The ACT (American College Test) is a standardized test used for college admissions. Getting a high ACT score can be the key to your college application. It is an admissions test that has been around since 1959. Its purpose is to measure the readiness of high school students for college. The ACT covers 215 questions in total. It is 2 hours and 55 minutes long and with breaks, it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to finish. The optional Writing Test lasts 40 minutes and is scored separately.
With an average time of less than one minute per question, you need plenty of practice and full preparation to score your best. With such intense competition out there, studying on your own may not be the best decision. The average score on the ACT is 21 out of 36, and most students would like to score higher than that.
The difference between the ACT and SAT
The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is another commonly used test. The ACT and SAT are both entrance exams used by most colleges and universities with the purpose of measuring a high school’s student readiness for college.
The main difference between them is their subject content. The ACT contains four multiple-choice tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Whereas the SAT is a standardized test that measures a student’s skills in three core areas: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The SAT does test for scientific concepts, but it doesn’t dedicate a separate section to science. The scoring is also quite different. The ACT scores range from zero to thirty-six, while on the SAT the range is 400-1600.
Another big difference between them is the importance of math in the final score. On the ACT, Math accounts for one-fourth of your total score, while on the SAT it accounts for half of your total score. The ACT focuses much more on geometry, and it tests unique concepts like matrices, logarithms, graphs of trigonometric functions, that the SAT does not test at all. If you excel in math, the SAT may be the best option for you. If math is not a strong point for you, consider the ACT.
After learning the differences between them, taking an ACT vs. SAT quiz could help you decide which one you should take. You can also take free practice tests for both the ACT and SAT. If you score significantly better on one test, that can help you make your decision.
Top ACT prep courses
Getting higher than the average score is a challenge for most students. Thankfully, there are a lot of companies that offer prep courses to help students get better results.
With a big variety of ACT prep courses out there, it can be difficult for you to choose the right option for yourself. Gaining more information about each specific prep course and understanding their pros and cons can definitely help you in making the right decision for you.
Depending on your budget and the way you want to study, ACT prep courses don’t work the same for every individual. Some may want to learn through video lessons and drill practice questions. Others may prefer more reading with occasional personal assistance. You’ll want to know your learning style and and strengths and weaknesses before choosing a course.
To find the best prep course for you it is important to study the top brands and gain more knowledge about them. Here is a list of the top brands that will definitely help you improve your chances of getting accepted to your desired college. We have reviewed even the smallest details about their programs, what they stand out for and what they’re lacking, hopefully making your choice easier.
|COMPANY||Princeton Review||Magoosh||Kaplan||ACT||Peterson’s||Testive||Barron’s||Prep Expert|
The Princeton Review tops the list at number #1 for good reason. It is definitely the most versatile and it offers modern, high-quality courses with guarantees.
What is so good about The Princeton Review?
- They offer satisfaction guarantees. If you are not happy with their course or if your ACT score has not improved, you can prep again for free or get your money back.
- They provide 3200 practice questions, which is the highest out of all the companies. Even if you are lacking in a certain subject, with such a high number of questions you will definitely fill the gap and improve over time.
- They have the most options. They offer courses in every format: Self-Paced Online, Live Online, In-Person, and Private Tutoring. If you are serious about getting a high ACT score, then their premium features are the way to go since they guarantee the highest results.
- In the Self-Paced Online course, they offer about 300 videos, which is the highest number of all the companies on the list. These online videos help the students gain information faster, better, and in a more creative way.
- The Ultimate Classroom option includes twenty-five hours of instruction from an ACT expert, four proctored practice tests, and access to the Self-Paced ACT courses.
- They also offer the Private Tutoring program, where you will work with an expert tutor one-on-one for eighteen hours to prepare for the ACT test. This program guarantees the highest results out of all the programs, so if you want to get accepted to the best universities and you do not mind spending some extra money, this is the best available option for you.
- The secret behind The Princeton’s Review success is their expert instructors, who help make the courses productive and strategic.
- Not only does The Princeton Review help you pass the ACT, but it also raises your chances by a huge margin to achieve the highest scores possible. There are a lot of students who have scored a perfect 36/36 by using their unique ACT programs. This would allow you to be admitted to the most prestigious universities in the United States.
Who does The Princeton Review fit best?
The Princeton Review prep courses are for those who want to get admitted to the best colleges in the US. If you are looking for guaranteed results and you don’t mind paying some money for their programs, this is your safest bet. They also offer a lot of discounts, which results in great offers. With their prep courses success is guaranteed and you will not be disappointed in choosing them.
