Whether you’re building your own prep program or just supplementing a class, finding SAT practice tests and questions can pose a serious challenge. This article will go through every type of practice SAT test, how to best use them, and — most importantly — where you can find them.
What You Need SAT Practice Tests For
Before we get into the many different sources of practice tests, let’s talk about why you need a deep well of practice material to draw from and the different ways you’ll use these resources.
Real Practice Tests
A key part of SAT prep is taking full-length practice tests in realistic conditions. Since you want to mimic the SAT experience as closely as possible, you’ll need to use real SATs. Using official tests for SAT practice questions also gives you a better prediction of your score and can help you determine what areas you need to focus on.
You’ll want to use at least three tests for this purpose; make sure they’re the same version as the actual SAT you’ll be taking.
Official SAT questions have their own style and logic, which other test writers aren’t always great at imitating. Unsurprisingly, then, the best way to understand the SAT is to study with actual SATs.
As part of your test prep, spend some time looking really closely at official SAT questions and thinking about what they’re asking and how the question is constructed. The more familiar you become with the unique structure and language of SAT questions, the less daunting the test itself will seem.
The final type of SAT prep is practicing with the various types of questions to hone your section-specific strategies and grasp of the content. Subject-targeted practice will also help you make sure you know how to employ your math and grammar knowledge effectively to answer SAT-style questions.
Though official SAT questions are still the ideal materials for this type of practice, it's less important that you focus exclusively on real SAT questions. Using unofficial materials to practice general strategies will help you save official SATs to use as full practice tests.
Now that you know what you'll need SAT practice tests for, let's go through the different places you can find each type of them — starting with official College Board tests.
Instead of a map of the world, you need a map of SAT practice tests.
Where to Find Current, New, and Old Official SATs
As I described above, there are a number of types of practice that you should only use official SAT questions for. As such, they’re the most valuable type of SAT prep material and you’ll want to build up as large of a collection as possible.
I’ve divided these tests up by which version of the SAT they are: current (2005-2016), new (2016 and onwards), and old (pre-2005). You’ll want to focus on either the new tests or the current tests, depending on what version of the test you’re taking, but the other versions can still provide helpful extra practice. For more on how to get the most out of older tests, check out our complete guide to old SATs.
Most of these materials are free, but I've included the best materials for sale, as well. Spending 10 - 20 dollars on great practice tests can be well worth the investment.
New 2016 SATs
If you’re planning to take the new SAT, you unfortunately have fewer study resources to draw from. But remember that the current SATs can still be helpful — especially for working on math and reading questions.
7 Official Free Practice Tests
The College Board has released seven practice SATs for the new version of the SAT. You can download them below or take them online at Khan Academy (see the next section for more details).
- Practice Test 1: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay
- Practice Test 2: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay
- Practice Test 3: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay
- Practice Test 4: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay
- Practice Test 5: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay
- Practice Test 6: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay
- Practice Test 7: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay
Unfortunately, the ones in the official prep book are the same as the first four tests, so these are really all you have in the way of full official new SATs. Plan accordingly.
Official SAT Prep at Khan Academy
There are a bunch of official practice questions available as part of Khan Academy’s free SAT prep. You’ll need to sign up for an account to access these resources, but it's completely free and tracks your progress over time.
The lessons and practice questions are divided by type, so they're very helpful for more targeted studying. The strategies and suggestions aren’t very helpful for the reading and writing, but there’s a lot of math content, if you want to brush up on concepts you may have missed or forgotten. You can see a sample question below.
Practice Questions on the SAT Website
Finally, there are a few extra practice questions available on the College Board website: two reading passages (24 questions), two writing passages (22 questions), 30 calculator-permitted math questions, and 18 no-calculator questions. Keep in mind that some of these appear in the new Official SAT Study Guide.
Although the 2016 overhaul involved significant changes to the format of the test, previous versions of the SAT can still provide helpful study material.
Free Full Practice Tests
On its website, the College Board offers a free practice test that anyone can download and take. You can even input your answers on the College Board site, and it will grade the test for you. There are explanations for each question on the site, and helpful videos on Khan Academy.
There are also four older practice tests you can download for free:
- SAT Practice Test (2012-2013) Download | Answers
- SAT Practice Test (2011-2012) Download | Answers
- SAT Practice Test (2007-2008) Download | Answers
- SAT Practice Test (2005) Download | Answers
Unfortunately, these tests don't have explanations for the answers, so you'll have to figure out why the correct answer is correct on your own or ask a friend, family member, or tutor for help.
If you really run out of practice materials, you can turn to the pre-2005 SATs:
- SAT Practice Test (2004) Download | Answers
- SAT Practice Test (2003-2004) Download | Answers
- SAT Practice Test (May 2002) Download
- SAT Practice Test (October 2001) Download
You’ll notice some question types that no longer exist, so make sure you know which questions to use and which to ignore.
