Best SAT Books 2021-2022 | Book Reviews

Click the book title in the table to jump to my complete review of the best SAT books!


GradeTitlePublisherYear Price*
AMagoosh SAT eBookMagoosh2017FREE!
A-SAT Prep Black Book: 2nd EditionSAT Tutoring2017$24.82
B+ (tie)Kallis' SAT Pattern StrategyKallis2015$27.06
B+ (tie)New SAT Guide, 6 Practice TestsIvy Global2015, 2019$7 (New SAT Guide), $28.75 (Ultimate SAT Guide)
B (tie)SAT Premium Prep 2022Princeton Review2022$25.33
B (tie)PWN the SAT: Math GuideMike McClenathan through CreateSpace2016$28.49
B (tie)500+ Practice Questions for the New SATPrinceton Review2015Used price varies
B (tie)10 Practice Tests for the SAT, 2022 EditionPrinceton Review2022$24.99
B (tie)Barron's SAT, 31st EditionBarron's Educational Series2022$28.87
C+The Official SAT Study Guide 2020The College Board 2020$19.94

*List prices given at time of publication and subject to change. Click on the book cover found in each review to see the current price on Amazon.

Best SAT Books of 2021-2022: Reviews

Best SAT books - magoosh

Not all SAT prep books are created equal: some you’ll want to use in their entirety (though only a few), others you’ll want to use only parts of, and others you’ll want to steer clear of. This is particularly true now that prices are falling and Kindle versions are available—in some ways, that’s awesome, but it can also encourage students to buy a ton of books without seriously evaluating their quality.

To help you maximize your study time (and save your hard-earned cash) I’ve reviewed the options for the best SAT books on the market and graded them from most to least helpful. Keep in mind that some publishers do a good job on some things (like practice tests or a specific section of the SAT) and a sub-par job on other things. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy the book, but it might mean that you won’t use the book in its entirety.

Magoosh’s Complete, Free SAT Study Guide

Magoosh SAT Study Guide cover

I want to start by pointing out that Magoosh has a great, free SAT study guide! We’ve spent years and years reviewing all of the SAT study guides out there. We knew that our experts could cut through all of the unnecessary stuff and give you the best info out there…so that’s what we did! Even better? It doesn’t cost you a cent. We even have a free SAT practice test you can take after studying!

Back to Top

SAT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective SAT Strategies Ever Published

SAT Prep Black Book - Magoosh review of the best SAT books

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
This book hasn’t been updated for a while (the most recent version was published in 2017), so steer clear of the first edition: it’s written for a previous edition of the test and won’t help you prepare for the current SAT!

Things to Love

  • This book provides in-depth explanations (and we mean really in-depth explanations) of the four official SAT practice tests from the College Board. The College Board’s practice is great—but if you’re struggling to understand why you got questions wrong even after reading their explanations, this is a great place to turn.
  • It’s also a great place to get your strategy set for test day. Not only does Mike Barrett give you multiple workable methods to approach questions, but he also goes through possible issues and solutions to every type of everything: passages, questions, answers, even test-taking vocabulary.
  • The book even covers what non-native English speakers should focus on (albeit in a slightly perfunctory way).

Things to Consider
Is this the be-all and end-all of SAT prep? Well, no.

  • In the first place, we definitely have some pedagogical (teaching) differences. Barrett encourages you not to think about the average time you spend per question, and while we don’t think you should obsess over this, you should definitely be aware of it.
  • He also doesn’t encourage taking notes while you read or taking a diagnostic test. Those strategies can be helpful for many test-takers.
  • In addition, Barrett vastly underplays the importance of the SAT essay, noting that a lot of test-takers won’t need to take it. While that may be true of some test-takers, more and more schools are requiring the SAT essay—particularly the most competitive schools that students aiming for a 1600 are probably targeting.
  • Finally, you won’t find any practice questions here. Barrett has his own arguments for why you should only use College Board resources. We definitely disagree with that; for students aiming for top scores, a much deeper pool of questions is important (as long as they’re up to snuff)!

At the end of the day, this is a pretty great addition to your SAT library, particularly for those students just starting their test prep journey.

Back to Top


Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy

Kallis Redesigned SAT Pattern Strategy - review of the best SAT books by Magoosh

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
The 2018 Kallis book and the previous 2016 edition are similar in many respects, but there have been a few distinct changes. Most of these changes are good. The SAT Reading and SAT Math practice questions have been updated to better reflect the content of the real SAT, with more recently written passages and a more even mix of math topics, respectively. There are a few changes that seem like downgrades though, with less tutorial support for certain topics in SAT Writing & Language and SAT Math.

