Most students who want to reach their potential on the SAT should plan to take 10-15 full, timed official practice SATs. Full practice tests are essential to build your mental endurance as well as to get an accurate read on where you are, and what you need to practice. Do not use unofficial practice test material (e.g., Kaplan or Princeton Review).
To improve skills between practice tests, use the resources listed above for math and grammar.
Official Material For Full, Timed Practice SATs:
- College Board’s Official Practice Tests to print on your own.
- Official SAT Study Guide 2020 (print edition) — These are the same 8 tests on the College Board’s website.
- 50 Official SAT and PSAT PDFs — This list includes the 8 tests from the College Board’s site (and book), plus 42 additional, previously administered FREE SAT and PSATs.
SAT Prep Books:
In general, I don’t recommend much “test prep” specific material. If you are studying for the SAT, you should practice with official SAT material.
However, there are a limited number of official tests, so try to save the official tests for full-timed practice tests and/or practice material between tests, but do not waste tests if you need to learn (or review) domain-specific topics. For example, if you need to learn punctuation rules, use the resources listed above rather than official practice tests. Then, bring what you’ve learned/practiced back to the SAT to test yourself. Do you understand the rules in the context of the SAT?
Bottom Line: Better to use a legitimate grammar book to learn grammar than “SAT Grammar” books.
Exceptions — I have purchased nearly every test prep book on Amazon. Most are useless; some are so off they can be downright harmful. However, I highly recommend the test prep books listed below:
- The College Panda’s SAT Math: Advanced Guide and Workbook by Nielson Phu. Most of this book is excellent. He gives clear, easy-to-understand explanations of each math topic tested, and practice that is often eerily close to actual medium and hard questions I’ve seen on the SAT. His explanations are helpful, too.
- The College Panda’s 10 Practice Tests for SAT Math by Nielson Phu — As with his workbook, the questions are often extremely close to hard SAT math questions. I wouldn’t necessarily take these sections timed, but they are well worth doing. Most are super tricky but great practice.
- If you buy two copies of any of Nielson Phu’s books (and I recommend the two above) and email verification of purchase to the author, he will send you a digital copy of his SAT Calculator Workbook AND an allowable calculator program to use on Section 4. While the program doesn’t help with the majority of questions in that section, the handful of questions it does help with (e.g., System of Equations) are well worth the price of two books.