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ACT Adds New, Free Test-Prep Service

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ACT has added a new, free test-preparation service to its lineup.

The Iowa-based testing company announced Tuesday that the "ACT Academy," billed as both an online "learning tool and test practice," will debut this spring. 

The new service will let students sign on whenever they want, and use video lessons, interactive practice questions, games, and full-length practice tests. Those items will be customized for them based on diagnostics housed in the ACT Academy, or their scores on the ACT college-entrance exam, the pre-ACT, or official practice ACT exams.

ACT Inc. offers a different kind of online test prep for $40. In 2016, the company partnered with Kaplan Test Prep to add live teaching, streamed online, to its online courses. Those are courses given at specified times, and students pay $100 to $250 for them. (Low-income students who sign up for the ACT with a fee waiver can take the courses for free.) In contrast, the ACT Academy can be used anytime, and will be free.

ACT Academy is a collection of resources authored by a variety of organizations, including OpenEd, an open-education-resources collection that ACT bought in 2016; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Public Broadcasting Service, according to the ACT. It will also link to existing free resources by the Khan Academy, a key partner of the College Board for that company's three-year-old Official SAT Practice. That service is also free and customized based on students' performance.

"ACT Academy will help students improve their readiness for the ACT test and college and career by giving them the resources they need to increase their understanding of core academic skills," Suzana Delanghe, ACT's chief commercial officer, said in a statement Tuesday.

"And the fact that ACT Academy will be free to all students is yet another way ACT is working to close gaps in equity, opportunity, and achievement for underserved learners."

ACT and the College Board are engaged in intense competition for market share, aiming hard for statewide and districtwide testing contracts as a key lever in that battle. They've each also taken steps to reach more students with free services such as test prep and free score reports.


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