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An Outside-the-Book Reading List for the SAT

By August 27, 2018 September 14th, 2018 SAT

You probably know that one excellent way to prepare for the SAT Reading Test is to read classic works of literature and get to know your historical debaters – Alexander Hamilton, Alexis de Tocqueville, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Frederick Douglass, to name a few. You may not have considered these alternative ways to get exposure to great writing:

Magazines. Think magazines that stretch your reading skills while exploring topics you find interesting. Your local bookstore should have a selection of high-quality journals. Go check them out, then get subscriptions to the ones you’re most likely to read. The New Yorker, The Economist, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Nature are excellent choices.

Audiobooks. While we wouldn’t recommend listening to an audiobook while doing your math homework, you should be able to manage listening while exercising or folding laundry or traveling to school and back, making them easier to fit in your schedule than traditional books. Many classics are read by actors who can bring them to life in ways merely reading them may not. Try Jane Austen’s Emma read by Juliet Stephenson, or Charles Dickens’ Bleak House read by Sean Barrett and Theresa Gallagher. Fiction writers Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith and Neil Gaiman often read their own books and are all wonderful to listen to. Nonfiction books by Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Pollan, and Mary Roach, and Yuval Noah Harari are great choices as well.

Anthologies.  Annual collections such as The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Science and Nature Writing provide small portions of excellent writing. If you encounter any works you especially enjoy in an anthology, by all means track down other works by those authors – ultimately, the best way to ensure you read enough high-quality writing is to like what you read enough to keep going!

The Compass Team

About The Compass Team

Compass is one of the world's leading providers of in-home and online, live one-on-one tutoring for high school students aspiring to attend selective colleges.

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