ACT Aspire is a computer-based, longitudinal assessment system that connects growth and progress from elementary grades through high school in the context of college and career readiness. Assessing students’ knowledge and skills is critical to ensuring all students receive the support and services necessary to help them succeed in school and life. The essential, actionable information and insights gained from ACT Aspire help educators understand a student’s past, capture the present, and impact the future.

This assessment system is developed for and focused on the student:

  • Identifies a student’s predicted path toward readiness through individualized reporting

  • Highlights gaps between what students have learned and what they need to learn

  • Leverages technology familiar to students to foster achievement

  • Uses robust online reporting that enables timely modifications to student learning and intervention strategies


Start preparing your students for college and career early and often. ACT Explore is designed to help 8th and 9th graders explore a broad range of options for their future. It prepares students not only for their high school coursework but for their post–high school choices as well. ACT Explore can serve as an independent program or as the entry point into ACT’s College and Career Readiness System.ACT Explore data gives educators, students, and families early insight into a student’s level of preparedness for college and career by high school graduation. Access to ACT Explore data will:

  • Provide the first step toward longitudinal student monitoring starting in 8th grade through high school.

  • Identify areas of academic risk and allow for early intervention.

  • Provide teachers with insights into student understanding, to better inform instructional practices and areas needing improvement.

ACT has reviewed the factors impacting student readiness and achievement. The Forgotten Middle, a study conducted in 2008, shows that under current conditions, the level of academic achievement that students attain by 8th grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school. The report also reveals that, on average, 8th-grade students who are not on target for college and career readiness are much less likely to be ready for college and career by high school graduation than those who are on target.


ACT Plan serves as the midpoint measure of academic progress in ACT’s College and Career Readiness System.ACT Plan helps 10th graders build a solid foundation for future academic and career success and provides information needed to address school districts’ high-priority issues. It is a comprehensive guidance resource that helps students measure their current academic development, explore career/training options, and make plans for the remaining years of high school and beyond.

Whether students are college-bound or plan to enter the workforce directly after high school, ACT Plan can help all students.

ACT Plan contains four curriculum-based assessments—English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science—and includes a career exploration component that stimulates students’ thinking about future plans and relates personal characteristics to career options.

In a 2009 study, ACT developed new score linkages for AP courses that align in curricular content with the four ACT Plan tests and updated the linkages found in earlier studies. Results from this study show that ACT Plan test scores are good predictors of success in AP courses.


The ACT college readiness assessment is a curriculum- and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students’ academic readiness for college.The ACT uses the same score scale as ACT Explore and ACT Plan, making the system an effective tool to monitor academic progress and student growth.

Quick facts about the ACT:

  • The ACT is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

  • The ACT is not an aptitude or an IQ test. Instead, the questions on the ACT are directly related to what students have learned in high school courses.

  • More than 1.66 million high school students in the graduating class of 2012 took the ACT.

  • The ACT is administered in all 50 of the United States and in many other countries.