Best ACT Prep Books for 2021

Best ACT Prep Books for 2021

By Doug Wintemute

Published on January 5, 2021

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Some colleges use an applicant's ACT score to help determine their readiness for higher education. Lasting 3.5 hours (with breaks), the exam covers 4-5 subjects: English, mathematics, reading, and science, along with an optional 40-minute writing test. Colleges and universities may use test results to help distinguish between comparable applicants.

Because good scores can boost their chances of being admitted into competitive schools, many students turn to ACT study guides to help them prepare. To help sort through the many options available, we've compiled a list of the best ACT test prep books.

Why Use an ACT Prep Book?

On both the ACT and SAT, higher scores can improve an applicant's chances of earning admission into the college or university of their choice. While anything above the national average is generally considered a good score, some schools maintain more selective score requirements.

To avoid surprises, improve scores, and earn admission into their target school, students should study with the help of a guide. When choosing a test-prep book, learners should consider their weaknesses and find an option that emphasizes those areas. You can also check with your school or local library to see whether they have prep books you can borrow.

General ACT Prep Books


Price Legend

$ = Under $10 | $$ = $10-$25 | $$$ = $26-$50 | $$$$ = Over $50


The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2020-2021


Created by the organization that administers the exam, "The Official ACT Prep Guide" allows students to complete five full-length exams, along with optional writing portions. The guide provides in-depth explanations for each answer and helpful advice for every segment and type of question. You can also take online tests, which can be filtered and tracked to identify weaknesses.

$$ on Amazon

The Princeton Review's ACT Premium Prep, 2020


This ACT prep book provides access to eight practice tests, including four online tests that simulate the full testing experience. The guide includes video tutorials, content review and drills for each section, and extensive study plans. The Princeton Review also identifies the skills needed for each of the five ACT sections and offers techniques and strategies to earn a higher score.

$$$ on Amazon

ACT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective ACT Strategies Ever Published, 2nd Edition


A good companion to the official ACT guide above, this book provides step-by-step instructions for each question across three practice tests. You'll also learn strategies and tips to maximize test results, including how to identify which questions to spend time on, understand questions properly, and structure a high-scoring essay.

$$$ on Amazon

Kaplan's ACT Prep Plus, 2021


Kaplan's "ACT Prep Plus" features five practice exams (one printed and four online). The guide takes a detailed look at an official ACT test, breaks down each question, explains the scoring formulas, and analyzes the intent of each section. If you purchase this book, you'll also get access to video lessons and a one-year membership to Kaplan's online center.

$$$ on Amazon

Barron's ACT Premium Study Guide, 2020-2021


Featuring six practice tests, Barron's "ACT Premium Study Guide" includes three in-book exams, two online exams, and one diagnostic test to help you identify areas of weakness. The guide provides customizable study plans that focus on a student's test goals, as well as advice on testing strategies, examination mindsets, and how to manage your time and mood.

$$ on Amazon

McGraw-Hill Education's 10 ACT Practice Tests, 6th Edition


Created by ACT preparation experts, this book gives students access to 10 complete practice tests, scoring worksheets, and additional content and tests online. The guide explains in detail the test structure, informing students what each question evaluates, how to maximize efficiency, and how to control anxiety.

$$ on Amazon

Manhattan Prep's 5 lb. Book of ACT Practice Problems


This prep book contains more than 1,800 practice questions that cover every section on the ACT. An in-book diagnostic test also helps students home in on and build skills in the areas in which they struggle the most. The book provides one-year access to additional online content, including more practice questions and vocabulary assistance.

$$ on Amazon


Math and Science Section ACT Prep Books

Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT, 2nd Edition


"Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT" helps students boost their math scores on exam day. The text includes customizable training for beginners and advanced learners, tips for TI-84 calculators, 38 lessons, and over 550 homework problems with solutions.

$$ on Amazon

The Official ACT Mathematics Guide, 1st Edition


Designed by the creators of the ACT, this prep book provides a walkthrough of the entire mathematics section. Students learn to identify the types of questions, effective approach methods, and strategies to employ while taking the test.

$$ on Amazon

ACT Math: The Guide, 1st Edition


Through this book, you can prepare for every type of math question on the ACT. Each topic includes diagrams, problem sets and practice questions, online videos, and strategies on how to tackle questions. The guide also offers tests to help students narrow down their weaknesses and an ACT score study guide to help them hit their goals.

$$ on Amazon

Kaplan's ACT Math & Science Prep, 4th Edition


Kaplan's "ACT Math & Science Prep" helps students prepare for the ACT math and science sections with over 500 focused questions. The book also highlights the 100 most important topics on the math portion, allowing students to pinpoint their areas of weakness and opportunities to increase their scores.

$$ on Amazon

Barron's ACT Math and Science Workbook, 3rd Edition


With Barron's "ACT Math and Science Workbook," you can gain a full understanding of the ACT's math and science requirements. In addition to sample questions, passages, and practice exams for both sections, the guide offers helpful test strategies, such as a four-step drill to better approach science questions.

$$ on Amazon

For the Love of ACT Science


This guide teaches students strategies they can use to tackle each science question on the ACT. Using various components of the scientific method, this approach helps students fully understand questions so they can provide complete answers for full marks.

$$$ on Amazon

The Official ACT Science Guide, 1st Edition


"The Official ACT Science Guide" — from the creators of the ACT exam — provides you with a complete walkthrough of the science portion of the test. Students learn to identify the various types of questions, along with the terminology and approaches needed to solve each problem. The guide also provides access to a full pool of questions online, which lets you customize your training experience.

$$ on Amazon


English, Reading, and Writing Section ACT Prep Books

The College Panda's ACT English, 1st Edition


Featuring three full ACT English practice tests and a thorough review of the section, this guide helps students master the English component of the exam. The book outlines grammar rules, suggests drills for boosting confidence, and lays out some specific tips and general strategies to use on test day.

$$$ on Amazon

The Complete Guide to ACT English, 4th Edition


This book offers an in-depth analysis of grammar and rhetoric rules, topics on the exam, and hundreds of helpful explanations for all types of ACT English questions. You can learn about common testing errors and useful strategies and concepts to keep in mind when working on a passage.

$$$ on Amazon

Test Prep Books' ACT English, Reading, and Writing Prep Study Guide


This study guide provides a comprehensive review of the content included on the English component of the ACT. The book includes strategies that help students prepare for every type of question, identify their weaknesses, and maximize their time on test day.

$$ on Amazon

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Feature Image: Sam Edwards / OJO Images / Getty Images

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