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Testive ACT Review
An in-depth review of the Testive ACT prep course
Testive takes a very different approach to ACT prep than most traditional test prep companies. Rather than focusing on video lectures and assigned readings, they combine practice material and adaptive software with the personal touch of a private tutor. But does this non-traditional approach to prepping for one of the biggest tests of your life actually work? We closely examine the Testive ACT prep package and all of its features in this detailed review.
Testive is a test prep company that offers ACT prep services unlike most others. Whereas most prep providers have students attend live classes with a group of their peers to learn from an instructor en masse, or work through an online curriculum at their own pace, Testive takes a more personal approach. Recognizing that 17-year old high school students need guidance and motivation, Testive’s prep program is built around weekly coaching calls.
You are assigned a dedicated ACT tutor, who serves as your coach from beginning to end. Your coach reviews your performance on practice work with you, answers questions about test content and strategies, and plans tailored work assignments to maximize gains. Additionally, as a benefit for parents and to keep everyone in the loop, your ACT coach sends parents weekly email updates on their student’s progress. This ensures that the student is held accountable, the parent is updated, and everyone stays on track.
Between coaching sessions, you work on short, frequent assignments. The aim of this condensed and consistent homework is to keep students motivated. Nothing turns off high school students faster than lengthy assignments or boring work. As such, Testive keeps things short and sweet, but frequent. The side benefit of this is steady, regular gains over an extended period so the necessary ACT material can sink in.
Each short practice session is analyzed by Testive’s smart software to assess where you need the most help. This adaptive tech then adjusts your practice assignments to account for improvements and regressions. It also adjusts the difficulty level of individual questions to help you make improvements. In test prep, when it comes to question difficulty, it is key to find the perfect balance of not-too-easy but not-too-difficult. This Goldilocks difficulty level is what Testive’s adaptive software intends to find and hold to help students get the most from their prep without getting bored or overwhelmed.
It is this combination of personal touch and guidance with smart practice that makes Testive unique among ACT prep companies. But it is not just Testive’s program structure that makes them unique, their course option and pricing structure is also different from others, as discussed more fully below.
Course Options and Pricing
Testive offers students three different prep packages from which to choose. But unlike traditional prep companies that charge a hefty, one-time fee for a set course, Testive uses a subscription-based model for their prep (noting the one exception for their bootcamp).
The most popular course option among students and their families is the “Coaching” package. This offering gives students one weekly 30-minute call with their ACT coach, as well as all course materials. This course option costs a shade under $400 per month. This price point places Testive on the pricier side of college prep courses (especially as compared to value pick Magoosh). Honestly, this price point caught us a little off-guard given that you only get one 30-minute call.
For students that need significant guidance or are shooting for a top tier score, Testive offers its “Coaching Plus” package. Coming in with a monthly price tag of around $600, this offering grants students two weekly 30-minute meetings with their coach, as well as all course materials.
Finally, for those students that are in a time crunch, Testive provide a special “Bootcamp” course. This course will run you around $800. It spans 4 to 6 weeks and crams everything from the full-length model into this short time frame. Students meet with their coach 2x per week during this period and are assigned more frequent and heavier workloads. This course is intense, but also effective for quickly ramping up scores.
The bottom line with Testive is that their program is unique and offers serious personalized attention, but it is very, very pricey.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Review and Rating of the Testive ACT Prep Course
Reading up on Testive’s unique approach to ACT prep, I was eager to see how this guided coaching would play out in reality. And after completing a full month of prep work with Testive, I can say it works well, for the most part. Having used a Testive ACT tutor regularly as a key component of my ACT prep, I can see how it makes a lot of sense to build a course around this personal guidance.
My Testive ACT coach was a seriously nice guy, and just as importantly, crazy smart. All Testive tutors are top 1% scorers themselves, and this was clear from the moment I met with my coach. He obviously knew the ACT inside and out, and quickly pinpointed where I needed work from my diagnostic exam.
Each week you meet with your ACT coach via video chat for a brief, but jam-packed 30-minute session (two if you use the Coaching Plus package). The first session was a little longer than the others so your coach can figure out what type of learner you are, where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and what kind of goals you’re after. But after the first session, each meeting follows a pretty streamlined agenda. You start by reviewing your performance on assignments from the past week. Your coach has already reviewed your work and the analytics around performance, so he or she dives right into it.
They note the problem types you missed consistently, why you missed them and where there is room for improvement. You then have a chance to ask questions about the previous week’s work and get clarification on any issues that may be lingering. You then dive into planning your next week’s assignment schedule. Your coach will work around your busy schedule and personalize your schedule for your needs.
I loved this about the Testive coaching component. Your coach truly cares about your success and wants to make sure you stay motivated and productive. As such, they work hard to accommodate your needs in planning assignments.
After your schedule is set for the following week and you discuss goals and key points to focus on, you have a last chance to ask questions or just vent. If you’re feeling down or overwhelmed or just want to let out some frustration, your coach will listen. I didn’t personally need a pep talk, but I could see how my coach would be an excellent motivator. He was always upbeat, positive and realistically goal-oriented.
Following your weekly coaching session, it then falls to you to actually do the work. Luckily, the near-daily assignments of practice question sets are short. Each assignment takes only 20-30 minutes and can be handled rather quickly. And one cool thing is that if you forget to do your assignment, your tutor will see this and shoot you a text reminding you. It is kind of embarrassing to get this gentle reminder, but it’s more helpful than anything because you will sometimes forget amidst your busy schedule.
