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ACT launches ACT Academy, a Free Online Platform to Help Students Prepare for the ACT

On March 22, ACT launched its new online platform, ACT Academy. ACT has advertised this new program as a way to give each student an individualized learning plan, tailored to that individual’s academic needs. Though the design and formatting result in a product that at times feels clumsy, ACT’s foray into the world of online test prep is noteworthy and long overdue.

How Does It Work?

After creating an email and password to sign up, students get started by taking a short quiz in a few different content areas across all four sections of the ACT. The quizzes – 16 in total, ranging from 4-11 questions long – test students on a variety of topics, and questions seem to be well in line with the content on the actual ACT. If a student already has an official ACT score, there is an option to enter the detailed results to create a baseline on ACT Academy without taking the quizzes. According to the baseline results, the Academy then recommends a study plan which spans several weeks and includes videos across all sections.

There are four main tabs: The “Dashboard” tab is where students enter results, can see their study plan, and can click “Explore” to learn more about a subject. The “Resources” tab shows the suggested quizzes, while “Progress” gives the full list of available quizzes.  There is also a tab for “Tips & Strategies” for the ACT test, which outlines the site itself, Test Day essentials, and some advice for each section of the test.

Below are a few initial takeaways regarding ACT Academy as a whole.

The Good

ACT Academy offers a nice variety of actual ACT questions that we have seen on prior versions of the test. There is a “Conversation” chat function that is always available at the bottom right of the page, though the experts are only available during normal weekday business hours.  Within a few hours, a request for help afforded links to videos as well as the search feature, which is otherwise very difficult to find.

Other positive features include the multi-week study plan, discussed above, and the future ability to link a classroom to the Academy via a code. Much like the way it works on Khan Academy, teachers will just give their class a code, and students will see the assigned work as soon they enter the code on their main account page. As of right now, there are only student accounts in ACT Academy. The second phase of the Academy, which will include parent and teacher accounts, is planned for the start of the next school year, and only then will users be able to link classrooms.

ACT’s recent acquisition of OpenEd , an online catalog with which about 15% of all US teachers are registered as users, permeates through the class and chat aspects of the platform. It remains to be seen whether ACT Academy gains widespread use in classrooms, but this partnership with OpenEd , along with the new platform, amounts to an exciting first step.

The Not as Good

The recommended videos, about half of which are by SAT partner Khan Academy, are frequently repetitive or unrelated to the topic at hand. The videos don’t directly address test-taking strategy, the ACT, or any discussion of the importance of time. It’s clear that the ACT and OpenEd envision the test itself as a measure of academic progress, rather than a test of patterns that can be mastered.

If you miss a question from the quizzes, the results don’t show you what the correct answer is. The coding and design issues, most evident with math, hinder the productivity of the assessment quizzes. Additionally, the general tone of ACT Academy lacks enthusiasm or encouragement – even if you get all of the questions right, there is no celebration or much in the way of affirmation.

Finally, the online practice test touted by ACT Academy is Form 1572CPRE, which has long since been available as a .pdf document from act.org.

The Final Verdict

The ACT Academy was envisioned as a way for the ACT to keep up with the thriving College Board/Khan Academy partnership. Though not the most refined in these early stages, the first phase of ACT Academy appears to be a solid first step for self-motivated students to identify areas of weakness. As of right now, however, it appears that the lack of interactive practice may limit its usefulness in terms of long-term results. If nothing else, this ACT/OpenEd endeavor represents a bold step forward for the ACT and should bolster its connection to Common Core and the high school education system as a whole.

Applerouth is a trusted test prep and tutoring resource. We combine the science of learning with a thoughtful, student-focused approach to help our clients succeed. Call or email us today at 866-789-PREP (7737) or info@applerouth.com.

  • Thanks for the review, Applerouth! This is definitely going to be helpful for families considering using ACT Academy as a resource.

  • College Counselor

    Does the ACT Academy still exist?

  • Nicole Hankins

    I can’t find it either! I used it last school year, but the link doesn’t work now. 🙁