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Magoosh ACT Prep Review
A comprehensive review of the Magoosh ACT prep course
Somewhere between expensive, in-person ACT classes at the local high school and cheap prep books that are sure to put you to sleep, Magoosh has found a sweet spot in the ACT prep world. With an online course that costs less than $150 and a promise that you will get real results with only 20 minutes of studying each day, their prep product has immediate appeal. But while this sounds great in theory, does their digital prep course really have enough academic juice to get you (or your teenage student) into the school of your dreams? We take an in-depth look at the Magoosh ACT prep course in this detailed review and analyze its strengths and weaknesses.
There is nothing really special or complicated about the pricing of Magoosh’s ACT prep options. Magoosh offers just two course formats to choose from: their flagship, self-paced “Magoosh ACT Prep” package and their newly added “Magoosh ACT Prep + Live Classes” bundle.
Starting with the Magoosh ACT Prep package, although it is just one prep course, there are three different options to choose from based on access duration. That is, Magoosh provides you the same package of online study materials and you choose whether you want 1 month, 3 months or 12 months of access. No matter which package you go with, all are EXTREMELY reasonably priced, particularly as compared to other ACT prep courses we have taken and reviewed. The three self-paced prep packages range in price from around $100 up to just $130.
For students that want the guidance and accountability that comes with live class sessions, the alternative Magoosh ACT Prep + Live Classes package prices out at just under $400. This bundle includes 16 hours of live class time with a Magoosh ACT expert over 4 weeks. Again, relative to other prep companies that provide live online instruction, this package is roughly half the cost of their most basic offerings.
Regardless of your situation or how much access you need, the bottom line here is that Magoosh’s pricing is an incredible value, and that is why they make our best ACT prep courses list. This price point is almost certainly less than what you will be charged by a local tutor or what your high school-sponsored review course will run.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication
Quality & Quantity of Magoosh Study Materials
Despite its budget pricing, we found that Magoosh doesn’t skimp on study materials. Boasting 250+ video lessons, 1,300+ practice questions (each with a video and text explanation) and 4 full-length practice tests, Magoosh will keep you plenty busy.
Given that there is no hard copy workbook with this prep course, the video lessons serve as the basis of your instruction. A quick side note: Magoosh does offer its own ACT prep book – ACT Prep by Magoosh – but this book is not included with this course. I am not sure why they don’t toss in a paperback copy of this book for free with the course (perhaps because of the low price point), but this book is a solid resource in its own right and we recommend it as a supplement to the course. Students are given access to an eBook in the resources section of the online materials, but it is not the same. Anyway, back the video lessons.
There are over 250 video lessons that serve as the foundation of your content review. These video lessons are generally shorter in length, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes on average. Each covers a particular topic that will be tested in the ACT, such as punctuation or geometry, and takes the form of a PowerPoint video. There is no onscreen instructor. Rather, you watch a slideshow with your instructor voiceover lesson, and they mark up the slides with notes, graphs and the like.
This has two effects. First, it is great for visual learners who like to read along and actually see the notes and graphics. This will be a major boost to their retention of material. But secondly, it also makes the videos a little dull. Because you’re just watching slides scroll by and notes in red ink being made, there is nothing too visually stimulating to hold your attention.
To counter this, Magoosh also provides an interactive transcript of the video. As the instructor speaks, right below the video container there is a transcript of the lesson that updates with highlighting – tracking with the teacher’s lesson. This is a nice feature, especially if you miss something they say. You can quickly glance down rather than stopping and rewinding.
In my personal opinion, while a little on the boring side because of the delivery method, these video lessons are excellent. They are informative and as mentioned, fantastic aids for visual learners like myself. I like to see the notes, practice problems and examples on screen, so this was a plus for me personally. And the instructors are very knowledgeable. They obviously know their stuff inside and out and do a great job breaking the material down into an easily understandable form.
The learning associated with the video lessons is reinforced through some well-developed practice problems. In total, Magoosh provides a little over 1,300 problems for students to work though. These practice problems cover all 4 sections of the exam in a range of difficulties and formats. This provides for more realistic practice and I was pretty impressed with the content of the questions. These practice problems are very close to what you will see on the real exam and I had no complaints with the content.
To access the practice problems, you must create a custom practice session. You can choose the type of questions that you want to see, the difficulty, timing, etc. These advanced filters allow you to create narrowly targeted practice question sets to work on the areas where you need the most improvement. This is a valuable tool for score gains as you don’t have to work through an equally weighted grouping of all question types.
