Are you looking for the best ACT prep book and study guides to boost your test score? Have a look at our expert team’s Top 10 List of the best ACT books for 2017 and read reviews on why we think these prep materials are the most effective.
The Real ACT is simply a must-have for every test-taker looking for the very best ACT prep books. Brought to you by the official makers of the ACT (American College Testing), this study guide’s most important assets are its five authentic, full-length tests. Each test question comes with detailed explanations that outline why the correct answer is, in fact, correct and why the wrong answers are incorrect.
Additionally, in this latest reprint edition, readers also get access to bonus online content, although the book itself has not yet been adapted to reflect some of the more recent ACT questions.
Apart from the tests and online content, the book also includes substantive review and analysis of the types of questions that appear on the ACT, together with useful strategies on how to answer them. However, this part of the book is not overly convincing and other guides on our Top 10 list are more effective when it comes to coverage of test material and strategy. Therefore, students are well advised to use this book in conjunction with other prep books.
Conclusion: Simply based on its provision of real, official ACT practice tests, there is no way around this book – it’s a clear must-buy.
ACT Premier 2016-2017 (full title: ACT Premier 201-2017 with 8 Practice Tests: Online, DVD, and Book) has now become Kaplan’s flagship ACT study guide. Already fully updated for 2017, this very comprehensive test preparation package provides test-takers with all the tools they need to achieve high scores.
Kaplan’s ACT study guide is not only thorough in covering all the relevant material, it also manages to do so in a highly accessible and easy-to-follow style. Add to this subject specific strategies, advice and tips from a top scoring test-taker, eight realistic full-length ACT practice tests (3 are in the book, 5 online), access to videos and other resources, and the option of using a digital version of the book on-the-go on your iPad or laptop, and the result is one of the top rated and best ACT books currently on the market.
Particularly noteworthy among the various features is Kaplan’s SmartPoints approach. SmartPoints is designed to help test-takers to concentrate on those points that are most likely to be tested on the day of the exam. While it is preferable to have full mastery of less frequently tested areas and background concepts as well, this selective strategy is an interesting option and a boon for efficiency-oriented test-takers.
Kaplan’s ACT Premier 2016-2017 is perfect for those looking for a reliable all-round study solution with lots of extras.
Looking for a fun (no, really!) way to prep for the ACT? Then look no farther than Tutor Ted’s Guide to the ACT. This book covers each section of the newly revised ACT – English, Math, Reading, Science, and (optional) Writing – in an in-depth yet easily digestible manner.
Tutor Ted, a long-time tutor and former Jeopardy contestant, offers both substantive and strategic advice on how best to tackle specific aspects of the ACT. Offering guidance on how to address types of questions as well as addressing potential errors along with training exercises and practice questions, this book provides an excellent resource for maneuvering through the ACT. Yet, what makes this particular book stand out from the rest of the pack is the humorous approach it takes to helping ACT students learn. Advocating ways for a student to become a “science ninja” or how to use a “brain tsunami” Tutor Ted keeps you laughing all the way to a better ACT score. Hands down, Tutor Ted’s Guide to the ACT is one of the best ACT prep books.
Tutor Ted’s Guide to the ACT also has a companion book: Tutor Ted’s ACT Practice Tests. This book gives students a chance to hone and practice their ACT test taking skills. It offers three full length ACT practice tests as well as clear, easy to understand solutions to each of the 645 questions in the tests. It further provides practice prompts for the Enhanced Writing section as well as double reading passages. However, what makes this book more than just a practice test book are the memorable strategies and helpful hints it provides for solving the questions. In addition, this is also a book with personality. Clearly, the author has made a concerted (and successful) effort to bring levity into the otherwise boring test taking world. We think this is another must have in your ACT arsenal.
This title is another high-quality test preparation book from Princeton Review’s “Cracking the … “ series.
The study guide’s focus is clearly on strategies and techniques to master the ACT and much less on fundamentals. As such, all subjects tested in the exam’s various sections are addressed and analyzed in terms of problem-solving techniques. Moreover, this accessible prep manual also features eight full-length practice exams (five of which are available online), hundreds of practice questions and drills, DVD video tutorials, and additional online resources.
Using the fictitious character Joe Bloggs, Cracking the ACT demonstrates how to use various strategies that allow students to make the most out of the time provided during the test, make intelligent guesses (if necessary), and avoid common testing traps and pitfalls.
Although the techniques used – such as Process of Elimination, “spot-the-answer”, or efficient note-taking – are not ground-breaking, they work and are proven to boost test scores. As such, they should be in every test-takers arsenal and this book is excellent at teaching students how to use them. Overall, we recommend Cracking the ACT as one of the most motivational and best ACT prep books.
Another well-known test preparation publisher, McGraw Hill, excels with its ACT 2017 (full title: McGraw Hill-Education ACT 2017, Cross-Platform Edition).
As the title already suggests, this is one of the most feature-rich ACT study guides currently on the market. The book offers its readers everything one could expect and more: An introduction to the ACT; a diagnostic test; substantive coverage of all subjects tested on the ACT; strategic advice and tips; eight practice tests (two of which are online); grammar and punctuation rules; an ACT vocabulary list; access to video tutorials; progress reports, digital flash cards; and a smart app for designing customized study schedules. There’s even a game center and the option to connect with other test-takers via social media.
