Best ACT Prep Books – 10 Choices To Help You Ace Your Test

by | Jul 4, 2020

For anyone looking to get accepted to a college in the US, the ACT is likely to be a required part of the application. In fact, the average annual number of test-takers who complete the ACT each year is 1.9 million. This standardized test was designed to assess four academic skill areas: science reasoning, English, mathematics, and reading. In addition, this test offers an optional writing test that can help you show colleges your written communication skills.

Because this test covers a wide range of subjects, it’s crucial to study a wide range of topics. Typically, a score of 25 puts you in the 75th percentile, meaning you scored above average. That said, many high-level universities require at least a 30 to stay competitive in the application pool. 

According to Prep Scholar, studying for two hours each week from two months before test day is likely to get you near your target score. All in all, most experts suggest only about 26 hours of study time for the ACT, making it possible to study for just one hour a week if you start six months ahead of time. 

While you could always take an ACT prep course to prepare for the test, it’s also recommended to buy at least two reputable study books. That way, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with the format of the test, identify your weaknesses and tackle them, and get inside the heads of the test-makers. Let’s take a look at the best ACT prep books in this guide.

Best ACT Prep Books

To get your target score on the ACT you’ll need to do a lot of studying and learning. That is where a solid ACT prep book can come into play. Below are the top 10 ACT prep books to help you hit your goal! 

1. ACT Prep Black Book by Mike Barrett 

ACT Prep Black Book by Mike Barrett

In this best-selling ACT prep book, you’ll find some of the most effective ACT prep strategies ever published. In this fully up-to-date edition, Mike Barrett provides you unique, practical strategies to study for each section of the test. In addition to extensive training on every aspect of the ACT, this book gives you easy-to-follow walkthroughs for each question and answer.

Known as a must-have in your ACT preparation materials, this book will allow you to either score a perfect 36 to get into that Ivy, or aim higher to get a sports scholarship. You’ll learn how the test is structured, how test-makers try to trick you, and which new material is being added to the test. 

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2. ACT Prep 2020 and 2021 by Test Prep Books

ACT Prep 2020 and 2021 by Test Prep Books

In this comprehensive study guide and practice test book, you’ll find test-taking strategies, a mock version of each ACT section, detailed answer explanations, and practice questions at the end. By learning more about the content that will appear on the test, you’ll have less anxiety on test day and feel more confident tackling the tough questions.

Their practice questions are as close as you can get from the ones on the ACT, making this practice feel as close as possible to the real testing experience. If you’re looking for one test prep book that includes practice questions, answer explanations, test-taking strategies, and free online customer service, this ACT prep book is for you!

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3. The Official ACT Prep Guide 2020 – 2021 by ACT

The Official ACT Prep Guide 2020 - 2021 by ACT

The Official ACT Prep Guide is the only guide from the ACT organization made by the test-makers themselves. This offers five real ACTs, the optional writing exam, online practice, and helpful advice for test day. With this, you’ll learn how to boost your score in all five of the test sections.

This book makes it extra easy to target your weaknesses and go at your own pace to improve your score in the areas that need improvement. As a bonus, this book includes enhancements that have been added to the most recent version of the test.

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4. Princeton Review ACT Premium Prep by The Princeton Review

Princeton Review ACT Premium Prep by The Princeton Review

In this best-selling ACT prep book, you’ll find eight practice tests, comprehensive content review, and helpful test-taking strategies. This is the perfect all-in-one solution for your highest possible score, offering powerful techniques that have been proven to work. The Princeton Review will help you pace yourself and make logical guesses throughout the test.

To maximize effectiveness, this book also reviews the skills you’ll need to cultivate to score high on each section, and explains why they matter. You’ll also get access to The Princeton Review’s online student tools to help you create a customized study plan, pick a fitting university, and access college rankings to assess your preparedness.

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5. ACT Premium Study Guide by Barron’s Test Prep

ACT Premium Study Guide by Barron's Test Prep

In this ACT study book, you’ll find six full-length practice tests, extra online practice, and the chance to create a customizable study plan. Consisting of expert and teacher advice, you’ll have reliable tools to prepare for test day. With step-by-step review and realistic practice tests, you’ll be more prepared for the exam than ever.

