The Official ACT Prep Guide 2019-2020, (Book + 5 Practice Tests + Bonus Online Content) Paperback – Illustrated, 7 May 2019
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From the Back Cover
- The only guide to include real ACT Tests
- 5 full-length official practice tests
- 400 additional online practice questions
- Updated writing prompts and directions
The comprehensive guide to the 2019-2020 ACT(R) test, with 5 genuine, full-length practice tests and 400 additional questions online.
This 2019-2020 guide includes five actual ACT tests -- all of which contain the optional writing test -- that you can use to practice at your own pace. To help you review test subjects and improve your understanding, this guide provides clear explanations for every answer. You'll also get practical tips for boosting your score on the English, math, reading, and science tests, as well as the optional writing test. Additionally, you can access 400 more practice questions online through the access code provided in the guide.
The test's creators filled this guide with expert advice on how to both mentally and physically prepare for the exam. It will also help you:
- Review the entire ACT test content so you'll know what to expect on test day
- Understand the procedures you'll follow when you're taking the ACT
- Prep for the types of questions you can expect to find on the test
- Adopt test-taking strategies that are right for you
The Official ACT Prep Guide 2019-2020 is the best resource to prepare you for test day. By using this guide you can feel comfortable that you're prepared to do your best!
About the Author
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: Number & Quantity, Algebra, Functions, Geometry, Statistics & Probability, Modeling, and more
- 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 four writing domains: Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and 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 your 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.
- English: 20.3
- Math: 20.9
- Reading: 21.3
- Science: 20.8
- Composite: 21
- Writing: 17.2
Making Sense of Your Scores
After you've taken the ACT, your scores are analyzed, calculated, and 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.
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.
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. You can always add more schools after you complete the exam and receive your scores.
ACT scores aren't the only thing schools look at, but they are usually high on the list for Admissions, Course Placement, Academic Advising, Scholarships, and Financial Aid.
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I’ve been tutoring the ACT for over a decade, have scored perfectly on it as an adult, and have coached a student to a perfect score, as well as many others to perfect scores on individual sections. I run a Youtube channel offering free ACT / SAT prep and college advice (SupertutorTV), have created an online prep course for the ACT, and have written two books on the math section of the ACT. In short, I know the ACT.
When it comes to ACT prep, the number one advice I have for my students is to USE AUTHENTIC MATERIALS from the test maker. That means if you’re taking the ACT, and can afford nothing but one book, this is the number one resource I would recommend. The ACT test got a minor reboot in 2014 when ACT added probability items to the math section, reduced the number of science passages from 7 to 6, and added a dual reading passage section. The ACT has also revamped the essay a couple of times since 2014. This book reflects all those changes. Huzzah!
Most notably, this version of the book includes a new, 5th test included in the book (awesome!). This is a recent test (form code A10 or 19MC5) originally administered in December 2017.
Like the 2018 edition, but unlike 2017 and earlier editions, this book also includes a couple of other features touted on the cover:
1) Access to an online question “bank” instead of printable pdf versions of the “bonus” questions that came with older versions of this guide (2015-2016 and 2016-2017 which has no date on the cover). Each book includes a scratch off code, so best to purchase new, not used, if you want to take advantage of these online questions. As before, these include around 100 of each subject matter pulled from the Real ACT Prep guide 3rd Edition that has since been taken out of print.
2) Essays that reflect the latest version of the essay prompt (previously, the question required students to integrate “multiple perspectives” or all three perspectives. The newer version of the prompt is reworded and broader, asking students to incorporate “at least one” other perspective; other versions of the prep guide may not include the correct prompts for the essay).
The table of contents / pagination appears to be identical to the previous book version until the portion of the book including the practice tests. Upon a quick skim it’s mostly identical, likely with some typo corrections.
I gave this 5 stars BUT I do have a few minor quibbles about the book.
My number one complaint is the fact that the question bank is still online only. Having the ability to PRINT the bonus questions made them much more valuable, and this was possible with some older version of this same guide.
Studies have shown that students focus less when reading from screens and performance may be affected. Additionally, it’s best to prep using the same method you would use when actually taking the test. That makes your practice experience closer to your testing experience. Printing to paper gives students that experience. Doing questions in a question bank online doesn’t.
