Research

ACT has tested thousands of students with ACT Engage® and tracked their progress as they move through high school and into college. Results show that ACT Engage Grades 10–12 is a valid predictor of college success. Even after taking into account academic readiness (e.g., ACT Plan® scores), ACT Engage provides additional information that helps more accurately identify students who are at risk of academic failure and dropout. Below we compare several prediction models using "hit rates." The hit rates indicate how well each model can identify students who are at high risk of future academic struggles.

Percentage of Students Accurately Identified as Having First-Year College GPA < 2.0

Selection Method Hit Rate (%)
Random Selection 31
ACT Plan Composite Only 83
ACT Engage Grades 10–12 Only 79
ACT Plan Composite + ACT Engage Grades 10–12 92

Note. The hit rate is the percentage of students, among the bottom 5% on the flagging variables, who had high school GPA < 2.0.

As shown, use of ACT Plan or ACT Engage Grades 10–12 scores results in substantial increases in accuracy (i.e., increased hit rate) over random selection for identifying students who subsequently earned a low GPA during the first year of postsecondary education. The combination of ACT Plan and ACT Engage scores resulted in the highest level of accuracy.

The figure below illustrates that, although standardized measures of academic achievement and high school grades are the best predictors of late high school GPA, academic behaviors measured by ACT Engage Grades 10–12 (i.e., psychosocial factors) are also important predictors.

Note: Based on a linear regression model predicting 11th-grade cumulative high school GPA (R2 = .76).


The research cited below identifies ACT publications that are relevant to ACT Engage.

ACT, Inc. (2007) Impact of Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Career Factors on Educational and Workplace Success. Iowa City, IA: Author.

How we educate and train our youth to be successful students and workers is one of the most critical questions of our time. We cannot compete globally without a high percentage of our citizens succeeding in education and in the workplace. Career-interest exploration is critical as early as middle school; thus, it is important to understand how psychosocial information can help identify which students are at risk for academic difficulties during the transition into high school and through preparation for postsecondary studies. Psychosocial factors also help target key areas for student intervention to raise grades and, eventually, scores on standardized achievement tests, both of which are indicators of college readiness. Learn more...

ACT, Inc. (2011). Enhancing College and Career Readiness and Success: The Role of Academic Behaviors. Iowa City, IA: Author.

One of the biggest challenges in raising achievement and reducing dropout rates is early identification of those students who would most benefit from intervention. While assessments of academic achievement provide early indication of risk, academic behaviors are also important for persistence and success. This information brief examines the importance of academic behavior for college and career readiness and success, as shown in ACT research. It also discusses implications of this research for K–12 educators and ways that teachers, schools, districts, and states can use this information to enhance students’ college and career readiness.