10 Best ACT Prep Books

Ginger Abbot

Jul 19, 2022
ACT cover

We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.

Junior year can be an exciting and stressful time for high school students. Preparing for the ACT can seem a little overwhelming. However, practice can help calm your nerves. Here are ten of the best ACT prep books to buy. 

1. The Official ACT Prep Guide 

This is one of the best ACT prep books because it was made by the people who administer the test. So, you will be familiar with the questions and format. The book includes six full-length exams and an optional writing test. The resource also has online practice, helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses. 

The one downside is that the book provides limited test-taking strategies. Consider supplementing it with other books that review correct answers more in-depth. 

2. Barron’s ACT Premium Study Guide

If you want a mix of content, strategies, and practice questions, then this is the book for you. It starts with an introduction to the ACT and a study plan. The plan is customizable and focused on your goals. It covers testing strategies and examination mindsets. 

You must have a clear head before taking the ACT. Try meditating before the test to help you relax. The book also provides a diagnostic tool to measure your initial level. You can use the measurement as a guide when making future improvements. 

The resource also reviews each section through test-taking techniques, concepts, and practice questions. Although, some of the questions may be more difficult than the actual exam. Also, the book is very comprehensive, which may seem intimidating at first. 

3. Princeton Review ACT Premium Prep

The book covers content review, strategies, and practice questions in-depth. It offers eight practice tests, with four being online. So, there are plenty of opportunities to improve your score. The book also suggests thought processes for the exam, such as what order to answer the questions. 

What makes it one best ACT prep books is it provides drills and example questions for each section. You can acess video tutorials and extensive study plans as well. This resource can also be slightly less engaging since it is more comprehensive. 

4. ACT Black Book 

Unlike other ACT prep books, this resource focuses on teaching you how the test works. The author, Mike Barrett, believes you can score well by thinking about the questions. If you recognize the response patterns, you can avoid the common pitfalls. 

Many students miss a question due to distracting answers. For example, a reading section may pull incorrect answers directly from the passage. Be sure to go back and check the story before answering.

The one con to this book is there are no practice questions. You will need to purchase the Official ACT Prep Guide to see the question being referred to. Also, it’s a good idea to supplement it with online practice exams.  

5. Up Your Score: ACT, The Underground Guide 

This resource takes a more light-hearted approach to the ACT. It breaks down the format and concepts in a humorous way. Another reason it’s one of the best ACT prep books is because it discusses the stress of exam day. The book offers strategies to calm your nerves, like exercising. 

Since the book is less in-depth, consider pairing it with other prep resources. Also, the book may not be the most updated compared to others.

6. Kaplan ACT Prep Plus, 2021

Kaplan’s ACT prep book offers a variety of practice tests, both printed and online. The study guide breaks down each question and explains scoring formulas. This prevents you from making careless mistakes that lower your score. 

Upon purchasing the book, you will receive access to video lessons. Although, the reading and English sections may be easier than the actual exam. 

7. Mcgraw-Hill Education 10 ACT Practice Tests

The book gives students practice tests, scoring worksheets, and additional content. The study guide also thoroughly covers the exam structure. 

The ACT is broken up into the following sections:

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Writing

You have a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete the exam. The time allocation varies for each section. The book also explains how to maximize efficiency and control anxiety. Although some of the areas, such as science, are shorter than others. 

8. Manhattan Prep’s 5 lb. Book of ACT Practice Problems

The comprehensive source covers a wide variety of practice questions. It also provides a diagnostic tool to help you improve on your weaker areas. Understanding your mistakes is key to acing the ACT. 

You also have access to online content, such as vocabulary assistance. The one downside of the book is it doesn’t fully address wrong answers. So, you don’t have much insight into how specific questions may try to trick you. 

9. Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT

This is one of the best ACT prep books for acing the math section. It provides customized training, lessons, and homework problems. The book even includes calculator tips to save you time on the test. If math is an area you struggle with, use this resource with other traditional prep books. Although, the explanations for the problems are less thorough. 

10. Ivy Global ACT Guide

Ivy Global style is minimal and straightforward, making it easier to comprehend. The reference provides a section-specific review and plenty of questions and examples. The one thing to keep in mind is full explanations are only available on the site.  

The Best ACT Prep Books You Should Buy 

Getting ready to take the ACT can feel nerve-wracking. Just remember there are plenty of resources available. Consider adding some of these best ACT prep books to your next study session. 

Written By