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Chris Lele

Best SAT Books 2016

Most of the big test prep book publishers (I’m talking College Board, Princeton Review, Kaplan, and Barron’s) have released, or are on the cusp of releasing, a book for the redesigned SAT. But not all New 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.

To help you maximize your study time (and save your hard earned cash) I’ve reviewed the top options for best SAT books on the market and broken them down into the good, the bad, and the (not so) ugly. If you see the same book in multiple sections, don’t worry – you’re not going crazy. That just means that some publishers do a good job on some things (like practice tests or a specific section of the New SAT) while doing 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.

Then, for even more, scroll down for my complete book review of each SAT book, or use these links:

  1. The Official SAT Study Guide 2016
  2. Barron’s New PSAT 2016
  3. Kaplan New SAT 2016
  4. Princeton Review 500+ Questions for the New SAT
  5. SAT Exam Secrets: Study Guide from Mometrix
  6. Kallis SAT Pattern Strategy
  7. PWN the SAT: Math Guide
  8. Barron’s 6 Practice Tests for the New SAT
  9. SAT Prep Black Book (coming soon)

Questions, comments, concerns? Leave me a comment, and let’s get the discussion started.


The Good (the Best SAT Books of 2016)


The Official SAT Study Guide (2016 Edition)

(The Practice Tests)

The Official SAT Study Guide is the holy grail of SAT test prep: a book that contains questions by the writers of the test (The College Board). Nowhere will you get a better sense of what to expect test day. Specifically, there are four full-length practice tests with explanations (see “The Bad” for a comment on the explanations).

Barron’s New SAT

Barron’s overall does a decent job of recreating test questions and a good job of dissecting the test and offering helpful examples. Out of the main third-party publishers (Kaplan and The Princeton Review are the two others), this book is the one you should get. Scroll down for a review of Barron’s Strategies and Practice for the New PSAT.

Kallis SAT Pattern Strategy

See our full review below!


The Bad


Kaplan New SAT 2016

(The Math Section)

Kaplan does such a poor job of approximating the verbal section that I think students would be better off not using any Kaplan verbal content. The writing section questions, for instance, make the test seem overly easy. To boot, the passages are supposed to be written by a professional; the person writing these sentences is anything but a professional, laboring to string sentences together in a way that is cohesive (eloquence be damned!). (Read my full review of Kaplan New SAT 2016 below.)

The Official SAT Study Guide (2016 Edition)

(The Explanations)

College Board explanations leave something to be desired. So if you didn’t quite understand why you missed a question, the explanations often aren’t very helpful. The strategy/test overview section of the book, which comes at the beginning, isn’t very useful. I can imagine many students scratching their heads after reading some of the tedious and vague explanations of question types.

SAT Exam Secrets: Study Guide from Mometrix Media

This book is so bad that it actually needs its own category–horrifically horrific (but we will leave it here for now). Usually I don’t like to pick on the little guys but this book had so many positive reviews on Amazon that I had to review it. This book uses old SAT question types and has questions that in no way are like the actual exam. There is not one positive thing about this book. The bottom line: avoid at all costs.


The (not so) Ugly


Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016

(The Verbal Section)

Though Kaplan’s math is mentioned in the section above, the verbal section is a different breed altogether. Kaplan’s general guide does a good job of breaking up math concepts so you can get a sense of the different areas covered. Additionally, there is a helpful practice quiz at the end of each section.

Princeton Review 500+ Questions for the New SAT (2016 Edition)

The Princeton Review has, on the whole, done an okay job. The questions aren’t totally aligned, sometimes they are flat off, but in general what you get is a simplified version of the SAT: good for beginners, not so good for those wanting to prepare for the rigors of the actual test. Head down below for a full book review of Princeton Review’s 500+ Questions for the New SAT.


We also have all the details on the Best SAT Books of 2015.

2016 Best SAT Book Reviews


The Official SAT Study Guide 2016

Official SAT Study Guide for the New SAT- magoosh

This is like reviewing the Bible: The Official SAT Study Guide is so foundational to SAT success that it seems sacrosanct to suggest otherwise. So, instead of giving my five-star stamp of approval rating, I’m going to say something that might seem heretic: this book is flawed.

