SAT and ACT Prep Resources


As I prepare for finals, I can’t help but be reminded of those glowing, golden days I spent studying for the SAT. It is almost enough to bring tears to my eyes. Okay, preparing for the SAT or the ACT really isn’t a warm and fuzzy experience, but it doesn’t have to be terrible. Once you start studying, you will realize that you already know almost everything that the tests address, because they are tailored to high school curriculum standards.

Since you will probably be familiar with all of the material on college readiness exams, is there anything left to study or any reason to study? Yes, you will need to study or, at the very least, take a practice exam or two.

While there are loads of free study tools online, the question sets and practice exams that are most like the actual tests often cost something. If you are really determined get the best score you can, you should consider buying a practice booklet or paying for an online practice service.

To help you get underway, here is a list of study and preparation resources for each test!

SAT Resources

  • Free Resources
    • Khan Academy : If you have never used Khan Academy, your life is much harder than it needs to be. In addition to their SAT preparation lessons (supported and developed by the College Board for both the Current SAT and the New SAT), they also provide brilliantly simple lessons on all of those concepts from Calculus, Chemistry, Art History, and many other areas that you just can’t seem to wrap your mind around. Their SAT resources include a free full SAT practice exam, practice questions, and instructional videos teaching various ways to approach difficult questions.
    • The SAT : In a burst of uncharacteristic mercy, the SAT’s website itself offers a few free practice resources including a question of the day and practice questions in each subject area. They also have this tool that helps you create a study plan!
    • ProProfs : This site offers a variety of study guides, “cram sheets” for each subject, practice tests, flashcards, and quizzes.
    • PWN the SAT : Though a lot of the study material this site’s author has written is only available in his books, the site still offers free tips, College Board released practice tests, and information about the New SAT.
    • : On the list of things that make my English-loving self absurdly happy, this website ranks pretty high (I just love words). On the site, you choose vocabulary lists to learn through daily quizzes. Your progress is recorded and you earn points as you master new words, so if you and an equally verbophiliac (“word loving,” okay I just made that up, but it could definitely be a real word) friend wanted to, you could compete against each other in the arena of vocab mastery.
    • Smart Scholar’s SAT Prep Resource Guide: If you are looking for even more study resources or answers to common questions about the test, on Smart Scholar’s page you can find a trove of links to practice questions, study tips, and even test anxiety support services.
  • Not So Free Resources
    • The Official SAT Study Guide : Is it really worth $31. 99? If you know you will study because you have ambition and big plans that no amount of multiple choice can subdue, then yes. With 10 practice tests and full study guides for each subject, you will never run out of material to study, and you know that all of the questions follow the same format the test itself will use.
    • Barron’s SAT 2400 : This book is designed to help students get as close to a perfect *2400* as possible, and it compiles clever ways to get to the heart of the most elusive questions.
    • And Here is an ultra comprehensive review of many other SAT study guides. to consider.

ACT Resources

  • Free Resources
    • The ACT : The ACT’s site offers a question of the day, sample questions, and testing tips.
    • The Essential Guide to the ACT : Once you get past the cheesy cover of this guide compiled by myCollegeOptions, you will find an excellent selection of subject specific tips, reviews, and sample questions in addition to a practice test.
  •  Not So Free Resources
    • The Real ACT Prep Guide : This is the ACT test makers’ official study guide. It includes 5 practice tests, overviews of each subject area’s material, and test taking strategies to help you manage your time and do your best.
    • And Here is a very thorough review of other ACT books. Since I only took the SAT, I can’t personally recommend any books.

Why Not Both? Resources for Both Tests!

  • Free Resources
    • Erik the Red : This is the test prep website of a high school math and physics teacher. He offers lists of essential facts and formulas you will need for each test, strategies, and practice problems to help you prepare.
    • The Critical Reader : This blog offers tips on the SAT and ACT Critical Reading and Writing sections, questions of the day, and practice quizzes in addition to their study books.
    • SparkNotes : Famous for their shamelessly reduced versions of great literature, which do not replace reading the actual book, not many people think of SparkNotes as a study resource; however, their website houses study tools for everything from AP tests to the SAT and ACT and many college prep resources.
  • Not So Free Resources
    • Shmoop : Shmoop is just fun, as far as  online study tools go. I enjoy reading their literary study guides simply because they are sprinkled with great humor and are very straightforward. I have never used their test prep resources, but if they are anything like the rest of their site, they are almost certainly worth the investment.



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