Customer Reviews: Barron's ACT 36: Aiming for the Perfect Score
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on March 1, 2011
I am a parent of a son who attempted to improve the score and he acheived it. The reason for my review, I went through the pain of finding out what is the best book to coach. So we purchased different(used) books, each one has its own strength and weakness. His score improved from 28 to 33. So I asked him to rank the books which he would recommend for others -

1) Real ACT
2) Barron's ACT 36 and the other ACT books of Barron's
3) Princeton
4) For practice he used Mcgraw-Hill - 10 exams
5) Used online websites in local library to try the practice exam. My local town lib provided two real exams. He felt it was a good one.

Bottom line, I coached him and didnt send to any other coaching centers. I asked him to review the concepts in each book then practice. The drill was each weekend for last 3 months. One full test over the weekend including writing. We tracked the practice test score consistently and observed the pattern. Except for Math and Science his exam score was same as practice(35). So the Math and Science questions in these books could be easier than the real exam; he scored lower than the practice test. Few days before the exam, we went through all his mistakes on all subjects. For Math, I reviewed the concepts along with him as mistakes were reviwed. We both spent time to review Geometry, Trignomentry and math formulas/concept. A day before the exam I asked him to review ACT 36 book tips and quick bite of the information. He felt it was a good recap. He is junior in high school and I asked him to try one more time to improve 1 or 2 points or shoot for perfect score as he got the grip of it. Let us see. Practice, Practice...then review the mistakes slowly to strengthen the skills. That's all. There are no other secert books or flash card gimmicks or coaching center. Again every student has their own syle of studying and parent involvement. The first exam he took was on his own and preparation. Second one, I felt a need to coach and shape him better. It paid off. Sharing our experience and most important with pracitce and efforts the score can be improved. Hope this helps for parents/student googling for ACT info. Good luck!!
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on July 19, 2010
This book was...OK.
The practice sections are the highlights of this book. The practices they offer are a lot harder than most others, and if you do well with the practices in this book, the other prep books will seem really easy. However, there is something about this book that should be noticed: this book does NOT actually teach anything. For example, in the Math-Geometry section, it says: " will use properties of isosceles triangles to find area and perimeter of regular polygons...triangle sum and the reflexive property are key to keep in mind when solving these problems." But nowhere do they tell you what the properties of isosceles triangles are, or what the triangle sums are, or what the reflexive property is...
In general, buy this book to only practice the hard ACT questions. You will not gain very much if you do not already know the material tested.
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on August 16, 2009
I am currently and senior in high school and made the terrible mistake of not planning my standardized test schedule earlier. But no regrets, I took the ACT in once at the end of my junior year and got a 31. I'll admit it, I'm and over achiever and 95% percentile doesn't quite cut it for me. So I decided to prep for my standardized tests during the summer. I bought many books, Barron's ACT, The real prep guide, the princeton review guide, barron's act reading and english, barron's math and science, Kaplan reading, writing, english, and Kaplan ACT Math, yeah I know i'm crazy, and read them all, I also bought this book at the same time. Now it is less than a month before my ACT and I have finally opened this book and have gotten 34 pages into it and I have already regretted buying the other books. This is the ONLY book you need for the ACT, well this and the McGraw Hill's 10 ACT practice tests, and the Real Prep guide for the real tests, but this book is awesome!!! It gives you easy strategies that you can remember and none of the pace yourself and be careful stuff. It's straight to the point, I got a 30 the English section, and after just going thru half of the grammar stuff and taking a practice tests I have already raised the score to a 33-34 range, granted the fact that I still have to take the test, but if you are hesitating about this book, DON'T! Just buy it! It will be the best decision you will ever make!
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on March 15, 2015
First, we did a full practice test of both SATs and ACTs. She did so much better on the ACTs that we put the SAT books aside and focused solely on the ACTs. My understanding is that virtually all colleges now accept both.

Second, I bought three books and explored them intensively. Because my daughter is on the autism spectrum, I chose to do this initial work for her. I also guided her through practice sessions in the sense that I told her exactly what to do each day and then checked her practice tests. We then reviewed what she got wrong and, most importantly, why.

I consider Barrons ACT 36 and "The Red Book" put out by the ACT people both absolutely indispensable.

Use The Red Book for practice because it contains five real past tests to practice on. (We ended up using almost every section of all five exams.) But The Red Book offers no real tips. For that, use the ACT 36 book and pay careful attention to what they say. It's very good advice, particularly the section about Reading and how to attack reading passages. My daughter went from missing 1 or 2 problems per reading passage to missing 0 or 1 problem for all four reading passages! In fact, she got a 34 on both the Reading and the English sections, which indicates she missed almost no problems. (If you are wondering why her overall score was "only" 32, it is entirely my fault. I had her take this test when she had taken only 5 of the 8 math semesters which are tested. Still, a 32 is 98th percentile. No regrets.)