As for the practice work itself, you work a given number of practice problems and review the solutions as you go. As for how many practice questions you are assigned each day (and week) totally depends on your progress, your coach’s suggestions and your adaptive tech-derived schedule, but no matter what, you always get at least 100 questions per week across 3 days. In my experience though, that number is low and it was often quite more. But this is a good thing. More practice work (including reviewing solutions) equals more gains.
And it is actually the solutions to the practice questions that provide the real learning opportunity. Each practice problem has an accompanying text explanation and video solution. The text explanations clearly articulate why the correct answer choice is right and the others are wrong. These are very well-written and easy to understand. But it is the video solutions that have the most value.
These short solution videos show exactly how you should have attacked the problem and solved it. This gives you a really good opportunity to see where you went wrong. In fact, after you realize where you went off-course, Testive asks you to categorize your mistake. You drop the mistake into one of a number of pre-set buckets such as “confused by question” or “didn’t understand content.” These provide you and your coach with some good talking points later. You also get a chance to reflect on the mistake by making notes to yourself and your coach. These notes provide some good discussion points later on for learning opportunities as well.
It is this focus on learning from mistakes that I particularly liked about Testive’s practice work. The practice questions themselves are good, but all prep companies’ questions are good. It is the follow through with review that makes the difference and elevates the learning process. So I loved this aspect of the course. The self-reflection on mistakes is particularly noteworthy.
However, one thing I would note here though is that Testive’s video instruction is all practice review and solution based, with no core video instruction. There is no series of video lessons explaining how to solve for certain problem types or reviewing content. This is in direct comparison to the video instruction from Kaplan and Princeton Review, which both provide lesson-first content instruction and testing strategies.
In total, Testive provides students access to over 3,000 ACT practice questions. This a very respectable number of practice questions and more in fact than you get with test prep giants like Kaplan and Princeton Review. In addition, you take at least one full-length practice test per month, ensuring you get some realistic practice under exam-like conditions. Together with the practice assignments, this helps to condition your mind and body for the test.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with the Testive prep package. It goes without saying that the personal coaching is the highlight of this prep course. Your coach guides you through your prep work, answers questions, and personalizes assignments to make sure are getting the absolute most out of your prep.
However, despite the solid guidance from your personal ACT coach, this course just feels like it lacks a central curriculum. The tutor guides you week-to-week and gives advice, but without a core set of video lessons, prep books or live instruction, Testive’s program just feels a little disjointed. Like something is missing. But if you’re simply looking for a combo of high-quality practice material, adaptive tech, and personal coaching, then I think it’s worth the money. After all, there’s a reason why this course lands on our list of best ACT prep courses. But if you need more structure and robust prep materials, I’d suggest maybe looking elsewhere.
User Experience and Interface
The Testive online platform, which is a large part of this 100% digital prep package, is excellent. It is clean, simple and very easy to use. The tabs at the top of the screen (on the navigation bar) easily direct you to your practice work, review capabilities and analytics. It is really simple and straightforward, and I had no issues maneuvering through the portal.
The look and feel of the digital platform are also very nice. It has a very academic feel, but without being too bookish. It is a nice balance of simplicity and function. And the load speeds were just fine. Overall, we didn’t have anything to complain about with this user interface or experience.
Length of Access to Online Content
Being a subscription-based model, you get access to your materials so long as you are a paying customer. In other words, your access aligns with how many months of coaching you purchase. The one exception to this is the Bootcamp course. This is a roughly 4- to 6-week course, so your access is only about 2 months when it is all said and done.
Testive Money Back Guarantee
Yes. It is always nice to see prep companies offer a higher score or money back guarantee, and Testive delivers on this front. Testive’s policy is that if you set a baseline score with them (through a previously taken ACT or a diagnostic exam with them), take the full course, and your score doesn’t improve, then you get your money back. No questions asked. This is a great perk and a nice insurance policy to lean on if you don‘t get the results you want.
Verdict: Testive ACT Prep
Testive offers a unique prep experience that you generally won’t get with other test prep companies. Their approach is centered around two things: smart, adaptive technology that personalizes practice work and the human touch of a personal tutor guiding you the whole way. This cool combination of new world tech with old school hand holding makes for a really powerful prep experience.
However, while our team was pleased with the quality of the dedicated coaching and optimized practice material, it just felt like this course was missing something. Without a central curriculum of video lessons, prep books, live classes or other study tools, this Testive course just feels much less robust than others we’ve reviewed. And at $400/month, we’re just not sure if it makes this package worth it. All in all, I liked this alternative test prep methodology. For students that need commitment and accountability in their studies, or the steady guidance of an experienced ACT expert, give Testive a good look.
How much does Testive ACT prep cost?
Testive offers two subscription-based coaching packages, which cost approximately $400 and $600 per month, as well as a single purchase bootcamp course which runs around $800.
How does Testive ACT prep work?
Testive provides the unique approach to test prep of building your prep course around weekly tutoring sessions with an ACT expert. Around these weekly sessions you work hundreds of practice problems and learn through review materials.
Is Testive ACT prep worth it?
It depends on the type of student you are. Though a bit pricey, the personal guidance of Testive’s weekly coaching sessions combined with some first-rate practice material makes this a fairly effective prep course.