Despite recent changes to standardized test requirements in many colleges, the ACT remains a crucial measure of college readiness.
And the reality is that your child's ACT score (or lack thereof) can decide which schools they can get into and affect their ability to get merit-based scholarships.
Given the importance of ACT scores, preparing your child for the test is one of the best ways to secure their future.
An ACT prep course is the best way to ensure your child has the tools to succeed. However, once you start looking into prep courses, you may be overwhelmed by options.
This review article will cover everything you need to know about ACT Prep courses. We will go through the types of classes, top ACT prep companies to choose from, and the pros and cons of each ACT prep course.
What are the types of ACT Prep Courses?
Different ACT prep course options can accommodate different budgets, schedules, and unique needs. The three main types of courses are group classes, private tutoring, and self-paced practice.
Group ACT Courses
The structure of a group course is like any other type of class: one teacher, a group of students, and a set curriculum.
A group course can be a great option if you are looking for a class that will cover all the basics. It will also provide structure and accountability for your child's studies, even on a tighter budget.
Individual ACT Tutoring
A group ACT course will not have the same benefit for every student. The ACT covers topics that most US students learn in high school, so the content is often not the most challenging part of the test.
A group course may not always be the best option for test prep. Private tutoring is often helpful for those who need more personalized support. One-on-one tutors can work with students to create a study plan tailored to their needs. They can also adapt as your child learns and give dedicated one-on-one support.
The final option for ACT prep is to use a test prep book or a self-paced online class. Self-paced prep may be a good option if you're on a budget and your child is very self-motivated. However, consistency and accountability can be difficult with a self-paced course, so make sure to keep this in mind if you choose this option.
Princeton Review - Best Comprehensive Course
The Princeton Review's ACT Prep course ranks highly on almost every ACT course ranking list, and this is no exception. The Princeton Review is one of the oldest, most established test-prep companies. They are very reliable, with proven results. However, their classes are more expensive than those of other providers.
One of the Princeton Review's great features is its range of high-quality courses. For example, their most popular class puts students in the highest subset of test-takers with a 31+ point guarantee. They even offer tutoring with a 34+ point guarantee. In addition, students who aren't happy with their scores can retake the course for free.
The Princeton Review's courses are generally comprehensive. For example, their Essentials course includes live classes, 24/7 on-demand tutoring, proctored tests, materials, and a student portal. In addition, the Princeton Review offers an essentials course, a self-paced course, private tutoring, and even on-demand college essay review.
The Princeton Review's courses can give you great options if you're not quite sure how to study. You can talk to their support to help create the perfect study plan and get any resources you need all in the same place. If you plan on taking both the ACT and SAT, their courses also include an SAT prep course.
- Wide variety of courses
- Comprehensive support
- Extensive library of materials
- Trustworthy company with course success
- Higher prices
- No payment plan
- No free trials
- Not all courses guarantee score increases
Magoosh - Best Self-Paced Course
If you're looking for a high-quality self-paced course, Magoosh has excellent options. Their Premium self-paced course offers 1300+ questions, four practice tests, 250 video lessons, and curated study schedules.
In addition to these elements, Magoosh offers some unique features. For example, they offer a 4+ point score improvement guarantee, with a full refund if your student's progress does not meet the guarantee.
Their course also includes progress tracking features and online help from expert ACT tutors. Unfortunately, they do not offer private tutoring, but they have an academic support team to help with your questions. This support is unique among self-paced courses and can be a great resource.
Magoosh also offers a choice to take their self-paced course with live classes. Their teachers are highly qualified, and all scored 99th percentile on their ACT. The class with live instruction is pricier, but it offers both scheduled courses and lessons on-demand.
- Score guarantee
- Extra materials beyond practice questions
- Online support from tutors
- Live class option
- Limited course options
- Higher price than other self-paced options
- No one-on-one tutoring
- Less structure in the self-paced course
ACT Official Prep - Best Free Materials
If you are looking for an official ACT prep course, this is it. The ACT has partnered with Kaplan for their self-paced course and official tutoring. We cover those materials in our review of Kaplan's courses. The ACT also offers several free and low-cost practice materials.
The ACT offers a free official Test Prep Guide for each school year. The official Test Prep Guide has everything you need to know about test dates, fee waivers, and test prep. It is a great place to start if you are overwhelmed by the whole process.
They also offer a great range of ACT prep books, including their official ACT Prep Guide, complete with six practice tests and 400 online flashcards. The guide also comes with online practice resources, review explanations for every answer choice, and test-taking tips, all for $15.99. The ACT also offers prep guides for each subject separately.
