If a person takes a quick look online, they might get the false impression that there is a huge variety of ACT prep books available, but on the second look, it becomes clear that just isn’t the case. The problem is that a lot of books tie in with tutoring services that add extra cost to the final product and make it hard for the student to get the prep materials they need. That’s why we’ve decided to find only the best ACT prep books and list them. Now no student has to do without the preparatory materials they need to score well on this crucial academic test.

Quick Summary of the Best ACT Prep Books

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Best Overall: The Complete Guide to ACT English

The section of the ACT that students frequently have problems with is the English section of the test. This isn’t surprising since English is a difficult language and the test focuses on two broad areas: Usage and Mechanics. The usage portion tests grammar, usage, sentence structure, and grammar.

The mechanic’s section test rhetorical skills such as optimization, understanding, and development of style, and writing strategies. Therefore, most students find it helpful to buy an ACT prep book that deals with these mechanics exclusively and isn’t shoved into a prep book section as an afterthought. This book is only focused on the English section of the ACT and nothing more, so students have everything they need to really master this section.

This book provides the student with the information they need to be able to raise their English score on the ACT by approximately 8 to 12-points if the student takes the time to put in the work. It contains a complete index of English questions taking from the ACT Prep Guide, and it pairs that with step-by-step explanations of the mechanics and usage of English.

Although this is certainly not going to be the only prep book that students will want to purchase to help them with their ACT because it’s limited to the English section, it is one of the few books that will help them boost their score during testing.

What we liked about it
  • Helps with the section students frequently have problems doing.
  • It’s easy to understand and use.

Best Science ACT: For The Love Of ACT Science

Another section of the ACT that stymies students is the Science section of the test. That’s not surprising considering that the test covers some of the hardest scientific disciplines, but fortunately, only a general knowledge of each field is needed. This section of the test includes questions on the Earth sciences, on biology, physics, chemistry and even the space sciences such as meteorology, astronomy, and geology. Since it’s such a broad spectrum of disciplines being tested, most students need to get a book that focuses exclusively on the science section of the test so they can further refine their skills.

This book is written and organized by Michael Cerro, a person who graduated with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Chemical Engineering from The Cooper Union For The Advancement of Science & Art. He’s also a teacher who has successfully tutored math and science students to great effect. And this book is a reflection of his dedication and the over four thousand private lessons that he’s conducted for students.

In this book, students will find all the information they need to do well on this section of the test. Although the practice questions don’t equal the difficulty found on the actual ACT, students will learn all about the scientific method including developing and analyzing a hypothesis, experimentation, data collection, numerical data analysis, and drawing conclusions.

What we liked about it
  • It’s a good start for students to focus on the areas they need to focus on in this section.

Best Practice Book: ACT Prep Black Book

The Black Book gives the user some of the best strategies available to use for the ACT. This book is designed to be used in conjunction with the ACT Red Book, which is the Official ACT Prep Guide for the same year of the Black Book that’s published. It’s important to note that both books must be of the same year, otherwise the questions and answers aren’t going to match up properly.
] If this book is used properly, however, it is one of the best books available for helping students to achieve the highest scores on their ACT. Not just high scores on specific sections of the test, but on the entire test. What can the student expect from this book? They can expect over six hundred detailed ACT question walkthroughs using questions from the Red Boos, that will help the student prepare for what’s going to be on the test.

Students will also find out simple formulas for creating a top-scoring essay, special grammatical rules that are tested by the English section of the test, why every ACT math question may be potentially answered in 30-seconds or less, and the unwritten rules that all ACT questions adhere. All things considered, it’s a high-quality testing aid that should help students raise their ACT scores significantly.

What we liked about it
  • When used properly, it’s a comprehensive study guide.

Also Recommended (Practice Book): The Official ACT Prep Guide

This book, also known as the ACT Red Book, is one of the most comprehensive guides available, especially when it’s used in conjunction with the ACT Black Book. This guide is designed to help students master all areas of the ACT and to significantly raise their test scores. This book is designed to give students all the information they need to properly handle the ACT, so there are no surprises when they begin testing. And this set comes with a practice test and bonus online content that help the student get more out of their studying experience. Many students have found that this book is capable of significantly improving their score on the test and help them realize their full potential.

