10 best ACT books recommended for ACT prep

By Haripriya Sivasubramaniam• Last updated: Oct 20, 2023
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ACT is a standardised eligibility test conducted by a non-profit organisation of the same name. The test is considered an eligibility factor for undergrad admissions in top colleges and institutes in the USA.

Generally, the ACT consists of 4 academic sections:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Scientific reasoning

The test duration of the test is 3 hrs and 55 minutes, and you can take the exam in any one of the two offered modes: paper-based and computer-based. This widely-recognized test acts as an eligibility card for all 4-year programs offered in the USA. Additionally over 225 universities outside the USA also recognise it.

So, to take your first step towards enrolling in your dream university, prepping and acing the test should be on your checklist.

So, we have curated a list of the top 10 ACT prep books that will definitely help you!

In this article

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Top 10 ACT prep books

But BEFORE PROCEEDING FURTHER, here’s a note: I’m not suggesting a specific book to pursue your preparations as one’s study methods may vary. So you can refer to a “combination of books and guides” and not stick to a single book.

Now let us look at the books and guides you can refer to!

The official ACT prep guide: 2021-2022 by ACT inc.

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon

The Official ACT Prep Guide is one of the top and most preferred ACT Prep books. This all-in-one test guide consists of 6 full-length practice tests with in-depth and crystal clear explanations for each concept and the key answers. The book also acts as an advisor for all the major content areas and question types.

Online ACT practice exams provided by the publishers offer an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses in each subject area with 400 digital flashcards to help you with your preparations.

The Princeton Review’s ACT premium prep, 2021

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon
Team Princeton Review$32.99

This ACT guide by the Staff of Princeton Review consists of 8 full-length practice tests- 4 computer-based and 4 paper-based. The answer key for each test has easy-to-understand and in-depth descriptions of each concept that acts as an excellent tool for self-study applicants.

Added to these, the book has video tutorial content and content review for each section. The comprehensive study plan in this guide identifies the five subjects' essential skills too!

ACT Prep Black Book, 2nd Edition

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon
Mike Barrett and Pattrick Barrett$27.37

The ACT Prep Black Book is an excellent accompaniment to the “Official ACT Prep Guide”. It acts as an instruction manual to the ACT guide and has instructions to all the practice questions across the three publicly available official ACT practice tests.

This book also gives tricks and tips on preparing for the exam and time scheduling for each section of the exam to maximise your test scores

Kaplan’s ACT Prep Plus 2022

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon
Kaplan Test Prep$29.49

The Kaplan’s ACT Guide is one of the best ACT prep books from one of the most acknowledged test prep publishers, Kaplan. The book consists of 1 paper-based and 4-computer based full-length practice tests with elaborative explanation sections for each question and answer.

You’ll also get video lessons along with this book with a year-long membership with Kaplan’s online test centre.

Barron’s ACT study guide premium

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The Barron’s ACT Study Premium Guide is another fantastic book for your ACT preparations. It consists of 5 full-length practice questions and one diagnostic test to help prepare by analysing your strengths and weaknesses. There are tricks and tips sections to help you improve your skills for the exam.

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McGraw Hill Education’s “10 ACT Practice Tests, 6th Edition

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon
Steven.W.Dulan, Amy Dulan$18.68

Last but not least, the 10 ACT Practice Tests is arguably one of the best books for test-takers who are working on getting more practice and more reading.            
This book consists of 10 full-length practice tests that throw light on in-depth concepts while explaining each question's answer. It offers strategies to crack each question smartly! One of the book's unique features is that it consists of a section that provides an idea on how to deal with pre-test anxiety.

  • Curated for Mathematics

Ultimate Guide to the Maths ACT

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon

The legendary Maths tutor Richard Corn has come up with crucial Maths strategies that help in boosting your Maths scores in this book.

The guide consists of in-depth concepts and training for beginners and advanced learners with 38 lessons and over 550 homework problems with solutions.

The Official ACT Mathematics Guide, 2nd Edition

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This book is the only ACT prep book that consists of ACT Maths questions that exactly resemble the questions that will be asked in the exam. Drafted by the ACT team, the book walks through diverse mathematical concepts and tricky questions covered in the exams. This book puts the key ideas and formulations to ace the concepts within the time frame in the exam in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.