Sure, the questions in this book might be indispensable, but is the book uniformly useful? No. And here’s why.

The Questions

The questions in this book are Mt. Sinai level. In other words, it is the SAT gods parting the skies and giving 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 test day.

However, there are a couple of ‘buts’, some of which are big…

The practice questions contained 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 if you actually need to purchase this book. What follows might indeed make you think you don’t need the book at all.


The Explanations

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). Line 11-13, <insert quote here> show this.

 (B), (C), and (D) do not specifically answer the question.

To be fair, often the explanation to the right answer is 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 vague to the point of infuriation and truly understanding your mistakes, is one of the best ways to improve.


The Strategy

I like the way that the book breaks down the test so we can see what has changed since the old test. However, there is so much terminology that I imagine students getting bogged down thinking that they have to know first off what nonrestrictive and parenthetical elements mean, and that this mouthful of a description for something relatively straightforward, is filed under “conventions of punctuation”.

What we don’t get in the case of writing, is a solid review of the grammar concepts and a straightforward way of describing how those 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 is more for people like me that want to understand how the test is constructed and less for actual students who need help understanding the how to the material, not the what.


The Verdict

For review, you are much better off going with any of the major publishers on the market. Though for questions there is no better source than the College Board. The fact that the College Board has made this content free online, however, 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.


Barron’s Strategies and Practice for the New PSAT/NMSQT

barron's book review psat-magoosh
Sure, this is not a guide for the New SAT, which Barron’s is still working on. But did you know that the PSAT and SAT are the same content-wise? Sure, there are subtle differences in the way the easy and difficult questions are arranged. For instance, the PSAT tends to have more ‘easy’ questions and fewer ‘hard’ questions. But, honestly, most can’t really tell the difference.

So if you are looking for practice content for the redesigned SAT exam (debuting in March 2016), Barron’s Strategies and Practice for the New PSAT/NMSQT is a great place to find it. There are two practice tests at the end of the book and some practice content, albeit not much, at the beginning (this is a slim volume, coming in at a mere 257 pages).

Given that there are so few practice books out there for the New SAT, and those few that are out there don’t have the best practice content, Barron’s for the PSAT is a valuable addition. So if you find that you have burned through the tests in the College Board SAT Study Guide, or if you’d like a warm up for the real test, the Barron’s is a good place to start. You’ll get used to the format and the question types.

That is not to say the book is not without flaws. After all, nobody can really create questions that are of the standard of the actual test. But Barron’s does a decent job; prepping with this book will likely help you raise your score. Using this in conjunction with the College Board book, though, is best to really get a feel for the test, specifically the wrong answer choices the test will try to fool you with.

Also, this book is about practice questions and advice on strategies and techniques is scant. So at the very least you’ll need to supplement this book with one that provides tips on how to approach the test and a review of fundamentals and concepts covered on the test.


A good place for a couple of practice tests.

Grade: B+

Kaplan New SAT 2016 Strategies, Practice and Review with 3 Practice Tests

kaplan new sat 2016

Kaplan has created a Jekyl and Hyde guide. On the one hand there is an excellent math section. Kaplan really takes time to teach basic strategies. Students will understand many of the concepts before moving on to the practice questions—questions that reinforce many of the principles learned in the review section. I had typically avoided using Kaplan for the last SAT, since the content was too easy; students would often gain a false sense of confidence. In this book, some of the questions are actually more difficult—or at least involved—then the questions offered in College Board book.

Then there is the verbal. To be honest, it is flat out terrible. Sure, the strategies are hackneyed—Kaplan fells whole rainforests to tell students obvious approaches (“Don’t forget to xyz”). But it’s the creation of the actual questions and passages that Kaplan just can’t seem to bring it together. What that means for the student is that they are getting a test that doesn’t really prepare them for the actual SAT. Questions and prompts are shoddy imitations of the real thing.

