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Applying to college is stressful, even more so in today’s day and age. Who wouldn’t get overwhelmed by writing multiple essays, trying to squeeze in as many extracurriculars as possible, and on top of that studying for complex standardized tests? It’s not easy for the students, but it can be hard on the parents too, who are trying their best to navigate all the resources available to prepare for important standardized tests like the ACT.
Sojourning Scholar wants to relieve some of the burdens from the parents during this time. In our previous post, we covered the top ACT courses available in 2022. Our college admission experts went through each of these courses and tried them out to see what they’re really like, and now we’re bringing you a full in-depth review of the Kaplan Test Prep ACT course. Our authentic reviews can allow you to get a better idea of whether this course is right for your child and how to make the most of the resources.
Kaplan Test Prep partnered with ACT.org to offer high-quality ACT prep courses, including a self-paced course, a live course, and tutoring. Students get the chance to learn from top-rated teachers and get exposed to the official ACT practice tests.
Is Kaplan’s ACT Prep Course Right for Your Child?
Who we recommend the course for:
- Students who want the most realistic ACT practice
- Those who want to study efficiently, not just access unlimited resources
Who we don't recommend the course for:
- Students that want to take as many practice tests as possible
- Students who don’t enjoy watching video lessons
- Those who don’t want to take the time to review their progress consistently
- Students and parents that want extra support in the self-paced environment and guaranteed results
Kaplan ACT Prep Course Overview
Kaplan Test Prep offers three options for ACT prep courses: a self-paced online course, a live online class, and one on one tutoring. These options come at different price points
Kaplan ACT prep course similarities
All of Kaplan’s ACT prep courses include the following:
- On-demand video lessons
- Over 30 self-paced video lessons
- Over 2,000 real ACT practice questions
- 5 full-length practice tests
Kaplan ACT prep course distinctions
Despite multiple similarities, there are a few key distinctions between the Kaplan ACT prep courses:
- Price points - The self-paced course is significantly less expensive than the live course and the tutoring packages
- Live teacher - The live course and the tutoring include a teacher, whereas the self-paced course relies on instructor-led videos
- Only the private tutoring option offers individualized homework assignments
- Only the Live Online course includes teachers available offline to answer questions
The Kaplan ACT self-paced course includes five major units. Within each unit, there are multiple lessons. For instance, unit one covers topics related to the ACT English test and the Math test, while unit two adds on reading and science.
There are three activities to complete per lesson. First, you watch the video lesson, which can range from about 5-10 minutes in length. Next, you complete a three-question guided practice, and last you do independent practice.
The video lessons were engaging, with views of an actual instructor instead of just a voiceover. The instructor’s face took up part of the screen and then the question and notes took up the other half.
Lessons cover a range of topics including the following:
- Test-taking strategies
- Linear Equations
- Rates and Ratios
- Passage strategies
- Global, inference, and detailed questions
- Vocabulary and function questions
- Sentence structure
- Commas, dashes, and colons
- Precision and word choice
- Research passages
- Conflicting viewpoints passages
- Data Representation Passages
When you sign up for the ACT Live Online, you receive 16 hours of live online instruction.
The website highlights three core instructors. Although it doesn’t say the percentile of their own ACT score, these instructors have college degrees and have been tutoring for the ACT for several years.
The schedule for the course includes eight two-hour classes. The course information includes a list of topics covered in the course and you can see that the classes are once, twice, three times, or even four times per week, depending on the timeframe of the course
There are many options to choose from in terms of when your classes take place, which is great for students who need flexibility when planning their ACT prep.
You can see the basic information about the course instructor before purchasing the Live Online course, which is also helpful to get an idea of the teaching style.
One thing we recognized is that there do not seem to be practice tests scheduled in the course, at least not in the details section.
We attended a free live class to get a feel for how the Live Online course works for Kaplan’s ACT Prep. The video recording was about 1 hour and 15 minutes long and covered the English and Science sections. The instructor was engaging and the video included both her face and the notes/questions that she explained throughout the lesson.
packages can be purchased in 5-hour blocks, from 5 to 30 hours. In addition, the tutoring packages include access to the online platform with five full-length practice tests, over seven-hour on-demand video lessons, and over 2000 practice questions.
When you begin your tutoring package, students will take a diagnostic test to identify strengths and weaknesses. Tutors will tailor their individual sessions to the right concept and strategies for each student. Tutoring also includes personalized homework assignments, which is a differentiated factor from Kaplan’s other offerings.
