Best PSAT prep book

Test Prep

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Which PSAT prep book is best?

No one likes taking tests, especially tests as difficult and important as the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) exam. A good PSAT prep book not only gets students ready for the test, but having a study plan may decrease their test anxiety. The best PSAT prep book is the Princeton Review’s Cracking the PSAT/NMSQT. It includes two practice tests, several math drills and detailed explanations for the answers to ensure maximum understanding.

What to know before you buy a PSAT prep book

Sections of the PSAT and what they measure

The PSAT has three separate sections whose scores combine to produce your total PSAT exam score: math, reading and writing and language. For more information on the PSAT, check out the PSAT prep book guide from BestReviews.

Math: The math section tests the student on a variety of types of math, from algebra to data equations and even more advanced mathematics. This section attempts to measure the student’s ability to solve the problems and their understanding of mathematical concepts.

Reading: The reading section examines students on their ability to analyze a small passage and then answer questions based on that passage’s contents. It measures the student’s capacity to understand how language is used and their proficiency in interpreting given information.

Writing and language: The writing and language section asks students to examine a passage for errors, locate them and then properly correct them. It analyzes the student’s ability to form and support arguments and tests their understanding of style, sentence structure and other elements of writing.

What to look for in a quality PSAT prep book

Studying and test-taking strategies

Not everyone has good study habits, and most students have different studying styles. A good PSAT prep book should provide helpful guidance for all levels and types of test takers. It also should give users test-taking strategies and provide ample practice opportunities.


PSAT prep books may contain drills, although not all have them and some only have them for certain sections. They usually contain questions found in PSAT exams to help students improve their understanding in areas where they struggle.

Answers and explanations

For practice tests and drills to be useful, the book has to explain answers to help the student understand where they might have gone wrong. Make sure your PSAT prep book has detailed explanations of its practice tests and drill answers to deepen your understanding.

How much you can expect to spend on a PSAT prep book

Basic PSAT prep books can cost as little as $15 or less, but you can spend up to $50 for in-depth prep books with multiple practice tests.

PSAT prep book FAQ

I don’t need to take the PSAT for a year or two. What can I do now to get ready?

A. One of the best ways to prepare is to purchase a few different PSAT prep books and make your way through them, as each one can contain different questions and have varying levels of difficulty. You might incrementally improve your chances simply by engaging in your classes, ask questions if you don’t understand, do your homework and study for quizzes and tests.

Are the practice tests in PSAT prep books really that important?

A. They can be. Taking the practice tests can prepare you for how the real test will go, and help you understand the areas of the exam on which you should focus your studying. It also may help lower test anxiety.

What’s the best PSAT prep book to buy?

Top PSAT prep book

The Princeton Review Cracking the PSAT/NMSQT

The Princeton Review Cracking the PSAT/NMSQT

What you need to know: Princeton Review makes a fantastic all-around PSAT prep book to cover your studying needs.

What you’ll love: Two practice tests and several math drills give students plenty of preparation.

What you should consider: This isn’t the right PSAT prep book for last-second cramming sessions, because it’s much too large.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top PSAT prep book for the money

Barron’s Strategies and Practice for the New PSAT/NMSQT

Barron’s Strategies and Practice for the New PSAT/NMSQT

What you need to know: If you’ve taken the PSAT before and are trying to raise your scores in a specific area, this is the PSAT prep book for you.

What you’ll love: This is a great value for the money, costing less than many other PSAT prep books.

What you should consider: Barron’s book provides more of an overview of the test rather than an in-depth guide.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

PSAT Exam Secrets Test Prep Team PSAT Exam Secrets Study Guide

PSAT Exam Secrets Study Guide

What you need to know: This PSAT prep book is comprehensive and provides ample practice.

What you’ll love: Detailed explanations of the answers for practice test questions increase understanding of key concepts.

What you should consider: The high level of detail may overwhelm certain students.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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