For instance, the essays that are part of the Writing section are supposed to be well- crafted pieces imparted with a strong, writerly voice. Instead, it feels like Kaplan had some hapless high-school student cobble together an essay. Gone is the sense of control and voice that even semi-professional writers can pull off. Sure, this sounds like a snobbish quibble on my part, but the truth is this shoddiness affects the questions. Many are just flat out too easy because the passage itself is too basic and doesn’t lend itself to nuanced question types or tricky trap answers that are sure to be awaiting test day.

Reading Comprehension isn’t quite so bad. Still, the passages are taken from textbooks not reputable journals. What that translates is a lot of dry passages, written at a level devoid of the more sophisticated prose and dense ideas the College Board expects you to be able to navigate. What you’ll get—once again—is a section that looks like the New SAT Reading but is testing a comprehension level closer to that tested on the TOEFL test (that’s the test for those who learn English as a foreign language).



Use the Kaplan book for math strategies and practice; steer clear of the verbal.

Math: B+

Verbal: D-


Princeton Review 500+ Practice Questions for the New SAT


At the time of this review, Princeton Review has yet to release a general guide. A practice test guide will be due out shortly (I’ll review that as soon as I can). For now, we are left with lots of questions and very little guidance/strategies/concept review.

While I could easily fault this book (500+ Practice Questions for the New SAT: Created for the Redesigned 2016 Exam) for the lack of these things, it would be unfair to do so, because the purpose of this book is to be a question bank. And on that level it scores a resounding meh. That is not to say it won’t be of use to lower-level students (you can probably see where my review is going). 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.

For many that’s exactly what will be happening on the new test. The question types and the format will be unfamiliar. The Princeton Review is a great introduction. You won’t feel quite as challenged and will be able to focus on the new format. Once you feel confident with the Princeton Review book you can move on to College Board material.

I should make it clear that I’m not saying oh this book is just an easy version of the test. I’m saying it is an easier version of the real thing and it is a valid version. Unlike, Kaplan’s verbal, for instance, which—at least for verbal—is much easier than the real test, yet an inaccurate kind of easy, the Princeton Review mostly stays true the underlying subtleties of the questions and answer choices. It just doesn’t have the hard-level question that make up 15-20% of the actual test.

Of course, you’ll have to pick up another book to help you with strategies and to review the fundamentals. Indeed, you’ll need a book that also has practice tests, since this book is only filled with one drill after another. But as a companion guide to a book of strategies and fundamentals, this book is a great place to start.



A great place to start drilling, especially if you are new to the test. But for practice tests and more difficult questions you’ll need another book.

Grade: B


SAT Exam Secrets: Study Guide from Mometrix Media

SAT Exam Secrets Study Guide book review-magoosh
In my job as a book reviewer, I’ve never considered myself as doing an ethical service. After all, I’m just advising which book to use and which one not to use. Well apparently, this logic was turned on its head today as I read through Mometrix’s SAT Exam Secrets Study Guide.

Why I even decided to review this book in the first place is it was one of the highest rated SAT books on Amazon, receiving five stars and nearly 100 reviews (it’s since dipped to 4.5 stars).

First off, I believe this is the last time I will ever trust Amazon. They’ve clearly been compromised by reviewers who get free versions of a book for an “honest review”. Rarely, do I get this shrill—and I apologize if I’m coming across as abrasive—but the Mometrix book is so atrocious, so worthy of little more than a glossy fly swatter come summertime that I feel it is my ethical duty to warn unsuspecting Amazon buyers and high school students really hoping to improve on the GRE (and I hope this review serves as a broadside to Amazon, i.e. a well aimed kick in the butt).

So why is Mometrix so awful?

1. Annoying, ingratiating tone (think of the car salesman who puts his arm around your shoulder and calls you buddy).

2. Sentence Completions, which even my grandmother knows is no longer on the SAT, are included. While I’m talking about this anachronistic question, Mometrix people—assuming you are not evil robots—my grandmother can write better questions than this—and she spoke broken English.

3. Nothing about the Reading Comprehension section questions are valid. The questions ask, what is something that the passage talks about in line 3. And then they give you four answers (at least they got that right) followed by an answer that is word for word from the passage.

