When preparing for SAT Reading & Writing, it's crucial to use high-quality practice materials that accurately reflect the content of the real test. In this article, I will go through the best resources for SAT Reading & Writing practice materials, both online and in printed prep books.
Why Are High-Quality SAT Practice Materials So Important?
If you practice with low-quality materials, you'll end up with low-quality results no matter how long you spend studying. Many test-prep companies release their own versions of SAT questions that are supposedly comparable to questions on the real test. DO NOT use these questions exclusively for practice!
The SAT creates questions in a very specific standardized format, and if you're not used to it, you could be in for a rude awakening on the test. Additionally, using mostly unofficial practice materials will invariably give you a skewed sense of your expected SAT score. You don't want to think you're scoring at a certain level and then be faced with a nasty surprise when your scores on the real SAT are much lower.
For the Reading & Writing section, it's doubly important to find practice materials that are high quality because there are always two components: the questions and the passages. Even if the questions are in the same format as questions on the real SAT, if the passages aren't at the same difficulty level, you won't be getting great practice (and vice versa).
On top of using high-quality materials, you should also use realistic time constraints when you take practice tests. If you don't time yourself accurately, you will not be able to reliably predict your scores on the real test. Time is a huge factor on the SAT, and learning to manage it properly is key to earning a high score.
In the next couple of sections, I'll list some of the best resources for SAT Reading practice materials.
Free Digital Official SAT Reading & Writing Practice Tests
The College Board has now made available four new digital SAT practice tests to help prepare you for the exam. These practice tests accurately reflect the material currently covered on the SAT. To take the practice tests, you will be instructed to download Bluebook, College Board's digital testing platform. You can do this from the College Board website.
Once you've downloaded Bluebook, you can then take a full-length, adaptive practice test, meaning the questions you receive will be adapted to your knowledge and skill level. This is exactly how the digital SAT is formatted and scored, so your performance on the practice test will give you a solid idea of what to expect on the SAT.
If you'd like additional practice, you can take paper and pencil tests from previous years. While this isn't ideal, it will give you practice on the concepts and content covered on the SAT. Do be aware that the format of the digital SAT has changed from the old paper and pencil version. Reading and Writing have now been combined into one subject area that is covered in two modules.
(Note that the College Board stopped offering the SAT Essay in June 2021 so you can skip that section on practice tests!) Here are some traditional (paper and pencil) practice tests you can take a look at for additional practice.
- Practice Test 1: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 3: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 5: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 6: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 7: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 8: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 9: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 10: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
You probably noticed that Practice Test 2 and Practice Test 4 are missing from the list above. That's because they're no longer listed on the official SAT Practice Test website. However, these are still tests that were developed by the College Board, so you may find them useful if you've already worked your way through all the available practice tests.
- Practice Test 2: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 4: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations
Note that Sentence Completion questions are no longer part of the Reading & Writing section, so you should skip over them if you're using older practice materials.
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2013-14: Questions | Solutions
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2012-13: Questions | Solutions
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2007-08: Questions | Solutions
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2004-05: Questions | Solutions
Online SAT Reading & Writing Practice
This section goes over the best SAT Reading & Writing practice you can find online. It includes both official and unofficial sources.
The College Board
Official College Board questions are the best way to practice for the SAT, so their online resources in terms of practice questions are the best ones you can find. The website gives you immediate feedback on whether you answered a question correctly as well as answer explanations (though these explanations are not always as thorough as they should be in terms of explaining why wrong answers are wrong).
Khan Academy has partnered directly with the College Board, so they use official SAT questions to help you practice. That means the materials are some of the best you can find outside of the College Board website itself. You can sign up for a free account here.
One negative for this website is that the total number of practice questions is limited, so you will probably have to supplement it with other resources. It's especially sparse on Reading questions for the time being.
It also doesn't include test-taking strategies, and its lessons and answer explanations aren't quite as in-depth as they should be for students who don't understand the questions. However, it does include multiple videos, which some people find more helpful than written explanations.
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SAT Reading & Writing Prep Books
You can find further practice tests and materials in SAT prep books, although they can also get expensive. Keep in mind that these will not give you practice on the latest, adaptive digital SAT, but they will provide general practice on reading skills that will strengthen your knowledge.
The Official Digital SAT Study Guide ("Blue Book")
Unfortunately. the four official digital SAT practice tests in latest edition of this book are the same as those available on the Bluebook app for free. However, it also includes extra practice drills and detailed explanations of right and wrong answers that can be helpful.
This book hasn't yet been updated for the digital SAT, but it's still full of great strategic advice. The Black Book doesn't include any practice questions, instead referencing questions in the first four official SAT practice tests. So if you buy this book you should also download those four official SAT practice tests (for free!).
The Black Book is particularly helpful on the Reading & Writing section, with a list of particular meanings of words like "anticipate" or "counter" that you'll need to know to answer Reading passage questions. It will also give you in-depth answer explanations for all the sections and insightful tips on how to get around the tricky wording of the questions.
The Complete Guide to SAT Reading by Erica Meltzer
This book focuses entirely on reading and has not yet been updated to the new digital SAT format. But it does a great job of teaching you the skills you'll need and showing you how to consistently eliminate three out of four answers on every question.
How to Get the Most From Your SAT Reading & Writing Practice Tests
Now you know where to get the best SAT Reading & Writing practice tests, but you also need to know how to use them properly. Below are three tips to help you get the most out of your SAT practice tests and quizzes.
Use Strict Timing
It's important to follow official SAT time limits on practice tests. If you give yourself even just two extra minutes on the SAT Reading & Writing section, it could raise your section score significantly. Because you have more time to answer questions, your practice SAT Reading & Writing score becomes inflated and doesn't give you an accurate indicator of your actual ability.
Review Your Mistakes
Practice tests aren't just good for learning the format of the SAT Reading & Writing section—they're also great for helping you learn from your mistakes.
For every practice SAT Reading & Writing test you take, spend time reviewing both questions you got wrong and questions you got right. If you don't know why you missed a question, don't just skip it and move on; doing so will keep you from learning what kind of mistake you made, raising your risk of making it over and over again. This habit can hamper your score pretty drastically. It's better to take three Reading & Writing sections with detailed review than 10 sections without review.
Don't Forget to Take a Complete SAT
Although this article is specifically for SAT Reading & Writing practice, you'll want to take at least two complete SATs (and ideally four) during your study program so you'll be prepared for every section and know how well you hold up after several hours of testing. Check out our guide for free and official SAT practice tests.
Summary: How to Use SAT Reading & Writing Practice Tests
In preparing for SAT Reading & Writing, it's so important to use the best possible practice materials available to you. This means materials that most closely resemble what you'll see on the real test.
The best way to do this is to use mainly official SAT questions that come directly from the College Board. You can access these through a number of free full-length tests, SAT practice websites such as Khan Academy, and official prep books. If you want even more practice, you can use unofficial Reading & Writing questions, as long as you understand that these will not be as accurate as official questions.
If you work on understanding your mistakes on questions that closely resemble the ones on the real test, you'll be on your way to a great SAT Reading & Writing score!
Now that you have all these practice resources, read this article to get some of our best tips for boosting your score on the SAT Reading section.
More of a science and math person who's worried about the reading section? Take a look at my article on how to do well on SAT Reading for science- and math-oriented students.
Also, read my article on the fundamental strategy of SAT Reading to learn about the #1 rule to keep in mind when answering each Reading question!
These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.