• Talal Ali Jan

Best novels to read for SAT preparation



I’ll start by saying that memorizing words will not help you ace the SAT exam! I have had students memorize ten or fifteen thousand words but to no avail. You need to understand the ideology of the SAT exam and how it is structured. The examiners expect you to comprehend language and how it is used in various scenarios rather than simply learning those words. The best way to tackle this problem is by reading. The SAT Reading section consists of certain types of passages:

  • 2 Science passages (contemporary science)

  • 2 Social Science passages (Economics, Psychology etc.)

  • 1 Literature Passage


It is important that you read English newspapers everyday because it offers all types of writing and categories that could help you with the SAT passages. You can also come to know about the latest news and events that you could find in the SAT test. Also, newspapers are a good source if you want to learn economic or scientific jargons that will aid you in the exam.


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Most students agree that the trickiest SAT Reading passages are the ones that come from the literature genre. Since we’re not accustomed to reading and thinking through literature with a more antiquated idiom, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with such literature.

Students with excellent reading and comprehension skills find the Reading section of the SAT much easier to solve. Reading classic literature novels won’t only help you understand an archaic style passage on test day but will also enhance your vocabulary, making it even more easy for you to score more points on the Reading section. I recommend carrying a book with you at all times and read whenever you have a few spare minutes. Reading one to two chapters would make a great deal of difference. While reading, mark any unfamiliar words and define them when you return home. You never know, you might come across the same words on test day!


However, you must know that unlike the Old SAT, the New SAT doesn’t have a lot of archaic language unless a passage is based on an old speech or a constitution. Passages are now based on logic more often and they’re contemporary passages.

You can start with the ones you find most interesting to develop a habit of reading and chances are you’ve already heard of these novels. Below is a list of Literature classicsyou could start with:

1. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

6. Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

7. As I lay dying by William Faulkner

8. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

9. Animal Farm by George Orwell

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

11. Native Son by Richard Wright

12. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

13. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

14. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

15. Wuthering Heights By Emily Bronte

16. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

17. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

18. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

19. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

20. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

21. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

22. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

23. Frankenstein by Marry Shelley

24. Emma by Jane Austen

25. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

26. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

27. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

28. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

29. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

30. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

31. Dracula by Bram Stoker

32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

33. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

34. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

35. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

36. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

37. King Lear By William Shakespeare

38. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

39. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

40. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne


The above list is just to get you started, obviously you can explore other classics based on your interests but I recommend sticking to the authors I have mentioned above i.e. Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy. Make sure you try to understand them in depth and most importantly make sure you know what the hard words mean in the books instead of ignoring them and reading ahead. Remember that the SAT asks vocabulary based questions so it’ll make your life a whole lot easier if you know what the strange looking word means.


Now let’s look at a couple of social science books to get you started with that dominion:

1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

3. The Girl on the train by Ken Kesey

4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

5. Room by Emma Donoghue

6. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

8. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

9. The Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham

10. King’s Shield by Sherwood Smith

Below is a list of scientificnovels to help you as well:

1. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

2. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

3. Ringworld by Larry Niven

4. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

5. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

6. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

7. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

8. Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

9. 2312 by Stanley Robinson

10. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov


Like I mentioned before, these are just general lists to get you started. You can always add to your reading lists according to your interest but remember that you should choose a book that would help you with the SAT exam otherwise it won’t serve the right purpose. You need to know specific vocabulary that you could come across on the exam rather than just regular words that they might not even ask you about. The Social Science and Science categories are different from the literature category and you might not be able to find the right material but you could always find the right articles regarding the two topics in newspapers so make sure to read the daily newspaper as well as the novels mentioned above (as many as you can) and you’re good to go!

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