The 11 Best SAT Prep Books in 2023
June 7, 2023
While we wish there were a magic password to help you achieve that perfect score on the SAT, sadly, no such thing exists. However, what we do have at our disposal is a list of the best SAT prep books to help you challenge your mind, hone your skills, and feel confident on the day of your exam…which is nearly as good! We’ve gone through all the SAT books—from those put out by the major companies to resources found online—to compile a list of the best SAT preparation resources to help you thrive and improve your score. The prep books on this list will help you practice, practice, practice—the real key to acing that big test.
How to Study for the SAT
We get it: the SAT can seem overwhelming. How do you begin? Well, firstly, we recommend taking a practice test, like those found in many of the SAT prep books below. This will not only show you what areas you need to focus on, but it will also give you a sense of where you currently stand. (Check out our guide here for a complete list of colleges and their SAT admissions rates.) After taking the diagnostic test, identify your areas of weakness. Ask yourself: where did you get stuck? What sections did you score lowest on? This will give you a good sense of which areas to focus on in your preparation.
Many students find classes or tutors useful for helping them improve their scores. If these resources aren’t available to you, don’t worry! Self-study is a great way to prepare for the SAT. Regardless of the path you choose, remember to stay diligent and focused. The SAT isn’t the type of test you can cram for the night before. To prepare for this mammoth test, you’ll want to start early and practice often, doing a few practice questions or more each day and ensuring you thoroughly understand them before moving on to the next section.
Factors to Take into Consideration When Choosing an SAT Prep Book
- Material Covered: Some books cover just the SAT Reading and Writing Sections, while others focus exclusively on Math. Then you have the books designed to address all three of these subjects. In this article, we’ll break down the SAT prep books based on individual subjects and suggest comprehensive options.
- Full-Length Practice Tests: One of the best ways to prepare yourself for the SAT is to take several practice tests. These tests prepare you for the test format and highlight areas where you may want to concentrate more of your efforts. Be sure to take these practice tests as close to real-world conditions.
- Explanations: A good SAT prep book will offer explanations for their answers. These explanations help walk you through how to solve a problem you might have missed.
- Recency: For the sake of this list, we chose to concentrate on books published in the past year. This is because the SAT is constantly changing and evolving. We want to make sure that you have the most up-to-date resources available to you.
- Price: In compiling this list, we looked at how much material came in each book to ensure the value offered by each book justifies its cost. And keep in mind that there are plenty of free resources out there to help you study for the SAT. Khan Academy, for instance, offers tons of material. Additionally, The College Board provides free practice tests on its website. Whether you purchase an SAT prep book or not, we recommend checking out these valuable resources.
The Best SAT Prep Books – Overall
1) Princeton Review’s SAT Premium Prep – Purchase here. Page Length: 832. Price: $24.84
- Offers nine full-length practice tests (four in the book and five online) with detailed explanations.
- Includes access to online videos with test-taking strategies, as well as college admissions advice.
- The unique “SAT Insider” section gives college admissions advice, such as writing application essays and choosing the right school for you.
- Pros: 12 months of access to study materials, a personalized study plan, and a score improvement guarantee.
- Cons: The complex wording of its questions doesn’t mimic the language found on the SAT. Moreover, it uses a traditional approach in terms of style and structure that some students might find dull.
2) Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus – Purchase here. Page Length: 972. Price: $24.99.
- This book not only provides five full-length practice tests (two in the book and three online), it also offers detailed explanations to demonstrate to students how to arrive at the correct answer.
- The book offers pre-quizzes to show you what areas to skip when reviewing questions and which to concentrate your energies on.
- After each chapter, the book provides quizzes and practice questions to test your retention.
- Offers a “Test Day” strategy section to help you prepare for the SAT.
- Pros: Cheaper than Princeton Review’s options, access to a personalized study plan.
- Cons: Less access time than Princeton Review’s options (6 months versus 12).
3) Barron’s SAT Study Guide Premium – Purchase here. Page Length: 1000 pages. Price: $30.49.
- This one tops our list both in terms of price and page count. That said, some students may find the additional pages challenging to navigate.
- Eight practice tests (five in the book and three online).
- In-depth review of each subject, with practice questions and detailed answer explanations.
- Pros: More affordable option. Effective as a supplemental book for students already well-versed in the SAT format and question style.
- Cons: Not as comprehensive as other options. Some questions and explanations are dense, which might prove ineffective for students engaging with the format for the first time.
