If you are a skeptic like me, you might have asked your guidance counselor or previous ACT takers before you start your revision on whether ACT practice tests really work or not.
Newsflash: it does work and it is proven to be quite helpful.
Practice tests are a crucial component of your test preparation. It helps you familiarize yourself with the format of the exam, making it a lot easier to answer on the actual day of the ACT.
Making time to do mock exams or test runs would help you answer the test with ease and it would help you identify the appropriate study strategies you need to include in your test prep.
Some students often make the mistake of discounting the importance of practice tests and just simply proceed to reading and learning new materials.
While this study strategy is helpful to others, most students find this unproductive and they often feel overwhelmed during the actual exam because they are not familiar with the format and type of the exam.
To back my claim, a study shows that those who take fewer practice tests are more likely to have a lower final grade while those who answer practice tests frequently are more likely to earn higher course grades.
So rather than immediately jumping to reading, learning, and highlighting new materials for your revision, you should also consider including practice tests in your revision and test prep for your ACT.
By doing this, you can have a more productive and effective study session before the ACT.
Answering several practice tests before the actual exam would give you motivation and help you identify how hard you should study in order to reach your goal score.
Your results on the practice test would help you determine what subject areas need more improvement and attention.
If you simply read and study your notes without taking practice tests, then you would not be able to pinpoint where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
More often than not, you might be even focusing on the subjects you are already good at and not giving enough time to study on subjects where you are weak at.
This in turn would drag down your ACT score, and might even make your score less competitive to your school of choice.
So with that in mind, we have listed several ACT practice tests that you can use for your revision and test prep.
How many ACT practice tests are there?
Every year, the ACT releases a free full-length practice test that you can use for your test prep.
Apart from that, there are several companies and institutions that also create ACT practice tests to help students prepare for their exams.
Some are downloadable online, while others are inside an ACT prep book.
The best practice test that you can get for free is from the ones who also make the actual ACT exam.
Aside from creating and administering the actual ACT exam, ACT Inc. also creates practice tests for students every year.
If you visit their website, you would also see several materials that you can use for your test prep such as the Official ACT Subject Guides, Beginner’s Guide, Prep Guide, and many more.
You must download and get their practice test because it is the closest one you can get from the real exam.
Including this practice test in your test prep would help you have a better idea of how the actual test is going to be.
Since they release a practice test every year for free, you can include the practice tests from last year as part of your test prep as well.
This way, you would have several test runs before the actual ACT.
CrackACT is a great website to take a quick practice test in between your revision.
If you are like me and you do not want to answer a full-length practice test every time, then CrackACT is the perfect website for you.
They compiled both full-length and short-length practice tests that you can download or answer online.
So if you just want to take a quick practice test for the day, then you can just answer a few subject tests online.
It is worth noting however that CrackACT subject test is in no way a substitute to any ACT practice test. The website is a great alternative if you have exhausted all your other practice test materials.
I would still recommend taking full-length practice tests because it would ease you into the actual format of the exam.
Taking full-length practice tests would help stimulate the conditions of the actual exam, making you comfortable and allowing you to answer the actual test with ease.
Test-guide is a website that gathers the latest practice test question from different websites. They compiled some of the practice tests released by ACT in the previous years.
Asides from that, they also have a few sample tests on different subjects and they gathered other test preps and study guides that you can use.
However, as compared to CrackACT, their subject tests are limited and you only get three to six sample tests for each subject.
What makes this website different from the others is that they list and compare some of the best ACT prep courses that you can take online.
They review the price and content of the course, which makes it easier for you to choose which is the right one.
Test-guide is a great website if you do not know where to download practice tests and learning materials.
One of the largest educational providers in the world, Kaplan has a long history of providing prep materials for exams like the ACT, SAT, MCAT, LSAT, and many more.
When you visit their website, you would immediately see that their ACT practice test is free. Some students take their practice test as an additional learning material when they fully exhaust all the practice tests by ACT.
Kaplan is a popular website for test-takers because they provide several resources and even short quizzes for everyday test practice.
They also provide ACT prep courses and even tutoring services if you ever need one.
With that, their website is like a one-stop-shop for additional learning tools and materials.
It is also worth mentioning that Kaplan has a better looking and clean interface as compared to CrackACT. You can monitor your progress and even download your performance summary in PDF form.
Another popular company that offers test prep services, online courses, and learning materials are The Princeton Review.
Their ACT practice tests can be bought online or through selected bookstores. It has a great number of problems and questions that you use for your test prep.
Since it comes in a book form, it is ideal to use if you are in a group study or just want to study out with friends.
The Princeton Review’s Cracking the ACT is more of a traditional test prep book that lets you practice your ACT calculator, provides reading materials, give exam strategies, and so on.
Some of its reading materials and tips include important grammar rules, math concepts, and other topics that you need to know before you start prepping for the exam.
It also teaches you the process of elimination as well as some tips on how you can manage your time more effectively during the actual exam.
Princeton Review has eight full practice tests, four of which are in the Cracking the ACT book while the other four are found online.
Magoosh is an online test prep that uses data-driven techniques to improve and keep their test prep and lessons up-to-date.
This online test prep is partnered with over 20 nonprofits organizations so you are certain that their learning materials and course contents are of high-quality.
Based on their website, their test prep is designed as close to a real ACT exam.
Their website interface is somehow similar to Kaplan and Khan Academy in the sense that it is user-friendly and you can also monitor and track your progress.
You can even personalize your practice sessions. This way, you can drill on a specific subject and you can work on practice tests that have different difficulty levels.
One of the bonuses to this website is it helps you learn from your errors and mistakes. They allow you to review your mistakes by providing you with detailed text explanations and even step-by-step video explanations.
It is worth mentioning however that this website is not fully free and you need to sign up in order to avail their full services.
What makes this ACT practice test great is that you can also download their app. This way, it is much easier and convenient to switch from desktop to your mobile device.
You answer practice anytime and anywhere as long as you have the app on your phone.
As per their company’s philosophy, UWorld is not just a practice test bank, it is also an “explanation bank.”
They have over 2000+ questions that are designed to be as close as the real ACT exam.
Like any online test prep site, you can also track your progress and performance because of their user-friendly interface.
But the feature mostly boasts about is their detailed explanations for your incorrect answers.
They have step-by-step explanations, detailed rationales, and vivid illustrations so that you can better understand the lesson as well as essentially learn from mistakes in the practice test.
One feature that makes this website unique is its score predictor for the ACT. You can take a self-assessment test on their website and they would give you an ACT score range that you might get on the actual exam.
UWorld has a 7-day free trial, afterwards, you need to pay in order to avail of their full services and packages.
Are practice ACTs harder?
Not all ACT practice tests are created equal. Some are easier or harder than others.
By far, the most accurate one that you can get is the practice test from ACT that they released every year.
I cannot exactly say whether the practice test is a lot harder than the actual test. Because at the end of the day, it would ultimately boil down to you.
But, keep in mind that these practice tests are made so that you can have an idea of what the actual test is like.
So if you do several practice tests before you take the actual exam, then chances are the actual exam might be a lot easier for you.
Since you are already familiar with the pattern and format of the exam, you might find the actual exam less difficult than you imagined.
Keep in mind that you can retake the ACT a few times and there are even colleges that superscore ACT, so it would not be a problem if your score did not turn the way you expect on your first try.
However, you should still try and aim for a score above the 50th ACT percentiles. This way, you would have a better chance of getting admitted into your dream school.
You can read our previous article to know what is a good ACT score you should try to aim for.
How long should you study for the ACT?
Ideally, the best way to get a high score on the ACT is to prepare months before the ACT.
Rather than just cramming your test prep and revision a week before the exam, I highly suggest that you break your study sessions into a small, achievable schedule.
This way, you would not be overwhelmed with big chunks of information that you have to process in one sitting.
You can start studying three or four months before the ACT, allot a maybe one or two hours of study session regularly, and then occasionally have a long weekend session for a full-length practice test.
Knowing how to study for the ACT can help you have a more productive study sessions and you can manage your time more effectively.
All in all, these are just some of my two cents on how you can effectively study for your ACT.
To recap, we listed some of the practice tests that you can include for your test prep
Since each student has a unique learning style and revision strategy, you just need to find the right materials and revision strategy that works well for you.
If you have already sit through your ACT and are just relaxing, looking at the best high school graduation gifts, then you can read our article about the ACT score release dates to find out when will you receive your score.