5 Tips for Choosing the Best ACT Prep Materials

Jul 27, 2020

Most students looking to attend college in the United States know how important the ACT is. Just to give you an idea, the ACT is a standardized test that colleges use for admissions. It stands for American College Testing and is administered by a nonprofit organization also called the ACT. It is a standardized exam that covers English, Math, Reading Comprehension, and Science. Occasionally, it does include a writing test that you can opt to take.

More than 200 universities in the US use the ACT, which is why it could be the most important exam in the life of any student applying for college. The big question here is how to prepare for it? It is very important to have all of the necessary study materials. Study materials for college preparation can be quite expensive. So which ones do you buy?

We have 5 tips that can help you pick the best ones.

Don’t Buy Just One Book

First and foremost, don’t just stick to one review book. You see, all of the review books that you can find in the market have their own set of limitations. They also have strengths that you can utilize. That’s why you may miss out if you don’t buy multiple books.

You need to make sure that you buy the essentials and a couple of supplementary books that can help address the weaknesses of the main books you buy. If you can give more time for preparation, consider using a top rated prep course.

Buy the “Red Book”

The first thing that you have to do is buy the “Red Book”. What is this Red Book all about? It is the review book that was created by ACT itself. This means that the questions in the book are all questions that have been used in tests before. For this reason, it has some of the best questions you can find. It even comes with an online code that allows you to access more sample questions.

However, do take note that the answer key is not as specific as you have hoped. In fact, it doesn’t explain why or how to arrive at a certain answer. You’ll have to figure that out on your own.

But if you want something that can give you a good idea of the actual questions on the real test, then this is the book to buy.

Look for Sources that Have Specific Explanations to Answers

Though the Red Book is a great start, it’s important to buy a book that can cover its limitations. In other words, you need to look for a source that allows you access to answers with explanations about how to arrive at the answers. One source that does a really good job at explaining the answers is none other than the Princeton Review book named Cracking the Act. This is a great book to have if you’re after detailed questions and answers.

The only limit here is that the English questions aren’t as comprehensive. But you can really count on the Math and Science questions to be very detailed. If you want to focus on your Math and Science questions, then you may want to check out this book.

Look for a Book That Challenges your Skill

If you think that the previous two books are a little bit too easy, then maybe you should try getting a more challenging book. While an easy book may seem adequate at first glance and help boost your confidence, there might be a chance that the test is harder than what you find in your review book. So you should try to find a more challenging book that really pushes your abilities. There are a lot of book sites that have various review books. Barron’s and Manhattan Prep some good brands that offer multiple book resources.

Try Getting the “Black Book”

The thing about the “Red Book” is that it is not updated. If you want something that is a little more current, then maybe you should try getting the “Black Book”. The Act Prep “Black Book” was written by brothers Mike and Patrick Barrett. This one is a great book because it doesn’t follow the traditional format of the usual test book.

The Barrett brothers formatted the book in such a way that the strategies used are more practical and updated. It is really more of an application type of book, which can be useful for a lot of people.

However, you need to make sure that you use it along with the “Red Book” or another book for foundational practice.


If you use our guide, you’re sure to secure a number of really good resources that can allow you to be totally prepared for the ACT. If you want to ace the ACT, then you need to have all the ammunition that you can get. This guide will help you source the ammunition.

That way, you can study well and be more confident about the performance of your scores.

We hope this guide has been a big help to you. Good luck on your exams!

Article Posted in: Exam Preparation

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