Additionally, the OFFICIAL ACT PREP GUIDE (this book) and all versions of it borrows heavily from the previous book of ACT Tests pre 2014 changes called The Real ACT 3rd Edition (Official Act Prep Guide), particularly in the math sections (more on this below) of tests 1-3 in this book only. That's kind of annoying, as it means you can't buy both books and get 10 tests. If you buy both you get more like 8 tests. I know the other one is out of print, but it would still be nice to be able to buy that book used and get even more tests to practice with in complete form. As time goes on, there are more tests in this book, and now 2 free pdfs of post 2014 tests (see below) available, so this is becoming less of an issue, but it’s still something.
Finally, there is only one set of example essays for the essay section based on one prompt (not all the prompts that are paired with the tests). Students who really want to learn more about the essay may be left wanting more input.
Now let’s first discuss what this includes:
1) Five “real” ACT tests.
The first four exams appear to be identical to the previous editions of this guide. I’ve noted the form codes these were sourced from below in case you know of these past exams.
Test 1 (diagnostic): English, Reading, Science (Jun 2015 73C), Math (73C+10 random questions from The Real ACT Prep Guide exams, mix of exams, and a few originals), (Code 16MC1)
Test 2: English, Reading, Science (Apr 2015 73G), Math (random questions from The Real ACT Prep Guide exams, mostly from Exam #2, and a few originals), (Code 16MC2)
Test 3 :English (Test 5 from Real ACT Prep Guide), Reading, Science (Test 4 from Real ACT Prep Guide), Math (Many from test 4 from the Real ACT Prep Guide, some random from that Guide, plus a few 73G questions and a few originals.) (Code 16MC3)
Test 4: June 2017 Code 74C (Code 18MC4), all sections
Test 5: Dec 2017 Code A10 (Code 19MC5), all sections
2) Essay prompts
All tests include a complete essay prompt; a sixth prompt is in the chapter on the essay, for five total prompts.
3) Chapters that review the basic content of each section and have some example questions
Though this might seem to be a great resource, advice from the test makers is rarely as good as advice from private tutors and people who didn’t also create the test itself. I’m probably biased (I’m a private tutor and develop ACT prep curriculum), but even before I wrote materials, I knew the best tips I found for my students weren’t from the test makers. Ideas like “read carefully and thoroughly," are terrible advice for some students who when doing so can’t even finish half of a section. Many students are better off FINISHING than reading everything carefully. True, the book also has pacing strategies, but they aren’t written based on people who are on the ground with students trying to help them exploit test weaknesses or maximize scores. Sure, in an ideal world we we be good little students and do everything the “right” way, but real test prep is about optimization, not being a “good student.” It’s about working within the constraints of the test and maximizing your ability to get questions right. The idea that some students are different and your strategy may be different from someone else’s isn’t really accounted for here in a clear way. The voice of the book feels more objective than insightful in its advice.
The biggest value of this book is the real tests, not the section advice. If you want test prep advice, get another book or two from an independent tutor. Still, content tips in the English and Math could be somewhat useful for those with no other resources or limited budgets, and answer explanations may still be enough for those skilled at self assessment to make progress.
ALSO: Many of the “real” examples from these topic based chapters are part of fully released exams from prior years, such as 61C (the packet released free of charge in 2008-2009). As a result, the example material is not a huge boon for students, but actual a bit of a "spoiler" for anyone who digs up these old, free, released pdf tests online and wants to use them to practice full exams.
4) General information about the test that details registering, planning and packing for test day.
Can you get all this for free from the ACT website, probably. But this information is good to have from the source of the test in any case.
If you’re looking to maximize your access to REAL materials, here are your other options:
1) Upgrade to the The Official ACT Prep Pack with 7 Full Practice Tests (5 in Official ACT Prep Guide + 2 Online) and get access to two online tests in addition to the five tests in the book. Practicing online, though, is not ideal if you’re taking this on paper. (See my note above) (ACT now offers a small percentage of test takers the opportunity to take the test on computers, but I don’t recommend doing so; If you’re located internationally, though, you must take the ACT on a computer and then I definitely suggest this option over the book alone).
2) Get a used copy of the The Real ACT (CD) 3rd Edition (Official Act Prep Guide) in addition to this book.
You’ll likely want to skip most of the math sections except for anecdotal practice (particularly tests 4 and 2 which show up heavily on the math section of the newer book), but other sections are useful. Know that the reading has no dual passages, and that the science has more passages but the same number of questions. Also, avoid English test #5, and Science and Reading test #4, as these are identical to test #3 in the Official Guide you would get from this page.