In addition to their books, the ACT website has a library of free resources. They offer sample classes, online practice, online events, and an online practice test. These materials can help you make your test prep decisions and supplement your child's studying.
All of these free resources can be extremely helpful. Still, it takes a lot of self-discipline to create your study plan and keep up with it. In addition, you will have to help your student figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Although this is doable, many people would rather pay for a self-paced or instructor-led course.
- Free option
- Wide range of materials
- Official questions to simulate the test
- Help on all aspects of test-taking
- The site is not as user-friendly as some others
- Limited offerings
- Free materials do not come with structured courses
- No score guarantee
Other Good ACT Courses
Kaplan - Best Prep Materials
After the Princeton Review, Kaplan is the other best-known test prep company. They have trusted courses for pretty much every admissions exam there is. Kaplan also partners with the ACT, which means they have access to the top materials that best simulate the actual test questions. Using good practice questions is essential when taking the ACT, as test wording is often challenging.
Kaplan does not have the same range of courses as the Princeton Review. Still, they offer live online classes, a self-paced course, and online tutoring with a self-paced course. Their options are much more budget-friendly than those from the Princeton Review while still being very reliable and extensive.
Kaplan is well-known for its practice tests and ACT and SAT prep books. When studying for the ACT, doing practice tests can be one of the best ways to practice for the feeling of the actual test. Taking a practice test is also a great way to address challenges such as time management.
Kaplan offers several practice exams, including exams from the makers of the ACT themselves. They also have a question bank of over 2000+ official ACT questions for practice in smaller increments. Their self-paced course even comes with a print ACT prep book.
The one downside is that Kaplan's online materials are not as user-friendly as some other courses. In addition, their self-paced course is not as up-to-date as others, making it slightly more challenging to use. If you're concerned about this, it may be a good idea to try their sample materials.
Kaplan also offers free online events, including a sample class, parent workshops, and events hosted in partnership with the ACT. These offerings can help you gauge the quality of their courses and get some inside tips on preparing for the test.
Prep Scholar - Best Personalized Learning
Prep Scholar offers premium courses with an emphasis on personalized learning. Their program measures students' abilities and creates the most effective lesson plan. This customized approach can be helpful, as many students struggle with different subject areas.
Like many of the other top companies, Prep Scholar offers a 4+ point guarantee, with the possibility of a full refund. They also offer a free ACT consult to help answer any questions about the test and determine what program is best for you.
Prep Scholar boasts the largest ACT question bank. They have 4300+ practice questions and detailed answer explanations for each one. Although your child is unlikely to use 4300 questions, this means they will have plenty of questions for any skill they need to practice.
One advantage of Prep Scholar is its vast library of materials. With over 70 skill lessons and 51 skills to practice and master, they have any skill your child needs to learn. They also offer 60 hours of high-quality instructional videos and up to six practice tests. These materials can help mimic the testing experience and provide plenty of specific practice.
Prep Scholar offers five different packages. Their most popular is their self-paced Complete ACT Online Prep course. In addition, they have options that include expert-led classes and private tutoring.
Alternately, you can buy a self-paced course with two years of access and expedited support or a dual ACT and SAT prep course. They even offer a plan to pay for the self-paced course in monthly installments, making it a bit more affordable.
UWorld - Best Budget Option
UWorld's ACT prep course offers more budget-friendly, structured prep. UWorld's self-paced course uses the method of active learning. Students practice with questions from UWorld's bank of 2100+ questions. They then review any errors with step-by-step guidance and pinpoint areas of weakness through UWorld's performance-tracking feature.
UWorld's program is entirely digital and accessible on any device. As a result, it is perfect for students with tight schedules, as they can practice in any small moments of downtime.
One of the pros of UWorld's course is its flexible pricing. Their courses start at $29, which gives you access for 30 days. Their highest price is $99 for 360 days. This option includes three self-assessments with a score predictor.
They also offer renewals if you need their service for more time than expected. They even offer a free 7-day trial, so you can try out the program and see if it works for you.
Although UWorld's program is more structured than just taking practice tests on your own, it will still need a great deal of self-discipline and motivation. In addition, their library of resources is not as complete as some others, so you may need to go off the site if you need other prep materials.
Once you break it down, the process of choosing the best ACT prep course does not have to be so overwhelming. However, if you are still having trouble picking a class, consider your child's target score needs and your resources. And remember, many of these courses offer free trial periods, so you can always try out multiple ones to see which works best for you.