The 7 Best PSAT Prep Books for Effective Study

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Finding a PSAT preparation book that works for you may not be as easy as it sounds, which is why we’ve done some of the leg work for you by putting together a review of the best PSAT books on the market today. We understand that even the best PSAT books have different formats, options, and individual merits, which is why we’ve broken them down with what we consider the top highlights as well as drawbacks.

Choosing the best PSAT prep book for you is important because the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test requires a lot of preparation and can great affect your academic future.

Looking for a shorter study guide? Here are 5 of the best PSAT study guides on the market today. 

In a hurry? Here’s our top 3 picks:

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Princeton Review PSAT/NMSQT Prep, 2020: Practice...
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PSAT/NMSQT Prep 2020: 2 Practice Tests + Proven...
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PSAT Prep 2019 & 2020: PSAT Secrets Study Guide,...
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Princeton Review PSAT/NMSQT Prep, 2020: Practice...
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Princeton Review PSAT/NMSQT Prep, 2020: Practice...
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PSAT/NMSQT Prep 2020: 2 Practice Tests + Proven...
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PSAT/NMSQT Prep 2020: 2 Practice Tests + Proven...
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PSAT Prep 2019 & 2020: PSAT Secrets Study Guide,...
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What to Look for in the Best PSAT Books:

When choosing the best PSAT prep book for you, ensure that the book is updated with the latest test formats. The PSAT changes frequently and chances are that an older edition of the PSAT test prep book may not have most recent updates to help you be fully ready for the current exam. Here are some of the things you should bear in mind when choosing the best PSAT prep book for you:

  • Minimum of one full-length practice PSAT for you to practice exam conditions with (find more here
  • Answers and comprehensive explanations of all practice questions
  • Provision of best practices, hints and tips to help you prepare for each component of the test
  • General advice on how to reduce tension during the exam

This guide of the best PSAT prep books will help you to identify which books you should consider for your PSAT prep and save you the hassle of reading through countless reviews online.

Kaplan PSAT/NMSQT Prep

PSAT/NMSQT Prep 2020: 2 Practice Tests + Proven...

Kaplan’s PSAT/NMSQT Prep 2020 is one of the best PSAT prep books that you can use to prepare for your upcoming PSAT exam. Not only does it have a wealth of study content that covers everything relevant to the PSAT, but it also provides important hints and strategies, summary of key concepts and practice tests that go a long way in building your confidence for the PSAT.

The book starts with a description of the PSAT as well as outlines some testing techniques that have proven very helpful to students in the past. The next section is then a close examination of the main subjects of the PSAT which are Mathematics, Reading and the Writing section. One of the best features of the Kaplan PSAT prep book is that it endeavors to focus on each section of the test, providing strategies for each as well as adequate practice materials per section. The answers for the test questions are shared in the book so that students can compare their answers with the correct ones for better understanding.

The explanations for questions are also very in-depth and allow students to learn from their mistakes as well as effectively grasp new concepts. Kaplan’s PSAT/NMSQT Prep 2020 is among the best PSAT prep books that you can purchase today.

Top Highlights:

  • Full-length practice tests that help to build exam confidence
  • More than 1000 practice exercises with a reasonable amount of difficulty
  • New test scoring format is comprehensively explained so that students know what to expect.

Drawback(s):

As with a lot of test prep books that are publishes on an annual basis, you will find some questions that have spelling errors and other editing problems. We expect this to be sorted out in the next edition given the numerous complaints that the current edition received.

Final Verdict:

Kaplan delivers another impressive prep study book that can help students effectively cover everything they need to know about the PSAT. The book has enough practice questions and full tests that allow full reviews of the PSAT syllabus. This is perfect for students that want to have as much comprehensive material from one source as possible.

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PSAT/NMSQT Prep 2020: 2 Practice Tests + Proven...
  • Kaplan Test Prep (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 564 Pages - 07/02/2019 (Publication Date) - Kaplan...

The Princeton Review PSAT Prep

Princeton Review PSAT/NMSQT Prep, 2020: Practice...

Princeton Review’s PSAT Prep is a dynamic PSAT review book that you will find in the toolbox of most students studying for the PSAT.. and for good reason! The key advantage of this study guide is the amount of time that it will save you. It skims a lot of the fat off of PSAT prep, ensuring that everything that is relevant is covered efficiently, and nothing more. The prep book contains strategies and tips that will help students answer questions more easily. These tips are quite useful as they allow students to be better prepared for unexpected questions. The book also caters for mathematics tactics and algebra-related questions that require some more explanation.