Improve your SAT score; start your Magoosh SAT prep today

Things to Love

  • The content review for each section is thorough, clear, engaging, and most importantly, helpful. Of course, many publishers do content review fairly well.
  • Where most books flounder is in writing the practice tests, but Kallis is relatively strong on that front. Kallis isn’t perfect—it’s exceedingly difficult to write questions that mimic the real test—but they do a respectable job. And in the newest edition, the quality is more respectable than ever. The SAT Math practice is much improved–there no more long strings of problems that just focus on one topic, and Kallis has added more complex word problems that resemble the College Board ones more closely. The SAT Reading practice also now includes more passages that were written in the last 20 years, compared to the 2016 volume’s disproportionate use of late 1800s/early 1900s readings.
  • The amount of practice content is great too: 6 full practice tests!

Things to Consider

  • The writing questions tend to be more difficult than those on the actual test and don’t quite have the feel of those questions.
  • The reading passages are sometimes spot-on. Other times, they are too stylistic and more reminiscent of the old SAT. There’s also slightly more of a focus on trap answers than on the actual test.
  • The book does a great job in presenting the content you need to know for the new test. However, it doesn’t do the greatest job of discussing strategies. For instance, it shows you the tedious and not necessarily intuitive way of setting up complex equations rather than the tried-and-true way of plugging in values. Likewise, the writing section recommends always reading the question first instead of reading the passage first, or at least a paragraph at a time. I advocate for a nuanced approach, one that takes into account both tactics.
  • Even with the addition of some more SAT-like word problems, most of the word problems in the math section still tend to contain far fewer words than those on the actual exam. The contexts used in the examples are often a little too relatable. Gone is the more esoteric fare of the actual test—bacteria in a petri dish, strength of a satellite signal, etc.
  • Frustratingly, support and advice for certain key Writing & Language and Math topics that were in the 2016 version of Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy have been removed from the 2018 book. There is noticeably less support and advice for stats and functions, and advice on certain Writing features such as passive voice or reporting verbs have been removed altogether.

An all-around excellent prep book for the SAT, one that is great for the motivated self-studier, especially one who aims to score in the top 20%. I intend to use it to tutor, which is a lofty compliment, given that I say this about very few prep books outside of the official materials.

(Quick update: I ended up using this book for my class, and it turns out that quite a few of the writing questions have debatable answer choices or at least wrong answers that aren’t quite wrong enough. For that reason, I’ve lowered the grade from an A- to a B+.)

Back to Top


Ivy Global: Ultimate SAT Guide and SAT 6 Practice Tests

Ultimate SAT Guide 2019 cover

Ivy Global is a lesser-known publisher that produces high-quality practice materials. They have two main books, the Ultimate SAT Guide and SAT 6 Practice Tests, and offer two free practice tests on their website (available to anyone whether you bought a book or not). The Ultimate SAT Guide offers a thorough concept review for each section and three full practice tests. The 6 Practice Tests book gives a quick run-down of the sections and question types and offers 6 practice tests. Each practice test is different from the others from Ivy Global, so you don’t have to worry about paying for the same material twice. The Ultimate SAT Guide is a more refined version of Ivy Global’s New Sat Guide 2.0 but the test material is nearly the same. The only difference is some of the concept reviews and errors from the previous edition were fixed and improved slightly.

Things to Love

  • In both books, the text and layout design are clear and understated. They don’t go for the whimsical or frenetic styles that other test prep books have, which can definitely be a plus if you want something a little more no-nonsense 🙂
  • In the main book, the New SAT Guide, the introduction to the SAT and test-taking strategies sections are clear and well-formatted.
  • The section-specific explanations cover the necessary material and use lots of examples. Not enough to teach you a concept if you’ve never seen it before, but definitely enough to help you refresh your memory and fill in any gaps.
  • Their practice tests are strong. The questions match the difficulty of the real thing, and there’s a good range of difficulty in each section.

Things to Consider

  • The one small weakness is that there are no answer explanations in the back of the book, just the correct answer choices. Answer explanations are available online, which isn’t too big of a deal, but it does add an extra step.
  • This book might have jumped into the A range if it had more extensive review of strategies and made it clear how they are most advantageous for different topics and situations. Similar to the Kallis book, this is a great resource, but probably shouldn’t be your only test prep resource.

Great general-purpose practice source that deserves more attention!