Additionally, and perhaps my favorite part of the Magoosh course, are the explanations that accompany each and very problem. For every practice question there is a corresponding video explanation (with transcript), text explanation and performance data. This is a very valuable benefit that you don’t even get with more expensive online courses.
The video explanations are the same format as the video lessons – that is a PowerPoint slideshow with voiceover. That again presents engagement issues, but luckily these explanation videos are quite short – usually just a couple minutes in length. The instructor walks you through how you should have solved the problem, step by step. So engagement isn’t really an issue when the video is only 120 or so seconds long. The more obvious and important feature is the informative explanation.
The text explanations are also quite helpful and essentially just take the explanation from the video and put into a cleaner, more polished textual format. And below each explanation is a notes box to take digital notes that you can easily refer back to later.
Finally, once you have watched your video lessons for a given section, worked some practice problems and reviewed the explanations, you can do a more general review of your performance. Magoosh provides some nice analytics around how you’re doing in any given area. You can assess which question types you missed, how long they took you to do as compared to your peers and even what your estimated score would be as of that point in time. While not the most powerful analytics we have seen in ACT test prep, these are some useful metrics that you should spend some time looking at.
All in all, I was very impressed with the Magoosh course work and practice material. Although this course is a budget option, it offers some great resources. The video lessons are a hair on the dry side, but are excellent for visual learners and very informative overall. And the practice work with accompanying solutions/explanations is fantastic. I don’t see any reason why the material included in this course wouldn’t be enough to get you fully prepped for the ACT.
Magoosh ACT Practice Tests
Included with your package of video lessons and practice problems, Magoosh also throws in a bundle of simulated exams. To be precise, you can take up to 4 full-length practice tests. This isn’t as many as you get with the prep courses provided by Kaplan and Princeton Review, but it is a very respectable amount and should likely be enough for most students.
If there is one thing I am not crazy about with Magoosh’s practice tests, it is that the test questions are drawn from Magoosh’s 1,300 question practice bank. This means that if you’ve worked a significant number of practice questions through your studies, there is a fairly good chance you are going to see the same questions again. In some instances, you won’t even notice that you’ve seen it before (given that there are over a thousand of these questions), but sometimes you will pause and go “oh, I remember this one.” This is unfortunate when you’re trying to practice under exam-like conditions and you see questions you potentially remember the answers to.
But in any event, as mentioned above, the questions are very high quality. I thought the problems were very representative of what you will see on the actual exam, which is the most important thing. And just a note, one of the practice tests is printable and can be taken with paper and pencil, while the others are online.
No Printed Coursebooks
As I alluded to above, though Magoosh publishes its own paperback ACT prep book and sells it on Amazon, you don’t get a hard copy with your course. This is too bad, given that we are fans of this book. However, prep course students do get access to Magoosh’s eBook. This is not exactly the same as their hard copy prep book, but does cover much of the same material.
Magoosh’s eBook can be found under course resources and is a nice complement to the video lessons. This eBook is over 280 pages and a little dense, so I wouldn’t make it a core component of your studies. Rather, I would refer to it when you have problem areas and need detailed clarification.
Dashboard, User Experience and Interface
Magoosh’s digital platform is very simple and straightforward. There is nothing really to write home about when it comes to their user interface and user experience. There are no shiny bells and whistles, or sleek features. It just gives you the nuts and bolts, which is really all you need.
Across the navigation bar at the top of the screen you are directed to either your dashboard, English section, math section, reading section, science section, writing section or practice tests. The exam sections are nearly identical, where you can select to watch a lesson, create a custom practice problem set or review past problems. That’s pretty much it. And the practice test tab is just that – direct access to practice tests.
Magoosh ACT Live Classes
Historically, Magoosh never offered live classes with their ACT prep course (or any course for that matter). Their game was budget-friendly, 100% online and self-driven studying. However, while still pretty budget-friendly, Magoosh now offers a live class option.
For just under $400 (or a $270 incremental increase in price), you get access to 16 hours of live class work. This takes places through 8 separate 2-hour sessions. You meet twice per week (usually Mondays and Wednesdays, but check their current offerings), and work through much of the same online prep material but in a virtual classroom.
The instructor I had really knew his stuff, and offered some test taking strategies that I don’t think I would have gathered from the online self-paced course alone. He was also a pretty funny and engaging guy, so he delivered on the communication front as well.
In my opinion, these classes are solid and definitely helpful, but perhaps not the best I have seen. If you’re a student that needs the accountability that comes with live classes and assigned homework to keep you on track, I would definitely say go for it here. For an extra $270, it’s a pretty affordable upgrade, especially compared to the cost of other live ACT courses. But if you’re looking for the absolute best ACT prep classes on the market, I’d give PrepScholar and Princeton Review a look.
