When students start preparing for the ACT, they often ask what the best ACT test prep book for them is. After all, where better to start than familiarizing yourself with the test and reviewing practice questions?
However, the prep book market has flooded bookstores with options. Since there isn’t enough time or money to buy them all, it’s important to consider your progress and goals before picking a test prep book.
Identify Your Progress and Goals
The first thing to consider is if you are looking for a guide to the full test or focusing on a specific subject.
Typically, starting with a comprehensive guide will be the best way to begin your studies. These guides provide students with a helpful overview and allow you to start identifying which subjects require more of your attention.
A subject-specific guide could help take your score to the next level as you progress in your studies.
Additionally, different ACT books can be helpful depending on a student’s goals. For instance, if a student is aiming for top scores, the best book would be different from a student to achieve a score within the ’20s.
The Best ACT Test Prep Book for Getting Started
The official test makers created “The Official ACT Prep Guide.” Often referred to as the “red book,” a new edition is released each year, and the book provides students with six full-length ACT practice tests. Each book also comes with a code that grants students access to online practice resources.
The second book, “The ACT Prep Black Book,” teaches students how the test works. It helps students identify test patterns and break down questions to simplify the test. The test-taking strategies within this book are a valuable tool to avoid confusion and save time.
The Best Subject-Specific ACT Test Prep Books
Once a student feels comfortable with the test format, they will likely identify subjects that are more challenging than others. In these instances, purchasing an additional book specializing in the more difficult topics can help students improve their overall score.
English: If a student struggles with the English section of the ACT, “The Complete Guide to ACT English” will prove a useful resource. It reviews the different types of questions within the section and the most common grammar rules that a student needs to answer the questions correctly.
Reading: The reading section is commonly one of the most dreaded sections for students due to the test’s time constraints. If this is true for you, then “The Complete Guide to ACT Reading” might be the answer for you. This book focuses on time-saving tips and strategies for quickly identifying the most important information within the passage.
Math: “The Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT” is ideal for students struggling to raise their scores within the math section. The author divided the book into sections according to the different topics the math section covers. It provides students with tips to finish questions quickly, ways to maximize the use of their TI-84 calculator, and high-level strategies for more advanced test-takers.
Science: The science section seems to challenge the most students each year. Its combination of reading passages and scientific language tends to trip up many students. “The PrepScholar Guide to ACT Science” prepares students for the challenge. It shares the common “tricks” the test-makers use within the section and covers each of the skills and question types found within a typical test.
The Best Prep Books for Getting The Score You Want
Whether you are looking to raise a 21 to a 26 or achieve a perfect 36 on the ACT, a few additional resources might be helpful to you.
For those simply looking to boost their score by a few points, The Princeton Review’s “ACT Premium Prep” will be helpful when paired with the books we recommended for getting started. It provides eight full-length practice tests, practical test-taking strategies, and a breakdown of the most common concepts reviewed on the test.
For those who have set their sights on the elusive perfect score, Barron’s “ACT 36: Aiming for the Perfect Score” is an excellent resource. It focuses on the more complex and advanced portions of the ACT. Students should use this book in combination with a more standard guide. It does not cover the most basic information and common test mistakes students should avoid.
Take Your ACT Test Prep One Step Further
If you feel like you’ve done all that you can with test prep books or you struggle using self-teaching tools, an ACT tutor may be able to help. The Learning Team offers several services for students preparing for the ACT, including timed-practice tests, workshops, and individual tutoring sessions.
No matter your skill level or goals, an ACT tutor can create a plan that helps you achieve the score you desire. Get in touch with The Learning Team to learn more about our stress-free, personal approach to ACT tutoring.