10 Best SAT Prep Books (2021-2022)

Best SAT Prep Books

The SAT is nearing its 100th birthday. Created in 1926, this assessment test was originally intended to test the IQ of army personnel and incoming recruits. However, it was quickly adopted as a standardized college entrance exam.

Though its form and basic function have undergone several changes since that time, it remains one of the most vital and weighty exams in the United States.

Every high school student hoping to enter college after graduation needs to spend time studying for the SAT. While some universities are beginning to move away from the SAT, most still use SAT scores as a benchmark for incoming freshmen. A high score opens doors to even the most prestigious educational institutions (especially when combined with a high GPA). On the other hand, a low SAT score could prevent some students from attending their preferred university.

Fortunately, there are dozens of preparation guides and booklets that can help students prepare for the SAT. Some include full-sized practice tests, in-depth answer guides, and helpful tips and tricks. Others may focus on test-taking strategies and skills. Still, each one can be an excellent tool and resource for those preparing to take (and score highly) on the SAT.

Let’s explore the best SAT prep books for 2021-2022 and discover what each one brings to the table. That way, you can spend more time studying and less time shopping for a study guide.

SAT Prep Book Reviews

1. College Board Official SAT Study Guide 2020 Edition

The College Board Official SAT Study Guide contains eight full-sized practice tests and dozens of question-specific chapters to help students prepare for the 202 SAT.

Publisher: The College Board

Year: 2019

Number of Pages: 1300

Our Final Grade: A+

Students preparing to take their SAT are probably already familiar with the College Board. After all, the College Board is the organization responsible for creating, administering, and scoring the SAT. So, it makes complete sense to invest in an SAT study guide that comes straight from the source. The College Board Official SAT Study Guide (2020) is a comprehensive, easy-to-read preparation guide that tackles every aspect of the SAT.

Each section of this book contains several chapters devoted to various question types, ensuring that students understand exactly what they’re expected to know before taking the test. While this guide may not teach specific concepts or skills, it is a valuable resource for those attempting to refine their skills and become familiar with the test.

Every portion of the official SAT exam is explained and addressed in detail, including the reading, writing, and math tests. There’s even a small section devoted to the SAT essay section. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the eight full-sized practice tests included in the guide, and they can be used as a diagnostic tool to track student progress.

Because all of the information included in this guide comes from previous tests and the College Board organization, parents and students need never worry about spending time on fruitless questions or topics. Everything you need to know to score well on the SAT is included within the thousand-plus pages of this official guide book.

The only potential downside to this study guide is its price. While it is incredibly affordable, much of the information in this hefty book can be found online for free. Still, the price per page is outstanding, and printing from home would be more costly than simply purchasing this guide in its entirety.

Pros

  • An SAT prep book straight from the source: College Board.
  • Contains an abundance of full-sized practice tests to help students gradually improve their score.
  • Offers an overview of each section and question type found in the official SAT.

Cons

  • Most of the materials included in this guide can be found online for free at the College Board website.

2. Kaplan SAT Prep Plus 2021

The Kaplan SAT Prep Plus (2021) guide book is one of the most comprehensive resources for SAT questions and contains over 700 pages of in-depth information regarding each section of the test.

Publisher: Kaplan Publishing

Year: 2020

Number of Pages: 972

Our Final Grade: A

While most SAT prep books identify topics that are often found within the test (punctuation, grammar, quadratic equations), it’s difficult to find one that offers students the opportunity to brush up on those topics. For example, the standard SAT guide book may let you know that polynomial equations are often included within the math section. Still, it usually won’t explain how to solve polynomial equations.

Students who struggle with specific math, reading, or writing issues often find it difficult to master their weakest areas when working from a standard SAT prep book. Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus (2021) seeks to solve this issue by providing incredible amounts of information to help students relearn specific topics and master their areas of difficulty.

While it does also contain two practice tests (with the option to access three additional tests on the Kaplan website), it’s main focus is not improving your score via test-taking strategies. Instead, this book is designed to reinforce specific skills and topics, helping students earn a higher score through improved understanding and additional practice.

It’s important to note that the majority of this study guide is devoted to the mathematics portion of the SAT. You may want to consider choosing an alternative study resource if you or your child are struggling with the writing/reading or essay portion. However, if you need comprehensive mathematics preparation, there may not be a better option than Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus.

Pros

  • One of the best guides for the mathematics portion of the SAT.
  • Contains plenty of examples, study techniques, and strategies for those struggling with the test.
  • Helps students practice their mathematics, reading, and writing skills while building upon and bolstering their current depth of knowledge.

Cons

  • Only contains two SAT practice tests, though three more are available on the Kaplan website.
  • Most of the information in the guide book is targeted toward mathematics, with very little content devoted to the reading/writing and essay sections.

