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The Real ACT (CD) 3rd Edition (Official Act Prep Guide) 3rd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 470 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1411097096
ISBN-10: 0768934400
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The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 - 2017
In stock on August 2, 2016.
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About the Author

ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides more than a hundred educational assessments, research reports, and program management services.

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Product Details

  • Series: Official Act Prep Guide
  • Paperback: 929 pages
  • Publisher: Peterson's; 3 edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0768934400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0768934403
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (470 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a private math tutor and author of the Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT.

I gave this book five stars because it has the best practice tests. However the content is identical to previous editions, even the page numbers have not changed! The only difference is that there are two additional practice tests included here (one I recognize as the test from December 2008). The bottom line is that you get a better value by spending $21.50 for five practice tests in this third edition versus spending $20 for the first three practice tests in the earlier editions (Amazon prices as of 8/25/11).

An even better deal is to scroll up this page to the box called "Formats" in orange letters. Click on the Paperback link and get the book without the CD. The material on the CD is not very helpful and getting just the paperback will save you a few dollars.

UPDATE AS OF MAY 4, 2013: Amazon has made it slightly more difficult to find the book without the CD. Scroll up the page to where it says "Formats" in orange letters. Then click on the plus sign to the left of the "Paperback" link to expand it. Then click on the link that says "Paperback, September 6, 2011."

UPDATE AS OF JANUARY 2014: Amazon is pricing the book with the CD to be 42 cents less than the book without the CD. No idea why that would happen.

UPDATE AS OF APRIL 2014: Amazon no longer sells the book without the CD, so the instructions above regarding formats no longer applies. The book without the CD can be purchased on the Amazon web site but only through third parties.
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Format: 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).
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Format: Paperback
Five official tests instead of just 3! I have been waiting for this book's release with bated breath. (Yes, this is the exciting life of an ACT prep instructor). However, I wish I could write separate reviews for the book with CD and without the CD. Once again, I paid the extra money for the CD, which promises to include "supplemental test preparation and skills based exercises." And once again, there are no test prep resources on this CD. It is a college planning CD from Peterson's with college planning advice, lists of undergraduate majors, etc. (The back inside cover of the book lets you know the CD is for college 'planing' -- a typo that does not inspire confidence!) I am really disappointed in what I feel is incorrect advertising here.

However, I do want to note that The Real ACT Prep Guide itself is absolutely essential for prep. This is my tenth year of test prep tutoring and I always find that students who prepare with real ACTs have more confidence and get higher scores than those who don't. The more tests, the better, so it is wonderful to have five to work with. I should probably mention, however, that the skills review and strategies in this book are sub-par. The ACT company just isn't going to give all that much away. For the past few years, I have used The Real ACT Prep Guide along with Boost Your Score! The Unofficial Software Guide to the Real ACT with great success. It gives diagnostic feedback for the tests in The Real ACT Prep Guide and provides strategies and resources. Together with The Real ACT Prep Guide, it's kind of a "course in a box" and students love the reports so they can track their progress as they complete the official ACTs.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm revising my review to delete now-irrelevant comments and to add a few remarks about the datedness of the practice tests in this book. This is still the best book on the market for those wishing to prepare for the ACT. However, I have noted that some reviewers have given it a low rating because they say that the tests in this book are not like recent ACT tests. There is some truth to that claim. The tests in this book are several years old. The ACT does evolve, and those who have taken the test within the past year or so may find that the earlier tests in this book are not identical to what they experienced. I think ACT should issue a new edition that drops the first three tests now in the book and adds three more recent tests. I think not doing so is a bit irresponsible. Hello, ACT??

Having said all that, I want to advise those considering the purchase of this edition to buy it anyway. Let's consider the 4 subjects. First, English. It is my opinion that the English tests in this book are representative of recent tests. Using only this book, I have helped several students within the past 6 months to achieve high scores on the English test, including a perfect 36, a 35, and several 33s and 34s.

Now, on to Math. Recent ACT math tests have included a few problems that are real doozies, including a jaw-dropping item on the April test! The hardest problem in the red book is not as hard as a few of those recent problems. However, there is still a lot of overlap between even the oldest test in this book and the most recent test for which I have a copy, April, 2014. I just worked with a student who took the April test and scored a 27 in math; using the red book, I helped him raise math to a 31 on the Sept. test.
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