It is expected that by the 10th grade, most (if not all,) students should be competent in the subject matter regarding the ACT and the SAT and the best way to get there is by taking one of the best ACT prep courses on the market.
Here we have the best ACT prep courses that are proven to be the most effective way to raise your ACT scores quickly.
Imagine achieving a 31+ score and getting into a top 30 school? Well, The Princeton Review can guarantee you'll get at least a 31 on your ACT or your money back.
Looking for some supplemental ACT books? Check out the best ACT prep books that made our list for this year!
Best ACT Prep Course Summary:
- Princeton Review ACT 31+: Best Overall
- Prep Scholar: Best Video Content
- Prep Expert: Peterson’s ACT Prep: Best Instructors
- Magoosh ACT Prep: Best Budget
- Testive: Best for Tight Schedule
- Kaplan: Best Live Online
- Sylvan Learning: Best In Person
- Veritas Prep: Best 5 Week Course
The 8 Best ACT Prep Courses
The Princeton Review ACT 31+
The Princeton Review has been beefing up their ACT prep offerings and now include a 31+ ACT prep course that guarantees a 31 or higher on your ACT or your money back. This is a pretty significant score guarantee (that does come with a bit of fine print) but can be a really great and intensive option for students who are looking for a markedly higher score to get into their top school choice.
For those who are really looking to churn out a top score, you can also opt for a 34+ score guarantee course (but this is quite pricey and not necessary unless you really need this score for admissions to your top choices.
As you’d expect from an established test prep company, TPR offers quite a wide range of prep options depending on your needs, including in-person, live online, and on-demand.
What you’ll get from this 31+ course are over 36 hours of classroom instruction, 4 proctored exams, 7 additional full-length practice tests, 8 ACT subject tests (English, Math, Reading, and Science). This course is also offered in-person, but locations and schedule can vary. We prefer the online course for availability as well as the absence of commuting.
When you purchase the Princeton Review ACT course, you’ll receive your own unique study schedule tailored to your strengths and weaknesses as well as timeline.
A feature that I find particularly interesting for this course is the Enroll Now. Essentially, as soon as you enroll in your course, you’ll receive immediate access to some of their ACT online strategy sessions, additional practice tests, and SAT self prep course. All of these items can be utilized before your course sessions actually begin.
- Live online classes with a teacher who ensures maximum utilization of studying process
- Immediate online practice test scoring
- Explanations and drills after every comprehensive section
- 240 online practice drills
- 140 online video lessons for concept review
The provided practice tests can be improved upon, as we find them simpler to solve compared to official ACT questions. Also, you will find that the live online courses require that you are attending the courses at a set time twice a week, which can be inconvenient for some.
If you are looking for a live ACT prep course without having to leave the comfort of your own home, then the Princeton Review ACT Ultimate LiveOnline course is the one for you. The course features all the same elements of live in-person tutoring but without the headache of traveling to and from class multiple times a week.
Imagine achieving a 31+ score and getting into a top 30 school? Well, The Princeton Review can guarantee you'll get at least a 31 on your ACT or your money back.
Read our in-depth PrepScholar Review
PrepScholar was an obvious addition to our best ACT prep list for their high-quality, well-developed lesson content. Although their platform feels a bit bulkier than The Princeton Review’s svelte learning platform, they offer a robust array of video, visuals, and practice questions to rival the snazziest e-learning platforms.
This course does not have an app for practicing like Magoosh or The Princeton Review, but they are able to make up for it with more questions in their question bank (7,100) than any other ACT prep company on this list. It’s quite affordable at only $397 for its online course, which is significantly cheaper than what you’ll pay for similar courses from the likes of Kaplan and The Princeton Review.
To see how PrepScholar stacks up to Kaplan, read our in-depth analysis of Kaplan vs PrepScholar ACT/SAT review.
- 4 point score increase guarantee
- More practice questions (7,100) than any other course on this list
- Cheaper than comparable ACT courses
- High quality instructors
The biggest gripe of mine is the platform, as it lacks the look and feel of The Princeton Review and Kaplan’s prep interface.
This course is perfect for visual learners who need a bit more focus on test-taking strategies and ways to reduce test-day anxiety.