Back to Top


Princeton Review: SAT Premium Prep, 2022 (Formerly Cracking the SAT, 2020)

Princeton Review SAT Premium Prep 2022 cover

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
The 2022 SAT Premium Prep is the new evolution of the Cracking the SAT series. Although it is presented as an update, the 2022 edition matches the 2020 edition aside from a few minor edits. Previous reviewers have noted that the 2020 edition is also a near reprint of older editions from 2018/2019 so you may want to consider buying any version since they’re essentially the same over the last 3 years. The benefit of the premium version is that it gives you eight practice tests (four in the book and four online) whereas the conventional version gives you five practice tests (four in the book and one online). The rest of the content is the same.

Things to Love

  • Hey, want to learn a lot about SAT Math? This book has almost 300 pages of material to review, strategies to learn, and practice sets to, well, practice. If you want a total math review with lots of practice, this is a great place to start.
  • The verbal sections are really strong in how they introduce the test format, then walk you through progressively more difficult (and SAT-like) examples.
  • Unlike a lot of other books, the verbal here is pretty solid as well. In particular, the Princeton Review seems to actually understand the College Board’s incorporation of graphs into the verbal section on the new SAT—a nuanced concept that few publishers get right.
  • Also, the practice tests here are different than those included in the Princeton Review’s 10 Practice Tests for the SAT, so if you’ve bought both books, you’ll really get your money’s worth.

Things to Consider

  • What’s that you say? Seems overwhelming? It is, a little.
  • If you’re looking for practice on Reading or Writing and Language, the book does offer good advice and practice sets—just not very much advice and not many practice sets (think 50-75 pages).
  • Yes, students do struggle with SAT math, but there’s no need to push it on them to the exclusion of the other sections. After all, you need to look at that composite score, too!
  • Meanwhile, other parts are unnecessarily confusing, mainly because they use a ton of acronyms (including the unfortunate “POOD”).

A great place to overhaul your math scores if you have a lot of time before the exam. Also worth looking into for the use of graphs in the verbal sections.

Back to Top


PWN the SAT: Math Guide

PWN the SAT - Magoosh review of the best SAT books

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
The most recent edition of this book is from 2016, when the SAT changed—so definitely don’t get earlier editions! They won’t prep you for the current test.

Things to Love

  • Many test prep books make the mistake of being dry—really dry. And that’s a problem when your subject matter is already dry to begin with. Mike McClenathan steers clear of any such aridity, injecting a “hey-we’re-in-this-together” voice as he takes you through all the important parts of the SAT.
  • You never feel like he’s writing this book to meet some deadline. It’s clearly a labor of love. His affection for the material and the test comes across in nearly every page. But it isn’t that he just wants to geek out on the material—he genuinely seems to care that students improve their score.
  • Luckily, the book gives us a clean breakdown of every question type in the Official Guide. That way, you can practice a concept on real SAT questions and have a rough idea of how difficult they are (the difficulty of these questions depends on where the question shows up in the section—easier questions are at the beginning; harder questions at the end).
  • Overall, a strong book for the self-studier who needs an accessible refresher of the math tested on the SAT.

Things to Consider

  • This book alone isn’t enough to improve your score—though it is a good start. You’ll want to make sure to complement it with the Official Guide (as the author encourages). Even then, I recommend a book like Barron’s 1600 Math book so you can get lots of extra practice questions.
  • The questions in the PWN book, while okay, don’t quite impart the flavor of the current test. It seems that some of them are still steeped in the old-SAT-style of asking questions.
  • Another issue is there is no indication of whether a question in a practice set is ‘easy,’ ‘medium,’ or ‘difficult.’ This is problematic because, often, the section that introduces the topic uses clear, easy-to-follow examples. Then there’s a jump in difficulty in the problem sets, often because what you learned at the beginning of the chapter isn’t enough to answer the harder questions. For students who are just starting out, they might get easily frustrated and think, as they are wont to do, that they aren’t good at math. The problem sets would have been improved had they included easier questions and broken up the questions into discrete difficulty levels.

On its own, this book isn’t enough to prepare you for test day. In combination with a few other resources, though (namely, the Official Guide), it’s a great resource for students aiming for top math scores.

Back to Top

500+ Practice Questions for the New SAT

Princeton Review 500+ Practice Questions for the New SAT - book review from Magoosh

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
This book hasn’t been updated since 2015, but it does focus on the “new” (i.e. 2016-onwards) SAT. So don’t get earlier editions, but this one is geared towards the current test.