How hard is it to realize that there are evidence-based reasoning questions and they look a certain way? Or vocabulary in context questions? Even a fourth-grader could at least mold the question—and arguably write a better question than what’s in here.

4. You are teaching formulas that nobody will ever have to use on the SAT math section. Mometrix, did you even take the SAT? Have you ever cracked open an SAT prep book?

5. In discussing grammar, it kind of makes sense not to have glaring grammatical errors on nearly every page of the book, potentially every paragraph.

6. There is nothing wrong with organizing information in readily consumable chunks. Mometrix feels that it is okay to dump information into poorly organized and poorly formatted paragraphs (I’d rather read the New York City phonebook).

7. Mometrix, did you realize that the SAT contains a 44 question grammar section? You might want to include it in your next edition. Actually, do those hapless high school students whom you bamboozle with this travesty of a book by never releasing anything into the world again.

And Amazon, say it ain’t so.

Grade: UA for utterly atrocious

Kallis SAT Pattern Strategy

Kallis redesigned 2016
Kallis is a bit of an enigma. I’d never heard of it before I saw its 5-star rating on Amazon, while furrowing my brow skeptically. From its website, it seems that they have a grand total of three books including this book for the New SAT, there are two TOEFL texts. Who exactly are they?

Perhaps more importantly, how is it that this amorphous newcomer was able to create a text for the New SAT that far outdoes that of any other publisher to date?

Luckily, we don’t really need to be able to answer that question to reap the benefits this book offers. The content review for each section is thorough, clear, engaging and, most importantly, helpful. There are a lot of publishers do that right or at least okay. Where most flounder is in writing the practice tests. That is not to say Kallis is perfect, it’s exceedingly difficult to write questions on the same level as the actual one, but Kallis does a respectable job.

Here are some minor quibbles:

  1. The writing questions tend to be more difficult than those on the actual test and don’t quite have the feel of those questions. Hard to put my finger on, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Usually I can cite exactly how questions miss the mark, maybe because the other publishers miss it so widely.
  2. The reading passages are sometimes spot on. Other times they are too stylistic and more reminiscent of the old SAT. There also might be more a focus on trap answers than on the actual test, but not in a way that would affect your performance on the real test.
  3. 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 at discussing strategies. For instance, it shows you the tedious, and not necessarily intuitive, way of setting up complex equations rather than the tried-and-tested way of plugging in values. Likewise, the writing section recommends always reading the question first instead of reading the passage or at least a paragraph at a time. I advocate for a nuanced approach, one that takes into account both tactics.
  4. Word problems in the math section tend to contain far fewer words than the actual exam. The contexts used in the examples are often a little too relatable. Gone is the more esoteric fare found on the actual test—bacteria in a petri dish, strength of a satellite signal, etc.
  5. The break down of the math questions doesn’t reflect the actual test that well. The last four questions in one section are geometry questions. That wouldn’t happen test day.



An all-around excellent New SAT prep book, 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 which I say this about very few prep books outside of the official materials.

Grade: A-

PWN the SAT: Math Guide

PWN the SAT - SAT Book Review 2016

Many test prep books make the mistake of being dry—like 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 of the important parts of the new SAT. And 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.

That said, 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 give 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 is 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 aren’t 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.

Luckily, the book gives us a clean break down 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 questions shows up in the section—easier questions are at the beginning; harder questions at the end).

The good

Overall, a strong book for the self-studier who needs an accessible refresher of the math tested on the New SAT

The not-so-good

The practice questions aren’t that representative of the new test and tend be overly difficult for those who are weaker at math.

The ugly

Nothing ugly here!

Grade: B

Barron’s 6 Practice Tests for the New SAT

Barron's Practice Tests
Usually, a name to trust in the SAT test prep book world, Barron’s has created a book of six tests that don’t accurately mirror the real test and will likely cause more frustration than enlightenment.

Reading Comprehension

The editors seem a little tone deaf in their selections. This is surprising since the College Board has been very clear about the types of passages it is using. It wouldn’t hurt to practice with the passages in this book. But with so much out there in the SAT prep book-o-sphere, why waste your time with passages that aren’t reflective of the type of writing you’ll see test day.