The third book I read was ACT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective ACT Strategies Ever Published. This book was almost entirely useless. I took from it a grand total of one tip: only practice with real ACT questions. That seemed like a good piece of advice to me, so I took it. I should mention the format of this book. Most of it is paired with The Red Book. The author breaks down the questions many students have problems with and provides extremely detailed explanations. However, the fundamental premise of the book is that the best way to tackle the ACT is to game the system. Perhaps if your student is starting with an 18 or something, that is the way to go. But if your student is able to tackle the material head on and understand it, then you have no need to game the system. A number of times, I had my daughter read the explanations in The Black Book when she missed a problem. Not once did the explanation add anything to her comprehension. Remember, the author's entire premise is that the ACT questions are not straightforward and therefore can not be tackled head on. We simply did not find that to be accurate.

So buy just the two books you need. Tackle one section at a time. Practice practice practice! It makes all the difference. It really does help to get a hang of the questions. And skip the pricey online and live prep courses. If you're starting in a good place, the two books I recommend will be all you need. That and a student with motivation.
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on May 12, 2012
So I am a sophomore and purchased this book to prepare for the April ACT. I took the ACT once at the beginning of my freshman year and got a 29, but I really wanted to get a good score so I didn't have to worry about the ACT anymore. This book was really helpful, especially in conjunction with the official ACT prep book. I used the skills I learned in this book, then practiced them in the practice tests from the official ACT book. I especially liked the English section; I thought it did a great job preparing you and letting you know what to expect and how to avoid stupid mistakes. The math and reading sections were also beneficial. The only part I did not like was the science section, but overall it was super helpful - I raised my score 5 points to a 34!! (35 English / 31 Math (haven't taken trig or precalc yet though so this isn't my 100% best because I don't know logs, etc yet) / 33 Reading / 36 Science). GET THIS BOOK IT IS AWESOME!!
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on April 1, 2013
I loved the book, it has a good pep talk in the beginning; however, I found it going over the same topics covered in the free online sparknotes ACT prep. I still recommend the book.
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on May 5, 2015
This book is excellent for students seeking to achieve very high scores on the ACT. It is not the best for someone taking the test for the first time or aiming for a score in the 20's, as it assumes the reader already has solid knowledge of the concepts covered by the ACT. Rather, it helps students to fine tune their math, english, reading, and science (interpreting data) skills while learning tips and tricks to naviagate the ACT. It helped me to score a 34 followed by a 36 on the ACT.
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on December 30, 2009
I found the Barron's 2400 book to be most helpful in my reviewing for the SAT, and so purchased the ACT 36 as my only practice book for taking the ACT. One book was not enough practice for scoring well on the ACT, but if I had to choose one, it would be Barron's because the review for each section is concise and sufficient.

My only problem:
BEWARE OF THE SCIENCE SECTION. If you buy this book, DO NOT USE the "5-6-7" method UNLESS you have practiced with the trick enough to comfortably apply it. The book mentions that it is most difficult to purposely take a test out of order, and this is every bit true. I did not have time to practice with the 5-6-7 method, and when I tried to go out of order on the actual science test, my mode of thinking fell apart and I started to panic for skipping so many questions in a row. I literally feared answering only a quarter of the questions. I only pulled myself together after going back to do them in order.
Long story short: following this method without practice was a disaster, so I want to caution others who might study the night before.
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on June 28, 2013
So this is my mom's account but I'm actually writing the review.
I bought this book because i have never taken the ACT's and it seemed like a decent preparatory book.
I am 17 years old, and I'm going to be a senior this fall. I took the test on June and I got my results yesterday.
Honestly, this book was so helpful in the english section. I think that was its strong suit.
You have to make sure that you take in every little information on the english section, because almost everything that's stated in here shows up on the actual test. Don't skim. There might be information that seems like it's common sense, go over it anywhere.
The reading section was awesome too. I went over each section and made sure I knew why I got the answers wrong.
The math section was not as strong as the english or reading. It was a lot easier than what I faced on the actual test. I'm pretty sure I guessed on at least 5 questions because I had never seen such a question.
The science section was SO much easier on the barrons book than the ACT test. I was getting every question right on the prep book, but my scores told me otherwise. I think it's more attributed to the lack of time I had.
You have to know that this book is great for technique and introduction. But for actual test like stimulation, this book is not for you.
I used this book and the ACT Red book (for that stimulated test exercise) and I got a 31 composite score.
English: 33
Math: 33
Reading: 35
Science: 24.
Science brought me down so so much. I just need to sharpen up my science, and I think my score will be in a good place.

I hope this was helpful, good luck with your test!!!! :)
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on December 28, 2010
The first time I took the ACT I got a 30. I thought I could do better because I hadn't practiced, was unfamiliar with the test structure, and unfamiliar with the kinds of questions. Of course, I didn't buy the book until close to when I took the test, but even in that short time, it was EXTREMELY helpful. It doesn't just offer practice questions; rather, it offers intelligent, usable strategies to succeed in the test. It helped me raise my score in the Math, Reading, and Science sections (English stayed the same). I ended up with a 34. Besides including detailed information on the structure of the test (even if you think you know the structure, you'll probably learn something), it gives helpful and easy-to-remember strategies. Furthermore, the book includes concise yet helpful review on almost all English and Math concepts reviewed on the test. It's amazing.
It was a fantastic book and it certainly helped me. I also gave it to two other people studying for the ACT, and they thought it was fantastic as well. One of them got a 33 and the other a 32.
If you're looking to take the ACT seriously, this book will help. You don't have to be aiming for "the Perfect Score" to get a LOT out of this book.
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