Magoosh is a very good choice, especially since they have a free trial for you. You can upgrade to Premium at any time.
What are the pros of choosing Magoosh?
- As long as you have internet access, you can study anywhere using Magoosh. This makes their programs very accessible and easy to use. You can use their self-study platform to prep from your laptop. On top of that, you can prep on your phone using their free mobile apps.
- Their programs are very flexible and easy. You can study in small chunks of time whenever is easiest for you.
- They are a very affordable option for you if you want to save some money. Aside from the free option, they have a three-month course for $89 or a twelve-month course for $99. If you are not satisfied with their prep courses within the first seven days, they guarantee to give your money back.
- Their programs have over 250 lessons and 1300 ACT questions, which will help you improve a lot.
- They guarantee to improve your score by more than four points, which could be crucial when applying for a college.
- They offer video explanations for every question. You can email Magoosh ACT experts or you can chat with them if you are having trouble with an explanation or video.
- You can track your progress and compare your results to other students. This will help you determine whether you are on the right track or not.
- You can follow study schedules made for you by their experts.
The downside of Magoosh
- The Magoosh ACT prep courses are self-paced. Some students may find it hard to study without an instructor.
- Their ACT prep courses don’t offer essay grading services. Although, Magoosh will assist you in writing your essay by email.
With a very affordable price and great value, Magoosh prep courses are definitely a good choice for you. They provide the flexibility that even the busiest students can fit in their courses. They are very affordable too.
Kaplan is an American corporation that offers amazing ACT prep courses among other things. Kaplan and The Princeton Review are the only brands that offer courses in every format possible: Self-Paced Online, Live Online, In-Person, and Private Tutoring.
Why choose the Kaplan ACT prep courses?
- If you do not score higher with Kaplan, they have a money back guarantee.
- You can get a free consultation with their experts who will offer recommendations based on your background.
- They offer nine practice tests, including one official from ACT. Each one includes score analysis.
- They have qualified instructors who have a lot of knowledge about the ACT.
- Kaplan’s ACT prep course will create a custom review plan according to your strengths and weaknesses. They also offer comprehensive prep textbooks which are a great way to study for the ACT.
- You have the flexibility to learn in online classes, in person, or on-demand with courses.
- If you are looking for the highest results, you can also learn one-on-one with a personal tutor. You can choose between ten, twenty, thirty, or forty hours of private tutoring. There is a guaranteed increase in your ACT score if you choose to study with a tutor. Their staff is incredible, with tutors who are always looking to improve so students can achieve higher success.
- Once they gather information from you about your goals, academic background, and your study style, they will select the tutor who is the best fit for you. Each of them will create a study plan to fit the student’s schedule and needs. You will also get access to on-demand practice questions and two prep textbooks.
What are the cons of choosing Kaplan?
- Kaplan might be expensive for some students. With online courses starting from $299, and online tutoring starting from $1999, some may say that it is too expensive for their budget.
ACT is the organization that creates and administers the ACT test. It also offers an ACT prep program which is the only one coming directly from the makers of the ACT. All of their practice questions come from previous ACT tests. This makes them a reliable source to achieve success in the ACT. Prepping with their courses could help you gain a better idea of what the questions are like on the ACT.
Why choose the ACT Online Prep?
- The ACT Online Prep is the cheapest out of all the options, with a price of only $39.95 for six months of access.
- They also offer a Live Online Deal through a partnership with Kaplan. They offer different packages, such as $99.95 for six weeks, $179.95 for three months, or $249.95 for six months.
- You get over 2400 practice questions and two practice exams.
What does the ACT prep course lack?
- The ACT Online Prep lacks the video content that other companies have. Some students may find this boring or hard to learn without visualization.
- There are also no guarantees using ACT Online Prep. Even if you do not like their program, there is no refund available.
- According to reviews this course should not be used as your main source of studying since it lacks a few aspects.
Peterson’s is an American company that offers test preparation courses. Its courses offer three online practice tests, which are all aligned with the updated ACT exam.
Why choose Peterson’s ACT prep courses?
- They offer a diagnostic test that helps students evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. This helps them understand where they are currently standing with their knowledge and the areas they need to improve over time.
- You can study at your own pace with their course. All you need is a mobile phone, tablet or PC.
- Peterson’s ACT online prep course includes over fifty exclusively written subject-based lessons made by their experts. This will help you master each subject on the ACT. Their course also includes quizzes and flashcards, which are a very effective way to study.
- Apart from their online prep course, Peterson’s also offers books that are a great budget-friendly alternative.
- With over 150 practice tests online you can track your progression and compare your results to see your improvement.
- With a starting price of $49 per month, Peterson’s is a very affordable option for students. They also offer discounts on their 3-month and 6-month subscriptions.
However, there are gaps.
- Peterson’s does not provide video explanations as some companies do. If you are a student who struggles with self-paced online courses and would like a private tutor to help you study, they may not be the right option for you since they do not offer this kind of service.
Testive was founded in 2011 and since then has been providing ACT prep courses. It has a different strategy than other companies since it does not offer a self-paced format. Testive does not charge to use their educational software which offers a lot of practice questions and analytics. This is a great feature you get for free.
Why choose Testive ACT prep courses?
- Their ACT prep course provides more than 3000 practice questions. They are ranked second in this category out of all the other brands.
- They offer eight practice exams and you can access reports about them on your phone using their mobile app, “Testive Grader”. This is a great way to monitor your progress.
- Their prep courses are built around their coaches. The coaches hold weekly parent notes and there’s also a Parent’s Portal that helps parents keep track of their children’s progress.
- You are guaranteed an increase your ACT score.
- Their flexible program is good for students who have a tight schedule.
The bad side
- Testive does not offer a self-paced ACT prep course.
- The lack of live-in person options may be the reason some students do not choose their services.
Barron’s does a good job of preparing students for the ACT. Unlike the other brands in this list, Barron’s focuses the most on preparing students using books.
Why choose Barron’s ACT prep courses?
- Their books are known for top-notch practice questions. Their questions are the closest thing to how the questions are formed like on the ACT.
- They have published a series of books. Their books give a good explanation of the ACT and its content. They have sections of strategic advice for each subject on the ACT. Explanations are well written and complete for every question.
- Their books contain full-length practice tests and study plan recommendations based on the amount of time you have left to study. They provide advice on improving your mindset when taking the ACT and managing stress which can play a huge role in your results. They offer online practice tests as well.
- You get subject reviews that cover all parts of the ACT and detailed advice on writing the optional essay.
The drawbacks of Barron’s
- Questions are not hard enough and too straightforward.
- Some students may find the exclusive use of books boring and repetitive.
Prep Expert offers ACT prep courses and claims to increase your ACT score by at least four points. If you do not increase your score by at least four points then Prep Expert will refund you 100 % of the money. Their courses are taught by tutors who have scored in the top 1 % of the ACT. Shaan Patel, the founder of Prep Expert boasts a perfect SAT score. He collaborated with a perfect ACT-scorer to create Prep Expert’s prep course curriculum. Their instructors are required to have a near-perfect ACT score.
Why choose Prep Expert ACT prep courses?
- Prep Expert is so versatile. They are one of the few companies that offer all the possible formats.
- They offer sixty hours of online, in-person, and live classroom options.
- You get two free ACT preparation books.
Prep Expert has its disadvantages as well
- Their in-person classes are limited to only ten US cities. If you live outside these cities you won’t be able to use this feature.
- The strategies that are taught may require a lot of work and some clients have complained about too much homework. Students take up to three ACT tests per week. If you are a busy person with a tight schedule, Prep Expert may not be for you.
So what’s the best option for you?
Choosing the right prep course for you might be difficult and challenging. All these brands are unique in their own way and each has its pros and cons. Understanding yourself, your learning techniques, your preferences, and what you are trying to achieve will definitely help you in this case. Your budget is also important to factor in.
If you are looking for top results then you should definitely give The Princeton Review a try. Providing all the formats to prepare you for the ACT, the most material out of all the companies, and expert tutors who make you capable of achieving your intended results, we don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t be satisfied with their courses. It isn’t a coincidence they have received positive feedback from all their clients. They have helped many students succeed.
Kaplan is also a great alternative. It also provides every format of studying, so they have a solution for you regardless of your preferred way of studying. Some may argue Kaplan has high prices for their quality, but it’s up to you to decide whether that’s true or not. If you want guaranteed results, go for it. Consider it an investment for the future.
If you want to save some money, then Magoosh is a great choice as well. They provide great content for their price. $99 for a twelve-month program is a great bargain. Their self-paced program is very cheap and effective.
All the companies will increase your ACT score and make you ready. It’s up to you to decide which one will maximize your score. It doesn’t matter what courses you take if you do not give your best. To succeed, take your time, go into detail about each subject, and give it your 100 %.