What are some of the things that students can expect from this book? They can expect this book to cover the Math portion of the test that includes algebra, geometry, functions, number and quantity, modeling, and statistics and probability. It also covers the English section, which goes over rhetoric, grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation. Another section included in this book is a Science section that covers research, graphs, charts, and developing hypotheses. And finally, this book covers Reading and Writing. All of these sections provide a good overview of the ACT and will prepare the student for just about everything. Although the Kindle version of the book can be difficult to use, especially if the student needs to print practice sheets, the paperback version met all of our expectations.

What we liked about it
  • It is a comprehensive test aid.

Studying For The ACT

As can be seen from the variety of books that are available for ACT prep, students have a lot of materials available to them to help them achieve the best scores possible. However, it should be noted that even if the student has all of the above books, it doesn’t guarantee that they will achieve a perfect score on the ACT. No, the student still has to put in the work to ensure that they achieve the best results available.

Unfortunately, not everything about studying for the ACT is cut and dried. Each student is an individual, and therefore has unique needs that may affect the results they achieve on their test. That’s why we’ve decided to write this guide. It’s our sincere hope that students will be able to customize their personal study plan by taking note of the following points and coupling those points with the books that we listed above. This should ensure that every student is capable of achieving the best results for them.

Step One: Build A Personal Study Plan

The first step in preparing for the ACT is to develop a study plan, and we’re not talking about a cookie-cutter study plan taken off of the Internet. Only the student knows which academic areas are their strengths or their weaknesses, so they should make sure to take note of them. The student wants to ensure that they’re devoting the most time and effort to their weakest areas. However, that doesn’t mean that they should completely neglect the areas that they feel confident about. Once the student has done that, they next have to deal with the hardest part of the study plan creation and that’s creating a schedule that suits their needs. Since this is the most hectic time of the student’s academic career, they are going to want to be sure that they schedule the study time so they can work on their skills.

Step Two: Setup A Score Goal

The next thing that the student is going to want to consider is what score they are trying to achieve. Before taking the ACT, most students have an idea of the scores that they need to achieve to get admitted to the schools they want to get into. Students should look for the 25th and 75 percentile ACT scores for each of the schools they want to be admitted to. Those scores representative of the average range of scores for admitted applicants. Most students are going to want to go for a score that places them in the 75th percentile, which just means that the student has performed better than 75% of students that have been applied.

Step Three: Determine Current Baseline Score

The next thing the student is going to want to consider is where they’re currently testing. They can do this by determining their baseline score. The student can get a pretty good idea of their baseline score by taking one of the many ACT practice tests that are either recommended by ACT prep books, or one of the ones that can be found online. If the student is going to use one of the online testing sites, they will want to make sure that it’s a reputable site and they will also want to make sure that replicate the actual testing conditions they will find at the actual testing site. This means using only an ACT approved calculator during the test, abiding by a proper time limit, and avoiding all aids that the student might have at hand. The average of all of the four sections of the ACT (English, Reading, Science, And Math) will be the final ACT score and will be the student’s current baseline score.

Step Four: Gather The Materials Needed

Once the student has an understanding of their current skill level and which areas they need to approve on, they can now purchase the materials they need. Most students are going to want to purchase a general ACT prep book that covers everything, but other students might want to purchase additional books that cover Math, Science or the English portions of the test—depending on their need, of course. During this step, the student will also want to make sure they find out which calculators are approved for the ACT and purchase the one they like the best.

Step Five: Practice Makes Perfect

The last thing the student is going to want to do is to make sure that they put in the work of studying and practicing the material before them. At this point in the game, the student should have a study plan, a study schedule, know their strengths and weaknesses, and have all of the study material available to them. Now all they have to do is put in the work and they will be more likely to achieve a good score than someone who didn’t put in the work.