Having a sense of American history is an important aspect to doing well on the SAT and ACT. That is, it isn’t necessary, but it will help place ideas and references in context. However, the vast amounts of material available on the subject make American history seem just too daunting. I have a solution.
Gail Collins’ America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines is a great beginning to learning about American history. The book is organized in chronological order with a focus on women throughout America’s history. While the book has been criticized for having too narrow a focus, it is a great way to begin and a jumping off point to lead you to further reading.
The book is lengthy, but the material is presented in small chunks that focus on a specific woman or event, making it easy to read a bit at a time and pick it up later without having to remember everything that came before.