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How did you prepare for the ACT exam? What are the best study books? Help! D:

JenonymousJenonymous Registered User Posts: 541 Member
edited August 2010 in ACT Preparation
I'm a first time ACT test taker, which I'm taking in September, and I only have, well ... a month to prepare. I know I should've thought this through, but I just discovered what the ACT was. The SAT was all I've ever known really since I live on the East coast and let's just say my scores were not pretty ...

What did you get on the ACT?
How did you prepare?
What books helped the most?

Thank you so so so much!
Post edited by Jenonymous on

Replies to: How did you prepare for the ACT exam? What are the best study books? Help! D:

  • redivorysredivorys - Posts: 276 Junior Member
    ^dude no sweat. You have a MONTH to prepare. That's alot of time. Trust me. I mean i didn't start a single practice test lol yet and i need to make some serious improvements (like 3-4 composite points). You're fine.

    I got a 32 first time. I used the Red Book (3 tests) although i didn't take them in real testing conditions--just ways to get used to the format. Then i found 3 more on this site somewhere. I mainly just practiced reading (because of the timing). I never did one math section and on the real thing ended up with a 34. I did 4-5 science sections and ended up with a 30. I did about 5-6 english sections and ended up with a 31 and a lil more for reading and ended up with a 31. I did this over a huge span of time so it felt like not much prep.

    For the ACT's you don't have to worry about reasoning as much as you had to for the SAT's but you have to focus on timing a LOT more. That is what will kill most people (including me)
  • BrostradamusBrostradamus Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    For prep books, I checked out a few from the library but wasn't a big fan. PRs methods seemed way too time consuming for the test and the Barron's book was just too dense and excessively difficult.

    Suprisingly, I found Barron's ACT 36 in Barnes & Noble and found that to be phenominal for English and Math. It is very informative, but also easy to read and understand. It has a few practice sections, but doesn't try to pawn off synthetic tests like the other book.

    For reading, I found that just going straight to the questions with line references to be the quickest and most accurate, finishing with the general tone questions once I did the rest of the questions. This way I don't read the entire passage, but I still get a good feel of what's going on and can just quickly skim to find the last 2-3 answers. Being that you only have 8-9 minutes per section, time management is critical.

    Science was basically the same as Reading for me, but a bit easier. Just make sure you pay special attention to the questions being asked, as it is easy to answer something about sucrose instead or lactose, for mix up which solution is the most soluble. Otherwise just be careful, but work quickly.

    So far I have gotten 33-34 on two timed practice tests (official).
  • JenonymousJenonymous Registered User Posts: 541 Member
    Redivorys - Yeah, but I'm no super braniac when it comes to math :-\ And great ... timing is my worst enemy. I'm not a great test taker and the nerves get to me. Plus, when I took the SATs I never got to completely finish every section. I hate being timed...

    I'll consider getting the Red Book at Barnes and Nobles.

    Brostradamus - I got the Barrons SAT book and ugh ... It was too dense and difficult. The questions were actually harder than the actual test and even though people may think Barron's would make the official SAT test to be a piece of cake since it overprepares you, it just made me not study and read that book. So I won't be getting the Barron's book for the ACT ...

    As for the Barron's ACT 36, if you say so ... I'll consider getting that book I guess. Barron and I don't get along, but I'll take your word for it.

    Thank you both for your advice!
  • redivorysredivorys - Posts: 276 Junior Member
    ^NO don't get Barron's ACT 36. Get Princeton Review 1296 ACT QUESTions; it's the second best thing to the Red book
  • markzillywaymarkzillyway Registered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    PR's "Cracking the ACT" is very useful. I've heard stories about the PR's 1296 book being full of errors, so i wouldn't recommend that.

    I was put in a situation where i had to choose between Barron's 36 or PR's "Cracking the ACT." I chose the latter, and never looked back!
  • JenonymousJenonymous Registered User Posts: 541 Member
    Great. Who am I supposed to listen to? Haha.
  • HeywatchitbuddyHeywatchitbuddy Registered User Posts: 153 Junior Member
    Did a little prep the first time and got a 30, not much prep the second time but took it better and got a 32. In prep. for my third and final time (hopefully 33 or 34), im using a combination of the Red Book and the PR Cracking book.
  • nickkimnickkim Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    okay well a month is A LOT of time. If you do a little every day, you will do just fine. I encourage REAL practice tests.DO NOT use Mcgraw hill..it sucks. So use the real Act book, if you finish that..then find practice tests online..if youstill are not satisfied with your tests..use princeton review 1296 questions. Pr is made a little harder, so don;t get discouraged if you have lowerscores than the real Act practice tests. If You accomplish that then you should be able to get a good score. It is very possible to do all that in 1 month. Good Luck!!
  • nickkimnickkim Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    oh and you should listen to me lol..I have taken the ACT 3 times..bought every fricken book ever made. Trust me, I know.
  • nickkimnickkim Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    oh and cracking the PR is also very good..so go for that.
  • JenonymousJenonymous Registered User Posts: 541 Member
    ^ Every fricken book ever made? Hahaha.
    Thanks for your input guys and saving me some money :)
    I'm definitely going to purchase the Real ACT Guide for sure since it's created by the test makers.
    And I'll go cruising down the ACT isle at Barnes and Nobles and take a look at the other books to see which ones I'm most comfortable with.
  • tipa891tipa891 Registered User Posts: 351 Member
    I got a 30 the first time

    I used a little prep and two practice tests.

    am I the only one who used ACT for Dummies????
  • JenonymousJenonymous Registered User Posts: 541 Member
    Lol, well I guess that Dummies book helped you if you got a 30 :D
  • HONORLIONSHONORLIONS Registered User Posts: 1,582 Senior Member
    Yeah, I'm right with you Jen. I got the Cracking the ACT by PR, and so, I think it's pretty good (though seriously, I HATE JOE BLOGGS!).
    I think I'm preparing too early. I took a SAT math portion for practice the other day, failed with a 9/25 on the section. I'm assuming one should have a bit of Algebra II for SAT and ACT, in addition to the 'school set' mind (compared to slack off summer mind).

    But in comparison to the SAT, where you have like over a dozen good practice tests through the BB and PR, etc., I can't find any good ACT tests and stuff.
  • RAlec114RAlec114 - Posts: 2,644 Senior Member
    Bottom line: get "the real ACT guide" (red book)

    Get PR "cracking the ACT" if you want a good review of english/math section, and "decent" practice tests.
This discussion has been closed.