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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for ACT prep materials, Princeton Review materials are excellent. I enrolled in the instructors' course for the Princeton Review SAT and found their test prep approach clear and digestible. I have taught SAT prep at a prep school here in Connecticut, worked for a private tutoring company, and tutor students in both SAT and ACT prep. Friends and neighbors have asked if I would tutor their teens for the ACT, so I purchased this book to teach the non-math sections. The explanations in Princeton Review test prep books are field tested with actual students. Princeton Review explains clearly how to think about the tests and the test questions.

What is helpful for students and parents to understand about the reading tests on the ACT is that on tests given in school teachers want to provide quality answers. Teachers are testing to determine that students studied the material. Students just have to identify the right answer--it's more a test of did you learn the material?

The reading tests on the ACT are open book tests. The tests ask a question and the answer is right in front of you so they have to make it difficult to identify the answer. Because the reading tests on the ACT Test do not rely on your memory or knowledge base, they give you lousy answers, deceptive answers--sometimes you have to choose among the least worst answer. So, it takes strategy and knowing HOW the test company scrambles the answers in four different ways (distortion, switch, extreme answers and the "nice" answer) to lure students into the wrong answer. Once you know the ways they construct answers (there are only so many ways to do this), it is easier to spot the right answer. As my Princeton Review instructor wryly noted, these reading tests primarily test how well you take this kind of test, not what kind of a reader you are or how much you've read etc. In fact, there's not enough time to read the selections, so it's more of a read-the-question-and-"spot-the-answer" in the selection as quickly as you can strategy. This book shows how to do that.

It is not really a test of reading comprehension. It's a test of using the strategies that work to find the right answer. And Princeton Review materials are stellar at explaining fun ways to do this. They spend millions every year teaching test prep with actual students, so they know what works and what doesn't. And their employees sit and take the tests with students at test centers every year to keep up with the latest questions. Once students know the strategies, it takes the fear away because they see a question and know which strategy to use for that type of question.

Similarly the English section covers specific, limited grammar rules. Students need to know what those rules are to select the correct answers. Regarding the writing test, there are sample prompts on the writing section for practice. This book recommends a strategy regarding how to organize your essay response. The test scorers take about 30 seconds to scan and score your essay, so again it is helpful to know the rubric for how they score a test. Typical essay topics are featured so students can practice writing essays according to the recommendations.

I have heard the actual ACT Test company's book is great for sampling actual tests, but the prep books by the ACT company are not as helpful. The ACT Test Company may not be as motivated to teach strategies as they do not want to share all of their secrets. If most students could ace their test, they would have to design a new test. Princeton Review wants to help students ace the test. Consider buying this book for practice to improve your strategy skills, take the practice tests for homework, and then use the ACT Test company's book for actual mock tests once you have completed PRINCETON REVIEW's materials. Students may benefit from working with a tutor to review the chapters. I have found we can usually cover a chapter together in an hour. Then homework is assigned to practice the skills on the practice tests in this book and in the ACT company's test book.

I have taught for over 20 years, tutored for more, and was headmistress of a private academy. I just wish these PRINCETON REVIEW test prep materials were available when I was in high school.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Having had to retake the ACT after 18 years, needless to say I needed help. Bought three books: Cracking the ACT Princeton 2003 edition, The ACT for Dummies, and The Real ACT Prep Guide. Went through all of these books. The one that worked best for me was Cracking. It gave practical advise on how to improve my scores. Tactics were what it was all about. Although knowing math equations may be needed by some people in the future, for me it was getting a higher score. This book did the trick. The other two books helped as well. Ranked in order of importance: 1. Cracking 2. ACT for Dummies 3. The Real ACT. The last one has three practice tests. So if you want to practice taking the test I recommend it. DO NOT READ THE PREP PART OF THIS BOOK!!! It is not a helpful study guide. The ACT for Dummies was pretty good about giving some hard material that you need to know. But I preferred to use the tactics provided by Cracking.

All in all, if you are going to buy one book to prepare for the ACT, get this one. But you have to know your own mind and how it works. Did not use some of the suggestions put forth by this book (especially in the science area). For me I needed to read the science passages to understand how to answer the questions (scored 27 on this section).

Outcome: Scored a 20 cumulative when I was 17. Scored a 26 cumulative at age 35.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Practice tests are a little bit harder than the real ACT tests. The review material is very helpful, in-depth, and easy-to-understand. This book improved my score by 6 points. DONT buy this version with the CD because the software is horrible and the images on the practice tests are distorted.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
My son loved this book and he is not easy to impress. We bought the book written by the company that writes and adminsiters the ACT and it did not help. This book gives you a game plan on how to take the test and if you get stuck or have problems, how to still answer the questions and maybe score a few more points. My son was very confident going to take the test after preparing with this book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
I began studying for this test only one week before (I know, I know). I managed to page through most of the book and take the practise tests (which by the way were more difficult than the actual test), scoring 28s and 29s (with low scores of 20).

However, come test day I convinced myself that I could do better. Afterwards, I felt that I performed about the same as when I took the practises. A few weeks later, my result was a score of 32! (English: 35, Math: 30, Reading: 32, Science: 29)

What helped me the most was PR's advice on approaching the science section. When I took their practise tests I was scoring 23s and 20s in the science section, and it was significantly decreasing my composite score. Therefore, with the help of their science section techniques I received a score of 29(!) on the June ACT.

I would use this book again if I were to retake the test.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am a private math tutor and author of Math Study Guide for the SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests: 2012 Edition. I sometimes use the practice tests in this book as a warm up for students and then follow it with the official practice tests found in The Real ACT Prep Guide: The Only Guide to Include 3Real ACT Tests. However I found two errors in the math tests in this book:

pg 445 problem 39. The answer is C, not H.

pg 453 problem 58. The answer is -12/5. This does not match any of the answer choices.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book in June 2010 after my son took the ACT test in April and again in June. In April, his composite score was 20 and in June it was a 21. Beforehand, he had gone through the three practice tests in the "Real ACT" book, and he also used the study advice given by "Dissecting the ACT 2.0" by Rajiv Raju and Silpa Raju.

I decided to purchase the Princeton Review book for him to study over the summer since we were out of study material. My son read the material in the "Cracking the ACT" book cover to cover, and he raised his scores significantly after taking the two practice tests in the book. In Reading on one of the tests he scored a 27, and on the second practice test his composite score was a 28.

We were feeling pretty good about his chances to raise his composite score significantly on the September 11 test date. Then, one week before he took the test on September 11, I had him take another practice test from the makers of the Real ACT -- it was old, from 2004, but I had him take it anyway, as a final practice. He did worse on every test -- so badly that I didn't have the heart to tell him how badly he did - and decided to just let him take the test based on what he had done on the Princeton Review tests. By that time it was less than one week away from the test date and there was really nothing I could do. So I was just hoping the real test result outcome would be different - and of course it wasn't. My son scored a composite 20 on the September test, so there was no improvement whatsoever.

When he scored significantly higher on the Princeton Review tests, that should have been a warning sign to me that something was not right - but I thought it was because the tips in the book were helping him! No, the reason was the practice tests in that book are much easier than the real ACT tests.

My advice is please don't waste money on Princeton Review. Buy the Real ACT practice test book and hope the three practice tests in there will be enough preparation for your son or daughter. The "Dissecting the ACT 2.0" was also helpful. It gives URL's to other Real ACT tests that you can get online.

If you are still really set on purchasing this book, don't bother with the edition that has the DVD. That also was a complete waste of time and not worth the extra money.

I hope you can use this information for your son or daughter to get the best score possible.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a very good review book that covers in-depth topics, general refreshers, and provides some strategies that help you manage your time. The strategies it provides are pretty effective and really help you make your way through the test faster. The book is worth the price for the strategies alone.

I did not use the practice tests, and only used the in-text exercises. Combined with some official ACT practice tests, this should prepare you to get over a 30, even if you have forgotten, as I have, many of the basics tested in the ACT.

One con I have found is that some answers it gives are wrong- for example, it says A is correct instead of F. Since A and F are both the first answer choice, it is obvious the book writers just made a typo. These mistakes should not worry you, though, since the answers also provide an explanation, which should make it easy to discern which answer choice is really correct.

I took an ACT on April 14th, and will be taking a school mandated one April 24th. If my results are successful, I will post them here to show that this book is effective.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
As an ACT Tutor, I have found this book most helpful to use with my students. From math strategies to punctuation technicalities, this book covers it all. The Science section is extensive, and very helpful as it is bursting with strategies. The practice tests provided in the book are of moderate difficulty. I recommend this resource to any student who wants to be prepared for all 5 test sections and get inside the heads, per say, of the test writers. As the ACT is very time pressured, learning Princeton Review's strategies would be very beneficial to students. I also recommend this resource to any tutor or parent that is looking to help a student prep for the ACT exam. ACT prep can be rather arduous, but is always rewarding--good luck!

Stacy Padula, Author of Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
The book has a very good outline and organization, but the English, and especially the math sections are filled with typos. It's extremely confusing when learning a new concept and then be thrown off by wrong numbers in the steps. It's very annoying to take a practice test and get the right answer and not see the correct answer in the options. I know that I had the right answers because when I look in the explanations for the answers they use completely different numbers than the ones mentioned in the question.
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