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Free Online Test Prep That Works

Posted on 02/26/2019, by Dr. Ellen Fithian (0 comments)

If your vision of test prep involves a pencil and thick workbook, you're behind the times. Nowadays, you can get free, personalized, online test preparation from the makers of both the SAT and the ACT. 

It Started With Khan Academy

In June of 2015 the College Board, makers of the SAT, partnered with the nonprofit Khan Academy to offer free SAT preparation software that's personalized to a student's specific learning needs. What do I mean by personalized?

Here's how it works. If a student has already taken an official PSAT or SAT, she can click a button on her College Board account to have her test results sent electronically to Khan Academy. The right and wrong answers on her test will be used by Khan Academy software to generate a unique set of instructional material and quizzes that target her areas of weakness.  If she hasn't yet taken an official PSAT or SAT, she can take diagnostic quizzes to create her personalized learning platform.

The site also provides 8 full length practice SATs and two practice PSAT's. A student can take a test on the computer or, to simulate a more authentic testing situation, can download and print it and take it as a paper and pencil test. When he's finished, he can use a College Board phone app to take a picture of the printed answer sheet and get an instant score report. How cool is that? 

To learn more, check out the resources at the bottom of this page. The Khan Academy video explains how the test prep software works and how to sign up. The video on the scoring app (entitled the College Board Daily Practice app) provides step-by-step instructions on how to scan your answer sheet and get it scored.

Best of All - It Works!

Research by Khan Academy and the College Board revealed that students who used Khan Academy for just 20 hours had an average score gain of 115 points on the SAT, an increase that was almost twice the typical improvement experienced by students who didn't make use of the program.

ACT Follows Suit

With this kind of success story for the makers of the SAT, the only surprise regarding the launch of free prep software for the ACT is that it took so long. But in March of 2018 the ACT unveiled its ACT Academy, a similar type of personalized learning software for students.  

ACT Academy is not as seamless or as fully developed as the Khan Academy SAT prep. For starters, students can't import their ACT test scores into ACT Academy electronically; they need to manually input them. Further, the instructional software doesn't appear to be as extensive and finally, there is only one real practice test provided. Still, it's hard to complain too much about a free resource. For more information on ACT Academy, investigate the links provided below.
I'd highly recommend your teen look at both Khan Academy and the ACT Academy. Not only are both free, but my guess is that most students will find the videos and other instructional material significantly more engaging than the old test prep workbooks. Give them a try - what have you got to lose?


Khan Academy Overview of Official SAT Practice (video)
College Board Daily Practice App video (scroll to bottom of page)
Short video introduction to ACT Academy
ACT Academy site

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Posted on 02/26/2019, by Dr. Ellen Fithian (0 comments) « Previous Entry    Next Entry »




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