Last Updated: July 15, 2021

Best ACT Test Preparation books for Mathematics

ACT is one of the official examinations in the USA required to enter colleges and universities. Conducted by ACT, Inc., this test assesses the academic achievements of students in high schools and their credentials for higher studies. Mathematics, being the second most significant one in the 3 hours 35 minutes test after English, is given 60 minutes for 60 questions. To crack the exam by solving one problem in under one minute requires specific training that can be acquired through detailed study. The best books to prep from, which caters to the specific needs of candidates, can then be as follows-

The Official ACT Mathematics Guide

Being the only prep book created by ACT and dedicated to mathematics, this book is supposed to review the entire ACT mathematics test. The book follows a step-by-step pattern including the way in which one should approach the test along with detailed explanations to improve one's performance.

It doesn't presume that the student is already well versed in the topic and goes into detail about every topic. This may be considered unnecessary since most of the topics are covered in the school syllabus but at the same time will be of immense help to students who have not grasped the concept yet and for aspirants preparing for the exam after a year gap.

The book includes official information regarding ACT, the need-to-knows for test prep, and test day must-haves among other information. The book, in fact, contains more explanations than problems which can be considered a drawback.

Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT

Candidates who want to traverse through the test from the lower end of abilities to the higher end, and are willing to work for it, should indeed purchase this book. The book offers an in-depth study of every topic but doesn't stop there. While the book caters to beginners, the book at the same time offers difficult practice papers for those students who want to apply the knowledge of the basics into a higher domain.

The book claims to cater to both high-end scoring students and moderately scoring students through its structure. This newly developed structure allows students to skip the fundamentals that they might not require and move on to advanced preparation and at the same time allow beginners to focus only on the fundamentals before they can finally approach the advanced level questions.

It covers topics from algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, and statistics through over 550 problems and their solutions. It also contains tips on using the calculator during the ACT test. Each section is written in a unique way that helps students in reading, understanding, and tutoring themselves. This eliminates the necessity of an external tutor and makes the student learn from mistakes thereby increasing knowledge in the subject.

ACT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective ACT Strategies Ever Published. 2nd Edition

This book is offered by Mike Barrett who is an ACT tutor with an international clientele. The book claims to be a detailed walkthrough of the Official ACT Prep Guide and aims to aid above-average students in entering the Ivy league or to score a 10 per section to claim sports scholarships.

The book is full of strategies and tricks especially in the mathematics section, and about approaching the ACT especially in the introduction section along with the first chapter. To be able to understand the approach makes this book a worthy investment in itself.

Even when certain aspects mentioned may seem commonsensical, the way the information has been articulated makes one wonder about the simplicity and complexity of the approach simultaneously. The book aids in making the student understand their mistakes and repeat their steps correctly thereby eliminating the necessity of a tutor.

ACT Prep Plus 2021(Kaplan Test Prep)

This particular book offers five practice tests, proven strategies, and online content with subject reviews and even video lessons. Kaplan, being an official teaching partner of ACT updates itself regularly providing students with fresh content.

Purchasing these avails one printed full-length practice test along with four online tests which will be accessible for a year along with additional quizzes and videos to enable better performance. There are strategic notes written in every math chapter which can be used exclusively while preparing for the ACT.

The book has a lot of organized information divided into plenty of sections which helps candidates choose the sections without skimming through the entire book to find a particular section. This helps students skip entire portions they do not want to go through and also helps them understand the categorical difference between sections that can aid in individually focusing on the section after section than all of them in bulk.

It features a section called "smart points" that points towards questions that are often asked for the exam. It helps retain the focus on areas that have a greater probability of being repeated for the next test.

6 ACT Practice Tests(Barron's Test Prep)3rd Edition

Candidates who have been going through book after book reading and studying the strategies required but need to finally use these strategies in detail will find this book handy. This relatively lightweight book contains six practice tests that are similar to the original test in structure, length, and difficulty.

There are detailed analyses after question papers stating why the answers marked correct are right. The questions lean from moderate to difficult and hence can make the original exam appear simpler comparatively which is good practice.

It is a book that caters to people with a low budget though that doesn't imply a lack in quality. It includes a full-length diagnostic test, over 1600 practice questions, and all three difficulty-level based reading passages that one can customize to their learning program

Whether one tries to practice one section at a time or an entire paper at a time, it helps to manage time and understand where they are falling back since it is in the structure of a question paper than a guide. The answers and explanations come after the full question paper which can give candidates a tendency of going back after every question to check their response. Even in this scenario, the book helps one understand where exactly was there a flaw in judgment and rectify the same.

Kaplan's ACT Math &Science Prep- 4th Edition

ACT aspirants looking for a book that focuses on teaching problem-solving skills by correcting mistakes and reiterating basics until the concepts have been completely mastered will find this book to be well-suited for their needs.

This book offers over 500 practice questions and focuses on providing an essential review of key concepts along with the questions. It breaks down Mathematics into sections and subsections for a beginner. The various categories range from algebra, pre-algebra, algebra II, etc. to plane geometry and trigonometry.

The guide consists of at least 100 questions dedicated solely to the ACT test which can be seen to be slightly deviating from a high school syllabus perspective. Reviewers also claim that there are seven question quizzes in the book which serve as a quick revision of chapters ensuring that certain key points have not been overlooked.

Kaplan's book, though is for both Science and Mathematics, lacks the same quality for science when compared with the latter. The questions in the Science section seem to be pretty basic and hence the purchase can be made solely for Mathematics and can still be deemed worth it.

Barron's ACT Math and Science Workbook-3rd Edition

This prep book contains separate Mathematics chapters and Mathematics tests with even a topic like algebra divided into pre-algebra, elementary algebra, and intermediate algebra. There are separate chapters, yet again, for plane geometry, coordinate geometry, and trigonometry. At the end of each section, candidates will be able to find a mini test session that is not in an ACT pattern but is based on the section alone. This test comprises around 10-15 questions and focuses primarily on assessing the candidate’s understanding of the section.

Toward the end of both the sections, there are 2 practice tests that are in the original ACT format and it is only here that one will be able to assimilate all that has been learned throughout the text. It is a drawback that there are only 2 practice tests in all since an examinee will not just have to understand the concepts and questions but will be required to get the hang of taking the test as well.

While the book does not deal with detailed explanations on general topics, it does provide detailed insights into solving individual questions. This becomes an asset when one has seemingly mastered the concept and yet fumbles through tricky questions in the test. This guide can then be described as one for beginners before moving on to practice tests alone from other sources.


ACT Resources


Online ACT Practice Tests



Average SAT score for Top Schools