ACT Prep Course Analysis

ACT Prep Course Vs ACT Test Tutor Vs ACT Self Study

act prep course

Proper ACT test prep vetting is required if you want to reach your highest potential test score.

In a nutshell, we believe that probably most high school students would benefit from hiring a tutor or taking an ACT prep course.

How do you know which category you fall into?

First, you need to perform a “self diagnostic,” if you will. Take an ACT practice test with official questions under timed conditions, trying to simulate the test conditions as best you can. (Cell phones off, find a quiet area free from distractions, etc.)

Mark the questions where you guessed and look at the answer explanations to both the ones you got wrong as well as guessed correctly. Do the explanations make sense? Did you do significantly better on one section than another and, perhaps, only need to concentrate your ACT test prep time on certain portions of the test?

When You will Benefit from ACT Self Study

  1. You are self disciplined to put the required time into proper ACT preparation,
  2. You can teach yourself the proper test-taking techniques found in this website and published books, and
  3. You can work through practice questions on your own with little need for outside guidance and assistance.


When You will Benefit from an ACT Prep Course

  1. The competition from your fellow test prep students will give you additional motivation,
  2. You enjoy the structure of a course and the camaraderie of your fellow students, and
  3. You believe you may have questions about certain test-taking techniques and practice questions and answer explanations.


When You will Benefit from an ACT Tutor

  1. You feel you will get more from working one on one,
  2. You want someone who understands how you learn best and who monitors your progress, and
  3. You don’t want the rigid structure of a course but prefer to move at your own speed and focus your attention on the areas where you most need help.


Some More Notes about ACT Prep Courses

Most ACT prep courses (online courses are the exception) do not offer you much flexibility for your schedule. In other words, you may sign up for a class that meets every Thursday evening and you will have to accommodate your schedule around this commitment.

No “live” course is better than the individual instructor that is teaching it. Ask your friends, neighbors, and family if they have had any firsthand experience with the local ACT instructors. While the larger ACT prep courses offer many top-notch instructors, we have heard our share of complaints about instructors who read the presentation material in a very dry and monotonous tone right out of a textbook.

ACT prep courses tend to give an equal amount of time to each section of the ACT. If you are very strong in the math and analogies sections, for instance, you may want to focus most of your efforts on the critical reading and sentence completion sections.

Our Final Thoughts on ACT Prep Courses

Reputable ACT prep can significantly increase your test scores and are likely more effective for most students than self study. It can cost a significant amount of money though. Make sure you understand the “value proposition” and have reasonable expectations for achieving your ACT test score goals. Finally, assuming you have finite resources, you will want to consider that the ACT is only one part of your college applications and you may want to allocate financial resources to campus visits and other areas of the college admission process.