Are There Any Supplemental Resources?
Magoosh provides a number of genuinely helpful resources to supplement its online course. This is fairly surprising given their price point. Most budget prep course just give you the basics with no frills, but not Magoosh. They toss in the following:
eBook (280+ pages)
Math formulas PDF
Vocabulary builder online workbook
ACT focused YouTube videos
That’s a lot of resources. But personally, I only used two of these resources consistently and derived real value from them. That would be the eBook and the flashcards. I’ve discussed the eBook above already, but this book is very, very detailed. At over 280+ pages, it thoroughly covers every topic that will be tested on the ACT. It is a great resource when used as a reference book.
The other resource worth mentioning is the set of flashcards you get. These digital flashcards cover every major subject on the ACT and even take different formats. Some are true/false, some are questions requiring fill-in-the-blank and some are old school term/definition flashcards. These are easy to use and a handy tool for quick hit studying.
Magoosh ACT Tutoring
While Magoosh doesn’t offer private tutoring packages, they do provide expert support for their students. If you ever have a question about a particular topic or problem, you can email the Magoosh team and one of their ACT tutors on staff will respond. This is obviously a bit different than having regular and direct access to a private tutor, but is nonetheless helpful.
I tested this support line a couple times and had pretty good success overall. I emailed twice asking narrow questions about a particularly problem and generally got a response with 24 hours. The responses were generally pretty detailed and did answer my question. This is a far cry from 1:1 tutoring, but is nice to have in your back pocket when you get stuck on something.
Content Access Periods
Your window of access to Magoosh’s online content directly aligns with whichever package you purchase. You will either have 1 month, 3 months, or 12 months of access depending upon your package. If you’re on the fence at all about which package to go with, bump up to the 12 month package for $130. Play it safe for a few extra bucks.
Magoosh’s Mobile App
Magoosh offers not one, but two mobile apps for students to study on the go. Everybody knows, us younger folk (yes, I am still including myself in this group) love our phones. Magoosh recognizes this and gives students the chance to study right from their iPhone or Android. And when you only have to study 20 minutes a day, this becomes a real possibility.
For ACT study, when you just have to watch a couple lessons and work a handful of practice problems, there is a good chance you can just do all of your work while laying in bed playing on your phone. And that is exactly what the first app gives you – direct access to your course materials. You can access video lessons, practice problems and explanations, all from your iPhone. This is huge benefit to students, as a lot of test prep providers don’t offer this level of access through a mobile app.
The second Magoosh app is a flashcards app. This tool is a little bit more limited, offering just 200 or so flashcards, but still offers value. It is nothing too special, but for quick hit studying this can be useful. I used a few times when waiting for appointments, in the car, etc.
Magoosh’s Score Increase Guarantee
As a nice security blanket for students that are a little nervous about committing to Magoosh, they offer a very generous score increase guarantee. Take the full ACT course and they guarantee that your ACT score will improve by 4 points, or your money back. Four points doesn’t sound like much, but that is huge in the world of ACT. There are some technical requirements that must be met to get this benefit, so check those out, but it is nice to have this insurance policy.
Is There a Refund Policy?
Yes. If you are not totally happy with your Magoosh course, you can request a full refund within 7 days. While likely not necessary, this is a generous cooldown period. It is nice to know that you have a few days if circumstances change soon after committing to Magoosh.
Verdict: Magoosh ACT Prep Course Review
The Magoosh ACT prep course is a high value, budget friendly prep option for students seeking a well-rounded course. While the video lessons are not the most engaging we have seen, and it has fewer practice problems than bigger name prep courses like Kaplan and Princeton Review, it covers every topic you need to master for the ACT. The 250+ video lessons are highly informative and provide content review, as well as targeted strategies.
In addition, each and every one of the 1,300+ practice problems are accompanied by a detailed video and text explanation, which are the most useful resources in the prep package. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the Magoosh ACT prep course given its low price point, and think it should be plenty sufficient to get most every high school student fully prepared for the ACT.
How much does the Magoosh ACT prep course cost?
The Magoosh ACT prep course costs between $100 and $400 depending on how many months of access you need and whether you opt for live classes.
Does Magoosh have in-person classes?
Yes. While up until recently Magoosh’s ACT prep course was 100% online, they now offer live classes.
Will my score increase with Magoosh ACT prep?
Very likely yes. If you spend at least 20 minutes studying per day as suggested by Magoosh, you will likely see a score increase given the quality of their video lessons and practice problems.