Cracking the ACT- ACT Book Review

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Cracking the ACT- ACT Prep Book Review

Overall, because this ACT book is so comprehensive and has mainly basic strategies, it won't get you into the top ACT score range, but you can get a decent ACT score with it and a few weeks of preparation for the ACT test.

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  • Strategies, Tips and Tricks
  • Math
  • English
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Quality and Style

In a few weeks, Princeton Review claims, you can substantially change your ACT score. How well does their ACT book prepare you for the ACT test? Let’s find out.

Tips and Tricks

From the start, Cracking the ACT does a good job of laying out exactly what topics will be tested on the ACT test. It describes how many of each question the ACT test will have as well. Also, it compares the ACT vs SAT. This book notes that the SAT test has more of an emphasis on vocabulary than the ACT does. Additionally, the SAT Math section includes no trigonometry while the ACT does.

This ACT book provides some basic tips like what it calls “Triage”. First you rank the questions’ difficulty levels. Then, answer all the easy questions on the first pass through the test and the hard questions on the second pass. Another helpful ACT tip Cracking the ACT gives is to write the answers on each page. Then, bubble the answers on the answer sheet before moving on to the next test booklet page. However, other ACT books like the ACT Black Book provide much more detailed strategies.

Good for Grammar

Cracking the ACT is a good ACT book if you need to know the specific grammar rules the ACT will test. Also, this ACT book does a good job of informing you of what ACT English topics will be tested most often. It gives a general guideline to follow: Answers must be Complete, Consistent, Clear and Concise (4Cs). Then it goes through the process of answering example questions with that in mind.

ACT Math

This ACT book also does a decent job of covering ACT Math. It defines all of the vocabulary in the ACT  math section, a fundamental step that some other ACT books don’t cover. It gives a nice tip on how to plug in the answer to find the correct answer, which can save a lot of time on the ACT test. Another tip is ballparking, which is choosing an estimate with which to approach the problem.

ACT Prep Ballpark Strategy
Ballparking Strategy

ACT Reading

As far as ACT Reading, this ACT book is a bit on the short side, but does explain a helpful strategy. This strategy eliminates the need to read the entire passage, identifies and eliminates wrong answers, and systematically and quickly gets to the right answer. I found the ACT Writing section in Cracking the ACT to be very high-quality. It distills most of high school English into just a few concise pages in this ACT book.

ACT Science

The ACT Science section discussed in Cracking the ACT does a fairly good job summarizing the section into three areas: Charts and Graphs, Experiments,  and Conflicting Viewpoints. This ACT book also explains how the ACT science section is mainly about interpreting data, not your prior content knowledge in the subject.

In Cracking the ACT, you get two practice exams that the Princeton Review says are comparable to the real ACT test. However, they (like the rest of the book) are a little easier than the actual ACT, so beware.


Like this review? Check out our Ultimate ACT Guide!

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