  • The best for Science

Barron’s ACT Maths and Science workbook, 3rd Edition

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon
Roselyn Tuekolsky M.S$16.99

Barron’s ACT Maths and Science workbook by Roselyn is a top-to-bottom complete guide on cracking both the Maths and Science sections of the ACT that states the critical strategies for the same. The book also provides a four-step drill approach to complete the science section.

For the Love of ACT Science

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon
Private prep/Michael Cerro$31.67

First published in 2015, this book consists of diverse strategies to help you get good marks in the Science section of the ACT. As an added feather to the cap, this book has the best reviews from the candidates and their parents. Some reviews quote that this guide is like a magic wand for improvising test scores.

  • Avail of these to improve your English and Reading!

The College Panda’s ACT English, 1st Edition

Publisher/AuthorRate in Amazon
Nelson Phu$29.99

With five complete practice papers exclusively for the ACT English section, the book emphasises the points and tips that will help you master the English section of the exam paper. The guide also outlines standard grammar rules and tips to use on test days.

The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to ACT English, 4th Edition

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Written by the test prep expert Erica.L.Meltzer, the book covers a wide range of concepts on English grammar and extensive reading. People who find it challenging to navigate this section with a high score consider this as their go-to guide for prepping and improvising their English knowledge for the ACT.

Top US universities and their ACT score cut off:

Here’s a chart of top US universities and the highest average ACT cut-off by which they offer admission to their applicants

Why is ACT considered important for University admissions?

  • ACT is acknowledged and accepted by most colleges and universities: Almost every top US university that offers 4-year programs accepts the ACT.
  • Apart from getting you into the universities and helping with your education, the ACT also offers college course placement and career planning under one modest fee. This will help you plan a career-based life after college.
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When should you take the ACT exam?

When you are in your senior year of high school, you’ll have a lot on your plate. So what I’ll suggest you do is to plan and schedule the exam two months before the US college admission deadlines. Also, if you are planning to take the exam in multiple attempts, do not take them more than 2-3 times.

While booking an exam date, keep in mind your academic and extracurricular schedule and draft a plan accordingly. Let the timetable be relaxed so that you’ll have peace of mind while preparing and attending the exam.       
Here’s the chart of application deadlines for taking ACT 2022.

ACT test dateApplications opening dateLast date for applyingStandby deadline
April 2, 2022February 25, 2022March 11, 2022March 25, 2022
June 11, 2022May 6, 2022May 20, 2022June 3, 2022
July 16, 2022June 17, 2022June 24, 2022July 8, 2022

Tips and tricks to ace the ACT!

I hope you are all set to apply and prepare for the exam with the best ACT prep books! Now let us brush through a few tips that you’ll find helpful for the preparation.

  • Practice with quality study materials: Books are our best friends, and we all know that! In this case, these books and guides will be your perfect tutor, mentor and advisor that guides you through your self-study and self-prep phase.
  • Hone your time-management skills: The ACT has 61 more questions than SAT. So, it is always essential to take full-length practice tests to upskill time management.
  • The choice of eliminating: A few of the questions in the ACT paper will be tricky. You may have to “guess” the answers for a few. Since there is no penalty score for wrong answers, make sure that you attempt all the questions. So the trick is to eliminate the options which WILL NOT fit as an answer for a particular question. This will get your guessing game right!
  • Increase your reading speed: To ace the comprehension test in the English sect, develop a faster reading habit. Although this won’t happen overnight, start slowly and steadily by reading newspapers and books. Not only will you build a new skill, but you will also be able to explore a new hobby!
  • Memorise standard Maths formulas: Mathematics is an important section in the ACT. And the first and foremost step is to be thorough with all the formulas!


How can I register for the ACT?

A: You can register online at or contact customer support to help with the registration process.

What is the duration of the ACT?

A: The total duration of the exam is 3 hrs and 55 mins, including the optional 40-minute writing test.

How is the ACT score calculated?

A: The ACT score is calculated as the average composite score of all four sections.

I hope you got a clear idea of where to start with your ACT preparations. If you feel stuck during your preparation or if you want guidance on further application procedures to land in your dream university, connect with edvoy today!

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