- Series: Official Act Prep Guide
- Paperback: 720 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 22, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1119386896
- ISBN-13: 978-1119386896
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.7 x 10.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2018: Official Practice Tests + 400 Bonus Questions Online 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
You Got This: A Breakdown Of The ACT Scores
So, You've Decided to Take the ACT Test - Great Choice!
The ACT is the leading US college admissions test, giving college admission departments a deeper look into your capabilities as a student and how prepared you are for college. In fact, some say your ACT scores hold greater value than your GPA in college admissions, so it's important to know how scores are measured, what to aim for, and how colleges and universities view your results.
The ACT could very well be your ticket into the school of your dreams (no pressure!). You probably already have a good idea of what you're going to be tested on, but with so much riding on one test, it doesn't hurt to take a moment to review what's on the ACT.
Quick ACT Refresher:
- Math: Preparing for Higher Math, Number & Quantity, Algebra, Functions, Geometry, Statistics & Probability, Integrating Essential Skills, and Modeling
- English: Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, rhetoric
- Reading: Comprehension
- Science: Questions surrounding scientific charts, graphs, and research
- Writing: Essay (optional and does not contribute to your composite score)
It Doesn't Hurt to Guess:
- Read the question more than once.
- Eliminate the most outlandish choices.
- Analyze your remaining options.
- Select the best two options and then choose one.
Keep in Mind:
Although your scores will reflect your own strengths and areas of needed improvement, here are a few general things to keep in mind:
- A composite score of 21 is average.
- A composite score of 16 or below is considered low.
- Scores are solely based on the number of correct answers, so even if you don't know an answer, you should take a chance and guess.
The ACT is scored comprehensively, which means that each section is tallied individually and then averaged to create your composite score. Scores are intended to show your academic development and achievement, which means they are unique to each student.
Your Composite Score
Each section is graded on a scale of 1 to 36. This means your number of correct answers converts to a score that ranges from 1 to 36 for each of the four tests (English, math, reading, and science). Your composite score is the average of the scores on these sections. Remember, the writing section does not contribute to your composite score.
If you decide to take the writing test, your essay will be scored on a scale of 1 to 6 by two expert readers in each of the following four writing domains:
- Ideas and analysis.
- Development and support.
- Language use and conventions.
Readers will assess how well you applied these four domains, which represent the essential skills and abilities you need to meet the writing demands of college. To break it down a bit more, the writing test is intended to see how well you can:
- State ideas and introduce other perspectives.
- Develop ideas with supporting evidence.
- Organize thoughts logically.
- Express ideas through proper English.
If the readers disagree by more than one point, a third reader will be called in to evaluate the essay for fairness. The two scores for each domain will be added together, and your total writing score is the average of your four domain scores rounded to the nearest whole number.
The Waiting Game
You can view your scores online as soon as two weeks after taking the ACT. Score reports are released within three to eight weeks after the test date.
If you take the writing test, your score report will be available only after ALL of your scores - including your writing score - are ready, usually within five to eight weeks after taking the test.
Making Sense of it All
After you've taken the ACT, your scores are analyzed and calculated, and then reported on your ACT Student Score Report. Here's how to make sense of it all and see where you stand:
- Correct answers are counted in each of the four subjects. You will also see college readiness information so you can tell if your scores meet or fall short of these expectations.
- Your composite score is determined by averaging the scores from each of the four subject areas (not including your writing score). You can see how well you did in each subject by viewing the detailed results which show the total number and types of questions asked, how many you got right, and the percentage of correct answers.
- You can compare your scores to US and state rankings broken down by composite and subject scores.
Sending Your Scores
You can automatically send your ACT score report to four schools for free, if you select this option at the time of registration. However, you can always add more schools after you complete the exam and receive your scores.
- English: 20.3
- Math: 20.9
- Reading: 21.3
- Science: 20.8
- Composite: 21
- Writing: 17.2
How to Use Your College Scores
ACT scores aren't the only thing schools look at, but they are at the top of the list.
Many colleges look at your score report to see which level of a course you'll excel in: developmental, regular, or advanced.
Your scores can help counselors identify areas where you may need assistance and help determine the best route to get there.
Scholarships & Student Loans
Colleges and scholarship agencies may use your ACT scores to evaluate your eligibility for scholarships, loans, and financial aid.
From the Back Cover
REVISED AND UPDATED
- Info on scoring your writing test
- Reporting categories
- Test day section
- 400 additional practice questions available online
The comprehensive guide to this year's ACT® test, with real full-length practice tests
The Official ACT Prep Guide is the bestselling resource for students getting ready to take the ACT® test. Step by step, it walks you through the entire test experience, from registration to your Score Report, and provides you with effective test-taking strategies.
