The ACT Official Guide
ACT Official Guide Summary
The Official ACT Prep Guide is published by John Wiley and Sons and is available from the ACT website or bookstores for a retail price of $32.95 plus any shipping charges. The Official Guide includes an overview of the test, a summary of important skills, comprehensive coverage of each ACT section, and four full-length practice tests with answers and answer explanations. This volume should be regarded as an essential resource for ACT study and an authoritative reference work on the ACT as an assessment. Updated editions of the Official Guide are published regularly, and test-takers should ensure that they purchase the most recent (older versions can be much less expensive but are also outdated and therefore less reliable). The Official Guide is available as a stand-alone volume or as part of the Official ACT Prep Pack (approximately $37.00), the latter of which includes two additional practice tests and six months of access to ACT Online Prep. The ACT Official Guide is currently published in hard copy and eBook formats (pricing for the latter version varies).
Official Guide Coverage of ACT Sections
The Official Guide provides detailed coverage of the content, question types, and study strategies for all five sections of the ACT. The chapter devoted to the Math test, for example, reviews the three main areas (Preparing for Higher Math, Integrating Essential Skills, and Modeling), lists and analyzes the types of questions included (basic math problems, basic math problems in settings, very challenging problems, and question sets), and discusses 10 important strategies to use while taking the section. The Official Guide also features a chapter that helps test-takers understand their specific strengths and weaknesses for each ACT section and lists common test-taking errors.
Official Guide ACT Practice Tests
The Official Guide includes four full practice tests. The first of these is intended to be diagnostic (an evaluation of initial skill level), and it is followed by instructions for scoring the test and analyzing the results. The other three practice assessments are meant to be taken after a period of study, and answer explanations for all multiple-choice sections are provided. Answer sheets for all four practice tests are included, and these are identical to the official answer sheets used for exam administrations. The Official Guide also comes with a conversion chart that allows test-takers to translate raw scores (the number of correct answers) to scaled scores of 1-36.
Miscellaneous Official Guide Content
In addition to test summaries, coverage of test content, and practice tests, the Official Guide devotes chapters to interpreting all ACT scores and rankings, selecting a test day and registering for the test, and having a successful test day. The Official Guide also features score data (scaled-score percentile rankings and averages) for the three most recent testing years on the multiple-choice sections and for the Writing test. Volume extras include a PIN code allowing students access to 400 additional online practice questions and advice on completing successful college applications.
About the Official Guide Publisher
John Wiley & Sons is a publishing firm that was founded in 1807 in New York City and is now headquartered in Hoboken, New Jersey. The firm is known for publishing educational materials at a variety of levels and for the Wiley Online Library, a database of journals, books, and reference works.
Official Guide Authors and Contributors
The ACT organization is listed as the author for the Official Guide, and there are no specific individuals named as writers or contributors. The volume is touted as "the only official prep guide from the makers of the ACT," but information about the people who actually wrote the Official Guide text is not provided. ACT's current Senior Vice President for Research is Angie McAllister, an experienced educator who has taught at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels and has also served as a school administrator.
Making Best Use of the Official Guide
The Official Guide should be thought of as a valuable reference work and resource for practice exercises, but it is not intended to function as a replacement for professional instruction. The Official Guide is best regarded as a course textbook, which is obviously not a substitute for the course itself. The most dramatic ACT skill and score improvements will be achieved through the guidance of an experienced teacher using the Official Guide as an important part of the formal learning process.