ACT Tutor Tips: Prep Materials for the ACT

Posted by Sujata Singhal on 1/10/13 11:19 AM

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If you have decided to take the ACT, read these pointers on the best test prep books and materials out there to aid your standardized test preparation.

Materials, Materials, Materials

The Real ACT Prep Guide

In the last five years tutoring ACT, the foundational book I use with every tutoring student is the The Real ACT Prep Guide.  Up until a year ago, it had three real ACT exams created by the same folks who create the ACT.  Now the newest version of The Real ACT Prep Guide has 5 ACT exams.  The first 3 are the same exams from earlier editions and the last two are new.  Taking these exams and understanding why you are getting questions wrong and right is essential.  I would say that this part of the process is where a tutor can come in handy.  For those students who need more help they can get more attention and for those who have just a couple of problem areas they can usually meet with a tutor for under five hours and improve greatly particularly if they are willing to do a lot of self study.

Prepping for the ACT Guide

Another source of practice tests come from the ACT website.  There is one complete free test (multiple choice sections + writing portion) in the Prepping for the ACT guide, which is available for download as a PDF at

Additional ACT Prep Guides

If you have worked through all of the above or you have been a long-time tutoring student and prepped out many of these test with an ACT tutor, then s/he might suggest some of the following:

  • Barron’s 6 ACT Practice Tests

This book is essentially what the title implies – 6 practice tests followed by short explanations for each of the questions.  While overall this is a great and useful additional source of practice, there are at times mistakes and questions that do not do a good job simulating real ACT questions.  Nevertheless, I use this book with students who are going for bigger score increases and have been tutoring for a longer time and wish to give the test their all.

  • Barron’s ACT 36

This book is great for those students who do not need to review all of the basics tested on the ACT but need those skills and content knowledge that will help them get harder questions on any of the four multiple choice sections on the test.

  • Cracking the ACT, 12th Edition

I recommend this book when a student gets an initial diagnostic score of 25 and under.  It basically reviews every section providing most of the basics and content knowledge needed to answer the questions on the exam.  This book also contains two practice exams.

Remember to start preparing for the ACT as early as possible. Grab one of these books and hire an ACT tutor for some guidance on the process. 

Tags: ACT