The Best ACT or SAT Test Prep Companies for Every Budget

best test prep companies

Google “best ACT test prep” and about a million companies pop up. We sifted through the good, the bad, and the expensive to put together this list of the best ACT and SAT prep companies for every budget.

When creating this list, we evaluated each company by the value they bring to a student through their content, pricing, and how engaging their course is. You may want to sample a few courses before committing to one to find a teaching style and format that’s best for you. Most companies offer some sort of free trial or sample material.

Read on for the best ACT or SAT test prep companies for every budget and a special discount code on The Olive Book ACT course!

Our Favorite – We might be a little biased, but we think we’re the best.

The Olive Book

  • Pros
    • Because we are all visual learners, the animated videos are designed to build understanding, not just for memorization of facts
    • Content designed to help you connect with the material
    • Self-paced so you don’t have to work around someone else’s schedule
    • Focus on high-priority questions to help you get more benefit in less time
    • Detailed explanations for each question
    • Pro-tips that include test-taking strategies
    • Rather than practicing skills in isolation, questions “spiral,” meaning you return to similar questions again later
    • Only $19.99/month. Just for our blog readers, take $10 off your first month with the code “PREP10“!

Our Favorite Inexpensive Options:

1) Khan Academy

  • Pros
    • Free and is partnered with The College Board
    • Solely self-paced but helps you set your own practice schedule
    • Take a diagnostic or link to PSAT scores for customized skills to practice
    • A printable practice test that they will score immediately
    • Seven full-length practice tests
    • “Videos” with Sal’s kind voice showing how he would work through the problem
  • Cons
    • SAT only, no ACT specific content
    • Videos are blackboard and voice – not animated

2) Magoosh

  • Pros:
    • Relatively inexpensive with prices ranging from $79 for one month to $99 for 12 months (with discounts)
    • Solely self-paced and you work on your own schedule
    • Roughly 1,000 questions and 4 practice tests, and questions are high quality
    • “Video” explanations for each question
    • Lessons with explanations and videos
    • Customizable to your needs
    • Free flashcards for each subject area
    • Email help available within 24 hours
  • Cons:
    • Videos are dry – more like powerpoint presentations with a voice over
    • Need to be self-motivated because it is not very engaging
    • Solely self-paced

3) ACT Online Prep

  • Pros
    • From the makers of the Official ACT
    • Inexpensive – $39.95 for online for six months, or get the book and online access for $59.95
    • More than 2,400 questions
    • Dashboard shows strengths and weaknesses and you can choose a structured or adaptive plan
    • Solely self-paced and you work on your own schedule, but does give reminders and goals
    • Has games and flashcards
  • Cons
    • Games are very simple
    • While the questions come from past tests, the format of the questions on the screen is not very pleasing
    • No videos or dynamic lessons
    • The questions are not interesting and don’t help you construct your understanding

4) Barron’s

  • Pros
    • Fairly inexpensive at $99 for 1 year access
    • Has a diagnostic test and adapts to your progress
    • Good amount of questions – more than 3,000 and 4 practice tests
    • Does have video lessons and solutions
    • Has an additional book for purchase at $22.99
  • Cons
    • Video lessons are a teacher sitting in front of a large TV screen
    • Video solutions are a whiteboard with a voiceover

5) Peterson’s

  • Pros
    • Fairly inexpensive at $99 for 12-month access
    • Self-paced online
    • Does have a book you can purchase for $19.95
    • Begins with diagnostic pre-test, then directs you to lessons based on areas of weakness; you can add other lessons for extra practice
    • Has 3 practice tests
  • Cons
    • Questions are simple and uninteresting
    • Lessons are really just textbook pages for you to read
    • Not engaging

The Best of the Mid-Range Price Options:

1) PrepScholar

  • Pros
    • Gives a study plan with weekly email reports to both you and your parents
    • Has a 60 question diagnostic pre-test
    • 8 “video” lessons with 20 minutes teaching, then practice
    • More than 60 hours of “video” content
    • Customized to your needs based on past performance
    • Full-length practice test with links to download and print additional practice tests
    • High scoring content creators and tutors
  • Cons
    • Fairly expensive – $395 for self-paced (one-year), $895 for additional classroom hours on a schedule, $995 for 4 one-on-one tutor hours
    • Video lessons aren’t high quality; just a question, someone writing, and a voice

