Are you looking for the right ACT test-taking strategies, learning styles or video lessons? Whether you’re a high school senior looking for the right pointers or just wondering how to best prepare for the ACT, it may be difficult to find the right answers. With this guide, we here at CareerKarma will help you find those answers, so read on.
One of the most dreaded yet essential cornerstones of any college application is standardized test scores. The ACT, or American College Testing exam, is considered difficult to study for by many students. However, instead of relying on thick textbooks and complicated guides, you can score highly with the help of several online resources and tools, such as the ones covered in this essential ACT prep guide.
What Is The ACT And Why Should I Take It?
Initially offered in 1959, the ACT is one of two standardized tests that are primarily used for college applications. It is used by college admission officers as a tool to measure the academic abilities of applicants. Along with transcripts, essays, and extracurricular activities, an excellent ACT score can improve your chances of getting into the college or university of your dreams.
It was created as an alternative to the SAT, also known as the College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test. However, there are several differences between the two standardized tests. Firstly, the ACT contains four main sections (English, reading, math, and science) along with an optional writing section and is graded out of an average composite score of 36. On the other hand, the SAT consists of three primary sections (reading, writing, and math) and is graded out of 1,600 points. It also includes an optional essay-writing portion.
Though the SAT does give you slightly more time to answer each question, it also has its drawbacks. For instance, the math section makes up half the score on the SAT compared to a quarter of the score on the ACT. Furthermore, the ACT does not explicitly test you on vocabulary skills, unlike the SAT.
In general, the ACT tends to be better for faster-paced students who prefer reading, whereas the SAT is slower and preferred by students who excel in math. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference and which core subjects you are stronger in. Each test has its unique strengths and weaknesses, so taking practice tests will help you make your decision swiftly.
A high ACT score can be very beneficial for you in several ways. First off, a great ACT score can earn you credit for particular core college courses, meaning you’ll save time and money in the long run. Moreover, high ACT scores can earn you scholarships not only from your college but from other institutions, too.
Best Online ACT Prep Programs
Based on factors such as quality, affordability, convenience, and duration, these are some of the best online ACT prep programs:
ACT Online Prep
Duration: 6 months of access
Key Features: Affordable, enjoyable, and reliable
Starting off our list is a program spawned by the creator of the ACT itself. The ACT Online Prep administers questions that were present on past exams. This reliable approach gives you a good idea of what to expect when you take the real thing. Furthermore, each course is personalized for users, allowing them to customize their study schedules to prioritize certain subjects and skills. Featuring games, challenges, daily reminders, and personal goals, this online preparation also comes in the form of a mobile app.
If you want the most affordable online preparation with authentic past ACT practice questions and an enjoyable way of learning, then this course may be the one for you.
Key Features: Free, convenient, and entertaining
If you’re looking for a program that offers completely free ACT training, then PrepFactory has got you covered. Convenience is the name of the game for PrepFactory, as students can utilize several test preparation courses free of cost (even a log-in is not required). You can work with video lessons, strategy tips, practice sets, and even play exciting games that incorporate math and English problems.
To summarize, PrepFactory offers a completely free online course that allows you to practice for the ACT with a variety of approaches. Though it does not include complete ACT practice tests, this may be your preferred route if you’re looking for a fun and convenient training program.
Cost: $79 for a month/$99 for a one-year program
Duration: Dependent on enrollment plan
Key Features: User-friendly, self-paced, and thorough
Magoosh is another ACT prep company that is popular amongst many students. One of the qualities that separate this preparation course from others is how user-friendly it is. Featuring completely online and self-paced plans, Magoosh offers students an affordable and convenient service available from several devices. Furthermore, this program offers over 250 video lessons, 1,300 practice questions, four practice tests, and a personalized study plan for each user.
Magoosh is also known for its accommodating customer service, which promises a seven-day money-back guarantee if users are unhappy with their experience. If you prefer studying by yourself at your own pace, then Magoosh is a great option.
Duration: 12 months of access
Key Features: Versatile, fun, and all-encompassing
Peterson’s is an excellent tool for any student who requires not only intensive ACT prep, but various other educational resources such as admissions coaching and scholarship databases. Even if you want to stick to ACT prep, you can’t go wrong with Peterson’s extremely flexible design. Whether you choose to study on your laptop, phone, or tablet, this program allows you to learn wherever and whenever you’re most comfortable.
You can choose “learning paths” of varying lengths. Moreover, you can utilize several quizzes, practice tests, interactive lessons, and yes, even games for an exciting yet deep learning experience.
The Princeton Review
Cost: $99, $799, or $3,000
Duration: Dependent on enrollment plan
Key Features: Well-known, diverse, and intensive
Perhaps the most well-known of the programs listed, The Princeton Review is hailed by many to be the best ACT prep program available. Featuring a variety of test preparation tools and resources, the Princeton Review offers tutoring, admissions assistance, and hardcopy coursebooks as well. You can choose between a self-paced course, a privately tutored plan, or an expert-led program.
In case you aren’t happy with your test scores, the company offers a money-back guarantee as well as the chance to prepare all over again, free of cost. Though it’s a more expensive program, you’ll probably gain the most resources from The Princeton Review, including video lessons, ACT prep books, practice tests, and little-known tips and skills.
Other ACT Prep Resources
There’s no such thing as too much preparation, especially when it comes the ACT. When test day arrives, you should make sure you are confident in your ability and level of skill, which can only happen if you take full advantage of the resources available. Listed below are some other prep tools you should look into.
- VarsityTutors – This website offers private in-home or online tutoring from experienced tutors for a range of tests from the ACT to the MCAT.
- PrepScholar Tutors – Featuring a rigorous process for hiring tutors, this website will ensure that you get top-tier ACT training.
- Inspirica – Inspirica features several study plans from one-on-one, structured, and in-depth reviews or small, self-guided, and quick reviews.
- Testive – Consisting of personally tailored-study plans for each user, Testive is another excellent ACT prep tool.
- Compass Prep – Compass Prep incorporates live-video conferencing with tutors along with adequate and exclusive Compass Prep practice materials.
Online Practice Tests
- ACT Free Test – Containing free downloadable study guides and full-length practice tests (with answers), this is another wonderful aid to help you prepare for test day.
- PowerScore – Featuring four full practice tests modeled after past ACT exams, PowerScore offers many services and is an excellent preparation tool.
- 4tests.com – This site offers students update practice exams covering all four sections, and is a popular choice among ACT exam takers.
- Ten Study Tips for the ACT – This is a helpful aid that covers several tips that may give you that extra edge when test day arrives.
- Allen Cheng – An ACT legend who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT, Allen Cheng gives students tips for improving their scores in all sections of the exam.
- Test Taking Skills and Advice – This site covers obscure yet helpful tips from methods for each section to specific relaxation techniques so that you remain focused and ready.
- PowerScore – Featuring an extensive set of flashcards relevant to math concepts, using PowerScore’s resources will definitely help your ACT score rise.
- Union Test Prep – Consisting of free flashcards for all ACT sections, Union Test Prep has got your ACT training covered.
- Barron’s – One of many sets of flashcards available online, we believe Barron’s is an excellent resource that features around 500 flashcards to help you prepare adequately.
Whether you take the ACT or the SAT is ultimately up to you and taking the time to do your research regarding each test will help you make that decision. With the resources, tips, and guidance provided here, we here at CareerKarma wish you all the best with your exam and your future endeavors.