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SAT/ACT Books We HIGHLY Recommend

Hi there!

We are so excited you are here. Whether you are a parent of a high school upperclassman looking for advice, or a student yourself stressed about standardized testing, we are here for you.

Thankfully, we are all current college students here at Smith Education Consulting, which means:

we have done it, we know the PAIN of standardized testing, and we get the stress.

Trust us.

To reduce the stress, we thought it would be helpful for us to pull our brains together and give you a list of Test Prep Books ‌we recommend. Check them out below:

Best SAT prep books

SAT Overall:

SAT math prep:

SAT reading/writing prep:

SAT practice tests:

Best ACT prep books

ACT Overall:

ACT math prep:

ACT reading/writing prep:

ACT practice tests:

Why should I take the SAT or ACT if I am not applying to schools that require it?

I know what you are thinking. Why would I take a standardized test, like the SAT or ACT, if I don't absolutely have to? Well yes, some schools do require it but most schools nowadays are making it optional. So, here are a few reasons why you should take the SAT or ACT regardless of your school's requirements.

1. Help yourself stand out in a crowd

  • If a school does not require a standardized test, then this just gives you the ability to show why you are different from your fellow applicants. Most likely, most students will not be submitting an SAT/ACT score which means YOU will stand out. This will help your chances of getting into your dream school if you earn a good score (which the books above will help you with!).

2. Your grades may not reflect your academic intelligence

  • Everybody studies and performs differently in school, based on the quality of their school, their course selection, and many other factors. But, standardized tests are meant to be used comparably amongst students across the nation. So, say, for example, you go to a challenging school and have a similar GPA to the rest of your graduating class. In order to showcase your academic intelligence compared to those in your class, you can take the SAT/ACT and show why YOU have learned more about a specific subject.

3. Show your commitment to learning

  • Look, I know this sounds cheesy, but a good work ethic is a very valuable trait to a college admissions team. By simply choosing not to take a standardized exam, you may come off to some schools as undetermined and this could hurt your chances of getting accepted. However, you will be worse off if you submit a score that is not above the national average. Therefore, we HIGHLY recommend studying for these exams via the books we linked above.

So, now that you know a few important reasons for taking the SAT or ACT, let's dive into how to best prepare for tests like these.

  • Depending on your skill set, you may be more inclined to perform well on one test over the other. Usually, quick test takers excel when taking the ACT and slow test takers struggle. So, if you are a slower test taker then it may be better for you to take the SAT since you are allotted a bit more time. But, always remember that you can take both if you really want to!

Once you have chosen which test or tests you are going to study for, you will need to figure out the best way to prepare.

  • 1 on 1 help is always a great option and can definitely help you prepare and increase your score. But, sometimes, this option is not attainable because of the high price of tutoring or a lack of tutors in your area.

  • The best option is an SAT or ACT self-study guidebook. These books are easily accessible through online or paper copies and go in-depth into passing the exam. There are a ton of different SAT/ACT books out there and it is hard to differentiate between them. What is particularly beneficial about these books, is that they pull test questions from previous exams. These questions rarely change much year over year, so using these books to study will help you understand the structure and style of the questions you will face during your exam.

As always, ‌reach out to our team if you have questions! If you are looking for a personal college advisor or some help with your college essays, we would love to set up a one-on-one meeting with you.

You can book a meeting below using these buttons:

Or reach out to our COO, Joe McGonnigal at

Happy studying!

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