It is not every day that you come across ACT review course organizers being featured on Shark Tank and closing a deal with Mark Cuban. Prep Expert is a new player in the ACT test prep scene, but they are causing quite a stir with their guaranteed 4 point increase on the ACT (as well as 200 points SAT increase) or you money back. If you are looking for a way to improve your test-taking skills and strategies to answering questions, then look no further than Prep Expert’s 99th Percentile instructors.
Prep Expert is offering their services in three main formats: live-in person, live-online and on-demand online. Among these three, the most popular option is the live online classroom option. This option allows the student to sit in front of a computer system and take part in live video conferences with other students and the teacher.
The key features that put Prep Expert ahead of many others of the best ACT prep courses are that every one of their classes is taught and managed by the 99 percent scorers. What this means is that every teacher working in Prep Expert has a perfect ACT score or landed just a few marks shy of being 100%. As some other companies prefer hiring lower-rated or unqualified teachers, Prep Experts know that to be effective, they can only offer the best teachers. And below are some other reasons why we love them.
- Excellent teaching experience create access to secret tips and tricks
- Free online classes at specific intervals
- 100% money back guarantee
- Full 60 hours of online, in-person and live classroom options—which is a lot longer than most other test prep companies, including Princeton Review
- 2 free ACT prep books
- Guarantee to increase your ACT score by 4 percent
The only drawback that we could find with Prep Expert is that their in-person classes option is only limited to 10 US cities. This means that if you are living outside these cities, you may never be able to locate an in-person class for you or your child.
Notwithstanding, it remains the best ACT prep course if you want a guaranteed study course that can improve your score. Not all ACT prep courses make such bold claims.
Peterson’s ACT Prep
Peterson’s has a different business model than you’ll get from most of the other test prep companies listed here. When you subscribe per month to the ACT prep ($49 for 1 month, $45 for 3 months, or $39 for 6 months), you’ll gain access to their PSAT, SSAT, SAT, and AP practice test materials. For those who plan to take these tests, this can a pretty nice perk.
There are quite a few practice tests that come with your subscription (11 full-length) and 900 lessons. Many of the lessons include illustrations, but there are not a ton of videos here for those who may be suited towards visual learning.
One of the highlights for using Peterson’s for your ACT prep is the access to their mobile study app. Unlike a lot of apps for test prep which only include practice questions or flashcards, you can actually take practice tests and work through lessons, and continue wherever you left off on your computer.
- Affordable subscription model
- Mobile app allows you to take practice tests or lessons
- 11 full-length practice tests mimic the real ACT
There is no free trial or score guarantee, which is quite rare in the ACT prep world.
This is a great option for students who’d prefer to practice on-the-go on an app.
Magoosh ACT Prep
The term “Magoosh” stands for one that is highly skilled or learned, generous or wise. That makes us feel even smarter for adding them to our best ACT prep course list. The Magoosh ACT prep course offers top-quality study materials at the most affordable price on our list. Their ACT courses are some of the best ACT prep courses materials for people on a budget.
Magoosh offers just one study option—an on-demand online course in a one, three, or 6-month package. This type of studying platform is a great alternative for the budget-minded student who is able to study at his or her own pace and time, not just when there is a class.
One thing that Magoosh is known for is a format that is easy to follow with over 250+ video lessons, 1300+ practice questions, 4 practice tests, and study schedule checklists to keep you on track. Students really shouldn’t have any difficulty following along with this ACT prep course. They offer a similar 4 point increase guarantee, assuming you have met all of their requirements. Similarly, if you do not like this course, you have 7 days to get your money back!
- An easy pricing model based on time management, not content
- Ability to customize your studying time and pace to fit your busy schedule
- Offers a discount for a subscription to SAT Prep Course
- Access to hundreds of videos and content
- Offers 4 point score increase guarantee
- Simple, easy to use platform
The major drawback we find with Magoosh’s ACT prep is the lack of ability to speak with coaches or tutors, as you are only provided email support from tutors. To get help from your teachers is vital, especially where you are stuck. We hope they add a bit more access to in-person help or questioning in the future.
For anyone looking to shuffle conveniently between busy schedules and studying, Magoosh is the answer. Considering how cheap it is, Magoosh is undoubtedly the best budget and best ACT prep course. That said, we only recommend this course to students who already possess self-discipline to stay on track with their own self-paced study schedule.
*Try a 7-day free trial by clicking here.
Sign up here to attend a free webinar hosted by Testive founder and Duke/MIT alumnus Tom Rose: How to Prepare your Child for the SAT or ACT
7 years ago, Testive was born at MIT out of a need for technology to connect students with great teachers, regardless of their location. Two MIT Sloan School of Management students were doing local private tutoring sessions when they realized they could make a greater impact reaching students from all over the world by marrying technology with human interaction, effectively offering world-class tutors to anyone around the world at a fraction of the cost of actually leaving your house to meet with your tutors in a physical classroom.
Testive has an interesting model compared to the other courses that make our best ACT prep course list because they don’t actually charge you to use their educational software. This free prep course software offers an entire bank of practice questions and analytics so that you can track your progress and strengths/weaknesses. We love that this software is offered for free, which is not too unlike other paid-for self-study ACT courses, but this free software will not necessarily lead to a score increase until you are able to meet up with one of their world-class coaches. This is where the magic happens and how Testive is able to boast its 3-4 point score increase on the ACT.
Here is how the coaching process works with Testive. From the start, Testive is a bit different from the other best ACT prep courses making this list because they work hard to create a well-rounded understanding of who you are and what your learning styles are before setting you up with your coach to work alongside their software. They do this to ensure that you and your family are a good fit and will find benefit from their curriculum and coaching structure. They work to pair you up with a coach who has a compatible schedule, meets your gender preference, and shares some of the same hobbies or interests.
The next step involves students taking an official practice test, which can be downloaded directly from their website. After taking this test, students can quickly and easily update their results of the test and receive a score report immediately. This sets the framework for what material you will need to focus on to improve your score and your coach will then be able to assign daily practice questions to improve upon these weaknesses.
Coaching sessions range from once or twice a week (30 to 40 minutes per session) with online one-to-one video chat, which is a time for coaches to check-in on progress and performance. All of these coaching professionals come with high qualifications as 99 percentile scorers and are recruited from top universities such as Brown, Tufts, Holy Cross, and Yale, to name a few.
- Unhindered access to over 3000+ smart questions
- More than 50 hours of directive videos
- Score increase guarantee
- Adaptive and efficient technology saves time in score record
The only drawback we found in this prep course is the lack of live online or live in-person options.
Testive is the best ACT prep course to suit the needs of the time-strapped student with a tight schedule. It offers both these time as well as cost advantages without compromising quality.
Kaplan Online ACT Prep
Kaplan is a kingpin in the test prep industry and there’s no doubt that their ACT review courses are among the best in the market. Kaplan is known for its test prep as well as its partnership with the ACT, Inc. to offer discount or free courses to low-income families.
Just like the other companies making it on our list, they also offer 3 main options: live online, on-demand, and live in-person. Their live classroom option stands out as the most popular, as Kaplan boasts class branch locations in almost every state as well as in most major cities. Kaplan reaches a further radius with in-person classes that the likes of Princeton Review and Prep Experts simply cannot compete with.
Kaplan has quality teachers who are employed on the basis of their teaching ability and compassion. It’s quite possible that, more than convenient locations, it’s engaging and inspirational teachers that make Kaplan’s Live Classroom its most popular and effective option.
- Customize your review plan according to your strength and weaknesses
- 30 plus hours of interactive live teaching
- 9 practice tests with integrated score analysis in your course (including one from the makers of ACT)
- Two preparation books with over 1000 practice questions
- Choice of different location options for live in-person classes
- Guarantee score increase
The number of course hours offered in their courses are quite low, with the highest number of in-class instruction hitting 25 hours.
There is no better ACT prep course for acquiring basic knowledge on the fundamental concepts that the individual is going to be tested on. However, if you are looking for additional official ACT prep questions (as Kaplan provides only 1 official ACT test), you’d be safe to buy some official ACT practice tests to work through to supplement this prep!
Sylvan ACT Prep
Sylvan is renowned as one of the best ACT prep courses that help in building on the quality of the entire student via a personalized method. As one of the best ACT prep courses in the market, Sylvan uses a cohesive approach to raise you or your child’s score and confidence. The approach makes uses a blend of practice tests, online videos, independent learning and in-center instruction.
