work on students who already have a good grasp of the concepts and are only looking for ways to fine-tune their skills.

  • Strategy-Driven

SAT prep review books that are strategy-driven focus more on your mindset. They aim to mentally condition you, so you don't feel stressed out or pressured during the examination day. With prep books as these, you'll find several actual test-taking strategies that include proper time management and the right decision-making tips, to name a few.

It's meant to boost your confidence and empower you to think clearly while taking the SAT. Aside from test-taking tips, these particular SAT books also cover practice tests and answer explanations.

Studying with SAT Prep Books

Before you settle down and get started on your SAT reading material, we recommend you do some planning first. Instead of going through them cover to cover, break each book into goals that are both manageable and within your time frame.

Take advantage of the diagnostic tests provided so you can gauge your starting level. If you can get a baseline SAT score, that would even be more helpful. These pre-tests usually come with an answer key to help you determine what sections and areas you have to focus on moving forward.

After your allotted review period, you can retake the same tests and see how much you've improved. This will also monitor your progress for possible re-adjustment of your study plan.

For a streamlined study plan, combine a comprehensive study material with a subject-specific prep book. For instance, if your focus is on vocabulary building, you can use the Magoosh vocabulary workbook alongside the Official Study Guide or the SAT Prep Black Book. Allot a specific time to each subject to get the most out of your test-taking strategy.

As soon as you have formulated a customized study plan, make sure you stick to it. Apply self-discipline, stay organized, and look for ways to retain essential information. The most important thing is not to lose focus.

Who Can Benefit In This SAT Prep Book Guide?

This SAT Prep book guide is collated for students who intend not only to pass the SAT but also to get high scores.

With many online SAT study materials available, it will be time-consuming to go through all these on your own. If you're serious about taking the test prep, plan, and get the right study companion.

Take your plan into consideration. How many hours a day are you willing to spend studying alone? This SAT guide is designed for comprehensive studying, which means that you need to allot a few hours per day to review and understand your SAT materials.

If you are cramming for time, your choice of books won't make a difference as preparing for the SAT requires time, focus, and lots of practice.

Most of the prep books we have here include practice tests that will improve your test-taking knowledge and skills.

Also, it's not enough that you read your SAT prep books without understanding the concept first. These books are designed to help you build a solid foundation on the subject areas covered by the SAT.

We suggest you determine your weaknesses and focus on improving them as part of your test-taking strategy, especially if your goal is to get a high score.

FAQs

How many hours per day should you study for the SAT?

Ideally, you should spend at least 3 hours per day studying for the SAT, especially if you aim not just to pass but to ace it, as well. If you can spare more hours, that would be better.

Is a month enough time to study for the SAT?

No. Based on our review, you need at least 2 months to fully prepare for the SAT. One month is not enough to master the concepts, practice on the tests, and remember the test-taking strategies requires to stay focused.

What is the highest SAT score?

The highest possible SAT score is 1600 points. If you wish to get this score, you need to get a perfect 800 on both the Mathematics section and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section of the test.

Can I self study for the SAT?

Yes. A self-guided SAT preparation is one good way to start reviewing for the test. It is, in fact, a recommended strategy. Not to mention the least expensive and the most flexible. With the stored knowledge from your self-guided prep, you'll most likely find it easier to be more productive when you do enroll in an SAT review class.

Is 1200 a good SAT score?

Generally, yes. A score of 1200 is considered above average and will place you in approximately the 74th percentile rank of all students taking the exam. This score makes it possible for you to apply to a sizable number of schools and colleges across the nation.

Can I borrow my friend's SAT prep book from last year?

Generally, no. We do not recommend using last year's prep book as the SAT changes every year. An outdated edition will not cover any recent additions to the test. However, you may still use it as a supplement. You can check out the test-taking strategies and tips and apply that not only to the SAT, but to other tests, as well.

Which is better between SAT prep physical books and e-books?

It depends on your preference. However, many students still opt for physical textbooks as these can be earmarked and highlighted for better tracking and mastery of the concepts. Physical books can also be photocopied. Some SAT prep study materials in e-book formats only cover overviews and content review, so you may need to look somewhere for interactive versions of the practice tests.

What's the Best SAT Prep Book? We Recommend...

Based on our in-depth research and interview, the Official SAT Study Guide is the best SAT study guide and prep book to use as you prepare for the examination. It is designed by the test makers themselves, giving it an edge over other SAT prep books.

It has eight full-length practice tests in the new SAT exam format that includes a description of the questions you can expect during the exam day. We like how it is regularly updated with each test revision. The book also explains the SAT structure to help you answer individual questions for each topic.

The SAT exam may be one of the most challenging feats you'll encounter.

However, good preparation is vital, and with the best SAT prep book in your hands, you may be able to hurdle it. You only need to focus and practice correctly.

Official SAT Study Guide 2020 Edition

Our #1 Recommendation

The Official SAT study guide

  • Prepared and written by the makers of the SAT exam
  • SAT practice tests can be obtained from the College Board’s website
  • 8 full-length practice tests in the new SAT format
  • Frequently updated with each test revision
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of May
Check Current Price
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About the author

William Cohen

William Cohen

William is an electrical engineer whose great passion is helping promising students achieve their goals and dreams. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with aspiring learners from all over the world.

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