The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 – 2017

The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 – 2017

Everything you need to know about the 2016-2017 ACT test, with real full-length practice tests from the makers of the ACT!

The Official ACT Prep Guide 2016-2017 is the bestselling resource for students gearing up for the ACT test. This comprehensive guide walks you through the entire test experience, from registration through results, with expert advice straight from the test’s creators. You’ll find effective test-taking strategies, tips for boosting your score on the English, math, reading, and science tests, and detailed information on the enhanced optional writing test. Three new full-length practice tests help you assess your readiness so you can spot weak areas well in advance, and the ACT experts provide valuable advice on preparing both mentally and physically so you can manage anxiety and be fully confident on test day. You also get free online bonus content to help you start college on the right foot, including tips for preparing an application that gets noticed, getting into your first-choice school, being a successful student, and much more.

The 2016-2017 version of the ACT guide includes a number of changes, including reading test sections with two shorter prose passages and the enhanced writing test’s prompts. This guide provides a preview of what to expect for the entire exam, so you can go into the test feeling fully prepared and ready to excel.

  • Get insider tips and strategies from the exam’s creators
  • Improve your score in all five content areas, including the optional writing test
  • Practice with full-length test forms taken from the actual ACT
  • Gear up for college with bonus online advice for a successful first year

The ACT is different from other standardized tests. It tests your accumulated skills and knowledge, so sheer memorization and vocabulary lists are unproductive prep strategies. For preparation strategies that actually make a difference in your score—and beyond—go straight to the source with The Official ACT Prep Guide 2016-2017.


The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 – 2017

3 Responses to The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 – 2017

  1. Brian R. McElroy says:
    244 of 250 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Finally, an updated edition that reflects the changes to the New ACT…but with only 3 “new” tests. Also available on Kindle., May 28, 2016
    Brian R. McElroy (San Diego, CA USA) –

    This review is from: The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 – 2017 (Paperback)

    I’m a Harvard graduate, SAT perfect scorer and full-time tutor who has taught the ACT for nearly 20 years.

    We’ve been waiting since 2011 for a newer edition of this book, and at long last, it’s here: the included 3 tests reflect the minor changes 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, and for the first time ever, the book is also offered as an instant digital download from the Kindle store at a discounted price. (Although the Kindle version–accessible not just for Kindle owners but on nearly any device with a screen–is admittedly very convenient and environmentally friendly, I would still recommend that you buy the physical book, because the actual ACT is still a paper-based test.)

    The Official ACT Prep Guide 2016-2017 (formerly the Real ACT Prep Guide) 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. Seeing that this updated version of the ACT has already been around since the September 2015 administration of the exam, the publication of this book is long overdue…but it’s better late than never.

    Unfortunately, this most recent edition of the “Big Red Book” contains only 3 updated tests, and those tests include many recycled questions from the previous (3rd) edition, as well as from the April and June 2015 versions of the ACT, which is why I’m removing one star from my review (I was awfully tempted to remove two), but again, that’s better than only 1 new test (google “Preparing for the ACT Test 2016”), which until now is all that was available. 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 mentioned above, 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.

    In addition, 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. Let’s hope for another batch of updated tests to be released sometime before the end of 2016, but again, 4 ACTs in the new format is far better than only 1.


    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…

    Read more

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  2. Alex Fay says:
    110 of 114 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Annoyingly Limited, But Essential Material, May 29, 2016

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016 – 2017 (Paperback)
    This is very disappointing, made worse by the fact that you should definitely buy this anyway.

    I have been a tutor for 15 years and owned my own SAT/ACT prep company for about the last 10 of those years, so I’m intimately familiar with this book, and all of its past versions. The advice portion of this book is fine. Not amazing. Helps you know what to expect if you’ve never seen it before, which is good. But it’s mostly all very, very long winded ways of saying, “Hey, you should practice math, learn your grammar, and read more accurately.” All of which is to say: practice! This is not revolutionary advice, here. So the practice tests are far (far far far far far) and away the most useful aspect of this book, and I’ll spend most of my time reviewing those.