On top of helpful advice, you’ll also find study plan recommendations, full-length diagnostic tests, advice on managing test anxiety, and more. 

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6. ACT Prep Plus 2020 by Kaplan Test Prep 

ACT Prep Plus 2020 by Kaplan Test Prep

With this up-to-date prep book, you’ll have exclusive access to five practice tests, proven test-taking strategies, and extra online guidance. Kaplan Test Prep guarantees a higher score by using this book as part of your preparation routine for the ACT. Whether you’re looking to improve your score by 5 points or get it perfect, this book will help you get closer to your goal. 

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7. For the Love of ACT Science by Michael Cerro

For the Love of ACT Science by Michael Cerro

For the Love of ACT Science offers an innovative approach to mastering the science section of the test. In this interesting and easy-to-follow book, test-prep guru Michael Cerro will walk you through the fundamentals of the scientific method and how to use your new knowledge to approach the science section of the test.

As a former chemical engineer and expert tutor, Cerro is the perfect author to guide readers by tackling ACT’s scientific questions. With customized sample questions that feel just like the test and simple explanations for each answer, you’ll run through the science section in a breeze. 

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8. The Comprehensive Guide to ACT Prep by Marks Prep

The Comprehensive Guide to ACT Prep by Marks Prep

This is the prep guide for you if you’re looking to score in the top 1% of test-takers. Written by tutors who have scored in the top 1%, you’ll find test-taking strategies, problem sets for each section, and solved examples to show you where you went wrong. 

Now paired with video answer explanations for the most challenging problems, this book is guaranteed to help you remain confident and score higher on the ACT.

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9. The Complete Guide to ACT English by Erica Meltzer 

The Complete Guide to ACT English by Erica Meltzer

The Complete Guide to ACT English is the only book that offers a comprehensive review of the English section on the ACT. With her extensive explanations, you’ll be exposed to test errors in every form, allowing you to prevent all kinds of potential future mistakes. Not only will you be able to understand the rules of the test but also apply them so that you can score higher.

Rather than going through a single passage, Meltzer explains a wide variety of example sections that could be seen in the English part of the exam. With over 350 detailed explanations of reading passages, you’ll understand the English part of the ACT more than ever. More importantly, you’ll be prepared to master the test.

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10. 5 lb. Book of ACT Practice Problems by Manhattan Prep

5 lb. Book of ACT Practice Problems by Manhattan Prep

Best Reviews called this “the best of the best†concerning ACT prep books. Packed with over 1,800 practice problems from every section of the exam, this book will expose you to all topics you’ll need to know. Developed by experienced tutors and instructors, this book will help you hone in on your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths.

Mirroring the ACT in content, structure, and rhetoric, this will ultimately help prepare you for test day more than ever. 

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Want To Add An ACT Prep Course To Your Studying?

An ACT prep book can definitely be extremely beneficial, but what if you want to take your studying up a notch and add on an ACT prep course as well? Just to make sure you get all the knowledge you really need. Out of all the ACT prep courses we’ve seen, our top choice is Magoosh ACT Prep.

Magoosh ACT Prep

If you want to really make sure you’re learning everything you need for the ACT, Magoosh ACT Prep is the way to go. In the Magoosh ACT Prep course you’ll receive over 1,300 practice questions, video explanations, practice tests, more than 250 video lessons, and more. This course also allows you to set a weekly schedule, set up SMS reminders, and track your progress.

Also, Magoosh ACT Prep guarantees that, if you’ve taken the ACT before, you’ll improve your score or they’ll give you a refund. Adding a prep course in addition to your prep books can provide a great benefit for your studying and Magoosh ACT Prep is there to help.

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Studying For Your ACT

To determine if you’re ready for the ACT, taking practice tests that come with the books above will allow you to assess your preparedness. Not only will you be exposed to practice tests just like the exam, but you’ll also have access to expert advice and test-taking strategies. With your combined resources of practice tests, review books, and online advice, you’ll be more equipped than ever to score in the ACT’s upper range.

Andrew Green

Andrew is a successful entrepreneur and lifelong learner. Throughout his career, he has watched hundreds of online courses that have allowed him to achieve success in highly competitive fields such as online marketing, investing, and sales. Andrew is committed to expanding his knowledge and expertise and he reviews the premium courses he watches on his online blog.
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