SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Free ACT Practice Tests: Massive Collection of Online Sources

Posted by Francesca Fulciniti | Apr 9, 2016 10:00:00 PM

ACT General Info

 

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When you’re trying to prepare for the ACT, the last thing you want to worry about is finding ACT practice tests. To help make the process a little less stressful for you, we’ve compiled this huge list of sources for free ACT practice tests and questions.

Not all practice tests are created equal, though. For each test source, I’ll talk about how you can best use the practice material to best prepare for the ACT.

 

Why Do You Need ACT Practice Tests? 

You, of course, understand that in order to prep for the ACT, you need practice material. Ultimately, though, you may need more practice tests (and more supplementary materials) than you’d expect.

Let’s talk about the three key reasons why you’ll need an arsenal of tests and questions to go into the ACT 100% prepared. 

 

Real Practice

One of the most stressful parts of taking any standardized test is sitting through potentially uncomfortable testing conditions. You have to stay focused and alert for several hours with few breaks, and you have to jump from section to section without breaking your stride.

Taking official ACT practice tests under realistic testing conditions helps prepare you for test day. This means sitting through an entire test in one go while carefully timing how long you spend on each section

For this type of preparation, you should really only use official ACT tests.

 

Content Practice 

This component of ACT prep is about building your knowledge of all the content that’s actually tested on the exam. If you’re working on specific subject prep, you’ll need materials that test (and teach) understanding of subject-specific content.

Official ACT practice questions are the ideal for this sort of practice, but they’re limited in number and should really be saved for “realistic” practice and/or strategy prep. Unofficial or supplementary materials can prepare you well when it comes to brushing up on content, even if they’re not in strict, official ACT format.

 

Strategy Prep 

ACT questions follow a very particular set of rules when it comes to style and logic. Although unofficial practice tests try to recreate this with their practice questions, it’s rare to find an unofficial source that does a good job.

Official practice tests are important when it comes to familiarizing yourself with strategy required to do well on the “real” ACT. The more comfortable you are with the various types of ACT questions, the more efficient and the more confident you’ll be on the actual test.

 

Where to Find Official ACT Tests

Now that you know why (and how) ACT practice materials are important, let’s talk about where you can find the gold standard of ACT prep material: official ACT tests.

In this section, you’ll find both recent and older ACT tests. You should focus on the most current ACT recent for your practice although older tests will definitely be helpful if you need extra material.

The good news is that the format of the ACT hasn’t changed that much over the past few decades, so older exams will still give you a good idea of what to expect on test day.

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I'm not kidding when I say that official practice materials are the gold standard in ACT prep. 

 

Free Official Tests

These free ACT practice tests are great for official practice - those study sessions where you sit down under realistic testing conditions and finish an entire exam. I’d recommend using one as a diagnostic test towards the beginning of your study plan. Be careful not to use these up all at once - these are the only free official tests available.

The newest official ACT (2015-2016) is the only one that reflects the test's most recent changes: paired reading passages and a new essay. Other than these updates, however, the ACT's overall content and format has remained pretty consistent.  

 

Free Official Practice Questions

The ACT also publishes official practice questions (separate from the official practice tests) on its website. These questions are great for working on strategy and content prep.

 

Other Official Practice Materials

There are other official ACT materials available for purchase:

  • The Real ACT Prep Guide contains five full official practice tests, which amounts to about 20 hours of study material. This book is awesome for strategy prep and official practice, but it will not be much help at all if you need to review test content. It costs about $15 on Amazon
  • The ACT Online Program contains two full practice tests or about eight hours of study material. The “prep” that comes with the program isn’t particularly useful, though, so we advise you to skip that and just use the full tests. It costs about $40 on the ACT website

 

Where to Find (and How to Use) Unofficial ACTs

As you may have noticed, there aren’t unlimited official ACT tests available for practice. If you’re planning on studying for 50+ hours, you’ll need to find supplementary sources.

There are so many unofficial sources for ACT tests and practice questions, but these really vary in quality - you don’t want to use just any practice questions you find online without vetting them first. To help you find reliable sources for supplementary materials, I’ve compiled a list of resources here. There may be many other good sources out there, but this should get you off on the right track.

 

Free Online Practice ACTs From Test Prep Companies

You should be especially careful with using free prep from test companies since the quality of the material is often questionable. That being said, some companies offer practice tests or questions that may prove to be really helpful as supplementary materials.

Just be especially mindful (if you choose to work with these materials) about not treating these practice questions as you would official prep - that means not relying too much on them for strategy or real test practice.

 

Sophia.org

Sophia.org offers 2-3 practice tests each for ACT math, science, reading, English, and writing. Each practice test has about 60 questions and comes with an answer key and scoring guide.  You need to make an account in order to access the (free) tests, and you need to opt in to making your profile private. 

The site encourages you to treat the practice tests like official practice, but (as you know by now) it's best to use these materials for content review. 

 

body_sophiaexample.pngAn example of a Sophia.org practice question

 

Prepfactory.com

You can access free materials with this site if you make an account. There's a social media-esque functionality where you can test your skills against those of other students. I'd avoid this, however, and just focus on improving your own weak skill areas - it won't be helpful to compare yourself to others while you're studying.  

You can access practice questions through quizzes for different themed modules. The modules' content study material is a bit disjointed and cursory, so I would skip it and just focus on working through the practice questions.  

 

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An example of a Prepfactory.com practice question

 

Ivy Global

Ivy Global offers both sample ACT questions and a full (unofficial) ACT practice test on its website. You can download their full ACT practice test without making an account or providing any personal information (a big plus). 

Ivy Global did make a real effort to put together a test that's very similar to the official ACT. I still wouldn't encourage you Ivyglobal for official practice, but it might come in handy if you run through all of the free official ACT materials listed earlier in this article. 

