Rather than relying solely on heavy ACT prep books, you can lighten your load by moving your ACT prep online. You'll find lots of free resources on everything, from test content and key strategies to high-quality practice questions.
This guide will go over the best test prep websites you should be using if you're aiming to ace the ACT. But first, a word on the perspective I have when it comes to ACT websites.
You might be wondering how objective a guide from an online ACT prep company can be about recommending other online ACT resources. To give full disclosure, I personally think that PrepScholar has the most insightful and relevant ACT guides available online.
We delve into every aspect of the testing process, including choosing your test dates, understanding the scoring process, knowing exactly what's on each section, and using time-saving comprehension strategies to maximize your scores. We also take a holistic approach to test prep, keeping in mind that every student has different goals and schedules, and can come from any grade in middle school or high school.
That being said, there are several other websites that are important to explore and learn from as you prep for the ACT. Rather than limiting yourself to one source of information, you can best prepare yourself and boost your scores by taking advantage of all free online ACT resources.
This guide is meant to help you find the best ACT websites for:
- Logistics such as choosing your test dates and registering for the test
- Understanding the content and format of the test
- Learning strategies
- Locating the highest-quality practice questions that will get you ready for the ACT
First, let's take a look at the official ACT website and the parts of it that are most useful to you.
Official ACT Website
The official ACT website is where you'll register for the ACT. You'll create an account with a username and password and upload a photo.
Besides test dates and registration, the ACT website has a useful overview of accommodations, what to take with you on test day, and college and financial planning. Since you can find more in-depth information about most of these areas elsewhere, I would say the most useful part of the ACT website for test prep is its official sample questions for English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing.
After you open an ACT account, you can find an ACT Question of the Day, which can be useful to start early and study a little at a time. The site also offers a useful ACT study guide in both English and Spanish.
If you don't mind spending a bit, you can also purchase the ACT Online Prep Program for $39.95. This program has lessons in English, Reading, Math, and Science, plus two Writing prompts and sample essays. It offers some degree of personalization and keeps track of your progress so you know what you've studied and what you still need to review.
Practice questions from ACT, Inc., are very useful as they are official questions directly from the test makers and thus the truest representation of what you'll encounter on the ACT. However, they are not updated very often, and the website has a relatively small number of practice questions available for free. I would recommend answering these only after having done some other prep first as a way to gauge your level and figure out what you still need to improve.
Another drawback of these ACT practice questions is that your answers are evaluated after each page. This format doesn't simulate the timing or pacing of taking a practice test or the actual ACT.
The ACT website is useful for general information and the limited number of practice questions it offers, but you'll want to look elsewhere for strategy. The site has a few tips for the test, but they are pretty surface level and not customized to different students.
Since the ACT doesn't want to give away test-taking secrets or ways to see through their tricks, the official site is not going to offer much in the way of this kind of guidance. So what other sites can you use to find strategy as well as additional ACT practice questions?
These are the best sites for drawing up your ACT game plan.
Best ACT Websites for Strategy
If you've searched for resources on the ACT online, you've probably noticed that there are a lot more sites devoted to the SAT than the ACT. Even though the ACT is just as popular among students, the test-prep resources don't seem to have quite caught up yet. That's why you'll often search for ACT vocabulary and get referred to lists of obscure SAT vocabulary words, or try to find ACT Questions of the Day only to realize they're not all that specific to the test.
In terms of ACT-specific content and strategy guides, I think PrepScholar far outstrips the competition in its level of detail and authenticity. As we'll discuss more below, though, you can also find some helpful strategies for the Reading, English, and Writing sections on Erica Meltzer's blog, The Critical Reader, and learn about the purpose of the ACT and the approaches you can take on Sparknotes.
PrepScholar offers a wide variety of in-depth guides with specific, real ACT examples. We break down exactly what's tested on each section and give you suggested study schedules to help you manage your time as well as strategies for guessing. We also customize our advice to make it relevant to students of all grade levels and with all different target scores and schedules.
Here are some of our especially helpful guides that break down exactly what's tested on each section of the ACT:
- What's Actually Tested on the ACT English Section?
- What's Actually Tested on the ACT Reading section?
- The 4 Types of ACT Reading Passages You Should Know
- What's Actually Tested on the ACT Math Section?
- What's Actually Tested on the ACT Science Section?
- The 3 Types of ACT Science Passages
While these guides offer some strategy along with their explanation of ACT content, you can find others that are specifically oriented toward teaching you strategies and helping you master the test:
- The Best Way to Review Your Mistakes on ACT Questions
- The 31 ACT Critical Math Formulas You Must Know
- The Complete Guide to ACT Grammar Rules
- Time Management Tips and Section Strategy on ACT Science
- ACT Vocabulary: Words You Must Know
- How to Write an ACT Essay, Step by Step
- Exactly How Long Should You Study for the ACT? 6 Step Guide
- Should You Guess on the ACT? 5 Guessing Strategies
- How to Get a Perfect ACT Score, by a 36 Full Scorer
In offering you these resources, our hope is that all students will have access to the resources they need to succeed in high school and achieve their post-secondary goals. We also welcome comments and emails and try to respond to your questions and input as soon as possible.
