The Best ACT Prep Books for 2016

Interested in finding one of the very best ACT prep books for 2016? Of course, you are. You want a great ACT score, and more than anything, you want to get into the best college you possibly can. So, great ACT prep is imperative!

Each one of the best ACT prep books offers strategies, tips, practice tests and questions from each of the multiple choice sections and practice essays for the Enhanced ACT Writing Test. But every book has its strength. Some are more entertaining than others. Some offer more add-ons like online help and practice tests. To maximize your test prep potential, it wouldn't hurt to purchase a couple of these books to get the most bang for your buck. They're all very competitively priced!

Do I Have to Buy The Most Updated Book on the Market? 

How to study for the ACT

Book: Cracking the ACT Premium with 6 Practice Tests 2016 edition

Author: The Princeton Review

Reviews: 4.5/5 stars

Why Buy? This book is entertaining and easy to understand.

All the Goodies: The Princeton Review includes 6 practice tests with this book (4 in the book and 2 online), so you'll have plenty of opportunities to practice with a test that's very similar to the real deal. You'll get complete coverage of every section, including the Enhanced ACT Writing test, which underwent a major change in the fall of 2015. 

Strengths: The Princeton Review's Cracking the ACT is very easy to understand, which does not negate the fact that it is thorough, as well. Strategies are on point. Tips are simple to master. And throughout it all, you won't want to jump out of a window from boredom because the tone of the book is incredibly down to earth and friendly. 

Weaknesses: Last year's version of the test prep book had eight practice tests instead of six. What gives, PR? 

Book: The Real ACT (CD) 3rd Edition

Author: ACT Inc

Reviews: 4.5/5 stars

Why Buy? You need test prep from the makers of the test. Nothing else will do. 

All the Goodies: This is the only ACT prep book that includes five previously administered, full-length ACT tests written by the actual test maker and two new practice tests for a total of 7 practice tests. 

Strengths: The practice tests are obviously helpful since they were previously administered tests, although the old tests still use the previous ACT essay format, not the new one. The new practice tests, however, use all of the current ACT information. 

Weaknesses: The strategies and tips aren't that informative. I'd recommend purchasing this book for the practice tests and buying a different book for strategies. 

Book: Kaplan ACT Premier 2016 with 8 Practice Tests

Author: Kaplan Test Prep

Reviews: 4/5 stars

Why Buy? Thoroughness. And I do mean it. 

All the Goodies: This book really has all the bells and whistles: online quizzes, a DVD, video tutorial, practice tests, an adaptive learning experience, flashcards, and more to help you get ready for the ACT. 

Strengths: Kaplan puts out test prep manuals year after year and does so very well. The video lessons are a huge bonus, although one user left a review stating that not every video is as helpful as it could be since some of the content was repetitive. But typically, these types of videos are reserved for students who purchase the ​online Kaplan courses,  but they're included here, which is a huge bonus. Plus, Kaplan offers free online practice tests and workshops, even if you haven't purchased the book!

Weaknesses: The size of this bad boy can be really intimidating. Some other test prep companies manage the size of the books so students aren't overwhelmed right off the bat. If kids are scared away right from the start, then they may not use it all.

Book: Up Your Score: ACT, 2016-2017 Edition: The Underground Guide

Authors: Chris Arp, Ava Chen, Jon Fish, Zack Swafford, Devon Kerr, Veritas Tutors and Test Prep

Reviews: 4/5 stars

Why Buy? You're sick to death of reading ACT books that are dry as a bone. You want a little humor in your life. 

All the Goodies: There's just not enough funny stuff in the world. And coming in first in stuff that is clearly non-funny are ACT test prep books. This one's a little different. Here, the authors created a joke-filled book that's heavy on strategy. You'll strategies and ACT tricks in here that you won't read anywhere else. 

Strengths: If you need reinforcements for the actual content of the test, as in, you don't remember your superlatives in English or inequalities in Math, then this book 

Weaknesses: Practice tests or the lack thereof. You'll need to purchase another book like a Kaplan or Princeton Review in addition to this one in order to get a fair amount of practice tests. 

Varsity Tutors ACT Book
Varsity Tutors

Book: The Varsity Tutors ACT Book

Authors: Varsity Tutors

Reviews: N/A

Why Buy? Actually, you don't need to. It's free!

All the Goodies: This completely free (yes, free) downloadable book is chock full of practice questions, strategies and lessons for the ACT. One practice test is included in the download, but you can access more diagnostic tests, practice tests, and flashcards online here

Strengths: This book is great for learning the content you may have missed in school like how to find the main idea, where to put quotation marks or how to solve inequalities. 

Weaknesses: Besides a few technical errors (you can't see some of the questions when you click on the answers, which is annoying), there's absolutely nothing related to the Enhanced ACT Essay. Since a majority of students opt to take the essay, they missed an opportunity to include strategies for it.  More »