Building ACT Confidence: Can Khan Academy Be Used for ACT Prep?

Tyler York
khan academy act prep

As a student preparing for the ACT, you may probably have heard of Khan Academy – a free video library that covers math, science, and other subjects in short videos.

In 2015, Khan Academy partnered with the College Board — the creators of SAT — in developing SAT prep materials that students can access for free. While the ACT and SAT are different, Khan Academy is still a great general resource for high school math and science concepts. Let’s take a deeper dive into what Khan Academy is and how it can help you ace the ACT.

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What is Khan Academy?

Founded in 2006, Khan Academy is a non-profit educational platform which offers numerous free videos that cover general education topics such as mathematics, reading, and chemistry; and focused-area subjects such as computer engineering, economics, and humanities (even life skills!). 

A part of Khan Academy’s mission is to give underprivileged students a chance to quality education, and bridge the gap between learners and specific skill sets. As for teachers, Khan Academy aims to provide them with the materials necessary for creating a more holistic learning environment for students.

Learners, teachers, and parents may create free accounts, even those students looking to prepare for admissions exams such as the SAT.

Khan Academy’s Impact

Since its inception in 2006, Khan Academy has since helped many students and educators reach their learning targets. Here are some notable achievements Khan Academy has had so far:

  • In 2019, the Khan Academy team was able to identify three best practices in correlation to how students’ SAT scores aligned with practice material usage: leveling up skills, completing a full-length practice exam, and following personalized practice recommendations.
  • 85% of freshman and sophomore college students said that Khan Academy equipped them with the skills and knowledge they needed after high school.
  • Their international impact on education is also noteworthy. In a study conducted by MANAUS, 30 schools in Guatemala saw significant improvement in students’ math scores when Khan Academy’s pilot program was incorporated into traditional learning interventions done by teachers.

In general, learners spoke mainly about the crucial role Khan Academy played in improving retention and mastery of the concepts studied. The platform also helped them build confidence in their ability to understand complex numerical processes and exceed score expectations.

But for first time users of Khan Academy, particularly students preparing for the ACT, will the tool be of great help?

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Khan Academy as an SAT or ACT Resource

As mentioned earlier, Khan Academy has an existing partnership with the College Board in creating official SAT resources that learners can use for free. These tools include various practice materials, video tutorials, quizzes, and a personalized study guide.

However, if you’re a student preparing specifically for the ACT, Khan Academy’s prep course might not be the best tool for you. This is because Khan Academy only offers SAT-specific content, but not ACT-specific ones. 

To give you a clearer picture of why this matters, below are direct comparisons of the 2 admission exams in terms of content.

Both ACT and SAT…

  • Have similar sections in a fixed order which don’t repeat (i.e. Math, Reading, etc.);
  • Uses a system that only counts correct answers;
  • Contains passage-based Reading and English questions (English on the ACT; Writing and Language on the SAT); and
  • Places heavy weightage on algebra

A brief overview of their differences based on content:

Contains a full section on Science (makes up one-fourth of your total score)Tests some scientific concepts in the reading section, but does not devote a full section to Science
Focuses on geometry and trigonometric functions (comprises 30-45% of your ACT Math score)Geometry makes up less than 10% of SAT Math questions; trigonometry only covers 5%)
Diagram of Math formulas (geometry formulas and laws) is not providedDiagram of Math formulas is provided
You can use a calculator for the entire Math section20 questions with NO CALCULATOR and 38 Questions with a calculator
Tests Math concepts like trigonometric functions, logarithms, and matricesDoes not test certain Math concepts like trigonometric functions, logarithms, and matrices
Laungauge of the Reading passages are all modern and easily understood by High School studentsSome reading passages or more than 150 years old, and having more advanced or unfamiliar vocabulary

If you’ll notice, the differences between ACT and SAT mainly revolve around their Math content. On the ACT, Math makes up one-fourth of your total score, while on the SAT, Math makes up half of your total score. In other words, if you consider Math as one of your challenging areas, you’d have better chances in the ACT.

What’s an alternative to Khan Academy for ACT prep?

While Khan Academy isn’t your best bet for a good ACT prep course, there may be other test prep tools that can help you meet your learning goals. One of these is Achievable’s ACT prep course.

The app provides students with a 21st century way of learning — a more personalized path towards your goals. Combining full-length practice exams, review quizzes, personalized study guide, and an easy-to-read online textbook, Achievable ensures that every tool and module is tailored to students’ learning needs and capabilities.

Finally, with Achievable’s built-in study planner, learners like you won’t have to worry about losing focus while going through the courses. The course maps out and reminds you exactly what you need to study. Our advanced personalization algorithm automatically targets areas that you need to focus on to improve your score. Pair this with the study plan you’ve created, and watch your performance improve!

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Achievable's ACT course includes endless math quizzes, hand-crafted practice exams, and our easy-to-understand online textbook (including the Writing section) with proven strategies to hit your target score.
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