The 14 Best ACT Prep Books Ever Written

Trying to find the best ACT prep books isn’t easy. And as a professional ACT prep tutor, I’ve read so many ACT prep books your head would spin.

This list of the top 14 best ACT prep books was written for high school students, parents, and other ACT tutors.

Whether you’re just starting out on your ACT prep journey, or have already finished the whole Official ACT Prep Guide, this list is for you. I promise, you’ll find a book that you can use for higher ACT scores.

I’ve provided a “quick list” of the best ACT prep books, with links to more detailed descriptions of each book below. You can easily order any of these books through the Amazon links.

Disclaimer: We receive a small commission for your Amazon purchase. This has not influenced our choice of books.

Quick-List of the Best ACT Prep Books

Here’s a quick list of the 14 best ACT prep books in this article, for your reference.

I put these books into careful order – so start at the top, and work downwards.

Click any book name to instantly see a more detailed description!

Official ACT Prep Books

These books are official materials released by the makers of the ACT Test.

High School Time Management Tactics

This book shows teens how to get everything done - from ACT prep and school classes, to sports and leadership positions.

The Best Comprehensive ACT Prep Books

These massive textbooks cover comprehensive strategies and significant practice for all sections of the ACT test.

The Best Subject-Targeted ACT Prep Books

These expert-author ACT prep books offer specialized strategies and practice for specific sub-sections of the ACT test.

Now, time for more details about these great ACT prep books. Here we go…

The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2018 EditionThe Official ACT Prep Guide

When it comes to the best ACT prep books, there’s really only one place to start. That’s with the current year’s edition of The Official ACT Prep Guide, the only book produced by the actual creators of the ACT Test.

The authenticity and realism of this ACT book is second-to-none. This book is the absolute best for realistic practice that teaches the exact ins-and-outs of the official ACT test.

However, there are several flaws that keep this book from perfection, and the biggest negative is that the book simply does not have enough practice tests in it.

There are only three (3!) practice ACTs in this whole book! For comparison, the current edition of The Official SAT Study Guide contains eight (8!) practice SATs. Most ACT Prep tutors would prefer a book with 5 or more practice tests - and 10 tests would be even better.

The Official ACT Prep Guide is also filled with “fluff” chapters. I’ve never met a student or ACT tutor who really used the first half of this book for anything. Instead, everyone focuses on the three practice tests at the end.

It would be so nice if the official ACT prep book had more than just three practice tests, but unfortunately it just does not. Luckily, the other great ACT prep books on this list are here to pick up the slack!

Keep reading to learn how diligent students can make up for the lack of practice tests in The Official ACT Prep Guide

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The Real ACT Prep Guide, 3rd Ed.The Real ACT Prep Guide, 3rd Edition

It might seem surprising that I’m recommending an “out-of-date” edition of the official ACT prep materials released by the makers of the test. And believe me, I wouldn’t recommend it unless I had to.

The problem is, the current edition of The Official ACT Prep Guide is sorely lacking in practice tests. There’s simply not enough practice material with only three full ACT tests contained in the book.

So, the next-best option is to return to the older edition of the book and use The Real ACT Prep Guide for extra practice tests.

You’ll probably have to buy an older or used copy of the book - new copies of this edition are no longer being printed. But, for elite ACT prep students, you want to get your hands on every possible practice test.

Despite being ever-so-slightly out-of-date, the practice ACT tests contained in The Real ACT Prep Guide are still very useful. We recommend picking up a copy if you’re getting close to the end of your current edition of The Official ACT Prep Guide.

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Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students

Ultimate Time Management for Teens and StudentsBefore we get into the main part of this book list, one question that might occur to you is “even if I know the best ACT prep books, how will I ever find the darn time to finish them?”

Good question. In fact, I wrote a whole book - Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students – to help teenagers navigate the insanely busy years of being a high school student.

This book covers time-management tactics for ACT and SAT prep. It also teaches advanced tactics for high school homework and testing, sports & leadership positions, and college & scholarship applications.

Disclaimer - I’m the author of this book. That means I’ll get a percentage of the profits if you order it. You can also get it as an online course here (complete with quizzes and video lessons!)

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Cracking the ACT

Cracking the ACT, 2017 ed. by Princeton ReviewThe Princeton Review has been a top name in test prep materials for years. Although no “unofficial” ACT practice materials can be as authentic as the official test, you can still count on the Princeton Review to deliver dependable ACT practice problems.

Cracking the ACT is no exception; it may not be the most challenging ACT prep book ever written, but it’s certainly one of the most realistic and complete.

There’s an abundance of ACT practice problems in this book; the text contains four full-length practice ACT tests, with two more tests available online.

Students praise this book for the basic and intermediate practice it offer, so don’t buy this ACT prep book expecting it to get you to a perfect score of 36. It’s best for students with ACT scores currently between 15-30.