3) Find the previously released free exams that ACT.org has offered students from prior years (note some may date from before the test tweaks in 2014):
There is one free right now at ACT's site (2018-2019 practice test, Code 74F PRE),
A second “online” edition free for international students at ACT.org
The 2017-2018 pdf practice test Code 72C PRE is also floating around on the internet,
And many sites have cataloged even older editions (2014-2015, 2011-2012, and 2008-2009) of the Preparing for the ACT packet. A quick online search for Free PDF ACT practice tests or "Preparing for the ACT" pdf should help you find some of these.
Get this for the tests (you can't beat real tests!). Go over your mistakes and learn from them!
Skip most of the chapter advice by topic (Math, Science, Reading, etc.) unless you can't afford more books or alternate options.
Online materials are ok but not perfect.
Note on the KINDLE EDITION: I've also purchased the Kindle version. It is improved from the previous Kindle version (2018-2019) so it is no longer extremely illegible on the portions of the book that are practice tests. Still, you can't zoom in on these pages at all and the quality is not the best, but it is useable now. I do not recommend the Kindle version unless you are taking the exam on a computer. Else a hard copy is just a better bet. See photo for images. The other thing is I can't find the code for the online resources in the Kindle Edition. There is a disclaimer at the beginning that tells you to go to a website if you are missing digital assets that come with the hardcopy but the ISBN for this book doesn't bring anything up on that site as of yet. You could probably email Wiley and get access (I actually have contacted them before for other issues and they're pretty responsive), but still something to note.
The Official ACT Prep Guide 2019-20 Edition (currently $22) is the essentially the exact same book as previous editions, such as the Official ACT Prep Guide 2018-19, the Official ACT Prep Guide 2018, and the Official ACT Prep Guide 2016-2017, other than the fact that it now includes a 5th paper test (the December 2017 ACT Form A10) and some minor updates/revisions. Yet this book continues to be the most essential preparation guide for the ACT, because it is the only source of official test questions in print—the practice ACTs in all other books are nothing more than subpar imitations of the real thing.
Don’t bother downloading the Kindle edition, however. First of all, the proprietary Amazon Kindle e-reader file format is so highly “DRM”ed that it’s very difficult to convert your Kindle file to a format that is easy for printing like PDF—and even if you are somehow able to do so, you will notice that the print quality is poor and the text is too blurry.
Thus, you should only buy the Kindle edition if you plan to do all of your reading off a screen, such as an iPad or an actual Kindle—but even then I wouldn’t recommend it. The ACT is still a paper test—at least for now—and as such should be studied for/practiced on paper. At best, the Kindle version of the book should be an add-on to the paper version—something portable and practical to supplement your studies on paper while you are away on vacation and don't want to lug this book around, for example.
Of course, these 5 official ACTs are just scratching the surface of what’s out there in terms of official ACT practice material: as of this writing I’ve counted 75 official ACTs that are publicly available online—including some of the tests in this book. Although additional learning and strategy guides are also helpful, as are classes, videos and tutoring, the best place to start your ACT studies is with official practice questions.
Overall, this book is a must-have for nearly any ACT prep student who appreciates the convenience of having 5 tests already printed out and ready to go with (somewhat helpful) answer explanations. However, the College Board's SAT book includes 8 practice tests, which I feel is a more reasonable number, so the main reason why I'm taking away one star is that there should be more practice exams.
For my full, updated list of ACT prep recommendations, you can google "ACT Action Plan: How to Study and Prepare for the ACT College Entrance Exam - McElroy Tutoring."
Best of luck on the ACT and beyond. Please leave questions or comments below, and I will be happy to respond.
This new edition of official ACT practice tests contains one more test than the previous edition (the books otherwise have the same content). Its price is $4.04 lower than the previous edition (as of May 7, 2019), so if you want to buy a book of official practice tests this is the edition to buy.
This review is four stars because the ACT book of practice tests has fewer tests than the comparable SAT book (5 versus 8) and it is priced $2.96 higher (as of May 7, 2019). Like many tutors, I have been waiting for more tests, better content and a lower price for a long time, and it looks like I have to wait a while longer.
PS: My brand-new book that just arrived (not used) did not contain a scratch off code for online practice!!! I'm upset...
Anyway, great book even still!