Nov 1 2012
10:13 am

As students in this age group and their parents likely know, all Tennessee high school juniors are now required by law to take the College Board's ACT test (or the SAT test) no later than March of students' junior year of high school. The state pays the cost of all students' single attempt at the test.

Students wanting to boost their ACT test scores beyond the scores earned on their first attempts may also repeat the test as many times as they choose, at the students' cost (of around $50 per test), right up through their dates of college admission.

Many businesses and organizations offer ACT test prep in the form of classes, software packages, and books at costs of up to $1000 and more--but do be aware of several ways students may prepare for the test inexpensively or even for free.

Our family previously purchased online a book-and-CD package available by Kaplan at a cost (five years ago) of $130. Our older student found the product to be highly engaging (replete with whistles, cheers, and wild applause for correct answers) and she actually used it! This Kaplan product, at the lesser cost of just $20.89 plus shipping, appears to be comparable and will become available for purchase on November 13.

Other companies like Baron's and Cliff publish ACT prep materials, as well.

Students and parents may also want to puruse used bookstores like McKay's and online sources like eBay or Craig's List for comparable "gently used" products published in just recent years (do verify that such used products still include any CD originally part of the package).

Also, five Knox County high schools will pilot a FREE multi-session ACT tutoring program this fall, afterschool and for a limited number of junior-year students.

Read details about how Powell High, one of the participating high schools, will deliver its program here.

To determine if your community's high school will also participate in the pilot program, go to the Knox County Schools website, then click on "Schools" to the left of your screen to find your community's school. Hint: You may find details under the "Guidance" tab for your school.

Finally, eKnowledge is partnering with Boy Scouts of America to offer all registered Boy Scouts FREE ACT prep software valued at $200 (a nominal shipping charge applies). Scouts or their parents may claim the aid at the eKnowledge website, here.

Now is the perfect time for students and their parents to acquire ACT test prep materials in time for students to begin using them over the holiday break.

Remember: Even our very modest monetary investment in test prep aids like these can reap returns in the form of college scholarships worth far more!

And there's simply no excuse for passing up test prep aids that are free!

Best of luck, students! You're almost there!

R. Neal's picture

Many businesses and

Many businesses and organizations offer ACT test prep in the form of classes, software packages, and books at costs of up to $1000 and more

What a racket. Isn't the point of ACT/SAT tests to measure whether you were paying attention in high school? Could we just skip high school and take one of these prep courses and be all set?

But seriously, thanks for posting this good info about affordable ways to prepare.

bizgrrl's picture

I looked at the websites for

I looked at the websites for South-Doyle, Austin-East, and Fulton. Couldn't find anything about the free multi-session ACT tutoring program. Doesn't mean these three schools aren't in the list. Wonder which four other schools are offering this program.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Kevin Huffman in town?

Yes, when I couldn't quickly determine what these other four participating high schools were, I phoned downtown to ask staff in the department for high school instruction.

I was told that all department heads are in a meeting with Kevin Huffman this morning, who is in Knoxville today on some matter relating to the pending release of our school system's State Report Card?

Anyway, a staffer said she could take a message for this department head, or else I could try phoning the department again tomorrow.

(I also have a call in to Powell High's guidance department, but staff there may or may not know the identities of these other four high schools. Nor was there any help to be had from that awful search engine at the KCS site.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Good grief.

I've now phoned (at the Central Office) the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the Department of Secondary Education, and the KCS Guidance Department.

No one at any of these three offices has been able to tell me who these other four high schools are to be offering the free ACT prep sessions.

In fact, the KCS Guidance Department suggested I ask the Powell High Guidance Department who the other four schools are???

I explained to her that 1) I already had an unanswered call in to the school, but 2) I expect the school might not know, anyway, since my question doesn't really relate to Powell High.

Dunno about you, but this is pretty much the same kind of runaround I experience every time I need to contact the Central Office with a question.

I'll share the answer to this one if and when I ever get it...

bizgrrl's picture

Sorry for asking. Sounds like

Sorry for asking. Sounds like they only want those parents involved in the specific schools to know if free ACT prep sessions are available. Interesting how Powell so openly posted the info on their websit.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


So I phoned the Powell High Guidance Department again, to follow up on my unanswered call to them yesterday, and apologized for bothering them with this question really the Central Office's responsibility to answer.

The school-level guidance counselor I spoke with laughed and said she had just received a call from the Central Office's system-level guidance counseling head asking her the same question.

She said she advised the system-level guidance counseling head to speak with the Department of Secondary Instruction head, whom she'd find down the hall from her at the AJ. Sheesh...

Anyway, the school-level guidance counselor said she recalled that two of these other four schools offering the test prep were Gibbs High and Karns High, and I DO find announcements on their websites to that effect.

She said she thought the remaining two schools were Carter High and Halls High, although I DO NOT find any such announcements on their websites. That doesn't mean these schools aren't participating, of course.

Biz, as to why we don't see A-E, Fulton, and South-Doyle participating in this particular grant-funded effort, she said schools "like those" get "a whole lot more money" for these sorts of endeavors than do schools like Powell, Gibbs, Karns, Carter, and Halls.

I assumed what she meant was that these five schools benefitting from this particular grant are "middle of the pack" schools so far as their schools' average ACT scores and percentage of Economically Disadvantaged students are concerned.

At least I know that that's the case with regard to my own community's Powell High, which has long ranked sixth among our 13 traditional high schools (not counting the tiny Richard Yoakley, Paul Kelly, nor new L&N Stem) on both these measures.

Well, this may be the closest we get to a complete answer on this question, I'm afraid.

(P.S.--Powell High says their 60 slots in the test prep program filled up immediately. Admission there is closed.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I guess I have an obligation to make one more post on this subject, in spite of the fact that it will likely just confuse it further...

A staffer from the Department of Secondary Instruction just called me back, to answer this question I asked her yesterday that she couldn't then answer.

She says that the four schools besides Powell offering this test prep via this grant are Karns, Halls, Carter, and Central, that last one being news to us.

Since Gibbs is indicating on their website that they, too, are conducting such a program, it must be that Gibbs has obtaining the funding to do so outside this grant that's funding the other five schools? Just guessing.

We should accept this most recent listing as the authoritative one, I think, since 1) it was this office, the Department of Secondary Instruction, that administered the grant in question, and 2) the earlier listing of schools offered by the Powell High guidance counselor was just her best recollection of how the letter she got from the Dept of Sec Instr had read, she said.

So we've learned that at least six KCS high schools are able to offer this free test prep this fall.

I'm glad to know it, even if it was difficult to collect the info.

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