The guide includes three actual ACT testsall of which contain the optional writing testthat you can use to practice at your own pace. To help you better review test subjects and improve your understanding, the guide provides clear explanations for every answer and ideas for boosting your score on the English, math, reading, and science tests as well as the optional writing test.
Filled with expert advice from the test's creators on preparing both mentally and physically, the guide also helps you:
- Review the entire content of the ACT so you'll know what to expect
- Understand the procedures you'll follow when you're taking the ACT
- Be ready for the types of questions you can expect to find on the test
- Adopt test-taking strategies that are right for you
By using the strategies outlined in The Official ACT Prep Guide, you can feel comfortable and confident that you're prepared to do your best on test day.
About the Author
ACT® is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career.
Top customer reviews
The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2018 Edition (currently $20) is a great source of real, updated ACT tests, even though 3 tests isn't sufficient for a full preparation, and the exams are the same ones from the 2016-17 Edition. The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 - 2017. These tests reflect the minor changes (implemented in September 2015) to the ACT Reading and Science portions, and most importantly, the major changes to the new ACT essay (Writing) section. All 3 exams also include answer explanations. I was hoping that there would also be a Kindle version, as there is for the 2016-17 edition, but this has not happened yet. The book also includes moderately helpful test-prep advice and information on the test.
Despite its flaws, "The Big Red Book" continues to be the most essential preparation guide for the ACT, because it is the only source of official test questions—the practice ACTs in all other books are nothing more than subpar imitations of the real thing. However, if you already have the 2016-17 Edition, then there's little need to buy this book, which says it has been "revised and updated" but appears to be mostly the same as the last edition, with a few minor additions, such as a section on preparing for your test day, and information reflecting the new 12-point essay scoring system (instead of the 36-point system described in the last edition, which has since been abandoned).
Unfortunately, as I've mentioned already, this most recent edition of the Official ACT Prep Guide contains only 3 updated tests, which really isn't enough--hence I am subtracting one star from my review. However, there are plenty of other real ACTs you can download online. Combine the 3 tests in this book with the 5 tests in the Real ACT Prep Guide, 3rd Edition The Real ACT Prep Guide (Book + Bonus Online Content), (Reprint) (Official Act Prep Guide), and the free online test (google "Preparing for the ACT Test 2016-2017"), and you’ve got 9 official ACT tests total. Then, combine those 9 tests with the 3 older ACTs available for free download (google “ACT Action Plan - McElroy Tutoring” for links), and you’ve got a healthy dose of 12 official practice exams that should be sufficient for a full ACT preparation. Finally, if you need even more practice tests, then there are dozens of other ACT tests that can be found through additional online sources such as Crack ACT (legality questionable).
Alternatively, professional ACT tutors like me will often have a collection of additional real ACT exams at their disposal, compiled from past years' exams that were publicly released, but neither sold at retail nor available for download.
It is true that any publicly released exams prior to the December 2015 version of the test, including the 5 ACT exams from the 3rd edition, are now (slightly) outdated, especially the old essay sections (Writing Test), which should be ignored, but given that the vast majority of the ACT exam has stayed the same, these older versions of the test are still quite helpful for practice, despite the significant question overlap. Think of the 3rd edition as a book full of practice questions rather than a book full of diagnostic tests--the score prediction element is lost due the to the question overlap, but there are still plenty of unique questions and additional opportunities for learning.
It's not a perfect solution, and yes, it would be nice to be able to practice with 12 distinct ACTs instead of 4 new ones and 8 old ones (with a significant number of overlapping questions), but for now it’s the best we have, and it’s the highest number of real ACTs that have ever been available for retail purchase and/or download.
At the same time, I don't see what's holding the ACT back from printing a serious book with 8 or more practice tests, such as the one that the SAT just released. The Official SAT Study Guide, 2018 Edition (Official Study Guide for the New Sat) Everyone knows that those old tests are floating around online, so why not make some money off them, and give students an affordable alternative to printing the tests themselves, in the process?
A QUICK SUMMARY OF THE STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO THE NEW ACT:
English - exactly the same (45 minutes, 75 questions). Mostly grammar, paragraph structure and punctuation.
Math - exactly the same (60 minutes, 60 questions). A broad survey of high-school math, with questions ordered from easy to hard.
Reading - almost exactly the same (35 minutes, 40 questions), but the new ACT now includes Dual Passages (google “Preparing for the ACT Test 2016”, open the PDF, and scroll to pages 36-38 for an example of what the dual passage looks like). Curiously, the third test in this book does not include a Dual Reading passage, but the first two tests do.
