I have a lot of ACT Prep Books, which books should I use first, and how?

So, some facts about me: Summer is finally here! :D, I am a sophomore turning into a junior, and I am scoring around 22-23 on practice tests, and I want around a 30 or at least a 27 when I take my ACT.

Here’s my list of books:
Real Act 3rd Edition
Act Prep Black Book
Real act 2016-2017 (It’s shipping around June 6th)
Princeton Review ACT 2016
Barron’s ACT 2016
Barron’s Act 36 3rd Edition
1800 Manhattan’s Prep Problems

I used most of the princeton review and it really didn’t help me :confused:

I heard that Barron’s ACT 2016 shouldn’t be used until I REALLY learn the ACT, because it’s hard. I don’t really want to take the last test of Princeton because they don’t really reflect the new reading passages. Would it be safe to start with Barrons?


There’s a new version of the Real ACT Prep Guide that just came out today (the 2016-2017 version), including a Kindle version for instant digital download, as well as three new tests.

Excellent for June ACT test-takers who are running out of practice tests!



@guyfurious I would start by reading the ACT Black Book. The author describes some great strategies referencing problems from the Real Act book (the red book). I advise focusing on the strategies until you know them and then practice on the 5 tests in the red book. Do them under timing conditions (whether by section or the whole test). Go over them - analyze the mistakes, etc.

When you’ve run out of the tests in the real act book - then go to the crackact(dot)com site and download more real, previously released tests to use for practice. Your best practice is with genuine questions from the test maker rather than Barron’s, Princeton Review, etc.

If you need section support for knowledge like grammar, algebra - then seek out books for those areas on the ACT.

Good luck!

I have found it most beneficial to take practice tests made by them. Use the Real ACT 3rd Edition and crackact.com. Also, the Real ACT 2016-2017 has three tests made of the April 2015 and June 2015 ACTs as well as some tests from the Real ACT 3rd Edition. So if you take tests from the 3rd Edition and the April and June tests on CrackACT, that new 2016-2017 book will be useless for you. There is a thread about this started by QuantumACT. Take those tests in the 3rd Edition and some on crackact and see how you improve, and then decide from the other books (if you feel the need to practice some more).

Yes, there is some repetition in the 3 “new” tests in the Official ACT Prep Guide 2016-2017. But repetition is a key to retention, and there are plenty of new questions in there too.

Because the questions are repeated, the “diagnostic” element (i,e., score prediction) is lost. However, the learning/preparation element remains. For example, my students usually get about 50% of the questions wrong that they have already reviewed, so long as I give them enough time to forget the answers.

“Useless” is hence an exaggeration. There are three brand-new essay topics in there as well.