4) Mometrix’s SAT Prep Book 2023 – Purchase here. Page length: 438. Price: $22.99.
- The shortest of the books listed here, Mometrix offers a comprehensive guide to each section of the SAT.
- Pros: The book is well put together and easily navigated. It also includes a three-week study plan to help you prepare for taking the SAT.
- Cons: the book only offers two practice tests, with no online content or practice tests.
The Best SAT Prep Books for the Math Section
5) SAT Math Workbook by Barron’s – Purchase here. Page length: 592. Cost: $16.99
- Intensive preparation for the SAT’s math section.
- Hundreds of math questions with answer explanations.
- Offers strategies and pointers for ways to tackle the math section of the SAT.
- Pros: Well-structured by topic.
- Cons: Ideal for students with some familiarity with the subjects at hand.
6) SAT Math Packets by Settele – Purchase here. Page length: 330. Cost: $23.74.
- Thirty-seven packets that help you to narrow your focus on a single math topic at a time.
- Short chapters make the book easy to navigate.
- There’s minimal text crowding the pages. Instead, the focus is on lessons and their explanations.
- Offers 450 realistic practice questions.
- Pros: Offers study plans and suggested lessons to break down topics for test-takers.
- Cons: The breakdown of the topics doesn’t reflect the actual SAT, where questions are mixed.
- The first volume (Volume 1) covers the first nineteen topics of the SAT and offers pretest diagnostics.
- The second volume (Volume 2) covers the more advanced topics of the SAT Math section, including advanced algebra, geometry, and statistics.
- While these books offer a comprehensive overview of all topics covered in the SAT Math section, the fact that they’re broken up into two volumes makes them clunkier than the other options on our list and less cost-effective.
- Pros: Offers many study tips in its pre-lessons sections. Breaks down the questions in an easy-to-follow format.
- Cons: The fact that this book breaks its topics into two volumes immediately makes it less cost-effective than the other options on our list.
8) Jang’s SAT 800 Math Workbook New Edition – Purchase here. Page length: 415. Cost: $26.00
- With 1500 practice questions, this book tops our list as the most comprehensive math book.
- The questions are easily arranged by difficulty level, which means students can engage with them as needed.
- Pros: 10 sample tests, with language that mimics that found on the SAT.
- Cons: Lack of detailed explanations to show how they arrived at the answer. If you’re looking for a book that teaches you new approaches to problem-solving, this one is not your best bet.
The Best SAT Prep Books for the Reading and Writing Sections
9) The Critical Reader’s Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar. Purchase here. Page length: 291. Cost: $29.25.
- Provides comprehensive coverage of all the grammar concepts tested on the SAT Writing and Language sections.
- Offers practice questions and explanations.
- Pros: Easy to navigate. Discusses question types as well as helpful strategies for answering questions. Its questions are thorough, including passages from a wide variety of subjects.
- Cons: Due to its dense format, some students may find the book less engaging than the other options on our list.
10) SAT & ACT Grammar Mastery: ACT & SAT Writing Rules. Purchase here. Page length: 299. Cost: $29.99.
- A grammar textbook that breaks down the ACT and SAT grammar tests into easy-to-digest sections.
- Seventeen grammar lessons and 320 practice questions.
- Offers a pretest diagnostic to identify grammar weak spots quickly.
- Pros: The lessons are practical and enjoyable. The explanations of the answers are less dry than those found in the more traditional SAT books, which might motivate students to keep going.
- Cons: Fewer practice tests than we’d like (only one pretest and one post-test).
11) SAT Reading & Writing Packets by Settele. Purchase here. Page length: 242. Cost: $19.99.
- Offers 400 practice questions.
- Composed of 31 packets on grammar and writing to help you narrow your focus.
- Offers tips and strategies to help prepare test takers.
- Pros: At $19.99, this is our most cost-effective option.
- Cons: The explanations could be more thorough than those in other prep books.
Best SAT Prep Books – Conclusion
Whatever SAT prep book you choose, dedication is the most critical factor in improving your overall score. The more you study and practice, the better off you’ll be. Remember to break down the study materials into manageable sections and concentrate on improving your weakest areas. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to earning that 1600!
For more information on what’s considered a “good” SAT score, check out our article that answers this question and more.
If you enjoyed our list of the Best SAT Prep Books, you may also wish to check out the following College Transitions blogs: