If you’ve been exploring the wonderful world of ACT prep guides, you’ve probably noticed that they’re not all created equal. Books that offer authentic practice questions (written, tested, and honed by the same writers who craft the real ACT) are way more helpful than books that don’t.
It’s the same with online prep programs.
ACT Online Prep is the only automated course created and curated by the ACT company itself. The practice questions are pulled from genuine exams administered in past years, now removed from circulation and repurposed. Working with real materials gets you familiar with the style, preferences, and quirks of the actual ACT. For that reason alone, ACT Online Prep is high up on our list of favorite online courses.
Your subscription buys you six months’ access to all of ACT Inc.’s automated tools and materials:
- a mini ACT diagnostic that lets you quickly pinpoint your strengths and weak spots
- authentic practice questions covering all academic topics that appear on the test
- four full-length practice tests
- two practice writing prompts
- a mobile app for your phone
- math flashcards
- adaptive suggestions for what to study next
- daily reminders and progress reports to help you stay on track
- a game center
There’s also a fun feature that lets you share scores and compete with friends who are registered with ACT Online Prep.
Are There Any Downsides?
Not surprisingly, ACT Online Prep doesn’t put much emphasis on teaching you to spot the techniques that the test writers use to confuse students. You won’t find lists of “common trap answers” or “questions that look harder than they are.” But they do cover basic test-taking strategies.
(If you want to take a deep dive into ACT structure and sneaky question tactics, take a look at ACT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective ACT Strategies Ever Published by Mike and Patrick Barrett. It analyzes questions from the tests in the Official ACT Prep Guide—aka “the Red Book”—so you’ll need a copy of that as well.)
The ACT Online Prep Pack
Because ACT Online Prep is, well, online, you’re required to take your practice tests on a screen.
This is significantly less beneficial to you than taking them under realistic conditions with pencil and paper.
Fortunately, you can solve that problem by upgrading to the ACT Online Prep Pack. The Prep Pack includes all the tools listed above plus a copy of the Official ACT Prep Guide, which contains five paper practice tests. Grab yourself a practice ACT bubble sheet, and you’ll be ready to create an authentic practice test experience at your kitchen table.
The Online Prep Pack also includes:
- access to 2,400 extra online practice questions
- personalized study goals and progress charts
- extra flashcards
ACT Online Prep Live
ACT Online Prep is great for self-motivated students who like working independently and thrive with an entirely automated course. If you know you learn better with some human interaction, consider opting for ACT/Kaplan Online Prep Live.
The Online Prep Live bundle includes everything that comes with the Online Prep Pack plus:
- interactive online lessons with Kaplan instructors
- personalized homework help
- recorded video tutorials
ACT/Kaplan Online Prep Live is designed to be accessible to everyone. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for free enrollment. Even if you don’t, the cost is low compared with most top tier online test-prep courses.
Is ACT Online Prep Right For Me?
Everyone who’s prepping for the ACT should practice with real ACT questions.
- If you’re an independent self-starter who loves automated study tools, you may choose to work exclusively with ACT Online Prep.
- If that’s not your style, you may opt instead for the Online Prep Pack or ACT/Kaplan Online Prep Live.
- If you’re already working with a different program that you like, you can easily supplement it with high-quality practice questions from ACT Online Prep.
ACT Online Prep is a good choice for several reasons:
- It includes only authentic test materials
- It’s flexible, with options to choose ACT Online Prep or Online Prep Live
- It’s one of the most budget-friendly ACT courses around.