Are you a teenager thinking about going to college and now you are standing in the bookstore wondering what to study to ACE the ACT? I can relate. As a tutor, I have to figure out what works for my students and what doesn't. I have an education degree and I still struggle with finding good, updated materials.
Below is a review of the materials that I use and why I chose them. This way you can decide if studying alone or with a tutor is the best option for you.
Studying for the ACT
If you decide to study for the ACT, you are farther ahead than a lot of your peers. Any studying will help as long as you find reputable materials. One way to find the right materials is by reading reviews of workbooks, so you are already on the right track.
I recommend finding materials that have sample full length tests so you can practice pacing yourself for the actual test.
At the Beginning
When I first started tutoring ACT test prep, I stood where you are in test section of Barnes and Noble. A prospective student wanted help with the ACT and I needed materials to help them. There in the test aisle was several bookcases filled with workbooks for different tests. I had done some research so I knew the ACT was being updated and I wanted to get the latest workbook that I could find.
A College Perspective
I wanted a college point of view, so that is why I chose the Kaplan book. I use the Kaplan ACT 2016 Strategies, Practice and Review guide. The test company just changed the ACT, so I had to make sure I had the most updated version. I wanted a comprehensive book with lots of examples and practice tests that would help prepare students for the test, relieving test anxiety in the process. The Kaplan book does just that.
It covers all subjects on the ACT including the optional writing test and gives up to 6 full length tests. It even analyzes scores by breaking down each question into categories so students can figure out their strengths and weaknesses. I use one of the tests as a baseline assessment so I can create a study plan for students.
It is written at an ACT writing level so students can practice actual testing conditions. One thing that I don't like about it is that the passages are not high school friendly. Many of my students are not interested in the material and therefore, get bored easily. Also it is written in black and white with little to no pictures.
A need to change
When one of my students decided to take my course twice, I decided I needed to change my class up a bit. I went looking for a different program. Instead I found two. These two programs are Barron's ACT Math and Science Workbook(found at Barnes and Noble) and Complete Fun ACT Prep Bundle(found on Teacher Pay Teacher's website).
After working with this student, he took the ACT in June after he graduated high school and earned a $10,000 scholarship to college.
Complete Fun ACT Prep Bundle
I really like the Complete Fun ACT Prep Bundle because it uses topics that the students are interested in. It is a downloadable program that comes with colorful posters, Power Points, and workbooks. One of the passages talks about the Chicago Cubs curse which they broke in 2016. These topics gets students excited about studying for the ACT. They interact with the reading and create great discussions which helps with learning. It also gives key words to use in question types like the Kaplan book. This way students can write their own test questions using their own materials.
This bundle only covers reading and English. Another drawback is that it might not be written at an ACT level of writing, so if that bugs you, this program is not for you.
Barron's ACT Math and Science Workbook: Second Edition
Since the Fun Bundle didn't cover science and math, I had to find something else. I liked the Barron's book because it also explained each subject in detail and gave extra examples to practice. It is in black and white without any pictures, but the print is larger. I was also able to find flashcards that covered each subject. The flashcards had sample questions for students to answer which makes for a quick review. I found this book to be a little more fun than the Kaplan book, but still comprehensive in nature.
It is not updated to the 2016 standards and not endorse by the ACT. Neither are the other programs I have discussed today. It is a lot of reading and analyzing, so if you struggle with reading, this could be a problem for you.
Some students are perfectly capable of studying for the ACT on their own by using study guides and or other resources. However, there are other options such as hiring a tutor. When I tutor, I give a baseline ACT and analyze the results for you. Then I take those results and create a study plan for each student. I create lessons and discussions to help you master the skills necessary to succeed.
What have you done to study for the ACT? I would love to hear from you so comment below.
My name is Stena Schmitt.
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