3. Princeton Review SAT Premium Prep 2021

Princeton Review’s SAT Premium Prep (2021) is one of the most comprehensive guides available for the 2021 SAT and consists of nearly 500 pages of helpful, topic-oriented examples, explanations, and test-taking tips.

Publisher: Princeton Review

Year: 2020

Number of Pages: 880

Our Final Grade: A

This updated take on the 2020 Princeton Review SAT Prep Guide has everything you need to prepare for the 2021 SAT. It contains a laundry list of vital topics and four full-sized practice tests. If you have a reliable internet connection, you can also access additional learning materials, resources, and practice tests via the Princeton Review website.

Each section of the test has its own section within the guide, making study a breeze. This book doesn’t shy away from explaining what the SAT is, how scoring works, and how weighty each section is. For example, there’s a brief blurb included near the introduction of this guide that addresses the essay portion of the SAT and whether or not students should even attempt it.

In terms of comprehensive test-taking information, practice tests, strategies and tactics, and general SAT info, it’s nearly impossible to find a better resource than the Princeton Review’s SAT Premium Prep (2021). Of course, the materials and resources bundled with this book may be inaccessible to those without home computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

Still, if you’re looking to get started on your 2021 SAT study prep, this might be the right guide for you.

Pros

  • One of the most updated and current SAT study guides available.
  • Contains an incredible amount of in-depth information regarding practice questions and test-taking strategies.
  • Clearly labeled chapters and mini-guides make this prep book fantastically easy to read.

Cons

  • Some of the included content is only available online.
  • This is one of the most expensive options available.

4. Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide 2020

Those who struggle to create a comprehensive study plan for themselves may want to consider Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide (2020) and its wide range of tests and question-related information.

Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series

Year: 2019

Number of Pages: 1056

Our Final Grade: A-

Barron’s SAT prep system is designed for those who consistently find themselves accessing their smartphone, tablet, or home computer. It may not be the best option for those with limited access to electronic devices, as many of the included resources are only available via apps or websites. Still, in terms of balanced information, this guide is a winner.

Also, if you’ve found yourself struggling to craft a workable study plan or schedule, this guide may be able to help. It comes with a diagnostic test that helps readers determine their greatest areas of strength, as well as topics that need revision. Instead of struggling to study an entire slew of mathematics or reading questions, this diagnostic test can help pinpoint specific topics that need remediation.

Because this diagnostic test is so useful, it can potentially save test-takers hours of time. In addition, each type of question and every topic included within the SAT is addressed in this book. After taking the diagnostic test, students need only flip to their “trouble topics” and study them.

With five paper practice tests to take advantage of, there’s almost no limit to the amount of self-diagnosis and study possible. And when students feel confident about their improved abilities, techniques, and score, they can also choose to access the two online tests included within this guide.

Barron’s also offers helpful vocabulary flashcards and additional digital resources to students with internet access. Essentially, if you’re always on your phone and you need some help preparing for your upcoming SAT, this guide just might be your best bet.

Pros

  • Contains a diagnostic test specifically designed to help students identify their weakest topics and address them quickly and efficiently.
  • The entire guide is designed to aid students effectively without overwhelming them with excess information.
  • Includes a lengthy section devoted to explaining and examining the actual SAT, as well as identifying tactics that may prove beneficial to test takers.
  • Contains an excellent balance of section questions and topics, making it an ideal choice for students hoping to improve their performance on all sections of the SAT.

Cons

  • Additional practice tests are only available online, and there are only two additional tests that students can access via Barron’s website.

5. Princeton Review Cracking the SAT Premium 2021 Edition

The Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT Premium (2021 Edition) contains all of the useful information students need to tackle the 2021 SAT, including eight full-sized practice tests and plenty of section-specific reviews and guides.

Publisher: Princeton Review

Year: 2020

Number of Pages: 880

Our Final Grade: B+

This study guide is incredibly similar to the College Board SAT guide, though it does feature a different layout. While the College Board guide explains the reading/writing portion in one section, this book separates them into distinct categories. In addition, while this guide does review each type of question found within these sections, it focuses more on test-taking strategies and SAT tips.

Students who often get nervous before taking a test may want to familiarize themselves with this particular guide, as it does offer an in-depth look into the way the SAT is built and administered. This guide helps students logically tackle multiple-choice questions and test pacing. If you or your child have been struggling to complete sections within the given time limit, this guide may help.

Slightly less than half of the guide book is devoted to practice tests. Four are included in the printed version, and another four are available online. This online content is unlockable via a key found within the printed book. For those without a consistent internet connection or home computer, this feature may be a downside rather than a boon.

Still, despite this one glaring flaw, Cracking the SAT happens to be a phenomenal option for any student struggling to overcome their test-taking fears and anxieties while preparing for the SAT. It’s about the same price as the College Board guide, making it an entirely affordable option as well.