Also, if you are unsure about purchasing a tutoring package, you have the chance to schedule a free consultation with a Kaplan ACT tutor. This consultation can be scheduled directly on the site with a simple calendar.
The Kaplan online user experience is fairly straightforward. The dashboard that you start at is the Learning Path Home, which outlines all five units and the practice tests. Students have the ability to filter the units by completed, in progress, or not started.
Review of Kaplan’s ACT Practice Material
Practice questions in lessons and drills
We really liked the way that Kaplan set up the practice questions in their lessons. First, within the videos, there were points that the instructor might stop and encourage a student to pause the video to do a practice question, which would then be reviewed.
Also, as we stated earlier, parts two and three of the lesson involve guided practice and drills. The guided practice questions are very much like what you will see on the ACT, and the drills build on that more by including five questions instead of just three.
Once a student completes the practice questions, there is always an opportunity to review their answers and see their progress.
In addition to the in-lesson questions, Kaplan’s ACT Prep course allows you to create quizzes from their 2000+ question bank. Students can select which topics they want to be quizzed on, specify if they only want to see questions that they haven’t used already, and set the number of questions (up to 15).
There is also a setting for Tutor Mode, where you can see answer explanations as you go and another setting for a timer to ensure you stay on pace.
Unfortunately, we tested out the tutor mode and the answer explanations were not explanations at all. Rather, it simply stated the correct answer. This is a shame because the other answer explanations within the lessons are very good.
Full-length practice test experience
The full-length practice test experience is great on Kaplan’s platform. One thing that might be hard for students is that it is all online, so they can’t print a copy of the test if they prefer pen and paper.
The questions are the same difficulty level as the actual test and the layout of the questions is also identical to what students will experience on test day. Answer explanations are text-based and thorough.
The interface for the test is not very intuitive, but Kaplan provides clear instructions related to where to navigate through sections and how to pause the test if necessary. Each section starts with a set of directions, just like what you’ll see on the ACT.
In addition, we really liked that at the end of the test, Kaplan prompts students to download a blank review worksheet to complete. This review sheet includes areas for students to identify their strengths and weaknesses and add notes to remember for the future.
Quality of answer explanations
Kaplan’s answer explanations are thorough, engaging, and leave no room for confusion. The instructors provide video walkthroughs for each question in the guided practice. In addition, the explanations are available in text format for those who just want to quickly read what they did wrong.
Unfortunately, as stated above, the quiz answer explanations aren’t explanations at all, which makes for a bad experience.
The independent practice includes text-based explanations, rather than videos., but these explanations are also sufficient and students can easily refer to a past video related to the problem if they need further clarification.
The self-paced ACT course does not offer live support. In fact, if you go to the main Kaplan test prep page, there is a tab to submit a support case that doesn’t even work. Therefore, students cannot expect real-time feedback, or any feedback when completing the self-paced online course.
When you enroll in the Live Online course, students get extensive feedback from instructors. In addition, the one-on-one tutoring packages allow students to get extra support.
Kaplan ACT Prep Pricing
The self-paced ACT prep course offered by Kaplan Test Prep and ACT.org costs $119 for six-month access.
The online tutoring package includes the self-paced course and five hours of tutoring for $749. There are larger tutoring packages as well and the prices increase accordingly, going up to $3,599 for a 30-hour tutoring package.
The Live Online course is $549.
On the Kaplan Test Prep website, there were multiple opportunities to find discount codes and promotions. For instance, for the summer sale, there was a 20% discount on the live online course readily available.
For payment options, Kaplan accepts all major credit cards and PayPal.
Other Features and Resources
The Kaplan ACT prep course is not available on a mobile app, but it offers some other free resources, even without signing up for the course.
For instance, parents can attend a free ACT live class to better understand what their child will experience with the Kaplan Live Online course.
Other free resources include a half-length practice test, an ACT pop quiz, and a subscription for the Question of the Day.
Within the Kaplan interface, you also have the opportunity to purchase the Official ACT Prep Guide for $39.95, and this eBook is also included with the Live Online course.
Trial, Score Improvement, and Money Back Policies
Availability of free trial
Kaplan Test Prep has options to attend a free ACT live class or watch a recording of a live class. This is great if you’re looking to get an idea of what the course will entail.
