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SAT/ACT Test Prep Resources: Best of JEM Recommendations

Joa & Emily
Joa & Emily
March 15, 2021
Here are our top recommendations for SAT and ACT test prep resources to help you succeed on test day. Links and tips for best use included!
Est. Reading Time: 7 minutes

Disclosure: We only recommend products that we have seen benefit our students. Thanks to online marketing, we can earn commissions on products we’ve been recommending for years. As an Amazon Associate, our business earns from qualifying purchases. So if you use these links to buy anything, we may earn a commission with no additional cost to you. Thank you!

 

We know better than most how daunting test prep can be, and one of the number one issues we’ve had students tell us about is the problem of choosing test prep materials. After all, how do you decide what book can teach you what you don’t know yet?

Well don’t fret, we’ve compiled our master list of go-to resources for the SAT and ACT, and we’ve even broken down some details about what the resources are best used for and why you might choose to use them.

Important Points

A few points before we dive in:

  1. It is often the case that the best test prep resource is the one that comes from the maker of the test. This is true pretty much across the board, and you can see below that the “Official” books make it onto all of our lists. When you use materials from the makers of the test, you increase your chances of seeing familiar content and structure on test day, which typically leads to a higher score. Win win! There are also often good supplements to the official books, and those are the other entries you’ll see in each section.
  2. There are an awful lot of good free resources out there, and there are an awful lot of bad free resources out there. We’ve listed free resources here that we know and trust. Definitely feel empowered to branch out and search out your own resources too, just keep in mind that you want to do your best to judge the quality before you go all in on a particular source from the internet. If you have questions about anything you come across out there in the wide world, drop us a line at info@jemachievement.com! We’re always happy to answer questions about materials.
  3. When you’re preparing for a test, think carefully about how much time you’re budgeting for preparation, and let that help inform how many materials you get. For example, if you’re cramming for 3 weeks before the test, you likely won’t be able to make it through 4 test prep books in that time, and even if you did, you likely wouldn’t be retaining what you need to succeed.
  4. Our best advice is to start by taking a practice test to pinpoint where you need to prepare the most, then think about your schedule and choose what you need from this list of recommendations to help you succeed. Good luck with your preparation!

 

SAT

 

  • Khan Academy

    • Purpose: Content & Strategy
    • How to Maximize Your Use: Khan Academy and the SAT go together like peanut butter and jelly; it was simply one of the best unions in test prep history. Khan Academy has a long history of providing excellent explanations of challenging topics. So when Khan teamed up with the SAT, it made perfect sense. The videos on Khan Academy span the range of content and strategy, guiding you along in a structured way. Plus, because they have organized the content so well, it’s easy to structure yourself and break up the topics into digestible portions that will fit into your schedule. The platform even sets up a study schedule for you when you put in your test date -- it will automatically load relevant practice for you each day based on how long you choose to devote to studying and even mark out when to take practice tests! And did we mention it’s entirely free? Absolutely take advantage of this wonderful resource.

 

  • SAT Prep Black Book

    • Purpose: Content, Strategy, & Practice
    • How to Maximize Your Use: With almost 2,500 reviews and 4.6 stars on Amazon, you can bet your bottom dollar that this book is worth it. This book will cover both content and strategies for the test in an easy-to-understand way. Plus, it provides detailed explanations for the first four SAT practice tests, which can really help get you grounded (though I wish they did it for all of the tests). It’s definitely worth it, even if just to have as a reference. There’s no single correct way to approach the test, but there are better ones, and this provides some great techniques.

 

  • SAT Official Free Practice Tests

    • Purpose: Practice
    • How to Maximize Your Use: Typically the best practice comes directly from the source, and the SAT is no exception. There are currently 10 free practice tests available, and the question quality is top-notch, as is to be expected. However, it’s important to keep in mind that certain tests may feel different (or show different score results) based on your strengths and weaknesses. And while 10 tests may seem like a lot, we’d encourage you to use them strategically because you might be surprised how quickly you can burn through them.

 

  • Magoosh

    • Purpose: Content, Strategy, & Practice
    • How to Maximize Your Use: Magoosh has a lot of great resources. They also have solid blog content (gotta give credit where credit’s due), and many of their blog posts contain questions with explanations. Finding quality practice questions can be challenging, but Magoosh offers plenty of great content with great callouts to both content and strategy. It’s an all-around wonderful resource to leverage.

 

ACT

 

  • The Official ACT Prep Guide

    • Purpose: Practice
    • How to Maximize Your Use: Typically the best practice comes directly from the source, and the ACT is no exception. Question quality is top-notch, as is to be expected. However, don’t purchase this book thinking that it will take you through the content in a meaningful way. This book’s real value is in its quality practice questions. We would recommend pairing in with the ACT Prep Black Book, and you’ll understand why when you look at the next resource.

 

  • ACT Prep Black Book

    • Purpose: Content, Strategy, & Practice
    • How to Maximize Your Use: While this book certainly does not have as many reviews as the SAT one does (mainly because fewer students take the ACT), it is still a great one. This book will cover both content and strategies for the test in an easy-to-understand way. Plus, it provides excellent explanations for each question that appears in the Official ACT Prep Guide (trust me… a strategic explanation can make all the difference). It’s definitely worth it, even if just to have as a reference. There’s no single correct way to approach the test, but there are better ones, and this provides some great techniques.

 

  • Magoosh

    • Purpose: Content, Strategy, & Practice
    • How to Maximize Your Use: Magoosh has a lot of great resources. They also have solid blog content (gotta give credit where credit’s due), and many of their blog posts contain questions with explanations. Finding quality practice questions can be challenging, but Magoosh offers plenty of great content with great callouts to both content and strategy. It’s an all-around wonderful resource to leverage.

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