Pros

  • Offers an in-depth look at each section, including question types and answering strategies.
  • An affordable option for students hoping to increase their scores.
  • Includes a specialized section with test-taking techniques that are specific to the SAT, including a multiple-choice strategy guide.

Cons

  • Half of the included practice tests are only available on the Princeton Review website.

6. SAT Prep Black Book

The SAT Prep Black Book is chock-full of strategies, tactics, and helpful information that can help any student raise their score.

Publisher: ACT Prep Books

Year: 2017

Number of Pages: 576

Our Final Grade: B

Though this study guide does not contain any practice tests, it does contain information relating to any and every possible topic included within the SAT. In addition, it offers an astounding amount and variety of tips, tricks, and strategies to master the test.

Though it’s incredibly lengthy (especially when you consider the lack of practice tests), every tidbit of information is designed to help students feel more comfortable and confident when taking the SAT. To make matters far simpler, the editors of this guide decided to include an introductory section devoted to addressing which parts of the book to read, and why.

This way, students won’t have to slog through all 576 pages to find the tools and resources they need to succeed. Instead, they can quickly identify and mark the most important and useful sections for study. The only thing that could make this guide better would be the inclusion of a diagnostic practice test and a final practice test.

However, these resources are available online, making their absence from this book less significant. For the ultimate in SAT tips, tricks, and information, look no further than the SAT Prep Black Book.

Pros

  • Contains the most SAT strategies and tactics out of any example included within this list.
  • Can be exceptionally helpful for those with questions about the SAT.
  • Includes plenty of valuable information for those attempting to create a study schedule for themselves.

Cons

  • Does not include any College Board practice tests.

7. Princeton Review 10 Practice Tests for the SAT 2020 Edition

Students looking for SAT practice tests, and lots of them, are sure to enjoy this guide from Princeton Review.

Publisher: Princeton Review

Year: 2019

Number of Pages: 944

Our Final Grade: B-

One of the best ways to improve your SAT score is to take multiple practice tests. By becoming familiar with the types of questions and concepts tested for in the SAT, students are likely to feel more confident and able when approaching the actual test. These ten practice tests make an excellent addition to any student’s SAT materials.

Unfortunately, this book does not make a great standalone SAT guide. This is partially due to the fact that it is entirely comprised of practice tests, rather than a mix of topic revision and practice. However, it’s also important to note that none of the included tests are official College Board SAT practice tests.

Pros

  • Students are bound to enjoy the ability to practice multiple times.
  • Each test comes with an answer section that helps to explain particular concepts.
  • Could be an excellent resource for those hoping to supplement their pre-existing SAT guides and booklets.

Cons

  • None of the included practice tests are official College Board SAT tests.
  • This guide does not include a wealth of helpful information regarding topics or test strategies.

8. KALLIS’ Redesigned SAT Pattern Strategy

Though the KALLIS’ SAT Pattern Strategy guide isn’t nearly as in-depth as comparable options, it does provide a basic revision strategy for students, in addition to several practice tests.

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Year: 2018

Number of Pages: 589

Our Final Grade: C+

For the included content and number of pages, the KALLIS’ Redesigned SAT Pattern Strategy book is one of the least affordable options. However, due to its brevity, it’s also one of the most portable choices. Students hoping to get a little studying done throughout their traditional school day may want to consider a lightweight guide such as this one.

Though this guide is one of the shorter SAT preparation books, it doesn’t skimp in terms of topic coverage. The reading, writing, and essay sections are comparable to the mathematics portion of the book, creating an excellent sense of balance in terms of concepts. This guide also contains six unique SAT practice tests, allowing students to practice their skills multiple times.

Pros

  • Fairly lightweight and compact SAT study guide that is perfect for book bags.
  • Contains a series of brief sections devoted to explaining specific concepts found on the SAT, including geometry, algebra, and English grammar.
  • Does not feature any online-based materials, allowing users of all economic backgrounds and situations to benefit from the included printed resources.

Cons

  • Not nearly as comprehensive as comparable study guides.
  • More expensive than comparable guides and SAT prep books.

9. SAT Prep 2021 and 2022

A concise, 223-page study guide for students on-the-go, or for those simply looking for some light remediation and revision.

Publisher: Test Prep Books

Year: 2020

Number of Pages: 310

Our Final Grade: C

Though this particular SAT prep book doesn’t offer a comprehensive look at the test or its topics and concepts, it does provide a quick overview and a practice test. For these reasons, it is best suited for those who have already scored highly on previous practice tests and who are simply looking to polish their skills.

However, this guide could be used in conjunction with a more in-depth resource to ensure a well-rounded SAT preparation schedule. For example, students can easily tuck this guide into their backpacks and do some light studying at school. Any subjects that stand out as troublesome can be marked down quite easily.