Many of these passages aren’t very well written. But that’s not my biggest carp. Too many of the questions have debatable answers or flat out unfair answers (apparently the test writers want you to know that in a medical context “ambulatory” refers to doctors/nurses who travel out, and you are not supposed to pick “itinerant”). To make matters worse, the explanations are meager, at best. A typical explanation looks something like this:

(A) is not grammatical. (B) is the most grammatical. (As for (C) and (D), they don’t even mention them).


I want to say practice, which can’t hurt. But the wrong kind of practice can hurt. Math problems at the beginning of a section that harder than anything on the actual test are only going to hurt student’s pacing. After all, the SAT test is one of performance. You want material that accurately measures the section you’ll see test day. True, Barron’s matches the content pretty well, but since the test skews difficult most students are going to feel frustrated.

The Good

The math content is good practice for high-scoring students, though the ordering of difficulty is so far off that I’d only recommend students pick and choose questions rather than go through an entire section. Which of course defeats the purpose of a practice test.

The Bad

The content doesn’t match up with the actual test well. The ordering of difficulty, which is how questions in the math section are ordered, is all over the place. The reading passages are more stylistic and less informative than the typical new SAT passage. And the writing passages are sloppily put together, with debatable answers.

The Ugly

Since this book’s one function is to serve as a book of practice tests it fails miserably on this account. Students who work through this book might—as often happens with subpar material—hurt their score, since the logic to solve some of the questions is so contrived that students could end up applying screwy logic to real questions. Never a good idea!

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


An SAT student favorite. We aren’t reviewing the existing SAT Prep Black Book by Mike Barrett here because it is for the old SAT, but as soon as the Black Book is out for the New SAT, you can count on our full book review here!!

In the meantime, for video explanations from SAT expert, Chris Lele, to questions from the Official SAT Study Guide 2016, check out our Magoosh SAT YouTube Channel!

For more information on how to put the best SAT prep books of 2016 to use in a complete study plan, check out our study schedules for the new SAT.

About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 8 million views.

You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog!

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

36 Responses to “Best SAT Books 2016”

  1. meg says:

    Hi. I’m a student from India. I’d really like to know which SAT prep book would help me the most. I didn’t take Math in Grade 11 & 12 and I really need a book that goes over the basics over every concept in the Math section . Is the Barron’s book be better than Princeton Review’s SAT prep book? 
    Thank you.
    P.S. – Your articles are really helpful . Thanks

    • Kristin Fracchia Kristin Fracchia says:

      Hi Meg, thank you! we are glad we can help. Our SAT Expert, Chris Lele generally recommends Barron’s as the best of the SAT books out there (definitely over Princeton Review).

  2. Amy says:

    Hey. Thank you so much. These articles are super helpful. I’m looking to buy a SAT guide specifically for the Math section. If I had to choose between the Barron’s guide for the Math section and Kaplan’s SAT Book for the Math section , which one should I buy?  Because in the the article Mr. Lele Stated  graded the math part of Kaplan’s pretty well and said that Barron’s doesn’t cover every math concept well enough. So which one should I buy? A quick reply would be much appreciated. Thanks 🙂

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      First, apologies for the late reply. I’m still going to put your comment up here, because I think your question is one a lot of students have. Chris is right– if you need to choose between Kaplan and Barron’s for SAT Math, Kaplan is the way to go. Barron’s is an OK supplement for math basics too– but Kaplan really drives the SAT Math concepts home.

  3. Alex says:

    I was wondering what New Sat book has the most realistic practice tests aside from the Official Collegboard practice tests and the Collegeboard Psat practice test.


    • Kristin Fracchia Kristin Fracchia says:

      Hi Avi, so far our SAT expert Chris Lele likes Barron’s the best, but he has a stack of others to review on his desk right now, so we will be posting more reviews soon! 🙂

      • Alissa says:

        Hi. I’m in 10th grade, and I’ve always gotten above average for the English portion of the test, but I do so poorly on the math section. Over summer, I wanted to start preparing for the SAT with my skill in English and lack of skill in math, what do you suggest me purchasing?

