The makers of the ACT college admissions test have announced a partnership with Kaplan Test Prep, resulting in the creation of a new online-only preparation program at an affordable cost for most students and free for low-income students.
The program, ACT Kaplan Online Prep Live, will offer participants interactive instruction from teachers that is content-based. Teachers will be able to answer student questions and offer instructional help in real time.
The partnership will make use of ACT's research and experience in determining college and career readiness, as well as Kaplan's expertise in test preparation, learning science, digital learning, and live instruction. It is expected to focus on the academic skills and knowledge of the students who participate.
While the program will cost less than $200, it will also be offered at no charge for low-income students. ACT officials report this to be a much lower cost in comparison to other programs on the market, giving the example of competitor Princeton Review's course, which is offered three times a week over the course of a month with a price tag of close to $1,000.
Recorded sessions will be included with the program that participants will be able to access from any device, reports Corinne Letsch for EdScoop.
The new program is expected to be the only one to offer participants official study resources and assessments from ACT that allow students to focus on the academic skills that are necessary to succeed in both college and careers, as well as access to expert instructors, real questions from a full-length ACT exam, live sessions and on demand videos, and a social community of teachers and peers who are available to provide answers and support.
Lee Weiss, vice president of college admissions programs for Kaplan Test Prep, said that the company was looking to create the best program possible at the lowest cost for students. He went on to say that Kaplan programs are based on extensive research that show what works for high school students, adding that many students learn best when involved in a two-way interaction with teachers and peers. He said that students need engaging instruction as well as the opportunity to ask questions.
The ACT is currently taken by over 3 million students each year, and the test is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the United States. Test waivers valued at $34.4 million were offered to over 700,000 low-income students in the 2014-15 academic school year.
"This ground-breaking program will help students perform their best not only on test day, but also in the classroom. We saw the need for a high-quality, engaging, live teaching experience that connects students with expert instructors through virtual classroom technology. Kaplan is the only organization with the instructional experience and digital expertise to deliver such a quality program with both synchronous and asynchronous learning options, deliverable on any device," said Marten Roorda, ACT, chief executive officer.
The SAT has previously discussed providing free test preparation for students and saw positive results from trial runs. According to College Board, who created and administers the SAT, 19% fewer students are paying for SAT prep as a direct result of the College Board having partnered with the virtual school Khan Academy.
Preparation materials should be available to students this coming fall.