You can learn how to do well on the SAT on your own. You do not need to pay for a high priced class or a tutor. However, you cannot learn without some sort of material. There are blogs, practice exams, and resources available online. On this page I have organized some of my favorite programs. There are books, tutors, courses, and admissions programs.
If you are determined to study on your own or with a tutor, consider starting with these books, guides, and tutors. This will make your life a lot easier.
SAT Official Guide
You will not do well on your SAT if you do not take practice exams. As I’ve mentioned throughout my blog, doing well on the SAT requires (1) assessment, (2) knowledge, (3) practice, and (4) more assessment. The SAT Official Guide covers 75% of that list. You will get the opportunity to take real practice tests written by the College Board.
It does not matter if you study on your own, work with a tutor, or sit in a group class, most of your work will be done in the SAT Official Guide. There are no two ways about it – you must own this book.
When I first started tutoring students, I used the Official Guide and Barron’s SAT Guide. Why? Because there are hundreds of practice problems and explanations throughout the first several hundred pages. There are also 10 practice exams. if you use the Official Guide to take your assessment exams, you can use the Barron’s guide to learn strategies, practice those strategies, and then take timed “section” assessments.
If you can only buy 1 supplemental book, buy Barron’s. It covers everything on the SAT in a very high level.
The Critical Reader
Erica Meltzer is a fantastic tutor, blogger, and SAT strategy author. She has written two books in this resource page. The Critical Reader is an incredibly useful book for SAT reading. If you are willing to work through hundreds of problems and hundreds of pages, you will thoroughly understand the SAT reading section.
Erica focuses on the big picture — effectively teaching you how to read for the main idea and purpose — instead of just throwing practice problems at you. This book is more about teaching you to truly understand SAT reading instead of just giving you “10 simple tips” like most of reading textbooks.
If you are stuck with the SAT reading, this book will increase your score by at least 50 to 100 points. Get it.
Pwn the SAT Math Guide
Mike from PwnTheSAT.com has created a fantastic SAT math textbook. I have actually given this book a very thorough review, so it is safe to assume that I am a huge fan. I started using Mike’s book in my SAT class while living in Thailand. Now that I am 100% online, I still ask my students to purchase the book.
This book mixes excellent SAT lessons for high scorers with enough practice problems and explanations to provide any student sufficient training to do incredibly well on the SAT.
Ultimate Guide to Grammar
This is Erica’s second book on this list. Like her SAT reading book, this SAT writing textbook will help you understand both how to do the grammar sections and what knowledge is necessary to do well on those sections. I think grammar is one of the easiest sections to learn because the SAT limits what it tests to a handful of topics. Erica does a fantastic job going through those topics and explaining to students exactly what needs to be done to get the right answer.
If you are struggling with your grammar and you cannot find enough information online, this book will absolutely help you.
Direct Hits (Regular) & Direct Hits (Challenging)
The Direct Hits team continuously impresses me with their accuracy, good nature, and success. They run group courses throughout the Atlanta region, but are best known as the creators of the Direct Hits vocabulary lists.
The DH team has created two books — normal words and challenging words — in an effort to help as many people as possible. I highly recommend you buy these books if you are struggling with vocabulary.
Honestly, vocabulary is necessary for everything on this exam, but you don’t really need a book. The internet has hundreds of websites devoted to SAT vocabulary. Yet, if you like paper between your fingers and a set list of proven words, there is no better book than Direct Hits.
Official SAT Online Course
While the official SAT course is not the cheapest course available, it is the only course sponsored by the College Board. If you want to stay official, get real practice problems, and get explanations from the source, there really is only one option for online SAT training.
Online SAT Class
If the thought of spending thousands of dollars on a tutor or a course makes you shudder, you should absolutely consider my online SAT class. In 40 hours I teach you everything you need to know to do well on the SAT. The course is split between knowledge, strategy, and tactics, wherein I teach you HOW to answer the questions, WHAT to do on each section, and WHY you answer questions incorrectly.
It’s pretty great.
Online SAT Tutor
I know I’m biased, but I am also a very good tutor. If you have specific questions about the SAT, you can contact me and meet for a few hours. I help students anywhere between 1 hour and 20 hours. This enables students to come when they have specific questions or to work through an entire curriculum.
I am a pretty awesome tutor.
Stellar Scores Tutorial
My SAT tutoring is a part-time affair. Stellar Scores, on the other hand, is a full-time and professional tutor. Stacey has developed an official guide score report sheet that helps you isolate your individual problems. I HIGHLY recommend working with Stellar if you have the time and money to hire a professional tutor who excels at fixing your unique weaknesses.
Admissions / Parents
John Carpenter has put together a fantastic book about college admissions. John is a fantastic counsellor whom I absolutely admire. If you are a parent or student trying to navigate the admissions process, this book will help you.
Perfect Score Project
Debbie Stier is very good at the written word. When her son was working through his SAT, she decided to try and take the test. Over the next year she embarked on the perfect score project. This is a very whimsical and brilliant portrayal of a mother trying to keep up with her son, the SAT, high school, and the admissions process. And it is a must-read for all parents of college-bound students.
Dobler College Consulting
Eric Dobler is an admissions consultant based out of the East Coast. He is a friend and colleague. I trust his admissions consulting completely. If you need help with any aspect of the admission process, Dobler is the man. Trust him.