If PrepScholar's approach resonates with your goals and learning style, then you should check out our ACT prep 5 day free trial. This gives you access to the full ACT prep program. At the end of the 5 days, you can call it a day or choose to sign up for the rest of the test prep program.
The best way to make the most of these guides is to try out the strategies they suggest using sample problems and timed practice tests. You can then determine which ones best help you comprehend the material in a deep and efficient way.
Erica Meltzer posts helpful, though sometimes short, blog posts about the Reading, English, and essay sections of the ACT. They are accessible and offer some tips and tricks beyond what you would find on the official ACT website.
Some particularly helpful posts are as follows:
- A suggestion for managing time on ACT English
- Worry about when you DO need a comma, not when you don't
- Do ACT Reading passages in order of most to least interesting
- Shortcut: paragraph "main function"
Reading both this blog and PrepScholar's guides will expose you to different strategies so you can determine which ones you agree with. For instance, Meltzer suggests that students read over entire passages before answering questions, which is not necessarily the advice we give for reading ACT passages. By exploring content across various sites, you can learn more than one approach and customize the advice to best fit your learning style and needs.
If the ACT were better served online, then Sparknotes might not have made the list as an especially useful ACT website. Since there aren't so many resources for ACT strategy, though, I think Sparknotes is worth looking over for its descriptions of the test and strategies about answering questions and saving time.
Like PrepScholar, it encourages student to set target scores and shape their study plans around meeting their individualized score goals. This site is useful for an initial reading about ACT content and strategy. Once you finish reading it, you can then move to other ACT websites to get more specialized advice with more specific examples from the test.
Since there aren't too many specific examples given on these pages, you'll have to seek out practice problems and apply the strategies yourself. So that leads us to perhaps the most important part of online test prep: where can you find all the good practice questions?
ACT Websites for Practice Questions
As we discussed above, the official ACT website offers free sample questions for each section, an essay question, and scored sample essays. Official practice questions are the best ones when it comes to test prep, but there are also a lot of high-quality practice questions from well-known test-prep companies. These sites are a good start for finding free, online (both official and unofficial) ACT practice questions.
Our convenient guide lets you download and print all official ACT practice tests along with their answer keys. These are real tests administered in past years, so they're exactly like what you'll see on test day!
Once you've printed out a practice test, find a quiet room and time yourself as you take it. After you finish, go back and analyze your strengths and weaknesses.
You can also check out our free five-day trial for our ACT program to access tons more practice questions.
This website lets you download four official ACT practice tests with answer keys (these are the same tests we've compiled above). Once again, try to simulate testing conditions to get a sense of time management and the real test experience. You should also pay close attention to how ACT questions are worded and arranged.
Since there are no answer explanations, you'll have to try to analyze your own mistakes and figure out what your errors in reasoning are for any questions you get wrong.
Unlike the official practice tests you' have to print and score yourself, Varsity Tutors offers free ACT test-prep questions, which you can take online and get automatically scored. These questions are helpful for reviewing concepts and reinforcing content knowledge but less so for gaining familiarity with how ACT questions are structured and worded (since they're not official ACT practice questions).
While the ACT is not as well served online as the SAT is, you can still find a number of good resources for strategy and practice questions, both official sample tests and online practice questions. In exploring these sites, what else should you do to make the most out of these resources and get prepared for the ACT?
How to Use ACT Websites
To best use the official ACT website, create an account by filling out your personal information and uploading a photo. Make sure to write down your username and password since you'll be creating a lot of online accounts around the college process and don't want to find yourself locked out of your account.
When it comes to PrepScholar's guides, Erica Meltzer's blog, and the other sites discussed above, simply visit them and get reading and practicing. As with the ACT Student Twitter account, you can follow PrepScholar on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter for helpful test-prep and college-admissions information.
One site I didn't mention for test prep is College Confidential. This useful forum lets you discuss test prep and the college process as well as gain a sense of community among students and parents. By sharing your questions and stories, you can gain valuable insight and support as you work toward achieving your ACT goals.
Above all, I highly recommend searching and trying out strategies that work for you. Unfortunately, the official ACT website does not publicize many strategies that'll give you an edge on acing the test. There are many valuable approaches you can use as you prep for the ACT, so explore these online resources and figure out what works best for you so that you can achieve your best scores!
The guides on ACT strategy I mentioned above are just a few PrepScholar offers and that we're continually adding to every day. Browse more guides on general strategies for taking the test and ones specific to Math, Science, English, Reading, and the essay.
Are you wondering when you should sign up to take the ACT for the first time? This guide describes the most important considerations to help you choose the best test date for you.
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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.