In a universe of seemingly endless prep resources, how can anyone hope to find the best SAT & ACT books? Ask the experts… that’s what I did! Whether you are a parent providing some inspiration for your teen, a high schooler focused enough to self-prep for the tests, or a librarian committed to stocking the most valuable SAT & ACT resources, this list outlines the essential publications for college admissions testing.
The foundation of any SAT & ACT library must be the compendiums of practice material published by the test makers themselves. Your first investments should always be the most recent editions of The Official SAT Study Guide and The Official ACT Prep Guide 2019-2020. Also consider acquiring The Official Study Guide for ALL SAT Subject Tests as a general resource, along with any specific official study guides to specific tests for additional practice.
The official guides offer the best full-length exams for practice testing, but the test makers have neither the ability nor inclination to provide the best strategies for beating their own exams. Instead, look to the experts who publish focused strategies and content review for specific sections of the SAT & ACT:
The Complete Guide to ACT English by Erica Meltzer
The Complete Guide to ACT Reading by Erica Meltzer
Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT by Richard Corn
A Guide to the Math SAT by Richard Corn
1000 New SAT Math Problems arranged by Topic and Difficulty Level by Steve Warner
For The Love of ACT Science by Michael Cerro
Other content-specific books exist, of course, but educators and students like seem to consider each of these publications among the very best in the field. Plus, I’ve personally interviewed all of these authors (listen to our discussions throughout August on the Tests and the Rest podcast) and can vouch for their knowledge and insight.
College admissions testing represents just one part of the overall admissions process. Those interested in prep books may find the most current editions of the following additional admissions resources valuable. Again, other college ranking resources exist, but the ones listed here are school counselor approved:
College Match: A Blueprint for Choosing the Best School for You by Steven R. Antonoff
The Complete Book of Colleges by The Princeton Review
The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences by The Princeton Review
Keep in mind that possession of a book hardly assures its use. The right resources in combination with expert coaching usually take a test taker farther faster. However, high schoolers with the right amounts of interest, intrinsic motivation, and self-directed learning ability can–and have–used books like the ones listed above to earn the very highest scores.
Did we miss a book we should have included? Let us know which one and why you love it in the comments!