Online ACT prep programs are not all alike. Join me now for a quick tour of my favorite: the one created by Magoosh.
The Magoosh team identifies as a bunch of “education nerds who get super stoked about helping students achieve their academic dreams.” To accomplish that, they’ve created a series of online programs that approach test-prep holistically (After all, they are in Berkeley, California).
Magoosh is the only online ACT course I’ve seen that really does equally emphasize academic content and test strategy. There’s also a third key element: attention to the psychological side of test-prep. Magoosh understands that to do their best, students need to feel confident and successful. Everything they do is designed to support that.
All Magoosh ACT students get access to the same resources:
It’s important to note that, during your seven-day free trial, you’ll get limited access to course content during that time. You can also just go ahead and buy a package, knowing that you can get your money back if you want. Just email Magoosh within seven days of purchasing, and they will give you a full refund, no strings attached.
If you want, Magoosh will even text you once in a while with friendly reminders to study.
There’s also the Magoosh ACT Ebook, a comprehensive 282-page tour through the entire exam, covering academic topics and test-taking skills. It also includes helpful information on scoring, study plans, financial aid, and more. Written in Magoosh’s signature accessible style, the ebook feels shorter than it actually is. Plus the authors make it easy to hop from the book right into relevant sections of the online program.
Finally, all Magoosh ACT students get 2 free mobile apps:
Magoosh ACT-prep programs only vary in duration. When you register, you’ll decide how long you want your program to be:
Part of the Magoosh mission is to make education accessible to all. To that end, Magoosh offers their full array of resources to all students, and even the 12-month option is exceptionally affordable. As they like to say, “Wow > Profit.”
The Magoosh Dashboard is exceptionally sleek, clear, and helpful. It gives you instant info about how you’re doing on each of the four main sections of the test: English, Math, Reading, and Science. You see your point total for the day (which you can then try to beat), and an estimate of what you’d be likely to score on each part if you took the test right now.
From there, you can move on to suggested lessons in any subject, or dip into the complete library of instructional videos.
Magoosh teaches mostly through video lessons led by engaging and enthusiastic tutors. Each one comes with its own FAQ (though you can ask your own questions as well). There’s also a transcript available for each one, which you may want to use for quick reviews or for zeroing in on that one tricky comma rule. Highlight text in the transcript, and the video will jump to that spot. Mark each lesson “I understand” or “I need more review,” and the program will move you onward to the next logical step.
There’s also a field for taking notes on each lesson, which is a great habit to get into. Switch back to the Dashboard, and you’ll find all your notes there waiting for you, conveniently sorted by topic. No one else can see what you write.
In addition, every practice question on the site comes with its own explanation video. These are helpful when you need to understand why a wrong answer is wrong, or how to avoid common pitfalls.
Any time you feel stuck, click the “Help” button to send a question to Magoosh. You’ll hear back from a helpful tutor within 24 hours.
There are up to 4 full-length practice tests available to help you gauge your progress. Print one out, take it under test-like conditions, then watch the video explanations for any questions you got wrong.
You can also set up your own practice sets and timed quizzes, including the topics and question-types you prefer.
Finally, there’s personal encouragement. There’s a warmth in Magoosh’s “voice” that keeps students on the site, feeling positive and understood. The Magoosh team gets how stressful test-prep can be. They know the frustrating strategies that have let you down in the past (like reaching the end of a Reading passage and feeling like you need to go back and re-read). They show you how to get away from those dead-end techniques and solve problems in a way that boosts your confidence.
The only weak point in the Magoosh program is they don’t use real ACT practice materials.
As an SAT tutor, I want every student to have the advantage of studying with genuine ACT questions, written by the same writers who create the test. Like most test-prep companies, Magoosh uses materials written by their own staff. They’re constantly testing and revising, working to make their questions more like the actual test. But still, there’s a difference.
The good news is, ACT Inc. has made several practice tests available. They’re made up of real ACT questions that appeared on previous exams back in the distant past. The Official ACT Prep Guide 2019-2020 contains 5 complete practice tests. Those same tests plus 3 more are available for free download in several locations online. Print them out and use them to practice the techniques that you’re learning from Magoosh.
Here’s a quick recap of the reasons why Magoosh is my favorite company for online ACT-prep: