Prepare for the SAT by Reading These Books

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Reading will not only help you learn about culture, history, and the world around you, but it will also hone other skills, including analysis, critical thinking, and more. 

 

In fact, reading is directly applicable to college preparation. When you take the SAT, you’ll have to do a significant amount of reading and writing (as you will throughout your college career, too). How do you tackling this all-important test? One way is to crack open those works of literature.

 

Why should you read to prepare for the SAT?

 

On the SAT, you’ll see passages across a variety of topics and subjects, from literature to history to science. You’ll be required to analyze, contextualize, and interpret passages and their core meanings quickly. For example, you might need to evaluate the shift of a narrative focus or infer why the author has made certain language choices

 

This, of course, will demand a fair amount of skimming and being able to understand writing without reading every word. While vocabulary is no longer tested, you’ll still need to evaluate complex language in texts from different periods. 

 

Reading different works and types of tests will prepare you to tackle nearly every section. Not only will you strengthen your reading comprehension and vocabulary skills, but you’ll also improve your ability to concentrate for hours on end — something you’ll need to do when you sit for the lengthy SAT. 

 

20 books to prepare you for the SAT (+ 5 additional resources)

 

 

Book Author  Description
1984 George Orwell A science-fiction, political satire that will prompt students to draw connections to the present day.
All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque A World War I novel dealing with the consequences of war on soldiers’ mental and physical health.
The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger A coming-of-age novel dealing with themes of isolation and identity.
The Color Purple Alice Walker Spanning 40 years in the life of an African American woman, an epic tale concerning abuse, racism, and sexual violence.
Frankenstein Mary Shelley A scientist inadvertently creates a monster in an experiment gone wrong.
The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel concerning migrant workers in the Great Depression.
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad Deep themes of European imperialism in Africa pervade this novel.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Victor Hugo Suffering, justice, and love are some of the topics covered in this classic Gothic novel set in Paris in the 15th century.
The Iliad Homer An epic poem of the Trojan War, dealing with themes of fate, free will, and honor.
Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman Full of symbolism and spirituality, a collection of poetry published in the 19th century
Lord of the Flies William Golding A group of boys stranded on a deserted island succumbs to their own dark impulses in this controversial novel.
Macbeth William Shakespeare An ambitious couple attempts to pursue power regardless of the cost, fulfilling a fated prophecy.
The Metamorphosis  Franz Kafka Subject to multiple interpretations, this unique work centers around a man who awakens, having transformed into an insect.
Moby Dick Herman Melville Ahab’s quest for revenge consumes him in his journey to settle the score with a whale.
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez This epic saga chronicles the lives of one family through the ages.
The Picture of Dorian Gray  Oscar Wilde A provocative novel dealing with mortality and the idea of eternal youth.
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston A Harlem Renaissance classic narrating the life and trials of a woman coping with poverty and pain in the South.
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Innocence and racism are prominent themes in this much-read Pulitzer Prize-winning bildungsroman.
To the Lighthouse  Virginia Woolf Using a seemingly mundane setting and event, Woolf explores concepts of gender, death, and family.
The Woman Warrior  Maxine Hong Kingston A Chinese American woman describes the events and stories that shaped her life.

 

For more recommendations for books to read to prepare for the SAT, check out The College Board’s full list

 

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In addition to literature, read resources covering other topics, including science and history. Here are some suggestions:

 

Resource Types of articles to read Description
The New York Times Editorials, News, Opinion One of the most trusted news outlets in the country.
Scientific American Science A popular science magazine offering well-researched, groundbreaking insights.
The Economist Science, Technology Authoritative insights on niche topics, including business, science, and technology.
The Washington Post Editorials, News, Opinion Like The New York Times, a major, award-winning newspaper.
National Geographic Science, History, World Topics A long-running, popular, science- and world culture-focused magazine.

 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.