    First, the good news. The first two practice tests in this book are (finally!!) an updated version of the ACT … mostly, at least. (The second test recycles some very old math problems from previous editions.) This new material includes compare/contrast Reading passages, which have been around for a while on the actual ACT but not available for practice in any of the official practice books until now. So that’s nice. The other sections — English, Math, and Science — also seem to have been updated to be on par with the difficulty of the current test. Anyone who practiced with the earlier editions was in for a small shock on test day when the math and science were noticeably harder than what the official practice book had showed; this book fixes that problem on the first two exams. The essay prompts have been updated to reflect the new version, too.

    Now the bad news. First of all, why in the world did we drop from five practice tests in the previous edition down to three? As I mentioned, these tests are the biggest value in the book, and 40% of that value is gone from previous editions. And that would be bad enough if all three tests were awesome updated material, but the third test… goodness, the third test is a ridiculous insult.

    The third test is still the freakin’ old version!! What are you doing, Wiley?! Such an unforced error. It’s an virtual copy of Test 4 from previous editions, it does NOT contain a compare/contrast reading section, and with the exception of a few stray math questions that have been altered or moved, the whole thing is a mostly useless, outdated mess. To add insult to injury, they managed to screw up the formatting, and in the reading and science sections, they printed the passages on odd pages and the questions themselves on the following page … meaning you’re flipping that damn page back and forth a million times. Super annoying, and not analogous to test day, when flipping occurs but is minimized. One blank page on page 471 would’ve fixed this. There are blank pages elsewhere, so it’s not like they didn’t get the concept. It took me five seconds to figure this out. Apparently, it’s going to take Wiley (at least) two editions.

    So, to sum up: the first two practice tests are worth the price of admission, because you absolutely need to practice with true source material and this is the one and only spot you’ll legally find it. Other companies’ books are sometimes decent imitations when you just need more work, but they always feel a bit off … sort of like when you can tell that a photocopy of a photocopy just isn’t like the original, even if you can’t put your finger on why. So you *have* to buy this book, because they have a monopoly on the original material. But you will be left wanting much, much more. The third test is better than nothing in the strictest sense, but it stinks. And the fourth and fifth tests no longer exist (if you were willing to reprint old material, why not at least chuck in another test or two for kicks??).

    My final advice: buy this book. Do the first practice test. Save the second test. Use as much other material as you’d like (i.e. the third test in this book, Princeton Review books, Kaplan, etc) as practice material knowing that they’re not quite the real deal, but it’s better than nothing. Then take second test to see how you’ve come along before test day. In other words, bookend your prep with tests one and two, which are the only practice ACTs available out there that are truly accurate to the current version.

    Good luck to all the students out there! You’ll get through this eventually, and this book is here to (kinda) help you.

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  3. MD says:
    61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Mostly old wine in a new bottle: QuantumACTPrep’s Review, May 29, 2016
    MD (Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania United States) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This is the first major update to the Official ACT guide since 2011 and this guide is a complete disappointment. All my comments below are based on the analysis of the math section of the guide.

    1) The number of practice tests in this guide is 3, compared to the 5 in the 2011 Real ACT Guide. Students need more practice tests, not fewer.

    2) The practice tests are a patchwork of questions from the the 5 tests in the Real ACT Guide and recently released ACT tests from 2015.

    3) First Practice Test: The math section in the first practice test in the guide has around 40 questions from the June 2015 ACT test (Form 73C), and the remainder are a combination of new questions and questions from the five tests in the Real ACT Guide.

    4) Second Practice Test: Half of the math questions are from the Test#2 from Real ACT guide and the remainder are either new or from the other tests in the Real ACT guide.

    5) Third Practice Test: Half of the math questions are from April 2015 ACT test (Form 73G) and the rest are from Test#4 from the Real ACT Guide. Again it would have been better to just completely reproduce the April 2015 ACT test.

    6) Because they have reused part of the tests that are in the older Real ACT guide, this makes the practice tests in the older guide useless. I don’t know if this was done deliberately to ensure “planned obsolescence” of the older guide.

    My final recommendation would be to use the April and June 2015 ACT tests on their own and use the five practice tests in the Real ACT Guide, 3rd Edition for additional practice. I do not recommend buying this guide.

    As I have said before, this analysis is based on the math section only, but I am pretty certain the overlap will be mirrored in the remaining sections of the tests as well. I will leave it to others to analyze those sections.

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