Things to Love

  • The Princeton Review has created questions that, while perfectly legitimate, aren’t quite as complex and nuanced as those found on the actual test. And you know what? That’s not necessarily a bad thing—if you are just starting off.
  • Unlike Kaplan’s books, for instance, which—at least for verbal—are much easier than the real test in an inaccurate way, the Princeton Review mostly stays true to the underlying subtleties of the questions and answer choices. It just doesn’t have the hard-level questions that make up 15-20% of the actual test.

Things to Consider

  • You’ll have to pick up another book to help you with strategies and to review the fundamentals.
  • You’ll need a book that also has practice tests, since this book is made up of just one drill after another.

As a companion guide to a book of strategies and fundamentals, this book is a great place to start.

Back to Top

10 Practice Tests for the SAT, 2022 Edition

10 practice tests for the sat 2022 cover

NOTE: The practice tests in this book are not the same ones that appear in the Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT (reviewed above). All commentary here applies to the 10 Practice Tests book alone.

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
There are no changes from the 2020 edition (which had four new practice tests added and some older passages updated) to the 2022 edition. Tests 1-6 are the exact same six tests seen in the 2017 book. The two new passages were written in 2008 and 2014, while the older essay prompt readings were from the early-to-mid 20th century.

Things to Love

  • The verbal sections here are pretty strong, and there are also great medium- and low-level math items. The science passages in the reading section are outstanding, and so is the Princeton Review’s use of graphic stimuli in these sections. These types of problems are going to be a new kind of challenge for many students on test day, and here we have difficult, test-like problems! Woohoo!
  • Answer explanations are also pretty good. The explanations of wrong answers are brief or even missing, but the clear explanations of why the right choice is right make this a relatively small issue.
  • The upgrades from the previous edition are nice. 10 practice questions are literally greater than 6! 🙂 And the two modernized essay prompts a minor but nice improvement.

Things to Consider

  • The math here verges on the easy side, but not so much so that it’s unfaithful to the test. It’s just missing those tough problems that you’ll need to answer correctly for a 700+ sectional score. If you’re looking to get your score up in the top percentiles, you’ll want to supplement the tests with practice problems from books like the College Board’s Official Guide.

A good book for most students. If you’re hoping to score in the stratosphere (90th percentile or above), you might begin here, depending on where you are now, and move on to more challenging materials as you master these problems.

Back to Top

Barron’s SAT, 31st Edition

Barron's SAT cover

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
The 2021 edition has been updated with few new changes compared to the 2020 edition. The most major change is the removal of all guides related to the SAT essay that has been recently removed from the test. The second update that might prove more meaningful is the addition of an index at the end of the book. The index allows you to go straight to the page for nearly every concept on the test which is helpful if you’re looking for targeted practice. Aside from the essay removal and index addition, the book is nearly identical to the previous edition.

Things to Love

  • The math is great! The strategies are solid and helpful, the concepts are broken down well, and it hits that Goldilocks sweet spot of around 200 pages—enough to help you enormously without being overwhelming.
  • Answer explanations are great on the practice sets (though less so on the practice tests…see below).
  • There’s a flashcard app! This is exciting.
  • The index makes it easier to find the content you want to review.

Things to Consider

  • How long do you think it would take you to memorize 74 pages of word definitions in teensy-tiny type? Is there enough time before test day? If not, and you’re looking for verbal help, you’d better look elsewhere. Other than those 74 pages, there are only about 60 pages of Reading test help here, and ditto for Writing and Language. Furthermore, Writing and Language is full of lists that made even my eyes glaze over. How helpful is a list of conjugated irregular verbs when you’re studying for the SAT? Well…Sorry, I just fell asleep there for a moment. Those lists are not helpful at all.
  • Practice test answer explanations are really weak (“A is the right answer because xyz. B is not the right answer because it is not xyz”).
  • Yes, there’s a flashcard app…but is your time going to be best spent studying the 3,000 words the book claims are on that app? Definitely not.

This is great for math practice and really, really not student-friendly for the verbal.

Back to Top


The Official SAT Study Guide 2020

Official SAT Study Guide - Magoosh review of the best SAT books

How the Current Edition Compares to the Previous One
There are a few small, inconsequential changes to the math support in The Official SAT Study Guide (2020), compared to the previous 2018 version. A few example problems have been changed, with one algebra equation replaced by another, a geometry question replaced with a different geometry question on a similar topic, and so on. Again, very minor changes, likely due to feedback or analysis that the College Board received regarding the prior version of the book. The truly big change here is the eight practice tests: two of the practice exams are brand new, while the other 6 also appeared in the 2018 SAT OG.