The Princeton Review PSAT prep book may not have as many pages as the other best PSAT prep books making our list, but it is concise and filled with enough details to make sure that students get the best from it. There are test questions and 2 full-length practice exams included as well as answers and explanations to these questions so that students can learn from their mistakes.

Top Highlights:

  • Two complete practice exams for students to learn from, including answer guide and rationales
  • Extensive content review and practice exercises for all the topics included in the PSAT
  • The most recent information about the PSAT which will help students to avoid surprises.

Drawback(s):

This prep book can be considered abridged as it is meant to help students that don’t have time to study full courses. This means that you should only use this book if you are short on time or already well-versed in the concepts tested. For more comprehensive PSAT prep, you would need another PSAT book to supplement this book.

Final Verdict:

This is the best PSAT prep book for students who are looking to brush up on their preparations quickly without having to go through a full-length home study course. It also contains quality exam strategies that help students become better test takers.

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Princeton Review PSAT/NMSQT Prep, 2020: Practice...
  • The Princeton Review (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 01/07/2020 (Publication Date) -...

Barron’s New PSAT/NMSQT

Barron’s New PSAT prep book is one of the best PSAT prep books that a student on a budget can buy. It contains a lot of practice exercises and tests that are more than enough to fill any busy student’s agenda. The content is very detailed such that you will be able to cover everything that you may need for your exam, meaning it is comprehensive enough to be used solely.

Another exciting feature of the Barron’s New PSAT/NMSQT is the difficulty level of the questions, which is why it has made our list of the best PSAT prep books. These practice questions are tough enough to help students understand what is expected from them in the PSAT but also allow them to breeze through the actual PSAT on test day.. The test questions on the Barron’s New PSAT/NMSQT prep book are at the same difficulty level as the actual exam so that really helps to manage expectations, leading to a more effective and efficient test taking experience.. This prep book also comes with an optional CD-ROM that contains two more full practice exams that are graded and provide answer rationales for students. Students also have access to study advice and important testing tips that can help improve their test score over a short period of time and different strategies are provided for each module.

Top Highlights:

  • 3 full-length practice exams for students to try out, including answer rationales and explanation
  • Online materials for more practice exams, questions and testing strategies to help students gain confidence
  • Content and rationale is easy to understand

Drawback(s):

The format that Barron used for the reviews that are at the end of each chapter is quite difficult to understand and could be confusing for students. Some of the answer rationales can also be confusing.

Final Verdict:

This is one of the best PSAT prep books that you can use to prepare for your PSAT, making it #3 on our best PSAT prep books list. There are more than enough tops and practice questions that will help to make a student ready for the PSAT. It is also one of the best value for money when it comes to high quality PSAT prep books.

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Barron's NEW PSAT/NMSQT with CD-ROM, 18th Edition...
  • Barrons Test Prep
  • Wolf Ph. D., Ira K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Related: Shop these top PSAT-approved calculators 

PSAT 8/9 Full Study Guide


Here’s a study guide that serves as a barebones prep approach to the PSAT. Included in this book are online video lessons that you can access to supplement your 4 practice tests of 900 realistic questions as well as online flash cards. Each practice test you take comes with a scored report with a breakdown of each section performance for better focus on weaknesses.

Top Highlights:

  • 4 practice tests (900 realistic questions)
  • 400 online flash cards can be accessed with book purchase
  • Detailed score reports help students focus on weaknesses and improve prep efficiency

Drawback(s):

Practice tests are not official practice tests, which means that you will not have the same benefit of practicing on real test questions. 

Final Verdict:

This is a practical prep book for quick study and among the best PSAT prep books for those who are looking to brush over their skills or last-minute studying. We recommend it for students who need something to refer to on-the-go as well as for practicing for the PSAT. It is recommended as one of the best PSAT prep books but should be supplemented with another PSAT book that contains more content on the relevant topics.

PSAT 8/9 Full Study Guide 2nd Edition: Complete...
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - 10/06/2020 (Publication Date) - Smart...

PSAT Exam Secrets Study Guide


The PSAT Exam Secret Study Guide is not as popular as some of the other PSAT prep books on our list, but it is one of the most detailed PSAT exam prep books that you can buy. This book contains a detailed guide to help students do well on the PSAT on their first attempt. Some of the key features of this PSAT prep book is that it gives a detailed explanation of what the PSAT exam is about and what to expect from it. It also takes each section and dissects all the information that a student needs to succeed.

This book puts a bit more focus on the Math section, giving students strategies to make the most out of their exam. The PSAT Exam Secrets Study Guide contains information about the concepts and processes required by the PSAT. There is also a lot of effort into ensuring that the vocabulary and writing and language portion are also covered in detail.

