Techstars alum Testive adds $1.15M to boost college test-prep service

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Companies like Kaplan and Princeton Review built big brand names by charging for college entrance-exam preparation. Boston startup company Testive is hoping that free software lessons can help it make a dent in the market.

Testive was founded in 2011 by graduates of MIT’s Sloan business school and went through the Techstars accelerator program in 2012. Last year, the company made its software-based SAT and ACT prep lessons free, potentially opening the company up to a much broader market.

On Thursday, Testive announced that it has raised another $1.15 million from individual private investors. The company has raised a total of $2.35 million from investors, and said it is hoping to add another $600,000 to the current investment round.

The company says it has been used by more than 150,000 students to date.

Testive is hardly alone in trying to bring a new technology approach to the test-prep market. One standout is Khan Academy, a provider of online education courses that has partnered with SAT creator the College Board to offer official online preparation classes.

Investor Jean Hammond, co-founder of Boston education technology accelerator LearnLaunch, said smaller startups like Testive still have room to grow in the test-prep market.

“Most people can name something like Kaplan, but all of those big guys combined are only like 10 percent of the market,” she said. “There’s plenty of white space for a young company.”

Testive’s free SAT and ACT prep products include more than 3,000 test questions, instructional videos, lesson plan, and online “study halls.”

The startup’s coaching products offer individual instruction and multiple practice tests for up to $399 per month, which is competitive with the cheapest SAT products from Kaplan and Princeton Review.