Things to Love

  • The questions in this book are Mt. Sinai level. The SAT gods part the skies and give us a taste of what to expect when the test debuts in a couple of months. All the nuances, all the traps, all the idiosyncrasies are there for us to behold, and the more you understand them, the better prepared you’ll be come test day

Things to Consider

  • The practice questions in this book are available for free online, and, since the questions are by far the best thing about this book, you might rightly start to wonder whether you need to actually purchase this book. What follows might indeed make you think you don’t need the book at all.
  • The explanations are really weak. How weak? Well….Hi, I’m going to play pretend today. I’m going to pretend I’m the person or people who wrote the explanations for the questions.Choice (A) is the best answer because the information in the passage best supports (A). Lines 11-13, <insert quote here> show this.(B), (C), and (D) do not specifically answer the question.To be fair, the explanation of the right answer is often more thorough. As for why the wrong answer is wrong, forget about it. That is about as specific as it gets. In the end, you are likely to find these explanations laconic to the point of infuriation. This is problematic, since understanding your mistakes is one of the best ways to improve.As a result, I’ve put together video explanations to the Official SAT Study Guide questions. You can check them out for free in our Magoosh SAT YouTube channel.
  • The strategy tutorials leave a lot to be desired. Admittedly, I like the way the book breaks down the test so and covers all its components and aspects. However, there is so much terminology that I imagine students getting bogged down thinking they have to know what nonrestrictive and parenthetical elements are, or that these needlessly complicated terms are known as “conventions of punctuation.”As indicated in my example above, the strategy support for SAT Writing & Language is particularly frustrating. What we don’t get is a solid explanation of grammar concepts and how they relate to the test. Nor do we get strategies on how to approach these questions. In fact, I feel like the first few hundred pages are more for people like me—people who want to understand how the test is constructed—and less for students, who need help understanding how to solve the actual questions.

In sum, you don’t need to buy this book. For review, you are much better off going with any of the major publishers on the market. For practice questions, there is no better source than the College Board, but the fact that they have made this content available for free online makes this book unnecessary, if not unhelpful. Now let’s hope the clouds don’t part and the College Board strikes me down with lightning. (My alternative grade for this book? ‘R’ for redundant.)

Back to Top

Using the Best SAT Books in Your Studies

There you have it, the best SAT books to use in your prep. For more information on how to put the best SAT books to use in a complete study plan, check out our study schedules for the SAT!

Questions, comments, concerns? Leave me a comment, and let’s get this discussion on the best SAT books started!


  • Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

  • Brendan Henrique

    Brendan Henrique is a GRE Content Expert for Magoosh. Brendan has been helping students with the SAT, ACT and GRE for over six years and has been a middle school science teacher for the past two years. He attended UC Berkeley (B.A.) for Cognitive Science and Loyola Marymount (M.A.) for Urban Education. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. of Learning Sciences at UC Berkeley where he will focus on building a framework for equitable STEM education. His Master’s thesis analyzed differing labor practices and their effects between charter schools and public schools. He has mentored hundreds of students domestically from Boston to Minneapolis to Oakland. He has also been able to teach students remotely in international locations ranging from China to Spain. Brendan is a proud board member of Love.Learn.Success, a nonprofit organization that runs after school programs in the Bay Area. Connect with him and Magoosh on LinkedIn!

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

5 Responses to Best SAT Books 2021-2022 | Book Reviews

  1. Manoj January 21, 2019 at 4:33 pm #


    Nice article on what books to go for while preparing for the SAT. One of my admissions counsellor asked me to buy Erica Meltzer’s books for the NEW SAT. He highly recommended it. Could you please review the books from her too?

    Here’s the link to her publications:

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 25, 2019 at 9:08 am #

      Hi Manoj,

      Thanks for sending this along! There are a lot of prep resources out there, and messages like this help us to prioritize which ones to review. We will definitely take this into consideration! It takes quite a bit of time to complete a thorough review of a new resource. We’re a small team with thousands of students, so I can’t promise that we will be able to do this review in the near future–but we will look into it! Thanks again for sending along the recommendation 🙂

  2. Rob S July 27, 2020 at 11:53 am #

    “more and more schools are requiring the SAT essay”

    – this is the exact opposite of what is happening. Almost no one outside the CA state schools require the essay anymore. Very few even recommend it.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 28, 2020 at 4:50 pm #

      Hi Rob, I think our point here is that every student needs to check the requirements and recommendations for their target schools and programs.

  3. Jeremy Matthew October 8, 2020 at 2:38 am #

    Great article thanks for sharing with us 🙂

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply