Good Novels To Use For Sat Essay

Students with excellent reading and comprehension skills find the verbal sections of the SAT much easier to attack. Classic literature offers you a chance to practice reading typical SAT passages and to expand your SAT vocabulary. Carry a book with you at all times, reading whenever you have a few spare minutes, such as during a break at work, in the doctor’s waiting room, or at the pool. While reading, mark any unfamiliar words and define them when you return home.

The College Board provides a long list of suggested reading on its website. Below is an abbreviated version of that list, based on the easiest and most interesting books as recommended by PowerScore instructors. We’ve also included the most recent movie version for you to view after completing the novel.



The Plot in 3 Words




Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austin

British romantic comedy



Keira Knightley

Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

Passionate love story



Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes

The Awakening

Kate Chopin

Wife finds freedom



The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane

Civil War fear



Audie Murphy

Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes

A madman’s adventure



John Lithgow, Isabella Rossellini

The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas

Historical French adventure



Charlie Sheen, Keifer Sutherland

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Rags to riches



Robert Redford, Mia Farrow

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Rags to riches



Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey McGuire

Lord of the Flies

William Golding

Deserted island boys



Balthazar Getty

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Punishment for adultery



Demi Moore, Gary Oldman


Joseph Heller

WWII satire



Alan Arkin

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Year 2540 utopia



Peter Gallagher, Leonard Nimoy

The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka

Man becomes insect



Steven Berkoff, Tim Roth

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

Deep South prejudice



Gregory Peck

The Call of the Wild

Jack London

Yukon sled dog



Charleton Heston


Toni Morrison

Effects of slavery



Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover

Animal Farm

George Orwell

Farm animals revolt



Kelsey Grammer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath

Young woman’s depression



Julia Styles

The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger

A teenager’s alienation



The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck

Great Depression sharecroppers



Henry Fonda

Treasure Island

R.L. Stevenson

High seas adventure



Charleton Heston

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Cruelty of slavery



Avery Brooks, Bruce Dern

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain

A runaway’s story



Elijah Wood



French adventure satire




Kurt Vonnegut

WWII time travel



Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman

The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Southern women’s difficulties



Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Price of vanity



Josh Duhamel

Native Son

Richard Wright

Depression-era racism



Victor Love, Matt Dillon

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Start Practicing Your Reading Comprehension for the SAT with These Classic Fiction Books!

Most students agree that the trickiest SAT Reading passages are those that come from books written in earlier eras. Because we’re not accustomed to reading and thinking through literature with a more antiquated idiom, it’s wise to familiarize ourselves with such literature. This article will suggest the best books and essays with which to do so. Let’s take a look!

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Touching and relatable, this novel follows the journey of four sisters, Meg, Beth, Jo, and Amy, from childhood into adulthood. As Alcott’s writing is challenging, but not insurmountable, this book makes the perfect introduction to 19th-century literature for girls and boys alike.


Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Chances are you’ve heard the name Pride and Prejudice before. Perhaps you’ve even seen one of the movie adaptations. Why not read Jane Austen’s incredible novel to prepare yourself for the SAT Reading test? Austen writes beautifully, and as you follow the incredible romance she creates, you’ll also be acquainting yourself with 19th-century literature!


Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Another great book by a 19th-century author, Jane Eyre is certain to be a challenging and worthwhile read. It follows the story of young Jane, a governess, and charts her growing relationship with her employer, Mr. Rochester. Little does Jane know, Mr. Rochester has a secret! Things are not what they seem in this classic novel that is sure to help boost your SAT Reading comprehension.


Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

Both challenging and enjoyable, this classic novel by Charles Dickens is a coming-of-age story that follows the growth and development of a young orphan named Pip. Making your way through Dickens’s prose will be a rewarding exercise if you hope to do well upon the SAT Reading test. Dickens was a prolific writer, so be sure to check out other works by him, such as Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities.


The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

Boys and girls alike will be thrilled by this revenge novel. Jailed for a crime that he did not commit, the protagonist of this gripping adventure story returns to seek his revenge! Alexandre Dumas is a talented writer, and you won’t feel like reading this book is a chore. You’re also doing yourself a favor: every minute you spend reading is one more minute of strengthening your reading comprehension skills for the SAT!


Silas Marner, by George Eliot

A passage from Silas Marner has appeared on the SAT, so it’s pretty safe to assume George Eliot’s writing will make for great SAT Reading preparation. Follow the redemptive story of parental love as a greedy weaver’s world is changed when he adopts a young girl! If you enjoy this 19th-century classic, perhaps you should also read another one of Eliot’s novels, Middlemarch.


Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo

Did you love the musical? Why not read the book? Victor Hugo stands as one of the greatest writers in the history of literature, and this timeless tale will be sure to move you. At the same time, it will help you hone your reading skills and build your vocabulary for the SAT. What are you waiting for?

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

I recommend Frankenstein to all of my students. It’s a gorgeously-written horror story that yields new resonance with each read. Shelley’s writing is difficult but worthwhile. This story will haunt you and make you think. It’s rich with philosophy and with narrative. Read and re-read Frankenstein, and feel confident that you’re doing good work prepping for the SAT while you do!

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Sister to Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë is an incredibly gifted writer in her own right. This meticulously-crafted novel will be sure to delight and enchant you, and reading it will afford you great practice for the SAT! Not only is it a love story–it’s also a page-turning revenge novel! You won’t regret reading this book and honing your reading and vocabulary skills along with it.

The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner

A list of classic books wouldn’t be complete without an addition by William Faulkner, one of the great novelists of all time. Set in Mississippi and employing a vast range of narrative styles, this incredible novel charts the decline and dissolution of the Compson family, once Southern aristocrats but struggling as time passes with one hardship after another. This novel will certainly help you strengthen your reading skills. And who knows? A passage from it just might appear on the SAT…

Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

Widely considered to be one of the greatest novels ever written, Moby-Dick is essential reading for students who aim to do well on the SAT. Ishmael, a sailor, relates the tale of Captain Ahab and his obsessive desire for revenge against a whale, Moby-Dick, that big his leg off. Beautifully written, this novel will grip you until the very end. It’s filled with philosophical ideas and is an unparalleled study of human psychology. Pick up a copy of Moby-Dick today and feel good about making the commitment to improve your reading skills! Great readers get high SAT scores. Period.


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That’s it! Stay tuned for more reading recommendations. For more SAT and ACT prep advice, check out the rest of our blog. Looking for 1-on-1 ACT or SAT prep tutoring? Want to join an SAT or ACT group class? Contact us today!


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