 

body_ivyglobalexample-1.pngAn example of an Ivyglobal practice question

 

Varsity Tutors

Varsity Tutors has a ton of free material - it seems like there are thousands of practice questions available -  but this company isn’t particularly careful about creating questions in the style of the ACT. You should be careful about not putting too much stock in the types of questions you use from this site.

Another con - you really can't work through the questions until you register for an account, and you're pressured pretty hard to pay for their tutoring services. 

That being said, you might find Varsity Tutors helpful if you need access to a ton of material (i.e. if you plan on studying for 50+ hours), and/or if you're a high scorer and want to analyze official ACT vs. non ACT questions. 

 

body_varsitytutorsexample-1.pngAn example of a Varsity Tutors practice question

 

Union Test Prep

Union Test Prep offers one free practice test which is administered online. Each question is presented (and graded), which is very different from what you'll encounter on the actual ACT - the format of the exam reminds me more of the GRE than any college entrance exam, to be honest. 

You don't have to register with Union Test Prep to access these questions. 

 

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An example of a Union Test Prep practice question

 

Albert.io

Albert.io offers hundreds of practice questions for ACT Math, ACT Science and ACT Reading. You must create an account to answer questions, but you get 100 free credits, which you can use to answer up to 100 questions. The questions are all clearly tagged, so this can be a great resource for targeting specific skills.

 

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An example of an Albert practice question

 

Kaplan

If you register with Kaplan, you can sign up for a free ACT practice test. They have them scheduled in advance, so this will only work if one of their ACT test times fits within your schedule. 

I expect these practice tests to be similar to their prep book (which I'll get to shortly) - good for an introduction to the test, especially for low scorers, but not so helpful for students who are already familiar with the exam or are already getting relatively high marks. 

 

Princeton Review

Princeton Review has a system that's pretty similar to Kaplan's - you can take a free ACT online demo and test if you register with the site.

Princeton Review has a reputation for writing questions that are (conceptually) easier than what you'd see on the test, so this might not be the best option for high-scoring students who are looking to push up their scores. 

 

 

ACT Prep Books

Unofficial ACT prep books can be helpful when it comes to content review and practice. The ACT is pretty transparent about what concepts they actually test on the exam - if you have weak areas, instructional books and practice questions (even if they’re not similar to ACT questions) can help you develop a better grasp of the material.

One of the downsides to ACT prep books is that they aren’t free. You may be able to find these books at your public or school library if you’d rather not purchase the materials.

If you’re looking for a more exhaustive list of the most helpful ACT books, especially for books by subject, check out our guide to the best ACT prep books.

 

Best Non-Official ACT Book: The ACT Black Book

A great book for strategy, the Black Book teaches you to think about the ACT as a predictable, standardized test. It offers alternative strategies for students who may not understand all concepts in the same way. 

If there's a downside to this prep book, it's that you have to be pretty self-motivated and self-driven in order to use it effectively. 

It costs about $17 on Amazon

 

Best Book for High Scorers: Barron's

Barron’s books are very thorough and cover a lot of content. They’re good options if your score is already high, but you’re aiming for perfect (or close to perfect).  Some of the questions can be unrealistically (and unhelpfully) difficult. 

It costs about $12 on Amazon

 

Best Book for Low Scorers: Kaplan

This is an all-in-one book that covers all ACT sections. It includes practice tests and answer explanations in addition to basic ACT strategies. This book is not helpful if you’re pretty motivated to study and are serious about improving your score - this is really a bare-bones book

It costs about $20 on Amazon

  

 

Making a Plan: How to Study for the ACT 

If you want to make the most of all these ACT materials, you’ll want to make a plan for using them strategically. The major steps you’ll need to take to make a plan are below, although you can get more detailed info if you check out our guide on how long you need to study for the ACT.

 

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These materials will be most helpful if you come up with a road map for using them before diving in. 

 

Get a Baseline: Start With a Diagnostic ACT Test

Take one of the recent, official ACT tests to get a baseline score. Unofficial diagnostic tests won’t help you understand where you’d need to improve on the actual ACT.

Checking out target schools (and their correlating target ACT scores) will give you a goal score range to aim for.

 

Practice Strategy and Review Content With Supplementary Materials

If you’re weak in strategy skills or content knowledge, you should primarily use unofficial supplementary materials to study and improve in those areas. You can use these practice questions to drill skills or test knowledge without worrying about wasting official prep material.

Once you’ve spent some time learning new skills and content, you may want to really test your performance with the official ACT practice questions (not the full tests).

 

Use Official ACTs As Full-Length Practice Tests

You can always find more unofficial prep material, but there’s a limited number of official ACT practice tests. Use these official resources as full-length practice tests under real testing conditions.

You shouldn’t stop there, though. Get everything you can out of those tests by carefully analyzing your answers and mistakes, so you know which skills and content areas you should focus on next.

Remember to save one or two official tests for the end of your study program so you can familiarize yourself with a full-length exam before you take the actual ACT.

 

What's Next? 

Now that you have a ton of material to work with, you might want to start thinking about putting together a (more detailed) study plan and ACT strategy.

First, figure out how long you should plan on studying for the ACT. Next, determine what your own ACT score goal should be - what's a good score? A bad score? An excellent score? 

If you don't have too much time to study but still want to prepare as best you can, download those official ACT tests and check out our guide to a 20 hour prep program

 

Want to improve your ACT score by 4+ points? Download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need in your prep to improve your ACT score dramatically.

Raise Your ACT Score by 4 Points (Free Download)

 

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Francesca Fulciniti
About the Author

Francesca graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and scored in the 99th percentile on the SATs. She's worked with many students on SAT prep and college counseling, and loves helping students capitalize on their strengths.



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