We’ve been helping students improve their SAT scores for over a decade.  In that time, we’ve ordered thousands of dollars’ worth of books.  Now, we are sharing our insights about SAT books with you.

A couple quick notes before we start.  At the beginning of each description for the books there is a section entitled math, reading, and writing.  This section is geared to help you understand what type of student will benefit the most from each book.

If there is anything you need to know about a book that we did not feel should be included in the description, then we put it in the “please note” section.

Official SAT Practice Tests Books 

There is no way around it—practice makes perfect. The best way to improve your SAT scores is to take real SAT practice tests under timed conditions. We start out our suggested study materials with a guide to the best places to find official practice SAT tests and unofficial practice tests that do a good job of mimicking the real thing.

The first step for SAT prep: take a practice test.  There are a lot of great practice tests available. However, when you start out you should stick to the official SAT practice test.  This will give you a good sense of where you are scoring and what you need to work on.

Recommendations:

Official SAT Study Guide, 2018 Edition 

  • Math: All levels
  • Reading:  All levels
  • Writing:  All levels

Having the guide book made by the test maker of any standardized test is non-negotiable. This is the only study guide that has real SATs so it is the most reliable for monitoring your progress. This book has 8 official practice tests.  The first four (Test 1-4) are ones that were released before the first redesigned SAT test in the Spring of 2016.  The next 4 test (Test 5-8) are SATs that were administered.

Before you start practicing for the SAT you should take a timed practice test under test taking conditions.  Go to a quiet place around 8 am, the same time you will be taking the test, and time yourself for each section.

After your first practice test, review the explanations and use the remaining tests to continue doing timed practice sections.

The Official SAT Study Guide also has lessons throughout that will help you as you prepare for the SAT.

Please Note:  The explanations for the SAT practice test are helpful for the reading and writing section.  However, if you struggle with the math concepts, the explanations may not be as helpful.   If you still do not understand a question for math, YouTube is a great resource for that.  Just type in the name of the test, the section, and the question (example: test 1, section 3, question 4).

In addition, a lot of students have asked us if there is an Official SAT Study Guide 2018 in PDF.  There is not a copy of the book in PDF format.  However, all 8 test in the Official SAT Guide are available in PDF form here: 8 Free Official SAT Practice Test

Question and Answer Service: QAS

  • Math: All levels
  • Reading:  All levels
  • Writing:  All levels

QAS is the question and answer service and is available for October, March, and May administrations of the SAT.  The SAT provides a copy of the test, the correct answers, and the answer sheet for students who pay the fee for the QAS report.   After you finish practice tests 1-8, you want to start taking practice tests that have previously been administered.

The r/SAT reddit thread keeps an update list of QAS reports released.  Access them here. r/SAT reddit is also a great resource for students who want to connect with other students during the SAT from all around the country and the world.

Please Note:  There are not any explanations for these test.  Just answer sheets.  Again, YouTube is a great resource for explanations.

Unofficial Practice Tests

After you have exhausted all the official practice tests available, then you may have to turn to unofficial practice tests. We suggest you save at least 1-2 official SAT tests to close to your test date so you have a real SAT to use right before your test date.  Although these tests are not exactly the same as a real test, these will allow you to continue your momentum for the SAT and are a good substitute.

Recommendations:

Ivy Global: New SAT Guide

  • Math: Beginner to Intermediate (below 1000 to 1300)
  • Reading:  Intermediate to Difficult (over 1200 to 1600)
  • Writing:  All levels

Ivy Global has 3 practice tests contained within their book and a 4th one online.  In addition, the book comes with lessons in reading, writing, and math.

The practice tests tend to be great for everyone.  It allows you to practice the SAT with tests that are very realistic.

The math lessons tend to be geared towards students in the beginning to intermediate range (below 1300).  Some of the harder passport to advanced math concepts are not covered as extensively as in other books but there is a lot of great material for students that need to freshen up on the basics.

However, for students looking to improve their reading score, this book is for you.  Ivy Global has some of the most challenging reading practice sections you can find. This can be intimidating at first but the reading explanations are very helpful.

Ivy is great at updating their tests, which means new editions come out frequently.  If you plan to use with a study group or with a tutor, order multiple copies at the same time to make sure you are working with the same editions.

Please Note:  The explanations for Ivy Global are online.  They are not contained in the book.

Ivy Global:  6 Practice Tests

  • Math: Beginner to Intermediate (below 1300)
  • Reading:  Intermediate to Difficult (over 1200 to 1600)
  • Writing:  All levels

This is Ivy Global’s book with 6 additional tests.  Like their guide, the tests tend to be very realistic.

The book starts with a quick summary of SAT concepts, which is helpful, then jumps right into the practice tests.  This is great for students who are looking for more practice before the SAT.

Please Note:  Just like with the Guide, the explanations are online.

Marks Prep: Four Realistic SAT Practice Tests 

  • Math: Intermediate to Difficult (over 1200 to 1600)
  • Reading:  Beginner to Intermediate (below 1300)
  • Writing:  Beginner to Intermediate (below 1300)

As advertised, Marks Prep has four realistic practice tests contained in their book.

The math tends to be a little more challenging than the SAT, perfect for students who already have a 500+ on math.  The reading and writing sections tend to have questions that are great for students in the beginner to intermediate range.  There are challenging questions but not as challenging as other books.

The math explanations are where this book shines.

The explanations walk you through step by step and they also discuss different strategies to implement.   The tips are well thought out and very helpful.

This is one book where the explanations are as effective as the tests itself. Make sure you take the time to examine each.  The explanations have light bulbs for teachable moments and caution signs warning you what to look out for when you confront these questions on the SAT.

Please Note:  Earlier editions only had explanations for two tests.  Updated editions have explanations for all 4 test.  Make sure you use an updated edition.

These are our favorite guide books for timed practice SATs. However, most of the above books do not have extensive review of particular content areas and there is little mention of techniques that can help you when you are stuck. Keep watching our blog or join our mailing list to be notified of additional study guides and apps that can help with SAT/ACT prep.