About ACT Aspire

ACT Aspire Assessments

Summative vs. Periodic

ACT Aspire includes both summative and periodic (interim and classroom) assessments. A comprehensive summative assessment can be administered in the fall or spring, while the periodic assessments can be used at any time during the school year. ACT Aspire periodic assessments are designed to measure regular, ongoing student progress. The summative and periodic assessments can be used as stand-alone programs, or they can be used in conjunction with one another.

Review ACT Aspire’s Summative Assessments: Measuring Student Progress and Potential (PDF) for more information on summative assessments.

See also ACT Aspire Periodic Assessments: Guiding Insights to Inform Instruction (PDF) for more on interim and classroom assessments.


Getting Started

Students and counselors will each create their own accounts. Students can start by taking the inventories. Counselors and educators can start by connecting with students and/or creating groups. 

How to Order 

Call 855.434.6010 and we will connect you with an ACT Account Manager who can help you place your order for summative testing. Ordering for the periodic assessments will be open soon. Contact your ACT account manager for questions about ordering the periodic assessments. The summative and periodic assessments can be purchased separately as standalone programs or together.  


With both summative and periodic assessments available, ACT Aspire can be administered in a number of ways to meet the needs of your students. ACT Aspire pricing reflects this flexibility. Special “bundled” pricing is available when the summative and periodic assessments are purchased together. Special discounted prices are also available for current ACT Explore/ACT Plan customers.

For detailed pricing information and to discuss your testing plan with an ACT Account Manager, call 855.434.6010 or complete the form here.

Assessment Delivery

Two test windows are available for ACT Aspire summative testing each year: One window in the fall and one window in the spring.

The ACT Aspire summative assessment is a computer-delivered test. However, it can be delivered via paper-and-pencil testing for an additional fee. The periodic assessments are CBT only. 


Scores and Reports

The ACT Aspire cloud-based, interactive system will allow educators to view classroom test results and identify gaps between what students have actually learned and what they need to learn. These insights enable timely modifications to curriculum, learning, and intervention strategies.

  • Identify students in need of intervention: ACT Aspire summative reporting will help educators easily determine how students are performing against the ACT Readiness Benchmarks in standards-based reporting categories. These insights will allow for early and targeted intervention by parents and educators in the areas where students need the most support.
  • Determine college readiness: The new ACT Readiness Benchmarks for ACT Aspire are empirically linked to the ACT College Readiness Benchmark scores, which enables educators and parents to identify if students are on track for college and career readiness throughout their educational journey.
  • Model student growth: As an integrated longitudinal system of assessments, ACT Aspire can provide an evolving picture of student growth and unique learning needs at various points in a student's educational career.

Score Scale

Aspire results will be reported on a new three-digit score scale. We will also report an “ACT Readiness Benchmark” for English, math, reading, and science at each grade to provide additional perspectives on student readiness. Users will be able to use the new ACT Readiness Benchmarks from grades 3–10 to determine if students are on track for readiness at the appropriate grade/subject levels.

Reasons for the 3-Digit Score Scale

To comply with best practices, we wanted to minimize the chance that ACT Aspire test scores would be misinterpreted. Therefore, we wanted to avoid score ranges that might easily be confused, such as avoiding 1 to 100 (or 99), which is easily confused with norms and percentiles, as well as percent correct and raw scores. In addition, we wanted to avoid our own 1–36 ACT scale, and our 65–90 ACT WorkKeys scale. Using a three-digit scale minimized the chance that the new ACT Aspire scores would be confused with other scores ACT provides.

Writing Test Scoring

The writing tests are single prompt assessments, which are scored separately on four traits, according to rubrics. The rubrics themselves incorporate the progression of achievement across grade levels, in that the demonstrated ability needed to achieve, say, a “5” on a given domain is higher in grade 7 than in grade 4. A student who achieves a “4” consistently in successive grades is progressing in achievement as expected. 

Composite Scores and Concordance

Composite Scores

A composite score will be provided for all students who receive scores in English, math, reading, and science for grades 8 and 9–10 (ACT Aspire Early High School).


There is not a composite score concordance. This is because ACT Aspire is a modular test, which means many students will NOT take all four subject tests. Therefore, it is more appropriate to focus on the individual subject tests when conducting the concordance analysis. Another reason is that the primary goal of creating concordance tables is to help educators make a smooth transition from ACT Explore/ACT Plan to ACT Aspire and aid in using the ACT Aspire score scale. 