2) Princeton Review

  • Pros
    • Offers the most practice questions of any program at more than 3,200 and 8 practice tests
    • Self-paced online or live online instructor-led
    • Tracks progress and includes a study plan
    • Includes videos and for $200 you can upgrade to get 5 hours of chat with an instructor
    • Can bundle ACT and SAT courses
  • Cons
    • Somewhat expensive at $299 for one year access
    • Videos do show a teacher, but he/she is just standing in front of a board just like in a classroom
    • Website tries to promote their far more expensive upgrades ($1,349 for the ACT 31+ program)

3) Kaplan

  • Pros
    • More than 1,000 questions and 9 practice tests and the Kaplan ACT book included
    • Self-paced online or instructor-led
    • Customized plan
    • Dashboard shows progress
    • Has archived “videos”
  • Cons
    • Fairly Expensive for product offered – $299 for self-paced (6 months), $699 for live online
    • Lots of online practice, but it looks just like the book
    • Videos look like powerpoints with a voiceover
    • Poor reviews on Consumer Affairs

4) EPrep

  • Pros
    • Variety of pricing levels – 2 months for $129, 4 months for $249, 6 months for $299, 1 year for $399, 1+ year for $599
    • Course of study based on when you plan to take the test
    • Learning philosophy is take a practice test or quiz, grade, watch video tutorial for missed questions, and repeat
    • Video tutorials for each question (number of tests and questions varies by time/level purchased)
    • Offer a 2+, 3+, or 4+ point improvement guarantee depending on level purchased and conditions apply
  • Cons
    • Videos are of the teacher using the paper test, reading the question, and doing it with a pencil (they promote this as more representative of what you would do while taking the actual test.)
    • Not particularly engaging
    • Advertises Wordsmith Vocabulary Builder flashcards; however, there are no words in isolation tested on the ACT

High-Priced Options:

1) Testive

  • Pros
    • Take a diagnostic test and then get to choose a one-on-one coach for your weekly video chats
    • Coach gives lesson plans and assigns practice based on weaknesses
    • Coach keeps you and parents informed of progress
    • More than 3,000 practice questions; also includes video explanations
    • Questions adapted to your strengths and weaknesses and encourages self-reflection
    • Claim that you can use their learning software without paying for the coaching plan
  • Cons
    • Very expensive at $399 per month.  You are essentially paying for a private tutor that you meet with on video chats.
    • Coach does not teach skills, but instead guides you where to put your focus and to make sure you are completing your lessons
    • Team approach (you, parents, and coach) may be good for some students, but this program may not be for the independent self-motivated student.

2) PrepExpert and Kranse Institute (same owner, same material)

  • Pros
    • Owner is winner of Shark Tank funding
    • Offers self-paced online or live online (you pick the class time from offerings)
    • Has video instruction/lectures by Shaan Patel (owner) for self-paced online focusing on strategy and shortcuts
    • Includes practice tests and homework
  • Cons
    • Expensive; self-paced online is $599 for only a 1+ point guarantee
    • Seems more interested in marketing than product
    • More focus on the live online scheduled classes

3) Veritas

  • Pros
    • Offer online self-directed and online live classes
    • One year access
    • Online office hours and email 24/7
    • Lesson plans, lots of questions, and video lectures/lessons
    • Have excellent reviews for the online live courses, but self-directed is still a bit new
  • Cons
    • Somewhat expensive at $449, but it is for one year
    • Difficult to determine if they provide much beyond the software and videos, so would be better for a self-directed, self-motivated learner
    • Videos are just a teacher at a Smartboard

Found one you like? We hope so! If you’re still looking around, give The Olive Book ACT course a try. With hundreds of practice problems, animated explanation videos, and a set-up that really helps you OWN the content, we guarantee you’ll boost your ACT score. Plus: take $10 off your first month (that’s 50% off) with the code “PREP10“!

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