But, that means most high school students can benefit from this book. If you’ve completely finished The Official ACT Prep Guide and are hungry for more practice problems, this would be an excellent choice.

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Ivy Global’s ACT Guide

Ivy Global ACT Guide, Edition 1.0Ivy Global may not be as well-known as Kaplan Test Prep or The Princeton Review. But, that hasn’t stopped them from producing a fantastic and complete guide to the ACT test.

The Ivy Global ACT Guide is more well-rounded than most ACT prep books; every section, from English to Science, inspires a sense of confidence and realistic ACT-style practice.

It’s also well-organized: there’s a nice blend of A) specific lessons organized by topic and B) realistic, ACT-style practice tests with all topics intermingled.

This may actually be the “sleeper hit” of ACT prep books in 2017. It’s a bit pricey compared to some of the competition, but the overall quality makes the Ivy Global ACT Guide a worthy recommendation for students and ACT tutors.

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ACT Prep Black Book

ACT Prep Black BookThe ACT Prep Black Book by Mike Barrett is one of the most popular and highest-rated ACT prep books on Amazon.com.

Why so popular? Well, that’s partially because of how much experience the author has at teaching ACT prep. Mike Barrett is a well-known professional ACT tutor and he’s put all his tactics and strategies into this book.

Students and readers praise the strategy and tactics; in addition to concepts, this book focuses on universal techniques that can be used to “crack” the ACT.

Note well: The ACT Prep Black Book requires you to have your own copy of The Official ACT Prep Guide as well. Make sure you order a copy of both books!

Most of the Black Book is focused on explanations and tactics for the questions in The Official ACT Prep Guide, which is why both books are required.

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Barron’s ACT

Barron's ACT, 2nd EditionWhen it comes to ACT prep, Kaplan and The Princeton Review may be slightly more famous, but Barron’s has been a leader in the test prep field for decades.

And their premier ACT prep book doesn’t disappoint: Barron’s ACT is a solid all-around book for ACT prep and practice.

The author, Brian Stewart, is clearly a talented ACT prep tutor. Readers and students praise the realistic and challenging practice problems, especially for the ACT Math section.

There’s nothing mind-blowing about this book; it’s just a good source of realistic ACT practice problems. Make sure you finish The Official ACT Prep Guide before you move on to this book for supplemental practice.

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Barron’s ACT Flash Cards: 410 Flash Cards to Help You Achieve a Higher Score

Barron's ACT FlashcardsUnlike most books on this list, Barron’s ACT Flash Cards aren’t actually a book. No, this is a pre-made collection of flashcards covering key ACT test concepts in Math, English, Science, and Reading.

Use these cards to drill basic ACT test concepts in a rapid-fire, flashcard-style approach. These are excellent for reviewing key points from what you’ve already learned. They also make a great memory-enhancer for tricky formulas or rules.

Now, keep in mind these ACT flashcards are very good for English and Math, but not so much for Science or Reading. That’s because English and Math are more “rule-based,” and it’s easier to make flashcards for them.

Science and Reading are more “concept-based,” so the flashcards in this collection aren’t quite as good. Still, this box of ACT flashcards makes a useful supplement to your ACT prep library.

Overall, I think it’s even better if you make your own ACT flashcards by hand. But, if you’re simply too lazy to do it yourself, this set of cards can’t hurt.

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The Complete Guide to ACT English

The Complete Guide to ACT English, by Erica MeltzerHere at Love the SAT Test Prep, we’ve been fans of Erica Meltzer’s books since day one. She’s a master of the Verbal sections on both ACT and SAT tests, and her textbooks are of the highest quality.

The Complete Guide to ACT English is a comprehensive review of every Grammar and Language concept on the ACT English test. This book also includes thorough and complete practice-problem sets.

Of equal importance to the quantity of material is the quality of the practice. Meltzer’s practice problems and explanations are extremely consistent with the actual ACT test.

This book is an invaluable resource for any ACT Prep student who wants a higher English score. Read our in-depth review here, but make sure you get the updated 2nd Edition of the book when you order.

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The Complete Guide to ACT Reading

The Complete Guide to ACT Reading, by Erica MeltzerIn addition to the wonderful ACT English guide mentioned above, Erica Meltzer has also produced The Complete Guide to ACT Reading.

Again her verbal-tutoring skills shine forth as she covers the ACT Reading section. She is truly a master of teaching and explaining the verbal sections of standardized tests.

As always, Ms. Meltzer understands that there’s more to a great ACT score than strategies alone. For example, high-quality practice sets with clear explanations are key to improving your ACT scores. The practice questions and reading passages in this book all meet a high standard of realism and authentic ACT flavor.

