ACT Sample Test: How To Find One

Finding an "official" ACT sample test is an important first step in the test preparation process. When I begin tutoring a student, I always start with a diagnostic ACT test to clarify areas of strengths and weaknesses and make sure the ACT is a good fit for the student (as opposed to the New SAT).

Probably the most important factor in test preparation is getting copies of the actual test, or the copyrighted versions of past tests taken by real people. ´╗┐Secondly, finding non-copyrighted ACT sample tests and specifically target weak areas in math and grammar and vocabulary. So where do you start? 

ACT Sample Test: Several Options

Below, I list five different options for finding an ACT sample test. Remember, these options can be used throughout your tutoring to help you access as many practice tests as possible while studying for the ACT. These options come in many varieties: purchased, free, downloadable, printed, etc. Pick the one that works best for you.

Option #1: Real Guide to ACT

If you plan to take the ACT  this book is the best. Why? Because The Official ACT Prep Guide is only ACT prep book that has "real" ACT practice tests, ones actually copyrighted by the that also include the New ACT Essay prompts. It contains three "real" exams (which means students may need to supplement with non-copyrighted practice tests). When picking an ACT tutor or test prep program, always ask if they use this book.

Note: The reviews on Amazon for this book have only been two stars, but the reviews are not representative. Most are written by tutors that were disappointed that the ACT did not release more tests or trying to route students to other books. Do not be worried. Yes, I wish there were more tests too, but this is the ONLY book with recent, official ACT Tests. In my practice, ALL of my students use this book (and supplement with others).

Option #2: Earlier Editions of the ACT Prep Guide

In the last year, there have been three, different "Official" ACT Study guides available to students. Very confusing. For the most part, this is due to a change in publishers and a change in the essay prompt (making the older editions obsolete). The good news is if you can get your hands on an older edition, you will have another five ACT sample tests. With that said, don't spend tons of money on these older editions, because there are some less expensive options (see below).

NoteMany students and parents do not realize that the ACT is copyrighted material, so test prep materials from companies, like Princeton or Kaplan, cannot publish actual ACT tests in their test prep materials, just approximations of the real ones. If you can only afford one book ($25), buy this one. It is the most important of the bunch.

Even More Options

3. Recently, I found a good resource for a free, ACT sample test. It comes as part of the "Preparing for the ACT" bulletin (often available at high school counseling office too).The actual test begins on p. 11 (and includes the New ACT essay prompt).  The downsides are that you will need to print out the test, which will be 50pages and there are no answer explanations (unlike the Official ACT guide listed above). 

4. One advantage to working with an experienced ACT tutor (one with at least 5 years experience) is that these tutors usually have caches of older, previously taken ACT tests given to them by former students. These are like gold to any committed test prep tutor. Why? Because it allows their students to take more practice tests than the ones officially published by the ACT, which can be a real advantage. 

5. If you are willing to commit a few more dollars to your ACT test prep, consider purchasing Princeton Review's Cracking the ACT or Kaplan Review's ACT Premier with six ACT practice testsOne of the major drawbacks to the new Official ACT Study Guide is there are not enough practice tests (only three). This book fills in the gap. It is also one of the most reasonably priced too.  


ACT Vocabulary 

The good news (I guess) is that the ACT does not directly test student's vocabulary level anymore, except within the context of reading passages.

ACT Best Books

You will find more detailed descriptions for recommended test prep materials, including recommendations for specific subject areas, such as ACT Math Practice, ACT English, ACT Science and more.

Don't Forget

Don't forget that ALL colleges accept the ACT test scores as well. So if you are struggling with the SAT, consider taking the ACT test. The two main benefits of the ACT is that there is more (and better) test prep material since the test has not changed significantly in the last few years. Second, the ACT tends to be less "tricky" and closer to the subject matter in high school classes.