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While general discussion about the ACT test is allowed by ACT, discussion of test questions may violate your agreement with ACT. Please be thoughtful in your posts and replies.

What ACT prep course is best?

yaintime21yaintime21 Registered User Posts: 225 Junior Member
edited August 2013 in ACT Preparation
My options are... PR, Kaplan, Sylvan, and whatever else you suggest. Which is the best? Could you include your before and after score and what type (private, small group, etc.) of tutoring you took (if applicable)?

So, I got an ACT on a PR practice test done at my school, and got a 27. (Though I got a 29 on one I did last year.) 33 on English, 22 on science, 21 (1) on math, 11 on writing. I know I'm smarter than that, and my scores just confuse me because I'm a 4.0 student, 750s on my SAT Subjects, 4-5s on my APs. I'm a junior.

(Also, my chem teacher offered some free tutoring because he said he took one of those courses, but I'm not sure what his credibility is because he just went to your typical state school for college. But he's pretty smart.)
Post edited by yaintime21 on

Replies to: What ACT prep course is best?

  • HONORLIONSHONORLIONS Registered User Posts: 1,582 Senior Member
    Bump this for you....

    But I'd think the ACT courses would just be a verbal version of what they have in their books, so as far as test strategies go, PR may just spend like 2 classes on Joe Bloggs, if Barron's had a course they'd just whip you with exceedingly difficult practice tests, etc.

    I myself am contemplating a PR course, but I'm still not entirely sure yet.
  • WongTongTongWongTongTong Registered User Posts: 2,734 Senior Member
    I'll just provide my experience with prep places:
    In sophomore year, I took a prep course (from ****) I went from 1930 to 2080, not great but it was a start.

    During junior year, I discovered college confidential, and I started reading and finding out a lot more information. I came across Silverturtle's guide and DH1+2, both of which were extremely helpful. On practice tests, I started scoring 800 math, 770 writing and 700-720 reading. However, I thought I'd take a shot at the ACT. I took it with no prep at the end of junior year (got a 31: 32M, 33S, 32R, 27Eng, 11 essay)

    So I'm like okay, I've taken the SAT enough times, I'll stick with the ACT. Even today I think I made the right choice, but I guess I would have score similarly on both.

    I did some studying for over the summer mostly for English using Silverturtle's grammar guide, which is excellent. I started scoring 34+ on the English section. I took it in September and got a 32 (34M,31R,31E,32S, 12 Essay) with a 33 superscore. I took it in October, got a 34 (33E, 36M, 34S, 32R, 10 essay).

    I took it again in December, and I'm hoping for a 35 superscore.

    Bottom line- you really don't need prep courses to do well on the ACT and SAT. Just use Silverturtle's guide for grammar and do a lot of practice tests for science and reading. They are really easy sections if you just figure out what type questions show up over and over again. Math is not that bad either, just get used to the problems, use Barrons for that.

    Good luck!
  • xant396xant396 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    I agree with Wong, you do not need a course, but that doesn't mean stop practicing. I personally have the book by Kaplan: ACT Premier Program. No idea about the pricing seeing as I borrowed it from a friend, but the week leading to the December 11th test I worked in it. It contains practice tests, which I view as essential. It also contains some tips, but in the back is a list of 100 ACT math concepts, which if you read through you will know the basis for all questions on the ACT math section. I highly recommend the book.
  • cbethany92cbethany92 Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    A lot of those courses end up being ridiculously priced. Try taking as much practice tests as you can and if you don't want to keep buying book, you can borrow some from the library.
  • daisyprncessdaisyprncess Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    I self-studied using one book from each of these companies: Barron's, Kaplan, Princeton, and McGraw Hill (roughly 30-40 practice tests in total) for two months, and got a 35/36 on the ACT on my first try
  • nemosumnemosum Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Speaking from personal experience, go with PR. I'm a junior, and I started off with a 30 and got a 35 by the end of the class (small class of 4 people total). When I took the actual ACT after months of not prepping (I took PR over the summer and the ACT late fall) I got a 34 (36E, 35M, 32W, 31S). Studying by yourself wasn't so much an option for me because I get distracted really easily, but if you're motivated and dedicated, why not save some money and go for it?
  • NavaNava Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    Yes, I agree with those who said to save the money on a course. I used the Real ACT Prep Guide and software I found on Amazon called Boost Your Score: The Unofficial Software Guide to the Real ACT. The software worked with the Real ACT Prep Guide to score the tests from the book (and the free real ACT on the ACT website) and give real diagnostic feedback just like you would get in a course like Kaplan or PR. Then it had lots of resources to improve each of the weak skills, again, just like I think I would have gotten in a course. The difference is that everything was based on real tests, which was nice. Again, you need to be okay doing the studying on your own but if you are, this is great. My score improved from a 22 to a 30.
  • collegebound2198collegebound2198 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    From my personal opinion I knew that I did not do well in huge classrooms so I wanted more individual attention. I had friends who took the Kaplan and PR courses and they did a lot of independent work outside of class and had a broad direction in terms of strategies for the tests that they were given. Outside the class they also did not get much help.

