Customer Review

173 of 184 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A MUST have book(without CD) for the real tests, but bad for content and strategy, September 24, 2011
This review is from: The Real ACT (CD) 3rd Edition (Real Act Prep Guide) (Paperback)
First off, if you could only buy one test prep book for the ACT, I would wholeheartedly recommend The Real ACT prep guide. This is saying a lot coming from none other than an author of another ACT prep/analysis guide! The main advantage of this book is that it has tests which contain REAL questions made by the ACT organization. While other books may tout having "(Insert High Number Here) ACT practice Tests", the one serious shortcoming of all these books is that the questions in these tests are not real ACT questions made scientifically and validated statistically by the ACT corporation, which has adequate funds to employ such methods. Another huge advantage of this book is that it gives detailed explanations for every question in the five tests that it offers. While many other unofficial test prep books give explanations for their answers, the questions themselves are not scientifically validated like the questions from the test makers. The explanations to the questions explain the concepts behind each question, as well as why the wrong answers are wrong. This book certainly provides an enormous amount of useful material for your hard earned money!

The book's main downside, however, lies in the introductory content sections before the practice tests are introduced. In the math section, for example, the guide tells you that you need to have a clear understanding of basic trigonometric relationships to be successful on the test. On page 55, the book gives you an example problem and simply tells you that you must use the sin relationship to answer the question. However, it does not state the definition of the different trigonometric relationships needed for the test, such as sin, cos, and tan(and in some cases: cot, sec, and csc). While looking at real ACT tests, I have seen many questions in the math section where the test asks one to evaluate a specific trigonometric expression, such as "What is the tan of (specific angle in triangle) in triangle ABC". A clear understanding of these identities is indeed needed to solve these problems, but the ACT prep guide fails to define these, assuming that the reader already has a firm understanding of them. A prep guide does not have to go into the detail of a text book, but it should at least define the core concepts that will be tested. The prep guide also tells you to think about the question extensively before writing anything down- not a very good idea. When approaching a problem, you should always write expressions or representations of the problems, as it is much easier to see relationships on paper than in your head. Using your pencil frees up storage in your short term memory, so you can focus on the approach to the problem. Strategies that are not often beneficial with regards to the time constraints of the test are also present in the science reasoning introductory content section. For example, on page 115, the guide states that it is important to read the text thoroughly and make notes in the margins before you approach the questions. Because of the extreme time constraints of the science section, it is very hard if not impossible to completely understand the introduction to the experiments in each passage and still have time to answer all of the questions. The English section fails to mention a few concepts such as parallel structure and other smaller concepts that I have seen on multiple real ACTs in the past.

Despite these shortcomings in the introductory concept sections of the Real ACT Prep Guide, it is still an invaluable resource for ACT test prep. No other company can make ACT questions like the ACT. Even my book, Dissecting The ACT 2.0: ACT TEST PREPARATION ADVICE OF A PERFECT SCORER or ACT TEST PREP WITH REAL ACT QUESTIONS, is dependent on real test materials that the ACT provides free of charge. Using and analyzing real test materials is the single best way to prep for the ACT, and this book has five of them.

This book is an improvement over the previous edition because it contains an additional TWO tests on top of the three that were present in that edition(these three tests have not been changed). Aside from these additions, nothing has changed with regards to the content or layout of the book. It is absolutely worth your while to purchase this version if only for the two additional and extremely valuable real practice tests. However, you should save your money and get the non CD edition of the new book, because the CD does not have any information pertaining to test prep, but rather general information about college, planning your major, etc.

Bottom Line: A must have book, but use only the practice tests and explanations to the questions on those tests. Ignore the rest of the book since it contains quite a bit of bad advice. This is based on my experience of taking the real ACT and getting a perfect score of 36. For ACT content and strategy there are other better books, but no other book gives you five real ACT tests.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 11, 2011 3:58:16 AM PST
gaylelbf says:
I like the detail and the honesty of your review. Very impressive.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 9:38:54 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 15, 2012 10:23:03 AM PDT]

Posted on Dec 28, 2012 3:40:19 PM PST
apophis 1 says:
What other book would you recommend for content and strategy?

Posted on Jun 10, 2013 2:58:04 PM PDT
B. Ryan says:
Yeah, I would love to know the best books to study with. Especially from someone who got a perfect score! :) Would you mind adding a product link??
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