ACT (American College Testing) is a standardized test conducted in the United States for admission to different colleges in the country. It spans on four academic areas; English, Mathematics, Reading and Scientific reasoning. Started in the year 1959, the ACT test is now accepted by all the colleges in the United States and more than 225 colleges outside the United States. The test is conducted seven times a year in the United States as well as in Canada. The total aggregate of the test is measured on a scale from 1 to 36.
So, if you are a high school student and planning to give ACT, you might be wondering from where to prepare the test. You might find dozens of ACT prep books on Amazon and various other online retailers. Not every book you see there is competent enough and some books are better than the other. So, in order to save you from this confusion we have reviewed one the best ACT test prep books and presented their pros and cons to you.
1. Official ACT Prep Guide
The first in the list comes the official ACT prep guide, the thing which gives this book an edge is that it has been prepared by the official test makers of ACT. So, the questions and practice problems which you see in this book are the true representation of the questions coming in the real ACT test. The book includes full length practice mock tests, 400 new online questions and ACT test forums of the previous years.
In the updated 2020 edition there are five actual ACT tests to hep you enhance your practice to the maximum level. So, if you want to do maximum practice and ace your ACT test then the above-mentioned book can be declared as one of the best ACT prep books. Also, if you buy the updated edition then you also get the bonus online content for the test.
- Best practice questions
made by the original test makers.
- Comes with 400 online
practice questions and bonus online content.
- Ensures maximum practice
of its students with plenty of questions and practice problems
- Concise and thoroughly
- The book is great for
practice questions but when it comes to reviewing concepts and learning
strategies then the book lags there.
- Answers of practice
questions are given briefly and not explained well.
- You might have to consult
other books for in-depth discussion of concepts.
2. Baron’s ACT Prep Guide
Next in list comes the Baron’s ACT prep guide which contains a large amount content, practice problems and test taking strategies for ACT test. If you want a large amount of content for Act test then this book might be best for you. In the book you will find full length tests, information about ACT tests, test taking techniques, skills and concepts, question types and practice questions.
There are three difficulties of practice passages i.e. easy, medium and hard for step by step learning and practice. The test taking tactics given in this book are proven to be best for all ability levels. The four complete practice mock tests in the book help you assess your practice level.
- Large amount of content
for ACT test prep.
- Great test taking
strategies and tactics.
- Each section begins with
some warm-up questions.
- Great for thorough
preparation of the test.
- Generally, the practice
questions given in Baron’s ACT test prep are more difficult then the questions
in the real test.
- Extra preparation is not
bad but if you have a limited time to prepare for your ACT exam this book might
be best for you.
- As the book is very comprehensive
and thorough, the students would ultimately have to break it up for their
understanding and ease.
3. Princeton Review Cracking the ACT test prep book
Next in the list comes the Princeton review’s cracking the ACT. Like the previous mentioned book, this book is also very thorough in terms of test material. This is one of the most comprehensive and traditional ACT prep books. The portion of the book which has been given in most detail is the Mathematics portion followed by science portion. English and reading portion have been given in less details.
This book also gives you one of the best tests taking strategies and tactics. The book also covers four practice full lengths mock tests and two online full-length tests. These tests can help you in your self-evaluation before the exam.
- Generally, a
comprehensive book for ACT preparation.
- Provides full length mock
tests for maximum practice.
- Best for Maths and
science portion practice.
- Comes with one of the
best tests taking strategies
- Not suitable for those
students who want to do to the point preparations in lesser time.
- Some portions of the book
are less comprehensible than the other.
- The book may appear to
you as too easy as compared to other test prep books. So, if you goal is to
stand among the top scorers of the test, you might have to look for some other
4. ACT Prep Black Book
Unlike the Baron’s and Princeton’s prep books, the ACT prep black book is more concise. The book focuses less on the content of the preparation of the preparation but more on the tactics and strategies to attempt the test. The questions given in the book are somewhat predictable to the actual questions which would come in the test.
The book also tells you about the many ways to attempt a Maths question and which one would be likely to work best for you. The books also tell you the techniques like attempting any Maths question in under 30 secs etc. The book also comes with three official practice tests.
book is best for those who want to learn best test attempting tactics and
Mathematical techniques are given in the book.
book is concisely written.
book lags when it comes to in-depth discussion of the topics.
would ultimately have to refer other books for enhanced understanding of
thorough preparation, it must be used in conjunction with other prep books.
5. Kaplan’s ACT prep book
Next in the list comes the Kaplan’s ACT prep book plus 2020 which is ACT prep book by renowned publisher Kaplan test prep. The book tells you the skills and strategies used for attempting the test in a straightforward manner. In the plus edition of the book you get extra practice tests.
- The book is written in
easy language and in a straightforward manner which makes it easy to
- The explanations of the
answers in the book are longer are comprehensive.
- The strategy and skills
enhancing portions are thorough and comprehensive
- The English and reading
questions are very easy than those which actually come in the real test.
- Some answer choices are
not made clear in the book.
- The questions in the book
are generally too easy which is a drawback of the book.
6. Up Your Score: ACT the underground guide
Up your score ACT test prep offers a fun way for ACT prep. It has been written by former test takers and makers. That’s one thing which gives an edge to this book. The book offers various test attempting strategies and practice questions. One more feature of this book is a special portion in it which guides the students on how to calm their nerves while attempting ACT.
- Humorous and fun way of
- Guidance about stress
management during the tests.
- Amazing techniques given
in each section which will help you in acing your ACT exam.
- The book is not
sufficient if you want to prepare you ACT exam thoroughly.
- Might act like a short
book for ACT exam techniques but not a thorough ACT test prep book itself.
7. Ivy Global ACT Guide
Ivy Global is also an old name when comes to ACT prep book’s publishers. The overall representation of the book is straightforward and attractive. The book covers three practice tests based on the difficulty of the original ACT test.
- The book is written in a
good and comprehensible manner.
- The overall
representation of the book makes it attractive.
- Three practice mock tests
for you to self-assess yourself before the original ACT test.
- The explanations of answers are given online which is not an ideal thing to do as the readers would then have to go to the website in order to check them.
- The practice questions given in the book are not enough.
8. Manhattan 5 lb: Book of ACT Practice Problems
This book is one the best ACT prep book if your aim is to have maximum practice. The book follows the same difficulty which the original ACT test follows. The answer explanations given in the book help you to learn new useful information about the topics.
- Best for ensuring that
you do maximum practice for the test.
- Difficulty level of the
questions is up to the point.
- The explanations of the
answers are really good.
- The quality of questions of the science portion is not up to the mark.
- The explanations of the answers are written in a way that don’t give you the idea that how you could be tricked with incorrect answers.
9. The real ACT prep guide
The real ACT prep guide is also one of the renowned books for the preparation of ACT. The book includes various test attempting strategies and insights from the original test makers of ACT. The book also comes with five full length mock test of ACT
- The book describes
various strategies to score high in writing portion.
- The book also includes
insights from the test maker of ACT
- Five Full length ACT
exams are very good for the thorough practice of the students.
- The book is less
comprehensive and lags in some areas.
- The book is not enough to
rely on it completely for ACT preparations.
Therefore, if you want to ensure your maximum preparation, you must study the right material in the right time. So, if you ask my opinion then according to my research, I would declare the Official ACT Prep Guide as the best ACT prep book 2020 for its comprehensiveness and thoroughness. However, if you have sufficient time for the prep then it’s always good to consult more than one book for better understanding.