Use this book to understand the x-ray vision of how a perfect-scoring ACT tutor sees the Reading section. Then practice your strategies and mindset until you’ve got a perfect ACT Reading score.

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The Guide to ACT Math: Skip the Prep Courses

Some ACT Prep books are just textbooks - dry and dusty, and stuck in the 19th century.

The Guide to ACT Math: Skip the Prep CoursesLuckily, The Guide to ACT Math is here to change that. With over 90 video tutorials, this book is a full-on multimedia experience!

This is a great choice for students who know they need to buckle down and focus on the ACT Math section. In fact, it’s almost as good as having a private math tutor (and it’s definitely more helpful that some ACT prep courses out there).

By focusing on just one subject (the ACT Math section), author Jacob Brezinski is able to dive deep into Algebra, Geometry, and more unusual math content that kids need to know.

To top it off, it’s all backed up by an author with a great personality and tons of ACT prep tutoring experience. If you need higher ACT Math scores, you won’t regret ordering this guide!

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Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT

Ultimate Guide to the Math ACTSince ACT Math is a common trouble area for many of my students, I picked out two of my favorite ACT Math prep books.

The second of those two is Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT, by Richard Corn. This book is a comprehensive guide to every topic on the ACT Math test, from basic Algebra to advanced Trigonometry.

It can be tough to improve your ACT Math score without a tutor - math doesn’t always explain itself well in written form. That’s why the quality of math textbooks can vary so widely.

Luckily, this book is the perfect blend of content lessons and ACT-style math practice, and highly recommended for all students who want higher ACT Math scores. Don’t forget to watch out for careless mistakes!

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For the Love of ACT Science

For the Love of ACT ScienceSpecialized materials for the ACT Science section are rare and usually not very good. For the Love of ACT Science, by Michael Cerro, is a welcome exception.

The author is a talented scientist and teacher with an easy-going style that works for students at almost every level. And, the books reviews suggest that other students have found this ACT Science book incredibly useful.

The ACT Science section is one of the most intimidating sections of either the ACT or the SAT test - but only at first glance. It doesn’t have to be hard. With smart strategies and diligent practice, the ACT Science section is actually fun and easy.

This book is highly recommended for any student who wants a higher score (or greater confidence) on the ACT Science section.

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Mighty Oak Guide to Mastering the 2016 ACT Essay

Not everyone is aware of this, but the ACT Essay (or “Writing section,” if you prefer) went through some major changes in the past couple of years.

Mighty Oak Guide to Mastering the New 2016 ACT EssayEven The Official ACT Prep Guide still has the “old-style” ACT Essay prompts, which is both sad and hilarious if you stop to think about it.

What to do? Never fear. The Mighty Oak Guide to Mastering the 2016 ACT Essay is here to take you by the hand and walk you through the new ACT Essay prompt format.

You’ll quickly realize that the Essay is actually pretty easy, as long as you understand what you’re supposed to do. Then, use this book to practice and refine your essay technique so you can write quickly on test day.

If you’re still stressing about the ACT Essay, please don’t. Either read our articles or get the Mighty Oak guide - or better yet, do both!

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The Best ACT Prep Books: Conclusions & Review

Here’s the truth: there are more ACT prep books out there than you can shake a stick at. But, this list is the best of the best. They have all been hand-selected by a perfect-scoring ACT tutor with hundreds of successful students.

Remember, you should always start with current official ACT Prep Book. Right now, that’s The Official ACT Prep Guide.

Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses, get specialized ACT prep books to target your weak spots. Also, read our key articles on ACT English, Math, Reading, Science, and the Essay - plus this article on how to get a higher ACT score.

After you’ve worked out your weak spots, get new copies and do the official ACT prep books again. With your new knowledge, you will see the practice tests with fresh eyes.

Beyond that, if you need extra practice -  use the comprehensive ACT prep books on this list.

Last but not least, a human touch can work wonders. Get an ACT prep tutor to help you with the parts you can’t figure out.

 

Prefer Not to Learn from a Book? Contact Us for Personalized ACT Prep!

It’s great to study from the best ACT prep books, but not every high school student can sit down with a stack of textbooks and be self-motivated (or find time) to finish them.

If you want a higher ACT score, but don’t think you have the willpower (or time) to blast through all these workbooks, then we can help.

At Love the SAT Test Prep, we focus on getting higher ACT and SAT scores for teens and high school students so they can get into their favorite colleges and win more scholarship money.

Contact us today for a FREE personalized consultation for your ACT and SAT Prep. We can help you plan for 1-on-1 ACT Tutoring, practice testing, or small-group ACT Prep Classes.

Before you go, be sure to join our ACT Prep email list! And, don’t forget to leave a comment or question below the article. Talk again soon!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our similar list on the 17 best SAT prep books ever written!

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