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

          Kaplan is generally the best unofficial book for math. It covers the strategies nicely and has some very SAT-like practice material. You will also absolutely want to get the current Official SAT Study Guide for the redesigned test. Granted, the OG’s answer explanations and strategy guides are a little weak, but their actual questions— for math and for everything else– are as authentic as things get. Between the SAT OG’s official, completely “real” SAT Math questions and Kaplan’s strategy tutorials and explanations for SAT Math, these two books are the nest place for you to start over the summer.

  4. Amanuel mebratu says:

    Hello, at first i wanna forward my respect towards this website coz it paved the way for students to explore various types of sat books with their pros and cons. Preceding to my question, currently I am 11th grader student and i am gonna take the SAT soon. Which book do u prefer for me for the writing and essay guide including the grammar. Its urgent

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Because the New SAT Essay is still very new, there aren’t a lot of really good resources devoted to it yet. I’d recommend checking out the SAT Official Guide, as well as the official essay prompts on the website. (Both of these resources include sample answers with commentary.)

      For grammar, I’d actually suggest some non SAT books. Susan Thurman’s book, confidently entitled The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need gives a pretty good overview of written grammar mistakes and how to correct and avoid them. The book is not strictly for academic writing and isn’t an SAT writing book, but it does give lots of advice that’s relevant to writing a good essay on the SAT exam. I also recommend the ELT Grammar Book. This book is supposed to be for ESL teachers and students, but even native speakers can benefit from the grammar tutorials in the book– the content can really help anyone think more consciously about grammar.

      For immediate grammar help, try checking out some university online writing labs. Purdue OWL is the place most people start, and if you search university sites for the phrase “online writing lab,” you can find many other on-demand Web resources for the grammar of academic writing.

  5. Karen says:

    I am confused how to start off my prep for my SAT , i’m not very good at math and that concerns me a lot . I just recently purchased the Princeton review i’m not sure if its good enough to start off with since i have 3 months left for my preparation. Help me out please .
    Should i just do Barron’s? or both princeton and barron’s ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      You’re on the right track with Princeton Review, as their SAT materials are great for learning the fundamentals of SAT Math. There is a downside though– the Princeton Review’s actual practice math questions are a bit easier than the ones on the real SAT. So you’ll need some more challenging math practice problems that are like the ones on the exam itself.Barron’s can be pretty good fro this, and they’ve got some great strategy and skills building material for the SAT Math section.

      To really be ready for SAT Math though, make sure you look at some real SAT Math questions created by the College Board, either through their Official Guide book for the SAT, or through the SAT practice page on their website. And speaking of Internet-based resources, Khan Academy’s official SAT math videos are a really great supplement to any books you use to build up your SAT Math skills.

  6. Victoria says:

    Hi, I’m Victoria from Poland. Thanks for these reviews, they’re very helpful. Without them I wouldn’t know which books should I buy 🙂

  7. Erke says:

    Hello. I’m from Mongolia. I’m going to take the TOEFL on september and the SAT on october.

    I find your website really useful! Thank you so much!!!

    But I have some trouble with choosing the books for preparing… I’m not bad(actually pretty good) at maths,but when I do some maths tasks of the SAT,I can’t understand what it is talking about or asking me for. ANd I am not good at reading and writing,but quite good at grammar. Also there is not any books available in our country to use for preparing.So I must buy it online anyway.
    Can you help me with it? Which books should I buy not to waste both time and money?


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Barron’s books are excellent in terms of strategy and skills building exercises. The practice questions in Barron’s can be a little “hit or miss”— they’re not always accurate to the kinds of questions you see on the real, revised SAT. I’d recommend Barron’s and the Official Guide for the SAT from College Board, the makers of the test. If you want to save a little money and not wait for your College Board books to be shipped in, you could just use the official SAT practice materials from the College Board’s SAT website.

