9 Best SAT Prep Books For 2020: Top Picks & Reviews

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SAT Prep Black Book Second Ed

SAT Prep Black Book Second Edition

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The Critical Reader

The Critical Reader

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The Critical s

The Critical Grammar

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Throughout the years, online SAT Prep courses and mobile apps have served as primary modes of SAT preparation. Despite the emergence of online review platforms, prep books remain an essential part of a student’s preparation process for the SAT.

So, what should you look for in a SAT prep book?

A Good amount of practice questions

A good SAT prep book provides a lot of practice questions. These allow you to test your understanding of a certain subject and help you improve your skills in answering questions more efficiently. It’s not only about the number of questions, though. They should also be close to official SAT questions.  

Answer Explanations

Aside from having plenty of practice questions you can work with, a good SAT prep book should have explanations for all questions. Practicing for the SAT involves understanding the concept or solution behind your answers to practice questions. Also, answer explanations can help prevent you from committing the same mistakes the next time you practice.

Strategies

If you are aiming to get a high score on the SAT, you will be needing strategies that will help you answer the questions not just correctly but efficiently. Good SAT prep books should provide you with these strategies in addition to practice questions and answer explanations. 

What is the best SAT prep book? In this ultimate guide, we list down the 9 best SAT books for 2020 and how they can help you boost your performance on the test day. We will look closely at each book’s content, pros and cons, and overall effectiveness. Let’s get right to it.

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Rank Products Feature Website
Best for

Gives out strategies that are effective and practical

Utilizes official practice tests

Will give you a different perspective on taking the SAT

Best for

Breaks down the question types chapter-by-chapter

It has a lot of quality passages that are close to the ones on the official SAT practice tests.

It has very thorough explanations. Includes practice questions from the College Board

Best for

Price-friendly

Waterproof

Customizable features

Best for

Contains 5 full-length practice tests

Has an online feature

Affordable

Best for

A good book for math practice

Teaches strategies

Has content for interpreting graphs

Best for

A good book for math practice

Amazing quality

Breaks down the step-by-step solution to a math problem

Best for

Using this material is as close as you can get to answering the real SAT

Practice question for each question type

Has essay practice tests

Best for

Great design and layout

Passages provided are high quality

Practice tests are almost as difficult as the real SAT

Best for

A good number of practice tests

Great layout and design

Has an in-depth analysis of questions and how to approach them

9 Best SAT Prep Books For 2020: Top Picks & Reviews

1. SAT Prep Black Book Second Edition

SAT Prep Black Book Second Ed

Starting off our list is the SAT Prep Black Book, Second Edition. This SAT prep book by Mike and Patrick Barrett is considered by many as the best SAT prep book for strategies. Aside from concepts and step-by-step solutions, the Black Book gives out effective strategies on how to outsmart the SAT. 

Comparing this edition to the previous one

The previous edition of this book was published in 2017. Since it has been a long time, the first edition will not be of help for your preparation in 2020.

What I like about this book

The effectiveness of this SAT book is shown through its author. Mike Barrett is an experienced SAT tutor and conducts test prep tutoring online. He has been tutoring students since high school, and it shows in the superb writing of the book. The content reflects his expertise on the SAT. 

Barrett wrote the book in a casual language, so you can ease in understanding even complex structures. 

This book is written by an author who definitely understands the SAT and how it is structured, but what makes this SAT book so effective? 

One of the things that I liked about this SAT prep book is that it changes your perspective on the SAT and the way you take it. This book will teach you that the SAT is a standardized test and that understanding the right way to approach it can be essential for you. 

The SAT Black Book has four sections: Understanding the SAT, Reading, Math, and Writing. In the first part of the book, Barrett gives you a walkthrough on the structure of the test, including the importance of understanding the SAT and its structure. You will learn how to approach SAT questions the best way. 

The following sections utilize the College Board’s Official SAT practice tests, providing you with steps on how to arrive at the correct answers.You will learn how questions in the test are formed and how ruling out incorrect answer choices will be crucial for you. 

One of the best things about this SAT prep book is that it develops your confidence in taking the SAT. After reading the book, you will have the guts to take the exam knowing what to expect and how to attack the questions. 

What I don’t like about this book

The downside? This book focuses heavily on strategy and less on fundamental concepts. If you still lack understanding of concepts, especially on Algebra, you are going to need other prep materials. 

Overall, this SAT book is one of the best out there. If you want to walk into the testing room with confidence and having a handful of strategies with you, you should consider reading this book.

In a Nutshell

Pros

Cons

2. The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to SAT Reading, Fourth Edition

The Critical Reader

The third SAT prep book on our list is The Critical Reader’s The Complete Guide to SAT Reading. This SAT book is one of Erica Meltzer’s The Critical Reader series, which is popular for students taking the SAT. This is considered by many the best SAT prep book for the Reading section.