In terms of substance, one of the highlights of this book is its combination of review and strategy. Although there is a general introduction on how to tackle the test, the following chapters combine coverage of each of the test’s sections (i.e. English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, and Writing) with specific advice on how to ace these particular aspects of the test.
In sum, this is an excellent and well-rounded resource that test-takers can feel confident in.
Barron’s ACT 36 – aptly named after the ACT’s highest possible score – is an ideal companion for the most ambitious of students. In this version with CD-ROM, the guide also includes a full ACT practice test.
For those who are determined to go the extra mile, this book may well be the best ACT prep book on our Top 10 list. Although the book’s strengths show most clearly in the English section and parts of Math and Reading, overall it treats all aspects of the test very well.
However, note that committing to this guide also means that readers have to be prepared to confront the most difficult types of questions on the ACT and going through tougher-than-usual practice tests and drills. While advanced students can use this guide by itself, novices should begin with a more basic guide first.
Conclusion: A superb book for the most dedicated test-takers. It is thorough, well-written, and manageable in size.
One of the best ways of raising your ACT scores is to focus on the tests (or test segments) that you can do well on. For many, one of those tests is math. The reason for this is that a review of the rules and rigorous practice enables many students to quickly increase their scores on this test because the Math ACT closely resembles school math tests.
This book by Princeton Review is designed to take advantage of these facts by offering thorough reviews of math rules, which may be existent but dormant in the backs of mind, with a hefty dose of drills and practice. It also pairs math with a natural complement, science, where it offers the same tools as in the math section (although the book cautions that science scores do not increase as rapidly as math scores). The reviews and practices at the beginning of the book are combined with three full-length ACT practice sections (2 for Math, 1 for Science) at the end, allowing students to practice their newly honed skills in a more extensive setting.
Overall, we think that this book is ably entitled ‘workout’ and by providing fantastic training advice for math and science it is one of the best ACT prep books.
The ACT for Bad Test Takers is designed to level the playing field. Its “study smart” approach – which teaches, for example, to emphasize the quality of answers over the quantity of questions answered – aims to help students who tend to find it more difficult to realize their full potential on standardized tests.
Unlike traditional ACT prep books, this compact guide’s approach is closer to what students would experience in personal tutoring sessions. The book unbundles each section of the ACT and offers effective strategies that promise to increase your overall score.
The strategy-based approach employed by The ACT for Bad Test Takers is similar to the Princeton Review’s Cracking the ACT, although test-takers have typically found the “Bad Test Takers” strategies to be more effective. However, as the focus on strategy is also more pronounced here, there is an even greater need for readers to supplement this guide with titles that provide opportunities to practice with model tests and questions.
This is likely the best ACT prep book for boosting confidence in your test-taking skills and a highly useful tool to improve your performance.
If there is one undeniable fact about best test preparation practices, it is that practice is key. Recognizing this, The Princeton Review used this revised version of its ACT practice book to compile not less than 1,460 ACT Practice Questions and answers (up from the previous edition’s 1,296 questions) and put them into a book along with three full-length practice tests, hundreds of additional practice questions (amounting to another three full tests in total, according the authors) modeled after previously administered ACT questions, and drills for each subject.
Going through the practice questions and the in-depth explanations that this book provides is certain to improve scores.
Another study guide that provides for extensive practice, 10 ACT Practice Tests offers what the title implies – ten full-length sample tests – and more.
In addition to the tests, there are detailed explanations for every question, complete with a diagnostic score sheet for self-evaluation. The practice test answers are not always easy to understand and convincing, but overall they do a good job at explaining the result and underlying concepts.
Moreover, the book includes strategies for mastering the ACT, an ACT study plan, and other tips and resources. Finally, for those looking for even more practice, the book offers access to bonus online model tests.
While the practice tests are (for obvious reasons) not as realistic as the official ones contained in The Real Act, this title is one of the best ACT books due to its sheer volume of practice tests.
Don’t let this ACT prep book from the popular “Dummies” series fool you. Recently published in this updated and reworked version, ACT for Dummies with Online Practice Tests is a thoughtful and effective study guide. ACT for Dummies – an impressive 528-page book – gives the major prep companies’ publications a run for their money and easily makes our Top 10 list of reviews of the best ACT prep books.
What we like best is how the authors succeed at effortlessly combining review, tips, and practice in a conversational tone – something that becomes particularly clear in the book’s Math coverage, which remains one of the strengths of this series. If you are looking to learn ACT concepts in a light-hearted way, this may well be the ideal test prep manual.
In sum, a great book and particularly helpful if used together with the accompanying online study tools and practice tests (three full-length tests are already in the book).
Best ACT Prep Book
|Ranking||Publisher||Book Title||Pages||Year||Practice Tests||Price Range|
|1||John Wiley||Real ACT Prep Guide||936||2016||5||$$|
|3||Tutor Ted||Tutor Ted’s Guide to the ACT||328||2016||N/A||$|
|4||Princeton Review||Cracking the ACT Premium||816||2015||8||$$|
|5||McGraw-Hill||ACT Cross-Platform Course||560||2016||8||$$|
|6||Barron’s||ACT 36 – Aiming for the Perfect Score||312||2015||1||$|
|7||Princeton Review||Math and Science Workout for the ACT||240||2015||3||$|
|8||Bad Test Takers||The ACT for Bad Test Takers||154||2012||N/A||$|
|9||Princeton Review||1,460 ACT Practice Questions||688||2015||3||$|
|10||John Wiley||ACT For Dummies||588||2015||6||$|