    Going from their experience I researched online courses and private classes and I saw that there were some smaller sized classes offered by a company called clearpathadvantage.com.

    The reason I liked them was because they put me in a small class with 5 students and these students had similar issues on the test like I did. My initial assessment I took I scored a 24 overall with a 20 in Science, 26 in Reading, 27 in Math, and a 24 in English. I wasnt too happy with that and wanted atleast a 32 on the ACT for the schools I planned to apply to like UIUC, Notre Dame, Northwestern, etc.

    After taking the course for a week I liked how the instructor (who got a 35 on the ACT) was avaiable outside of the class to talk on Skype, responded to all my emails, and stayed after class for a while to help students go over strategies and problems. This guy was the most approachable teacher and I really am happy that I took this course. I was given lots of practice tests and problems and they gave clear ways to quickly speed up my times in sections. Though I cant personally talk about other courses, I know this one did help me a lot and it was more affordable than the other comparable ones out there.

    My ACT score after a lot of practice on my own and by using the strategies from clearpathadvantage.com was a 33 overall with a 34 on the Math, 32 on the Reading Section, 33 on Science section, and 33 on the English section. My parents were happy and Im satisfied to know that I have a chance to get in the universities I wanted. The instructor has also continued to help me with some of my essays for college.
  • PreplyPreply Registered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    **** much?
  • tiki146tiki146 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I started reviewing material from the McGraw Hill book since it has 10 practice tests, but the problem was I didn't have the guidance of how to approach sections. When I took my first ACT test I scored a 27 (a decent score), but for the schools I wanted to apply at I needed at least a 32. My friend recommended an online class from Clearpath Advantage and it ended up being a good choice. After going through their small group course I ended up with a 34 composite with a 35 in the math section, 32 in English, 33 in reading, and 31 in the science section. I liked having the opportunity to discuss questions with the teacher after class and set up times outside of class hours to go through homework assigned. From my experience class was worth it for the price, but it's really up to you if you want to study independently or through a course.
  • franciaffranciaf Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    a lot of my older friends swear by the red ACT prep book that is published by the actual ACT company. they said they just studied really hard using that and got very high scores.

    it basically introduced you to the different types of questions there are and explains how to approach and answer them. and then in the back ther are 5 practice tests with answers and discussions
  • KarmatizeKarmatize Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    For anyone who's searching about ACT prep courses. DON'T TAKE KAPLAN ACT CLASSROOM PREP, IT IS A TOTAL WASTE. Well it's a waste for any students that already score near 30 and want to reach 33 or 34. The course suits more for students completely new to ACT or to those that are getting lower than a 25. I'm in the course currently and I'm getting lower and lower score with each practice test. Their practice tests are just different from the real ACT.
    I've gotten 31 on both State testing in Illinois and the June test. But when my scores with their practice test were 29, 30 , 28, 27. I've gotten 23 for both reading and science for my last test, my all time LOW. I really believe their practice test do not reflect the real ACT tests and it really can destroy your confidence and morale about doing well on the test. I don't know if I can get a refund or not. So that's $600 wasted...
  • mommaknowsbestmommaknowsbest Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    My son took the animated ACT courses at TutorMe (https://act.tutorme.com). He found the content to be engaging and it actually helped improve his score the second time around. I highly recommend it as an alternative to over-priced and unengaging courses.
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