Do ACT Prep Classes Actually Help?

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You’re probably wondering if taking an ACT class will help you to get a higher score and is it worth the time and money?


Three senior researchers from ACT itself conducted studies on the effectiveness of test prep on scores. They concluded that test preparation indeed improved student’s retest scores but not significantly.


According to this study, the average increase in ACT score from taking a class  was 1,7 points  (36 is the max score on the test so that’s not too bad). The highest increase was among students who worked with the help of a tutor or in a live interaction in a class.


The same thing was concluded with the SAT, where test prep led to around  30 points increase  (out of 1600).


In contrast, short-term preparation activities (eg. ACT commercial workbooks)  related a 1,2 to 1,5 point increase  in the composite score. Longer activities (practice questions, full-length tests) related to  2,5 to 5,8 point increases. 


Note that the course will work best if you currently score around 26-30. Then you can confidently expect a 2-4 point increase. But if you’re already at around 31, the classes probably won’t help you a lot to go to the next level.


Also, prep courses aren’t going to help you a lot if you have troubles with a specific section of the test (like math). Then it’s best to work with a private tutor.


Related content: The 4 Best ACT Prep Courses To Take


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A small improvements in score may be important


On average, taking a class has a small positive impact on the overall score. The most benefits flow from working with a tutor, and the other important success factor is the length of study.


But according to the NACAC study, one-third of colleges stated that even small improvements on standardized tests can make a big difference when it comes to the admission decision. Sometimes 2 or 3 points more on the ACT can mean a lot.


Taking the cost of the course into consideration


Most prep companies offer a guarantee that if you don’t improve your score, you can get your money back or take the course again at no extra cost. This means they’re confident in their service.


PrepExpert promises a 4 point increase on the ACT. Princeton Review (around $1200) guarantees 31+ points if you take their premium course. And Magoosh ($99) offers an increase of at least 4 points if you go through their self-paced course.


This seems to be consistent with the comments you see around the web. Most students achieve around 3-5 points increase after taking a class.


Examples I’ve found of score difference after taking a course:


  • 4 point improvement (28 to 32)
  • 7 point improvement (29 to 36)
  • 3 point improvement (29 to 32)


Your success depends on self-discipline


Courses are most beneficial for students who find it hard to discipline themselves. A class gives you a track to run on, conduct your studies with more focus.


Other potential benefits of taking a class:


1. Guarantee of a high score – for example – 31+ points.

2. Access to an online dashboard with reports and statistics.

3. Access to multiple full-length practice tests and questions divided by section.

4. Extra study materials such as books and videos.

5. Working in an online classroom under the supervision of a skilled instructor.

6. Access to a mobile app you can use to learn on the go.

7. There are also cheaper self-paced options (like Magoosh – $99) or even free ones (like Khan Academy).


Taking a prep class can be beneficial for your future career and your wallet


Taking an ACT class and scoring high can make you eligible for merit-based scholarships. There are around  750,000 of them across the US and Canada.  Nearly 40% of students receive a scholarship in one way or another but it depends on your performance on the test.


These scholarships usually range from $1000 to $10,000 and you can get them if you score enough and have a good GPA. Also, many universities may reduce their fee or even waive it if you score high on the ACT.


That’s why in my opinion it’s great to invest in an ACT course and potentially save thousands of dollars in college debt down the line.


A high cost of failing on the ACT


Gaining this 2 to 4 point advantage is even more important because the cost of failing is quite high. Not only you’ll have to re-take the test ($62,50) but also waste a ton of time because of missed deadlines and additional study sessions.


It’s always better to nail the right score the very first time and go to college stress-free. Taking an ACT class may just help you accomplish this.




According to studies as well as anecdotal evidence, the ACT prep classes are actually helpful in improving student’s scores. But it also depends on the amount of work you’re willing to invest in your studies.


A prep class is not a cure-all remedy, but it will benefit you as long as you stick to the program and study a lot in your spare time.

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Hi there, I'm Rafal

I started RafalReyzer.com to share great tools and strategies you can use to achieve freedom through online creativity by becoming a great freelance writer and blogger.


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