There is no payment method required for the free trial and it includes two ACT sections. For instance, in the first trial class that we selected, the course focused on English and Science. There was a two-hour live session included in this trial, as well as a one-hour lesson on-demand video and resources, quizzes, and extra video lessons.
Score increase guarantee
It appears that Kaplan offers a higher score guarantee for all courses, but in fact, when you go to the detail page you find that the ACT prep course is not included in the Higher Score Guarantee, which is definitely disappointing.
Money back policy
Kaplan doesn’t have a money-back policy for those who try the ACT prep course and dislike it or do not improve their score. Parents should be wary of these types of policies.
Which Kaplan ACT Prep Course Should You Get?
Given our experience with the Kaplan ACT self-paced prep course, the trial live class, and the information related to one-on-one tutoring, we believe that your best choice is the one-on-one tutoring with the self-paced course.
We recommend purchasing either the 5 or 10-hour tutoring package, which includes access to the self-paced course. The combination of the flexibility of the self-paced content and the personalized help provided by your ACT tutor provides the biggest bang for your buck.
However, we still want to note that Kaplan does not provide a score increase guarantee for their ACT course, which means there’s still a risk in investing in the online tutoring and self-paced course option.
The reason we don’t recommend the Live Online course is that this doesn’t seem to include full access to the online platform, while both the tutoring and the self-paced course include full access to all of the online platform
How Do Kaplan’s ACT Courses Compare to Other Courses?
Before you decide if you want to purchase the Kaplan ACT prep course, it’s important to see how it compares to some of the other offerings out there. Below, we briefly compare Kaplan’s ACT course to its competitors:
Kaplan ACT prep vs Magoosh ACT prep
- Kaplan’s 6-month self-paced ACT course is $119, while Magoosh’s one-year access is $129.
- Kaplan has the option to add on tutoring packages, but Magoosh doesn’t offer tutoring packages.
- Kaplan’s course has about 30 video lessons, but Magoosh has over 200 video lessons.
- Kaplan does not offer a score guarantee for their self-paced ACT course, but Magoosh offers a 4+ point increase.
- Kaplan doesn’t have a mobile app, but Magoosh does
For more information, check out our full Magoosh ACT prep review.
Kaplan ACT prep vs PrepScholar ACT prep
- Kaplan’s ACT self-paced course is $119 for 6 months, but PrepScholar's 12-month program is $397
- Neither Kaplan nor PrepScholar offer a mobile app for their ACT prep
- PrepScholar includes 40+ hours of instruction, but Kaplan only guarantees 30 video lessons. When these lessons are only around 10 minutes long, this means that Kaplan offers a lot less than PrepScholar.
- Kaplan does not have a score guarantee for their self-paced ACT course, but PrepScholar offers a 4+ point increase.
Check out our in-depth review of the Prepscholar ACT course.
Kaplan ACT prep vs. The Princeton Review ACT prep
- Kaplan has 5 official ACT practice tests, while The Princeton Review offers 11
- Kaplan generally offers a Higher Score guarantee, but it actually doesn’t apply to the ACT course. The Princeton Review has a ‘better score guarantee’
- Both Kaplan and The Princeton Review allow you to add on tutoring packages, but the Kaplan tutoring packages seem to be more affordable and flexible
- Kaplan’s six-month self-paced course is normally $119, while The Princeton Review’s ACT self-paced course is $299 for one year
For more information, check out our full review of the Princeton Review ACT prep course.
Kaplan ACT Prep FAQs
To finish up our in-depth Kaplan ACT prep review, we wanted to make sure we answered some of the most frequently asked questions.
Is Kaplan ACT prep good?
While the Kaplan ACT prep courses are ‘good’ in terms of content, their support and policies are severely lacking. With little to no support for the self-paced course and no score guarantee, Kaplan’s ACT course options fall short of many of their competitors.
Is Kaplan test prep free?
Kaplan’s self-paced course, Live Online course, and tutoring are not free. However, Kaplan Test Prep does offer free resources and a free trial online class for those who are interested in trying things out. Some free resources include partial practice tests, the question of the day, pop quizzes, and live events.
Are Kaplan ACT practice tests harder?
The Kaplan ACT practice tests are not harder than the real ACT. Because Kaplan Test Prep partnered with ACT.org for their content, the questions are typically the exact level that students will experience on test day. This is one aspect of the Kaplan ACT prep that is appealing to both students and parents.