Sylvan offers an in-person classes option, where you can receive expert support on college-readiness skills as well as ACT prep. You can choose between one-on-one or group classes, depending on what kind of study preferences you have. They have more than 800 locations worldwide and you can see if there is a Sylvan Learning Center near you using their search tool. If in-person classes are not a priority for you, the Sylvan Online Prep provides an array of excellent videos and great content on how best to answer questions. It also offers a score guarantee that further boost its services as one of the best ACT prep courses in the market.
- Provides a personalized online learning path
- Over 800 locations means there is likely a center near your home
- Access to expert tutors for guidance on the ACT
One drawback we found with Sylvan is that their is not a huge demand for participants for their live in-person ACT prep. That means it may be difficult to find a group study option.
Sylvan Learning Center offers a well-rounded and affordable option for those who need ACT prep as well as any other help in their classes.
Just like most of the other prep that made our best ACT prep courses on this list, Veritas offers live in-person, on-demand online, and live online varieties, meaning you can choose the type of course that you feel most comfortable with. Not surprisingly, the live online option is their most popular course among students. The live online class provides their flagship 25-hour course with live online tutor instruction over the course of 5 weeks and comes at a price that is a little bit lower than that of Prep Expert.
If you prefer self-study, Veritas does also offer an on-demand online course that comes with 12 lessons in high-definition, 10 in-depth lesson guidebooks, an ACT question bank, a live instructor to help daily 7 days a week, as well as 1 full year of access to this course. This is a self-study option, so it should be noted that students need to already be confident in their own self-discipline and study methods in order to be adequately prepared for the ACT.
Veritas also has incredibly qualified teachers measuring 99th percentile. If you choose to pursue Veritas’ live online course option, you are also given the choice of instructors, all of which are reviewed and can be checked by students before selection. We love this feature, as it gives a bit more personalization to which course instructor you think will best fit your learning style.
We appreciate Veritas commitment to serve the needs of its students first, as they offer 24/7 access through online live office hours and email service. Students can find this very useful when practicing outside of the home and needing to ask a question or two. Similarly, their prep can be accessed across various devices, meaning if you stop a lesson on your laptop, you can pick it up where it left off on your smartphone or tablet!
Veritas offers a total number of 25 classroom hours while taking their live room option, a feature that is much larger than the average 18 hours that the industry is known for. With an extra time of 7 hours, Veritas can dive deeper into more advanced questions and problem resolution. All of their courses feature free admissions counseling, which can be really useful for students who are struggling to navigate their admissions strategy.
- It is available with three officially recognized practice exams
- 12 months of access to on-demand videos
- Unrestricted access to online homework
- Top-notch teachers for students
- 25 classroom hours
We are a bit disappointment in the score increase guaranteed by Veritas, which is 3 points. Other companies, such as Prep Expert, guarantee a 4-point score increase or your money back.
Veritas is the best ACT prep course designed to handle the needs of more advanced students. We find their on-demand online course to be the biggest bang for your buck, as they are able to offer live instructor help 7 days a week.
Finding the best ACT prep course that suits all of your needs can sometimes feel daunting, but hopefully after reading our reviews, you’ve gained a better understanding of which is the best ACT prep course for YOU. Regardless of the type of preparation you ultimately decide on, you can feel confident that all of these courses share one thing in common: they will adequately prepare you for the challenges that lie in taking the ACT. You know what you need, and it’s time to choose the best ACT prep course service to match that!
Best ACT Prep & Studying FAQ
Is an ACT prep course worth it?
Most students seeking a good score will benefit from at least a self-paced ACT prep course. If you hope to be a top scorer, however, you should definitely invest in a proper live online or in-person ACT prep course.
How long should I study for the ACT?
This depends on the amount you’re trying to increase your score, but a good rule of thumb is to study a couple hours a day for 1-2 months for a 3-point increase and 3-4 months for a 5+ point score increase. Any increase larger than this requires a long-term plan.
When should I start studying for the ACT?
Most students should begin their ACT prep towards the end of their sophomore year or that summer and are ready to take the ACT at the beginning of their junior year.
How much does an ACT prep course cost?
Self-guided ACT prep books are only about $50 but are limited in interactive elements. An ACT prep course on demand is around $400-$500 and live online or in-person will set you back around $1400+.