  8. Laura says:

    Which SAT Guide should I use for a class with 8-10 students who are all different academically.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Teaching to different levels can be a challenge. I would honestly recommend the Official Guide from the College Board as your main text. All students are going to need to see the official materials regardless of their level, so they’ll know what to expect on test day. And the teaching/learning materials in the Official Guide are pretty bare bones, leaving room for additional leveled teaching materials that you bring into the class on your own. Barrons’ might be a good supplemental text, as Barron’s SAT offers very comprehensive strategy and advice– there’s something for everyone in a Barron’s SAT book, if you look carefully.

  9. Jose says:


    I´m from Spain and I will study Grade 11th in USA this next course. I want to prepare the SAT. My weakness is the Reading and Writing. I score 460-550 and, in Math, 650-700. I would like to focus on Reading and Writing as well as SAT subjects Physics and Math. What books do you recommend me?

    Thank you 🙂

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      For improving your Reading and Writing skills in English, I recommend using the most recent edition Barron’s SAT book and the Official SAT Study Guide.

      Barron’s has really great tips, tricks and strategies for improving in Reading and Writing, but their practice questions aren’t always 100% accurate to the real test. that’s where the Official Guide comes in. Everything in the OG for SAT is… well… official. Real test questions from the real maker of the exam.

      It’s not as easy to find good books for the SAT subject tests. Third party companies like Barron’s don’t do as much to develop Subject Test prep materials. And even the College Board’s official books for the SAT subject tests are very dated. There hasn’t been a new SAT OG for Subject tests since 2011.The most current materials for the Physics and Math subject tests aren’t in book form– they’re on the College Board website’s page for SAT Subject Test practice.

  10. Kibiwott says:

    I am from Kenya.I have a year to prepare for SAT and TOEFL.I have found your SAT books recommendation very helpful.To my question- Which books do you recco.end for the TOEFL test

  11. joe says:

    which book should I get to help me find out ways to do questions faster,sort of like shortcuts, and how to spend my test time efficiently
    Also,which book will help me do well on the command of evidence reading questions because I’m not making any progress

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      For any kinds of strategies and shortcut’s, Barron’s and Kallis offer the best unofficial (non-College Board) help books. Kallis is particularly strong on Verbal, although only the College Board itself has truly authentic SAT Verbal questions. My advice is to use advice and strategy help from Barron’s and Kallis, while using practice questions form the Official Guide— especially for command-of-evidence questions.

  12. Noha says:

    I will start studying sat by myself.. So can U please tell me which is the best book to use if there is no teacher to help me through? And also which book is better College board (The Official SAT Study Guide) or the Barron? 
    PS:Your article was very helpful.. Thanks

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Noha,

      Without a doubt the best book if you can only get one would be the Official SAT Study Guide. You are guaranteed to have authentic material and, since it is made by the testmakers themselves, it will give you an accurate idea of what is expected! Good luck. 🙂

  13. Eldar says:

    Thanks for he reviews
    I was wondering should i buy Barron’s New Sat Book or Barron’s book for the New PSAT/NMSQT ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      As you can see in the linked reviews, Barron’s currently does a bit better with the New PSAT/NMSQT, compared to its handling of the New SAT. The PSAT Barron’s book is definitely something you should consider buying if you are taking the PSAT. Barron’s collection of new SAT tests is of limited use though, and probably shouldn’t be at the top of your “buy” list.

      • Eldar says:

        I am very glad that you replied. I’m preparing for the New SAT and you’ve reviewed Barron’s PSAT book and in the comments section you have recommended to buy Barron’s book. Now i’m confused about which book you mean whether it’s Barron’s PSAT book or Barron’s New SAT book.
        Thanks,in advance

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

          We actually haven’t done a full review of Barron’s New SAT Guide yet, but we do recommend it– Barron’s is the best of the third-party SAT book publishers. It’s important though, to distinguish between the Barron’s New SAT Guide and the Barron’s collection of new SAT practice tests. As you can see in this part of the post, Barron’s collection of practice tests for the new SAT is of some use, but is less-than-perfect. Barron’s recent PSAT book is also good and recommended.

  14. Jimmy says:

    All in all what is the best book to practice for Math and English separately. I already have the The Official SAT Study Guide 2016 book by Collegeboard but I don’t think that’s enough. I don’t have much time left before my last chance to get a good score on October. Please ply ASAP

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Of the books listed in this post, either Kaplan or PWN the SAT are the best supplements for the math problems in the SAT Official Guide. Kallis is probably the best third-party book for Verbal.