Science - almost exactly the same (35 minutes, 40 questions, mostly data interpretation and graphs/charts), but you are now given 6 passages instead of the traditional 7.
Writing (Essay) section - much different! Instead of 30 minutes to write, you are now given 40 minutes, and instead of being given only a prompt and an assignment, you will now be provided with a prompt, an assignment, and three different perspectives on the essay. You are then asked to evaluate at least one perspective on the issue, to provide your own perspective, and to explain the relationship between your own opinion and the three opinions provided, using examples, analysis and logic. (In the words of the ACT, students are asked "to develop an argument that puts their own perspective in dialogue with others.")
The new essay is scored out of 12 points. It is graded according to the "IDOL" rubric: Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, & Language Use and Conventions.
I’ve been hearing plenty of stories about ACT students getting very low essay (Writing) scores relative to their other scores. Ignore the essay at your own peril! (There are three brand-new essay topics in this book.)
Also, please note that the ACT essay is optional, but that many colleges either require or recommend it, so be forewarned if you are planning on skipping that portion of the test.
When it comes time to re-try the questions you answered incorrectly, I recommend that you either buy a 2nd copy of the physical book to keep blank, or that you print out fresh copies of the questions using the Kindle version (this option is not currently offered on Kindle, so you may have to find a way to convert to PDF first, or simply take screenshots of the pages you need, using the desktop version of the Kindle software). It's what I call a "blind review": going over all the questions you got wrong without first checking the correct answer/explanation, or seeing any of your previous work. In my opinion, blind review is one of the key facets of effective test prep. Thus, you should only mark your answers as correct or incorrect (this is easier when working with a partner). Most importantly, don't indicate the correct answers on the test before you get a chance to review them.
In contrast, if you go over questions by checking the correct answers right away, then you can fool yourself into thinking that you understand them fully, when in fact you are still prone to those types of mistakes. The best way to know for sure is to try the questions again, from scratch, *without* the aid of the answer key or the answer explanations. Only then should you confirm the correct answer and read the explanation provided.
SAT vs. ACT:
These days, many students prefer the ACT to the SAT: The Official SAT Study Guide, 2018 Edition (Official Study Guide for the New Sat) But the College Board has been fighting back by inflating SAT scores and making other efforts to make the SAT more palatable for students. For example, one major reason to consider taking the New SAT instead of (or in addition to) the ACT is that the SAT allows you more time per question than does the ACT. Thus, if time management is a major issue, then the SAT might be a better test for you:
SAT Reading = 1.25 minutes per question (75 seconds)
ACT Reading = .875 minutes per question (52.5 seconds)
SAT Grammar (Writing and Language) = .8 minutes per question (48 seconds)
ACT Grammar (English) = .6 minutes per question (36 seconds)
SAT Math = 1.4 minutes per question (83 seconds)
ACT Math = 1 minute per question (60 seconds)
Here are my top recommendations for ACT Practice and Strategy:
1) This Book.
2) The Free Online Practice Test from ACT (google “Preparing for the ACT 2016”)
3) The Real ACT Prep Guide, 3rd Edition: The Real ACT Prep Guide (Book + Bonus Online Content), (Reprint) (Official Act Prep Guide) or The Real ACT (CD) 3rd Edition (Official Act Prep Guide)
4) The 3 other Official ACTs available for free online (google “ACT Action Plan - McElroy Tutoring”)
5) The Ultimate Guide the Math ACT: Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT
6) For the Love of ACT Science: For the Love of ACT Science: An innovative approach to mastering the science section of the ACT standardized exam
7) Mighty Oak Guide to Mastering the ACT Essay: Mighty Oak Guide to Mastering the 2016 ACT Essay: For the new (2016-) 36-point ACT essay
8) The Complete Guide to ACT Reading: The Complete Guide to ACT Reading
9) The Complete Guide to ACT English: The Complete Guide to ACT English, 2nd Edition
10) ACT Quantum Free Math Videos - explanations to every question in the 3rd edition of the Real ACT prep guide, plus the 4 additional tests available online
11) Barron’s ACT, 2nd Edition: Barron's ACT, 2nd Edition (Barron's Act (Book Only))
For those of you who will be taking the ACT with accommodations, you should also know that extended time is more flexible than on the SAT.
On the SAT, extended time is allocated on a per-section basis, but on the ACT with extended time, you are given 6 hours to allocate your time among the sections however you choose, so long as you complete each section in the order provided. You can not go back after you’ve finished a section, but you can, for example, take much longer on the sections that are difficult for you.
