Rather than relying solely on heavy ACT prep books to get you ready for your exam, you can lighten your load by moving your ACT prep online. You'll find lots of resources on everything from test content and key strategies to high-quality practice questions. And the best part is that most of these resources are free!
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.
Disclaimer: How ACT Websites Can Help You
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 PrepScholar has the most insightful and relevant ACT guides available online.
We delve into every aspect of the testing process, such as 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 the following:
- 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
Besides test dates and registration, the ACT website offers 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'd say the most useful part of the ACT website for test prep is its official sample questions for the English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing sections.
After you create an ACT account, you gain access to additional, helpful study resources. For instance, you can take advantage of the 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; it also has two full practice tests (different from the ones in The Official Guide to ACT Prep 2019-2020) 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 extremely useful since 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're not updated very often, and the website has a relatively small number of ACT practice questions available for free. I 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 the actual ACT. And it turns out, getting used to the format of the test is important to earning that perfect score!
Ultimately, 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 test strategy. Since the ACT doesn't want to give away test-taking secrets or strategies for seeing 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 high-quality 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 ACT resources 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 believe that 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 ACT Reading, English, and Writing on Erica Meltzer's blog, The Critical Reader, and learn about the purpose of the ACT and the approaches you can take through SparkNotes.
PrepScholar offers a wide variety of in-depth guides with specific, realistic 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. What's more, we 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 explanation of ACT content, you can find others that are specifically oriented toward teaching you strategies and helping you master the test:
- The Ultimate Free ACT Study Guide: Tips, Strategies, and Practice
- 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 Example
- 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 links, 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 ACT 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 five 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 ACT 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 tips and tricks beyond what you would find on the official ACT website.
Some particularly helpful posts include the following:
- 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 work best for you. For instance, Meltzer suggests that students read 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.
One quick note about Metzer's site before we move on: you'll quickly realize that The Critical Reader offers tips for more than just the ACT. It can be hard to find the ACT resources, so be prepared to do a little digging to search for what you need!
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 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, SparkNotes encourages students 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 on 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 this site, you'll have to seek out practice problems and apply the strategies yourself. 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. While official practice questions are the best ones for test prep, there are 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 prep program to access tons more practice questions.
This prep website lets you download four free, 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 here, 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'd have to print and score yourself, Varsity Tutors offers free ACT questions you can do online and get automatically scored. These questions are helpful for reviewing concepts and reinforcing content knowledge but less so for gaining familiarity with how actual ACT questions are structured and worded (since they're not official practice questions).
Varsity Tutors also offers free diagnostic tests for the ACT. These are shorter, condensed versions of the ACT designed to help you quickly identify areas where you need to study the most. A diagnostic test can be a great tool to help you study smarter, even if you have to go elsewhere to find more robust study tools.
Even though Khan Academy's test-prep videos are mainly for the SAT, they contain plenty of advice you can apply to the ACT as well. Check out our guide to using Khan Academy for ACT prep to learn exactly how to use this resource.
Khan Academy has numerous videos explaining different math, science, and reading subjects, and many people find that they learn more from watching a video compared to just reading. Try Khan Academy out to see whether it's a good ACT prep resource for you.
Overall, although the ACT is not as well served online as the SAT is, you can still find a number of good resources for test-taking strategy and practice questions in the form of both official tests and practice questions. But what else should you do to make the most of these resources and get prepared for the ACT?
How to Use ACT Websites Effectively
First off, to best use the official ACT website, you'll want to 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 during 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, start by visiting them and checking out the resources. Once you figure out which sites have the materials you need, you can start studying.
Also, don't be afraid to use social media to your advantage! There's an official ACT Student Twitter account, and 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, since it's not exactly a test prep site. This useful forum lets you discuss test prep and the college process and gain a sense of community among both students and parents. By sharing your questions and stories, you can get valuable insight and support as you work toward achieving your ACT goals.
Above all, I highly recommend searching for and trying out strategies that you think will work best for you. Unfortunately, the official ACT website doesn't publicize many strategies that'll give you an edge on the test.
There are many valuable approaches you can use as you prep for the ACT. Make sure to explore these online resources and figure out what works best for you so that you can achieve your best ACT scores!
The guides on ACT strategy I mentioned above are just a few of the guides 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.