It is also important to note that College Readiness Benchmarks established using ACT Aspire will differ from those obtained by simply looking up ACT Explore benchmarks in the concordance table. Reasons for this distinction include differences in test design and cohorts used for benchmark studies.

Translating Between Various Scores/Standards

Can I make interpretations based on the ACT Readiness Levels that I used to make using the +3/–3 deviation from the Benchmark score?

You can still identify students as demonstrating achievement that is close to the benchmark. While the content of ACT Aspire assessments is still based on the skills and knowledge needed for success post high school, the specific blueprint of the assessments has been modified from those for ACT Explore and ACT Plan.

Can I translate back to ACT Explore/ACT Plan scores and then make interpretations utilizing the College Readiness Standards about what a student knows and can do?

No. Due to rounding and linear interpolation, the concordance is not symmetric, meaning the relationship was established to go from ACT Explore and ACT Plan scores to ACT Aspire scores, and not from Aspire scores to ACT Plan and ACT Explore. In addition, the College Readiness Standards for ACT Explore and ACT Plan were established by looking at skills and knowledge required to correctly respond to actual items. So while using the concordance and the College Readiness Standards may provide an interim idea of what students knows and can do, a more precise description will need to wait until similar standards are established on actual ACT Aspire data.

Tracking Student Growth

There are a few ways to determine whether your organization performed better or worse on ACT Aspire. Using the concordance tables to translate your previous year’s ACT Explore or ACT Plan scores to estimated ACT Aspire scores would allow a rough comparison across the two assessments. In addition, ACT will be providing information around ACT Explore and ACT Plan to ACT Aspire expected growth. In addition, other comparisons may be made as follows:

  • By comparing the percent of students at and above the benchmark.
  • By comparing the median national percentile rank.
  • By comparing the average score with the national average, or with other organizations.

Score Reports Available to Students

ACT Aspire offers online student score reports to schools, districts, and states. In addition to subject scores, there are reporting categories based on the ACT College Readiness Standards and aligned to the Common Core. Along with valuable new measures of readiness (STEM scores, text proficiency, etc.), there will be deeper, more valuable data that will enable educators to better inform instruction and parents to better understand their student's progress. Student score reports are available to download or print, and can be distributed to students and parents. 

Predicted ACT Score

ACT Aspire Early High School (grades 9–10) will provide a predicted ACT score range for each subject area and a Composite score. This will allow 9th and 10th graders to determine if they are on target for college readiness as they prepare to take the ACT and engage in college planning.


Career Planning

ACT is strongly committed to career planning for students. ACT Aspire students can access ACT Profile®, the new online college and career planning tool created by ACT.

ACT Profile

ACT Profile is free for both students and counselors and only requires an Internet connection. When a student connects with counselors, both can benefit from the insights.

ACT Profile includes research-based career interest, abilities, and values inventories, as well as robust college major and postsecondary institution search capability. Students can connect with peers conducting searches similar to their own in this online platform. Counselors can also access student information for one-on-one counseling activities.

Benefits For Students

Students can take inventories to see where their interests align with potential majors and areas of study and where their interests, abilities, and values align with potential careers. Up-to-date information on over 1,000 occupations and college majors is available for students to explore. After taking the inventories and exploring options, students can choose to share their results with their friends, counselor, or teacher.

Benefits for Counselors

ACT Profile Counselor Accounts allow counselors, educators, and mentors to better understand students’ progress in the college and career planning process. After connecting to students, counselors can see students’ insights and use them to begin conversations about the planning process.

With dashboard, counselors see the bigger picture by moving beyond the one-on-one view of counselor to students and gaining an aggregate view of their entire student group. Dashboards allow counselors to more easily identify where students are in the planning process. When they see potential gaps, they can take necessary actions to ensure success. Counselors can also use the dashboards to:

  • Identify interest areas
  • Spot potential challenges or gaps in plans
  • Remind students to complete critical tasks
  • Share relevant resources and information

ACT Profile vs. ACT Explore and ACT Plan Career

ACT Profile provides more tools and creates new, more personalized ways for students to navigate their career path and for counselors to help guide them. Students can now click to learn more about interest areas, careers, majors, and schools. This dynamic interaction puts the tools in the hands of students.

If you would like additional guidance on how to implement ACT Profile with your student group, or school district, please email profile@act.org.