The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition
This book includes 10 more full official old SATs and can be worth buying if you're studying agressively and need some extra practice tests, but remember that they are all in the old format.
You can usually find it for a good price on Amazon.
Other — Less Official — Sources
You may also be able to find official tests through unofficial channels. Try searching for “old SAT practice test” on Google and clicking through the results. You may be able to find PDFs of previous tests (though they'll likely be in the old format). Be aware that there's no guarantee these are real SATs.
X marks the spot — where you can find SAT practice tests
Where to Find (and How to Use) Unofficial SATs
Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many official practice tests available, so if you’re planning 40+ hours of studying, you’ll probably need some supplementary materials. Be aware that practice materials not sanctioned by the College Board can vary wildly in quality: some are very similar to real SAT questions while others don’t even share the same structure.
I've collected the most helpful resources and provided some suggestions on how to get the most out of them. Nonetheless, this list is extensive but not exhaustive — there’s a lot of SAT Prep books and tests out there. Be aware, however, that many of them aren’t very high quality, so use your judgment when deciding whether to incorporate something into your prep.
SAT Prep Books
SAT prep books are a good alternative for extra content review and practice. Their questions aren’t always quite right — covering material you don’t need to know or being easier or harder than you’d see on the real test — but prep books can be a great resource for helping you review concepts and try out different strategies.
I've provided some suggestions for general SAT prep books below. These each cost between $10 and $15, but you may be able to find them for free at your public or school library — just make sure that they aren't written in before checking them out. Also, be aware that many of the best SAT books cover only one subject, so buying books can get expensive quickly.
Best Book for High Scorers: Barron’s
Barron’s books have a lot of in depth material that can be very helpful for high scorers looking to fine tune their strategies and make sure they know every concept that might appear on the test.
On the other hand, the questions, especially the reading, tend to be much more difficult than the actual test, so it’s not a good choice for students who are easily frustrated.
Best Book for Low Scorers: Kaplan
Kaplan books are better for students who need a basic foundation on what to expect from the test and how to approach it. The questions skew easier, so it’s not a great preparation for the more challenging aspects of the test.
This book is a good place to start if you have a low baseline and want to go up a lot, since it will let you save official tests and more challenging practice for later in the process.
Free Online Practice SATs from Test Prep Companies
Since these are free, they’re often (though not always) of a lower quality than the books. If you really need more free practice materials, stick to using them for untimed content review and don’t worry if something seems weird or unusual.
If you’re a high scorer, trying to figure out how the test is different from an official SAT can be a good exercise to help you understand exactly what makes the real thing tick.
This free practice test is in the format of the new 2016 SAT — as you can see in the example below, it mimics the style of the official test very closely. Given the scarcity of new SAT materials, it could be a helpful addition to your prep as long as you keep in mind that it's not an official test.
This website has a large selection of practice questions divided by type. They're in the same basic styles as old SAT questions, though the online format is less streamlined than that of the College Board website or Khan Academy. You can see an example below.
These questions are best used sparingly, to test knowledge of math and grammar content and practice general strategies (like plugging in answers). Keep in mind that they may include errors.
The format on these practice questions isn’t very accurate, and they sometimes ask about concepts that aren’t tested on the actual SAT. You can see an example below. I generally wouldn’t recommend using them.
Other Free Practice Tests
Prep companies like Princeton Review and Kaplan often offer a free practice test if you register for an account. Sometimes you can even sign up to take the test at one of their centers. Keep in mind, though, that the quality of the test will vary wildly and the company may aggressively pitch you their services.
You'll probably end up using a mix of books and online resources.
Making a Plan
Now that you know where to start compiling the materials you'll need to prepare for the SAT, let's discuss how best to use them in a study plan. For more details on how to plan your SAT prep, check out our guide on how long you need to study for the SAT.
Start With a Real SAT Baseline
Make sure to take a real SAT to determine your baseline score — unofficial diagnostic tests won’t give you a good sense of what the SAT is like or what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Practice Skills and Review Content with Supplementary Materials
Because there’s a limited number of official SATs available, you should supplement them with practice materials focused on specific subjects or question styles, including the official questions on Khan Academy and the SAT website as well as those from unofficial sources.
Making strategic use of these materials allows you to try out new strategies and drill specific skills without worrying about how many full official tests you have left.
Focus on Using Official SATs as Full-Length Practice Tests
Again, because your supply of official SATs is limited, you want to use them judiciously. Don’t waste them by taking them in bits and pieces or while you’re distracted.
Instead, you should use most of them as full length practice tests under real testing conditions: timed, all in one sitting, in a quiet room, etc. Once you’ve taken a test, take time to very carefully go over both the questions you missed and the ones you guessed on, analyzing why you got each wrong and how the question actually works.
Remember to save one or two official SATs for the end of your prep program!
Taking a practice test is only the first step; you also need to go over your answers. Make sure you know the best way to review your mistakes.
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Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.