  15. Lorna Zirk says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am going to be tutoring non-native English speakers for the SAT in Spain. I am planning on using The Official SAT Study Guide’s practice tests for my students but I need more tests. I’m trying to decide between the following:

    1. Barron’s New SAT book (you said you hadn’t reviewed it yet and I think I understood that the practice tests are easier than the official ones.

    2. Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy book – is one you seem to recommend but you didn’t specifically comment on the quality/level of the practice tests.

    3. SAT Study Guide: Your ultimate resource for the redesigned SAT.. Keystone Educational Publishers – recommended on another site (but no specific info on the practice tests).
    And I need tests to print out to use with the students and this is a concern if I go with the Barron’s book. The Amazon description says: 1 diagnostic test (is this in paper form?), 4 full-length practice tests (again all in the book?), and CD-Rom with extra tests

    What would be your recommendation? Or would you choose another option for extra practice tests?


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Lorna,

      It sounds like you’re really thinking about your curriculum carefully. I’m honored you’re coming to us for advice! 🙂 Here are my thoughts about the books you’re considering:

      1. We haven’t reviewed the Barron’s new SAT book yet, but we have reviewed Barron’s book of 6 SAT practice tests. Barrons’ practice exams are hit or miss at best, compared to authentic SAT practice tests from the College Board. But Barron’s generally does offer some good skills-building activities and test strategy advice. To me, it seems likely that the Barron’s official guide will have similarly mediocre practice questions, but also have good explanations/tips/skills/advice.

      2. Kallis’s practice tests are not perfect, but have some definite strengths. To see more details on this, go here, and read the numbered items under the phrase “A few quibbles.”

      3. Keystone’s SAT study guide looks promising, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. The reviews on Amazon.com do seem pretty good. But there aren’t many reviews yet, and at least one review claims that the Keystone SAT practice is not very much like the real practice questions from the College Board. You may want to consider downloading the Kindle or eBook version for quick cheap access, so that you can carefully compare the questions to the ones the College Board makes. I’m also going add a review of Keystone’s SAT to the HS Blog’s list of possible upcoming blog posts.

      overall,. I’d say Kallis and Barorn’s are good supplements to the Official Guide, and I’d say that Keystone should be approached with caution until more reviews are in. My only additional suggestion is that you should be sure to also use the free SAT prep material on the College Board website. This fast, easy-to-share material makes for a good addition to any set of books you choose.

  16. Birju Dhaduk says:

    I’ve used the Official SAT Study Guide by College Board over this past year, starting in February and so I’ve done all of
    the practice tests. I’m now looking for another book to start using and I’ve read in multiple place that some review
    books have questions that are too easy, too hard, or irrelevant and that others have terrible answer explanations.
    The Official SAT Study Guide, for example, is great with the realisticness of the questions, because it’s from the
    makers of course, but it has terrible answer explanations. So, which review book has the most realistic questions and
    best answer explanations for each of the sections (Reading, Writhing, and Math) individually and them all together?
    Keep in mind that, for me, I do not care much for the tips and tricks parts in the review books, mainly the questions
    and explanations, though I wouldn’t mind having them. Thanks in advance.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      In all honesty, I’ve never seen a 100% perfect SAT prep book. There isn’t really a book with completely accurate practice questions AND really good answer explanations and skills-building activities. If you only get one book, always choose authentic practice material over good explanations and skill-building. ….In other words, the Official Guide is an absolute “must have.”

      If you can though, it’s good to go with the Official Guide plus one or two supplemental books that don’t have perfect practice questions, but do have great strategies, explanations, and skill-building activities. You can see Magoosh’s thoughts on the best supplemental books by reading this post and checking out our various other book reviews.

      You can also use SAT prep message boards to get free answer explanations for official SAT questions. College Confidential has a pretty active forum, and Magoosh has a forum for official SAT answer explanations too. (And if you subscribe to Magoosh SAT, you can submit your own requests for official SAT answer explanations.)

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