Last Updated: January 29, 2021
Top 7 Books to Prepare for the ACT
The Official ACT Prep Guide(2019-2020)
If you are looking for authentic materials from the creators of the ACT test, then this is the best option for you. The guide has five ACT tests, essay prompts and chapters dealing with the basic contents of each section along with example questions. It even includes general information regarding the test including information on the registration, planning and even packing for the test day.
The tests provided are taken from previously conducted ACT exams and is a good resource to purchase if you are looking for a single investment and do not wish to purchase book after book for the same purpose.
Unlike the previous test guides offered by ACT, this one offers essays that provide essay prompts demanding at least one perspective, The earlier practice for the same was to demand integration of multiple perspectives from the same essay prompt.
The book contains a scratch code when purchased new, that unlocks an online question bank with over 400 questions that can be split section-wise into different tests.
The downside of the book would be that the question bank can only be accessed online unlike the printable pdf versions of the bonus questions that came with older editions. It borrows heavily from previous editions(only Mathematics) and is not a recommended purchase if one owns the previous versions of the book(especially The Real ACT 3rd Edition).
Barron's ACT 36: Aiming for Another Perfect Score
If you are looking for a guide that focuses less on practice questions and more on strategy and content, this is the book for you. The book pairs well with practice paper guides that can be used to further enhance your skills.
Barron's ACT 36 has exemplary reviews for its English section which reviewers claim to provide just the right challenge to help them score high in the exam. The same goes for Mathematics but is generally considered to be a little behind the times for Science. It goes into detail about the grammatical aspects of English and further into the basics of Mathematics which will come as a great help if you are attempting ACT after taking a break in your academics.
It focuses on students who are retaking the exam and are therefore fluent with the basics already and are aspiring high score test takers. The book, therefore, does not include basic test-taking strategies that focus on eliminating common errors that can be made during the test.
This text put out by the test-prep giant, Barron's, aims to get students a 36 on the exam, a perfect score but claims that this lofty goal is something all students should aspire to achieve. This innovative book comes complete with advice for dealing with some of the difficult questions, extra-challenging practice tests for each of the test areas, and instructions on how to read efficiently and with high retention rates.
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 about approaching 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 you 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 this 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 ACT.
The book has a lot of organized information divided into plenty of sections which helps you 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
If you have been going through book after book reading and studying the strategies required but need to finally use these strategies in detail, this book is for you. This relatively lightweight book contains six practice tests which 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 you can customize to your 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 you 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 you a tendency of going back after every question to check your response. Even in this scenario, the book helps you understand where exactly was there a flaw in judgment and to rectify the same.
Manhattan Prep-5 lb. Book of Act Practice Problems
This book contains over 1800 practice questions including all the sections organized both together and separately for an enhanced learning experience. It includes progress trackers and topical grading sheets which help you stay motivated and go one test after the other into perfection.
Despite being a 2015 edition, most tutors and students seem to be after this guide due to the difficulty level and form that is both easily understandable and perceivable than other strategy focusing texts. This guide also includes one-year access to additional online resources along with supplemental practice questions in science.
Reviews claim it to be a realistic ACT test practice in sync with the original test pattern though one may not be able to utilize the entirety of the book given its size. It also requires a certain level of motivation to look at 1000+ pages worth of book and go through it one page at a time.
Princeton Review Cracking the ACT Premium Edition 2019
The strength of this prep guide lies in its ability to simplify the basics and in avoiding confusions that can arise while writing about topics. It comes with six practice tests, content review and strategies that aid one in figuring out the basics easily.
The book focuses on lower test scorers and so provides questions on the easier side but covers the basics in such a manner that you will understand the test and the strategies required to clear the test. Reviewers claim the Mathematics section to be difficult compared to other sections of the book that may seem relatively easy leaving you a little underprepared for the exam.
For a beginner, this book may be the best place to start as for a high-end score earner this book may not be recommended given its over simplicity.