Overall, this prep book gives you all that you need to master before sitting for the PSAT. The practice tests of this prep book are highly technical and accurate enough to pass along concise information without being too difficult to understand. The practice questions included are taken from actual PSAT exams and are of sufficient difficulty to help students build the confidence that they need to be ready for the PSAT. There are more than enough questions to provide adequate coverage of all necessary topics! 

Top Highlights:

  • High level of detail in terms of the PSAT Reading requirements
  • Practice questions and test have adequate explanations and rationales to keep students aware of the right answers and the principles behind them.
  • Effective strategies for essay-writing and vocabulary that is helpful with the English section

Drawback(s):

The PSAT Exam Secrets Study Guide is quite pricey. In addition, some students may find it a little confusing, as there is a lot of text that must be read through.

Final Verdict:

This is the best PSAT prep book that helps you study content comprehensively and review them before your exam. IT is also very useful even when preparing for the SATs. Highly recommended for students who want one resource for all their PSAT prep and plenty of practice along the way.

PSAT Prep 2019 & 2020: PSAT Secrets Study Guide,...
  • Mometrix College Admissions Test Team (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 05/17/2019 (Publication Date) -...

Barron’s Strategies and Practice


This book is one of the most highly recommended PSAT prep books among high school students. Although not too thick, it contains everything that a student could ever need when preparing for the PSAT. Like a lot of prep books on the market, it contains strategies, tips and other creative ways to help students become better test takers. That aside, what makes this book stand out among others is the inclusion of two full-length practice PSAT exams that are truly representative of what will happen in the actual exam. In addition to these full-length practice tests, there are also many concept reviews that are detailed and provide clarifications.

This prep book encourages students to take the practice test with the same timing as the PSAT so that they can have a good idea of what they need to improve upon when the real testing situation occurs. This book is also better than most PSAT prep books in replicating actual PSAT questions.

In addition to the test taking tips, we really appreciate this book for its advice section for students who are aspiring to earn National Merit Scholarships, which is kind of the whole point of the PSAT!

Top Highlights:

  • Realistic practice questions and 2 full-length exams that give students the best possible preparation for the PSAT
  • Tips and strategies on all the test sections such as the Writing, Mathematics, and Reading
  • Detailed question rationales for understanding of key concepts of the PSAT and to help identify weak points that need improvement

Drawback(s):

There could have been more questions for students to practice with in addition to the full-length practice tests. 

Final Verdict:

This is one of the best PSAT prep books for students to get a feel for what the PSAT is all about. The book also provides detailed reviews and summaries of key PSAT concepts without being too voluminous. 

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Strategies and Practice for the PSAT/NMSQT...
  • Stewart, Brian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 01/01/2018 (Publication Date) -...

Related: Why take the PSAT? 

Ivy Global 3 Practice Tests

PSAT 3 Practice Tests

One of the best features of the 3 New PSAT Practice Test Prep book by Ivy Global is that it uses the latest format of the PSAT that was introduced in 2015. Despite the fact that Ivy Global is one of the more recent brands in the test prep scene, they deliver an excellent PSAT prep book. The book focuses on explaining everything there is to know about the new PSAT format in a simple, easy-to-read format. It tries to deliver the information in a professional, yet casual manner that helps to keep students engaged and not bored while reading.

This PSAT prep book comes with three full-length PSAT practice tests that have clear explanations of the answers. You also have access to one more full-length exam online when you register with them. Answer sheets are also provided to help students study with confidence. The book also provides useful test-taking tips and strategies that help students prepare for the PSAT as well as instructions on how to get the best answers. Ivy Global also offers further test prep that can help to provide highly comprehensive study plans with students that plan on taking the SAT.

Top Highlights:

  • 3 practice tests that are prepared in the new PSAT format and presented to students in an easy-to-understand format
  • Useful and detailed introductions to the PSAT to help students understand the changes and take note accordingly
  • Comprehensive materials, test taking tips and strategies

Drawback(s):

Some of the passages in the book don’t seem to be the best-written, but it serves its purpose overall.

Final Verdict:

This may not be one of the most popular PSAT prep books but it contains enough to get any student excellent grades at the PSAT.

PSAT 3 Practice Tests
  • Global, Ivy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 244 Pages - 05/28/2018 (Publication Date) - Ivy...

Regardless of which PSAT prep book you choose, you can rest assured that you are getting good-quality prep by choosing one of the best PSAT prep books among our list. Good luck on your prep journey!

Get outfitted for the PSAT with these top PSAT-approved calculators!

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