Comparing this edition to the previous one

This SAT book is close to the previous edition, but the author included additional practice questions and strategies in this book. 

What I like about this book

The Reading section is different from the other sections of the SAT. Unlike Math and Grammar, this section utilizes logical reasoning skills that are not easy to master. This SAT study book will teach you how to attach those types of questions systematically. 

This prep book includes:

  • Chapter-by-chapter breakdown of question types
  • Strategies for comprehending complex passages
  • Strategies for answering infographic questions
  • List of alternate definitions for words
  • Passages and practice questions

The first part of the book is an overview of the test, followed by chapters on different types of reading questions. After each chapter, there are practice questions to further enhance your skills in answering reading questions. 

The author broke down the Reading section by question type, which helps you attack different question and passage types.  

What we like about this prep book is that it has very thorough explanations. Throughout reading the book, you would feel like Meltzer is by your side explaining the mistakes you make. I

ndeed, this book is the complete package when it comes to studying the Reading section of the SAT. It goes into each aspect and detail of the test.

Also, this book allows you to apply the techniques and strategies to College Board materials. Included in this SAT prep book are all the reading questions from Khan Academy exams and College Board Official Study Guide.

What I don’t like about this book

One downside is that this book might appear too thorough for some. The thoroughness of this book can give the average student a dry, boring, textbook-like feel. However, if you are aiming to get a perfect score in the reading section, this SAT book is the one for you.

Another downside is that this has some proofreading issues and can be expensive for a book that covers only a single section. 

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

3. The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to SAT Grammar, Fourth Edition

The Critical s

Next on the list is another book in The Critical Reader series. The Ultimate Guide to SAT grammar is considered by a lot of students as the best SAT prep book for writing. This will boost your score on the Writing and Language section. 

The book by Erica Meltzer provides grammatical rules, explanations, strategies, and tons of practice questions that will surely improve your grammar skills.

Comparing this edition to the previous one

The fourth edition includes additional practice questions and new strategies, so you are getting something new in this edition. The questions are still consistent with the ones on official practice tests. 

What I like about this book

This covers everything that you will need to ace the SAT Writing and Language section and is considered by many as the best SAT prep book for English

Also included in this book is a complete index of Writing questions from the eight exams in the College Board Official Study Guide, arranged by category and by test.

The Writing and Language section is different from other sections of the SAT as it relies heavily on style. The author methodically analyzed the different question types on the section and elaborated on which answer to pick in a certain question type. 

This book also teaches some tricks, such as two answer choices in a grammar question are both grammatically correct. You will learn how to differentiate the two answers and pick the one that is best stylistically. 

Like The Complete Guide for SAT Reading, this SAT prep book is thorough and is ideal for you if you have a lot of time. If you are looking to have a perfect score on the Writing and Language section, then this is the best book for you. 

What I don’t like about this book

If English is not your first language or you still have a weak foundation on grammar, it is recommended for you to try out simpler books first. The depth and thoroughness of this book might overwhelm you or you might need a tutor to explain the complexities of this book. 

Just like most books from The Critical Reader series, this is a bit expensive for a book that covers only one section. Plus, little proofreading and typographical issues still remain a concern. 

Overall, this book is one of the best out there if you are aiming for a high score on the Writing and Language section. 

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

4. Kaplan SAT Prep Plus 2020

Kaplan SAT

Kaplan is one of the most recognized SAT prep courses online, but they are not just about quality coaching and tutoring. Kaplan provides top-caliber SAT prep books to supplement your preparation. 

Number 5 on our list is a SAT test prep book from the Kaplan series. The SAT Prep Plus 2020 provides expert strategies and practice questions, which include a 250-question online Qbank. 

The full inclusions of Kaplan SAT Prep Plus 2020 are the following:

  • 5 full-length practice tests (2 on the book, 3 online)
  • 1400+ practice questions
  • Answer explanations
  • Pre-quizzes to help you know what to focus on
  • Quizzes after every chapter

Comparing this edition to the previous one

This book is an updated version and includes new practice quizzes, layout, and online study planning guidance (1).

What I like about this book

Kaplan understands that the SAT is one big strategy game. You will learn different “On the Day” strategies, especially in the Math section, to answer questions most quickly and efficiently possible. . 

This book also has “Reflect” pages, to help you evaluate your improvement and comfort level on each topic covered on the SAT.

What sets this book apart from the others is its online access feature. You only have to register the book’s serial number online, and you will get access to additional content and tests. 

Upon online registration, you will get:

  • Additional practice tests (3)
  • Essay practice
  • Access to video/audio training sessions
  • Practice quizzes
  • Pre-test planning

Do note, though, that the online features are active for only 1 year after registration. 

Another good thing about this book is that it has essay practice, which most SAT prep books do not have. If you are focusing your preparation on Math, this book’s got you covered. Half of the book covers strategies and practice questions in the Math section, so it is a great book if you are aiming to improve your math skills. 

What is impressive with this book is its affordability. Its price is pretty reasonable, considering that it includes thousands of practice questions and 1-year online access. Plus, it covers all sections of the SAT.

What is impressive with this book is its affordability. Its price is pretty reasonable, considering that it includes thousands of practice questions and 1-year online access. Plus, it covers all sections of the SAT.

What I don’t like about this book

This SAT book also has downsides, though. The practice questions tend to be unrealistic sometimes, which means questions are not phrased the way they are phrased on the SAT and the official practice tests. Also, some errors were found in the book. 

The Kaplan SAT Prep Plus 2020 is one of the best SAT books in the market. With its strategies, practice tests, and online feature, you will surely boost your chances of getting a high score on the SAT.

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

Price: $33.17
Best For: Male recipients who love wallets.

5. Princeton Review Cracking the SAT Premium 2020

Princeton Review Cracking

The next SAT practice test book on our list is Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT 2020. Princeton Review is one of the most reputable online prep courses. For decades, they have been helping students prepare for standardized tests like the SAT. Aside from prep courses, they also produce exemplary prep books that will boost your prep process.

Comparing this edition to the previous one

The last edition update was in 2015, and this new version was changed in terms of design. What you will get in the 2020 edition of this book are additional practice tests. In the previous edition, you will get five practice tests. In this edition, you will get eight. 

What I like about this book

The math section in the Princeton Review SAT prep book 2020 is what sets it apart from other prep books. It has almost 300 pages of math content. From practice questions to Math strategies, this book’s got you covered. 

It also gives you a general overview of the SAT. The authors emphasized on interpreting graphs, a topic on the SAT that most prep books do not cover. Drills are provided after each test section, and a writing section is provided for practicing your essay skills.

Apart from practice tests, this book also provides strategies about taking the SAT. You will learn some pacing tips and ways to avoid traps on the SAT. 

This book is the premium version, so you will get access to Princeton Review’s online features, including:

  • Videos on test strategies
  • Access to university rankings
  • College admission advice
  • Multi-week study guides
  • Score reports for all practice tests to help you track your progress

This book contains 8 full-length practice tests: 4 in the book and 4 online, which is a pretty good number for the book’s price. 

What I don’t like about this book

Since this book focuses heavily on the Math section, you will not be getting much in the Reading and Writing sections. There are still practice questions on these sections, but not as much as you would get from the Math section. The book’s length can also be overwhelming for some. 

It also uses acronyms in certain parts, which tend to be confusing at times. 

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

6. Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide

The next book on our list of the best books to study SAT is Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide. This SAT prep book by Sharon Green provides extensive review, practice questions, expert advice, and strategies on how to ace the SAT. 

This edition of the book includes:

  • 4 full-length practice tests on the book
  • 2 full-length online practice tests
  • 1 full-length diagnostic test
  • Vocabulary list
  • Overview of the SAT
  • Strategies
  • Subject reviews on all sections of the SAT

Comparing this edition to the previous one

This edition is close to the previous one, especially in the Math section. However, it is not recommended for you to purchase older editions of this book. The SAT changed last 2016, so this book’s older editions are not going to help you in preparing for the 2020 SAT.

What I like about this book

One of the best things about this prep book is its amount of content. It includes thousands of practice questions and detailed lessons, and examples. 

The book’s content is extremely thorough. It covers every single detail that you need to look at on a test question. 

Barron’s study guide is one of the best resources for math. In this book, you will get around 200 pages of Math content. The author also broke down the steps on how to arrive at the correct answers. 

Moreover, it provides access to a flashcard app, which adds excitement and convenience to your prep experience. 

Overall, this is the best SAT study guide book that you can use as supplementary material.

What I don’t like about this book

The Math section of this book is great, but the verbal sections are lacking. Most concepts and words on the Reading and Writing section are in list form, which may seem like you have to memorize these words in those sections. 

Plus, these sections do not give a clear direction of what is important in the SAT. There are so many concepts and words, yet not everything is essential. 

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

7. College Board Official SAT Practice Tests, 2020 edition

College Board

One of the best materials to use in 2020 is the College Board’s Official SAT Practice tests. The College Board provides eight official SAT practice tests and detailed explanations for answers.

Here are the full inclusions of the material (2):

  • 8 official full-length practice tests
  • Detailed descriptions of all sections in the SAT
  • Practice question for each question type
  • Guidance on the Essay section
  • Essay practice questions and sample responses

Comparing this edition to the previous one

There are minor changes from the 2018 edition to the 2020 edition. Few questions were replaced by new ones, but still covers the same topic. The major change in the 2020 edition is the number of practice tests. The 2018 edition provides 6 practice tests while the 2020 edition provides an additional 2 for a total of 8 full-length practice tests. 

What I like about this book

The best thing about the College Board’s study guide is how close the practice tests are to the real SAT. This book will give you the test-day experience with how the practice tests are structured. The more you answer these book’s tests, the more you will be prepared for the real SAT. 

The questions on these practice tests are as close as they can get to the real SAT questions. 

This material is the best SAT study guide that you can get for free. All of this book’s content is available online. The College Board provides an e-copy for all the practice tests, which makes the purchase of the physical book unnecessary. 

What I don’t like about this book

The downside of this material is that it does not provide additional instructional materials. The answer explanations are also weak compared to other SAT prep books. There are explanations for why a choice is correct, but explanations for why an answer is incorrect are lacking. 

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

8. Ivy Global SAT Study Guide, Edition 2.3

Ivy Global SAT

Although Ivy Global is less popular than other SAT prep material publishers, the SAT prep books it produces are of great quality. The New SAT Guide provides a complete review of each SAT section and two practice tests. 

The full inclusions of this book are the following:

  • Strategies for answering all sections of the SAT
  • 3 full-length tests
  • 500+ additional SAT-style drill problems
  • 7 practice essay prompts

Comparing this edition to the previous one

This updated version of Ivy Global’s SAT guide was published to help students prepare for the 2016 redesigned SAT. Ivy Global made the package of this book slimmer and more refined. 

What I like about this book

The design and layout of this book are great. It does not give you the dull prep experience that other books tend to have. The answer explanations cover the necessary details and examples are provided. Like the elite SAT prep books, it provides strategies on how to approach different question types.

The passages provided for the reading section are of high quality. They are adapted from reliable sources like The New York Times and The Atlantic.

The practice tests included in this book are good as well. The difficulty of the tests are almost the same as that of the real SAT. 

This book is one of the most affordable SAT prep materials in the market. Its price is reasonable, considering that it covers all sections of the SAT.

What I don’t like about this book

One thing that can be improved in this book is the thoroughness of the strategies. It would have been better if they specified which parts of the SAT are certain strategies to be advantageous. 

Other than that, this book is great, especially for students who are looking for materials that will supplement their preparation for the SAT.

Also, answers on the practice tests are printed at the back of the book. The explanations are only available online. 

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

9. Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy Edition 3.0

Kallis’ SAT Pattern

Concluding our list of the best SAT books for 2020 is Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy. This SAT prep book provides practice tests, analysis of questions, and answer explanations to help you outsmart the SAT. If you are aiming to be at the top 20% of SAT takers, you should definitely consider purchasing this book. 

Here are the full inclusions of the book:

  • 1000+ practice questions
  • 100 question topics
  • Questions analysis
  • 6 full-length practice tests
  • Answer explanations

Comparing this edition to the previous one

The 2018 edition is similar to the 2016 edition, but some positive changes were made. The practice questions on this edition are more consistent with the real SAT questions. Also, the passages included here are more recent. 

What I like about this book

The author of this book did a great job of reflecting on the real SAT questions. They may not be the same as the official practice questions, but they are close enough. Its word problems are complex and resemble the real SAT math questions well. 

In the previous edition, the passages provided were old. They even used passages from the 1800s. In this new edition, the passages used were of high quality and were taken from more recent years. 

6 practice tests are provided in this book, which is a good amount considering the book’s price.

What I don’t like about this book

One downside of this book is that the practice questions tend to be a little difficult for some. Other than that, this has been considered as the best SAT prep book for high scorers

I recommend this book for students aiming for a score of 1500+. The questions will challenge you and hone your skills on different sections of the SAT. 

However, average scorers might find it too difficult to answer the questions, especially the Math section.

In a nutshell

Pros

Cons

Final thoughts

There you have it, the 9 best SAT prep books that will help you perform your best on the SAT day. These books are chosen based on the number of practice questions, the strategies that they provide, and their value for money. 

These books may have different styles, content, and price, but all of them are considered the best  and are proven to have helped thousands of students reach their goals on the SAT. 

It is important to note, though, that having these books is not enough. Constant practice is still the most important aspect if you want to score high on the SAT and attend your dream school.

References

Best Overall

SAT Prep Black Book Second Ed

Table of Contents

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