Last Updated: Sep 22, 2020
On a scale of one to 36, how much are you dying to find the best ACT prep resources?
So, you’ve chosen to take the ACT, a popular standardized test used in the college admission process. The ACT consists of a 45-minute English section, 60-minute Math section, 35-minute Reading section, 35-minute Science section, and an optional 40-minute Writing section.
Well, the idea of taking up to 215 minutes of standardized test may seem daunting, but don’t fret! There are so many awesome resources that will help you prepare for the ACT!
Books and websites
These materials are among the best and most popular tools for preparing for the ACT. They allow you to prep for the test at home on your own time, so you can focus on the sections you feel you need the most help on.
The Official ACT Prep Guide
Updated every year and written by the makers of the actual ACT, it’s no surprise that this book is a popular tool for ACT prep. The Official ACT Prep Guide includes multiple practice tests, detailed explanations for each answer (including right and wrong responses), a scale for generating your ACT score based on your practice test answers, general tips for taking the test like strategies for time management and careful reading of the questions, and specific tips on improving your score in each subject area. Plus, there are 400 additional practice questions available online. You can also try a free study guide on the ACT website.
Number2 is a free test prep website geared around small quizzes with quick feedback. (It also includes prep for other standardized tests.) According to a review of the site from Common Sense Education, Number2’s “quizzes are great, but it's the confidence-building answer text that really makes this site shine.” They also like how friendly, comprehensive, and easy to use the site is. To make a free account, head to the Number2 website.
Method Test Prep
Method Test Prep has multiple free test prep resources, including ACT study guides and webinars. Also, priced at $149 for 12 months of unlimited access, Method Test Prep offers a self-paced ACT prep program that consists of 20 weeks of mini lessons in each ACT section (excluding Writing). The mini lessons focus on a specific concept, followed by a quiz and explanations of the answers. You also might be able to access their paid services through an account your high school has (I did! See below).
While I do not recommend SparkNotes for its main purpose of avoiding reading novels in favor of short summaries, their test prep resources are pretty sweet! Simply go to their website to access free and comprehensive overviews on specific sections of the test and other studying tips. SparkNotes’ ACT resources include summaries of each section (English, Math, Reading, and Science) that encompass what the test is looking for, plus a general ACT study guide.
Local test prep resources
While books and websites tend to be the most popular for test prep, don’t write off the methods closer to home! Below are just a few resources you might find in your local area to prepare for the ACT and/or improve your test score.
Whether free tutoring through your high school, local library, or other organizations or a private tutor you pay for, one-on-one test prep tutoring is a much more personal form of learning, with sessions built around what you feel you need to work on. And getting ready for the ACT can be a little less overwhelming to have someone helping you as opposed to going through a whole book of information on your own. A tutor local to my area is famous for his highly effective tutoring in regards to the ACT; his style revolves around simply giving students a timed practice test and reviewing answers in depth, especially if anything is confusing to the student.
High school ACT prep classes
Many high schools offer a semester-long ACT prep class. At my high school, the course is centered on the previously mentioned Official ACT Prep Guide book, along with additional online practice tests. Going to a test-prep class every day is an excellent way to get ready for the ACT because it requires you be consistent in your preparation and it provides you with a teacher who can help answer your questions.
High school counselors
Your high school counselors are there to help you through all of the complicated processes that come with the college search, even test prep! I talked to my school’s college and career counselor about getting ready for the ACT, and she gave me access to Method Test Prep through a paid school account. If I hadn’t talked to the counselor, I would never have gotten access to that excellent method of ACT test prep. But even if your high school counselor doesn’t have any specific form of test prep they can provide you with, they will undoubtedly have great advice about getting your score where you want it to be for the colleges and universities you are primarily interested in attending.
General ACT prep tips
There’s lots of general standardized test prep advice out there (you’ll find a bunch of it below too). But just remember that the resources you choose in your ACT prep journey are only as effective as you allow them to be. There is no magic method to get that elusive 36 on the ACT.
No two students study exactly the same, so just because one test prep tool or resource raised your friend’s score by 5 points doesn’t mean it will have the same impact for you. Be consistent in your test prep and choose the methods that work best for you!
Finally, try to relax and reduce your test stress. You got this. And when you go in to take the actual ACT, stay cool, do your best, and remember: these scores do not define you! Happy test prepping!
What tools and resources are you using to prepare for the ACT (or any standardized admission test, for that matter)? Did we find the best ones for you? If not, you gotta let us know on social media.