Time of First Testing

As seen later in this report, the grade level in which students first take the ACT can serve as a broad indicator of numerous college choice behaviors.

Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates First Testing Before Grade 12 by State ACT Participation Rate, 2012

  • The percentage of ACT-tested high school graduates who first test before 12th grade increases with state ACT participation rate.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates First Testing Before Grade 12 by State ACT Participation Rate, 2012

Graph reads: 64% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2012 first test before 12th grade in states where the ACT participation rate is between 51% and 75%.

State ACT Participation RateTesting Before Grade 12
Less than 26%53%
26%–50%61%
51%–75%64%
76%–100%73%
Statewide (100%)95%

Because nearly all students (95%) in statewide administration states first test during 11th grade, there is no relationship between the students’ time of first testing and their background or achievement level.

In non-statewide administration states, however, there are notable differences in time of first testing by the students’ background and achievement level.

Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates in Non-Statewide Administration States First Testing Before Grade 12 by ACT Composite Score, 2012

  • In non-statewide administration states, the share of students who first test before 12th grade increases with ACT Composite score.
  • Less than half (47%) of all students with an ACT Composite score in the range of 1–15 first test before 12th grade. In comparison, 86% of students in the score range of 33–36 first test before 12th grade.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates in Non-Statewide Administration States First Testing Before Grade 12 by
ACT Composite Score, 2012

Graph reads: In states that do not administer the ACT statewide, 80% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2012 with an ACT Composite score in the range of 28–32 first test before 12th grade.

ACT Composite Score RangeTesting Before Grade 12
1–1547%
16–1953%
20–2364%
24–2772%
28–3280%
33–3686%

Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates in Non-Statewide Administration States First Testing Before Grade 12 by Parent Education Level, 2012

  • In non-statewide administration states, the share of ACT-tested students who first test before 12th grade increases with the education level of the students’ parents.
  • Among those ACT-tested students whose parents did not attend college, a little more than half (53%) first test before 12th grade.
  • In contrast, nearly 3 out of 4 (73%) ACT-tested students whose parents earned a graduate degree first test before 12th grade.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates in Non-Statewide Administration States First Testing Before Grade 12 by Parent
Education Level, 2012

Graph reads: In states that do not administer the ACT Test statewide, 68% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2012 whose parents earned a bachelor’s degree first test before the 12th grade.

Note: Based on 81% of ACT-tested high school graduates in non-statewide administration states for whom parent education level is available.

Parent Education LevelTesting Before Grade 12
No College53%
Some College59%
Bachelor's Degree68%
Graduate Degree73%

Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates in Non-Statewide Administration States First Testing Before Grade 12 by Degree Plans, 2012

  • In non-statewide administration states, the percentage of ACT-tested students who first test before 12th grade increases with students’ degree aspirations.
  • A little more than two-thirds (68%) of all ACT-tested students who plan to earn a graduate degree first test before 12th grade.
  • In contrast, a little less than half (48%) of all students who plan to earn an associate’s degree or certificate first test before 12th grade.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates in Non-Statewide Administration States First Testing Before Grade 12 by Degree
Plans, 2012

Graph reads: In states that do not administer the ACT statewide, 60% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2012 who plan to earn a bachelor’s degree first test before 12th grade.

Note: Based on 89% of ACT-tested high school graduates in non-statewide administration states for whom degree plans are available.

Degree PlansTesting Before Grade 12
Less Than Bachelor's Degree48%
Bachelor's Degree60%
Graduate Degree68%