5 Ways to Prepare for the ACT

From Courses To Apps and Everything in Between

If you ask 100 people how to prepare for the ACT, you'll probably get 100 different answers. There are dozens of options out there to help you get ready for this college admissions exam – tutors, books, apps, courses, practice questions, etc. – some which require a minimal commitment from you, and others that require your body and soul for months at a time.

But if you skip all those people and just ask me how to prepare for the ACT, then I'll keep it simple and offer you the four choice below. Browse through the list and narrow down your choices; there are many out there that will suit your ACT test prep needs!

Which type of test prep is right for me? 

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Raising Hand in Class
Getty Images | Steve Cole

One of the ways you can prepare for the ACT is by choosing an ACT test prep course. They range in price from free (Yay!) up to about $1,500 or so, with all sorts of options thrown in to help you prepare. For instance, some of the test prep companies offer money-back or score-increase guarantees. Bonus! Many also offer proctored ACT practice tests, personalized learning plans, instruction and strategies for increasing your ACT score, and books to coincide with your course. Plus, when you sign up for an ACT course, you can study on-demand, live online, in-person, by yourself, with a small group, or with a class. Most of these bad boys are customizable, which is awesome, considering that every student has such different learning styles.

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ACT Strategy Smart
REA, Inc.

One of the least expensive, but thorough, ways you can prepare for the ACT is with a test prep book. Sure, you're not getting a money-back guarantee, but if you only spend $18.00 on the book, the loss isn't as great as it would be if you spent $1,500, you know what I mean? Books are also a fantastic way to prepare because you can pace yourself; heck, you can start six months ahead if you need to in order to completely master the strategies and tips inside the book. Plus, most books these days, and especially the books on this list, include many ACT practice tests so you can wrap your head around what you'll actually be doing on test day.

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iPad
Getty Images | Steve West

The rising popularity of apps for your iPad/notebook, iPod, and Smartphone has test prep companies in a frenzy to provide you with good, quality test prep apps that will keep you coming back for more. The ACT is no exception! ACT apps have a ton of benefits that neither books nor ACT courses have. For starters, you can play games instead of reading through a black and white page or listening to a teacher drone on through instruction. Many of the ACT apps are also adaptable, which means they start to filter questions based on your needs the more you use the app. It's customizable learning at your fingertips! And with some of the apps in the list, you can walk your fingers through practice tests, get immediate feedback, and even create study groups with people near you who are also using the app.

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Tutoring
Tutoring teen. Getty Images | Peopleimages

Sometimes, you need someone else boosting you along in your ACT test prep journey. That's where a tutor comes in! A tutor can motivate you, customize your learning experience so your study time is maximized, and hold you accountable. Tutoring prices range from free to around $25/hour to over $300/hour, depending on the test prep company offering the service. 

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Taking tests
Getty Images | Erik Dreyer

I am aware that just taking a few practice tests for the ACT will not prepare you thoroughly, because although repetition is good in test prep, it's only good if you understand the errors you're making so you don't repeat those, too. The tests provided (for free) at this link will work the best with one of the other test prep methods. But, if you're a slacker and choose to use nothing at all to prepare for the ACT test, it would be better to at least take a practice test or two so you'll know what you're up against on test day. Some of the formatting, especially on the English test, can be tricky, so it's imperative to find out what you're in for!