This feature is a definite plus for those who are approved for extended time, but some have suggested that the scoring curve may have become tougher on the ACT in recent years as a result. Thus, it's nice to have some newer tests with updated score conversions that more closely reflect the current demographics of the test.
The ACT is administered six times a year, on varying days: September, October, December, February, April and June.
Three times a year, the ACT offers what's called the Test Information Release (TIR), which--unlike the other test dates--allows you to order an actual (paper) copy of the questions, along with your answers. Sign up for the Test Information Release in advance if you can--it costs extra, and takes about six weeks from the time you receive your scores online, but it's still worth it. (You can also order a copy of your essay afterward, which requres an additional form and fee.)
Currently the TIR is offered in December, April and June. Thus, these are the best three months to take the test, because otherwise there will no way to review your incorrectly answered questions.
Good luck with your studies! Please leave any questions or comments below and I will be sure to respond.
This book contains 3 real ACTs, which are 10 times better to practice with than, say, Kaplan- or Princeton Review-written ACTs. All questions have answer explanations, too, which are pretty good, especially compared to official SAT answer explanations.
1. The promised online content was not available as of May 22, 2017. I am assuming this will be fixed, but there's no sign of it on the Wiley site.
2. There are only three tests, one of which is quite old (no paired reading passages like the current ACT). The previous version of this book has the same three tests.
The 3rd edition of the The Real ACT, 3rd Edition (Real ACT Prep Guide) is actually a better buy; though the tests are older, it comes with 5 of them. You'll need to practice with the current essay format though, which is different than the old. Speaking of practice tests, check out Brian McElroy's review for this book - there are plenty of tests online.
3. Speaking of the essay, its directions in this new version are outdated for all three practice essays in the book. The ACT (with no forewarning) changed the essay directions at the end of last year, and it's a real shame they didn't update this book to reflect that change.
For the record, the attached picture is of the CORRECT essay directions, which I took from a recently released ACT.
Despite its flaws, the book has value for its practice tests. But I think the ACT could and should have done a lot better with this version.
This book contains three full-length practice tests, the VERY SAME TESTS as the previous edition. That's profoundly disappointing, given that publication represented an opportunity for ACT to avoid falling even further behind College Board in the test prep arms race.
More to the point, the book serves a very narrow purpose: it provides three full-length practice tests. That said, it suffers from the same flaws that mar every other publication from ACT & College Board. Namely, there is nothing of value inside the book besides the official tests. Literally nothing. In the early days of Clear Choice Test Prep, we actually shredded the first half of the College Board's Official Study Guide for the SAT and used it as packing material. True story.
Pricing this book below $20.00 is a good start. However, given that it is inadequate to serve as a primary curriculum for a test prep course, the price break is not really much help for most tutors.
This fake "update" represents another in a series of moves by ACT that have estranged thousands of test prep tutors. Allowing this to happen is catastrophically foolish on ACT's part, for these test prep tutors act as a volunteer salesforce for ACT and College Board. Test prep tutors essentially function as an unpaid evangelizing force that recruits students to take one test or the other.
At the moment, College Board has made eight full-length practice tests available to tutors and students for free at www.sat.org. ACT, on the other hand, has only made one test available on its website.
Reading this BLOATED workbook (703 mostly useless pages), students will find that ACT has failed to provide enough practice materials to meet the needs of highly motivated, top-performing students. Consequently, many tutors will steer their highly motivated students to prep for the SAT because of the comparatively ample test prep resources from College Board. Make no mistake; College Board has also failed to provide enough test prep materials for students who are serious about improving their test prep scores. This is something I know a bit about.
As Co-Founder of Clear Choice Test Prep, I've personally authored more than 2500 pages of 100% white-label test prep workbooks. Our resources are now used by hundreds of independent tutors and test prep companies across the U.S. and around the world. Our workbooks contain substantially more test prep materials than the Official ACT Prep Guide. Furthermore, our custom branded workbooks include resources that make the information more actionable for test prep: macro-strategies for each test section, pacing guides, concept-centric lessons, 850+ practice problems, and hundreds more skill builder exercises. Furthermore, every problem in our workbook has its own online video solution. That's more than 100 hours of video solutions.
I mention all of this not to promote our test prep workbooks -- we DO NOT sell our custom-branded test prep system directly to students on Amazon or anywhere else -- but simply to point out why I'm so disappointed by this latest half-measure from the folks at ACT.
Quite simply, ACT has had more than enough time, money, and brains to create something far better than this book. Why they haven't yet made this a priority is genuinely confounding.