Then, when these students arrive back to their homes, they can use a comprehensive guide (such as the Official College Board SAT Study Guide) to study, remediate specific skills, and complete practice examinations.

So, while this guide isn’t terribly attractive on its own, it does make an excellent additional resource for students.

Pros

  • The brief nature of this guide makes it easy to read and skim through.
  • This book is light enough and small enough to fit into any book bag or backpack.
  • Could make a fantastic supplementary resource for students looking to perfect their test-taking skills.

Cons

  • Not a comprehensive SAT guide.
  • Only contains a single practice test.

10. Accepted SAT Prep 2020-2021

A brief study guide that includes two practice tests, a handful of question examples, and basic study strategies.

Publisher: Accepted, Inc.

Year: 2020

Number of Pages: 242

Our Final Grade: C-

Students struggling to master several concepts or topics may struggle with this guide. That’s because it is designed to reinforce topics and ideas, not help students relearn them or master them. For example, the questions guide included in this book does offer answer explanations, but not much else.

However, this tiny guide is completely updated, making it a great supplementary choice for anyone hoping to take the SAT in 2021 or 2022. And with the two included practice tests, students have more than one shot at raising their potential score before sitting the actual test.

Pros

  • One of the most affordable SAT study guides available.
  • Easy to carry around and brief enough to skim through.
  • Contains several practice tests.

Cons

  • Not a viable study guide for those hoping to maximize their potential score; Better suited to those simply brushing up on specific topics.

FAQ

Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions concerning SAT prep books. It’s a great idea to ask plenty of questions before making a final purchase, as doing so will ensure that you end up with the best, most satisfactory preparatory materials.

Which SAT Prep Book Is Best?

The best SAT prep book is one that fully prepares students to take (and score well) on the test. Still, it’s important to remember that every student has a unique learning style and depth of knowledge.

Some students struggle with mathematics but do very well in the reading section, and vice versa. Understanding the student’s weaknesses and strengths are essential to choosing the best SAT prep book. A range of tools and media types appeal to different types of learners, whether visual, auditory, or another style.

However, a guide that contains full-sized practice tests is bound to be more attractive than one that doesn’t. Practice tests are an invaluable diagnostic tool that allows students to gauge their current prospective performance as they study.

Consequently, the best SAT prep book is one that helps students master their weaknesses while also providing comprehensive preparatory testing.

What Is a Good SAT Score?

The SAT scores range from 400 to 1600. The cumulative score is based on both the math and reading/writing sections. The maximum score for each of these sections is 800, with a minimum of 200 points available.

A “good” score is completely subjective. While some highly competitive schools, including IVY League and UC Schools, only admit students with scores of 1400 or more, others accept students with a cumulative score of about 1200. It’s also important to note that many universities don’t judge a student based on their cumulative score, but rather on the two separate scores.

For example, a student who scored perfectly on the math portion may struggle to gain admission into their college of choice if they only scored a 400 on the reading/writing portion. While their cumulative score may be 1200, their section scores may become an issue.

It’s vital to contact the admissions office for your preferred educational institution to determine which SAT scores are acceptable. That way, you know whether you need extra practice to boost one score or the other.

How Many Hours a Day Should You Study for the SAT?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. Your availability, timeliness, and studying style will all help you to determine the proper amount of daily study hours. The sooner you decide to begin devoting time to SAT prep, the fewer hours of daily study you’ll need to earn a higher score.

For example, if you plan on taking the SAT in three months, you can spend an hour studying for the test every day. However, if you’re taking the test next week, you’ll need to devote at least ten hours to studying before sitting the test. It’s important to reserve a decent amount of time for SAT preparation and studying, no matter how confident you may feel.

While ten hours of study is the bare minimum, there is significant evidence to prove that extra practice can mean a far higher score. Take a long hard look at your weekly schedule and see what time you may have free to study. The more you study, the better prepared you will be to dominate the SAT and gain admittance into your chosen college.


Conclusion

There are quite a few SAT prep books from which to choose. While the Official College Board SAT Guide (2020) stands apart and ahead from most of these prep books, it’s not a bad idea to supplement this initial guide with additional tools and resources.

With the right combination of materials, preparing for the SAT doesn’t have to be a rigorous and taxing experience. Especially if you plan well in advance, studying doesn’t have to take up a ton of time.

As long as you have the proper materials to prepare you for the questions, test style, and time limits, you’ll likely score far higher than you would have otherwise. And while the SAT may lose some significance in the future, it’s still the go-to entrance examination for college freshmen.

If you’re determined to make the most of your college experience and get into your favorite school, take advantage of these prep books and practice, practice, practice!

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Michelle Tsou
 

Contributor at ExamCave. Michelle graduated with a BA in English from Portland State University. She hopes to one day run her own test-prep organization.