Research

About 71% of all ACT-tested 2010 high school graduates met at least one of the four College Readiness Benchmarks in English, Mathematics, Reading, or Science.

Approximately 28% of all graduates met no College Readiness Benchmarks, while 47% met between 1 and 3 Benchmarks. Twenty-four percent of all 2010 ACT-tested high school graduates met all four College Readiness Benchmarks, meaning that less than 1 in 4 were academically ready for college coursework in all four subject areas.

In light of this issue, how can we make sure that a growing number of students' future aspirations are in line with their levels of preparedness? Furthermore, how do we build rigorous academic course plans for students so that more students succeed in college-level coursework?


Through various studies, ACT has reviewed the factors that are impacting student readiness and achievement. Using PLAN to Identify Student Readiness for Rigorous Courses in High School (PDF; 4 pages, 72KB), conducted in 2009, examines the relationship between students' scores on PLAN and their scores on selected AP Exams. In this study, ACT developed new score linkages for AP courses that align in curricular content with the four PLAN tests and updated the linkages found in earlier studies. Results from this study show that PLAN test scores are good predictors of success in AP courses.

Other Research Related to PLAN and ACT's College and Career Readiness System

How has ACT's research informed college and career readiness?

As a national leader in policy research on college and workforce training readiness, ACT has decades of empirical data that have informed the following:

  • ACT's College Readiness Standards
    Our college readiness standards are detailed, research-based descriptions of the skills and knowledge associated students' knowledge and abilities as they progress through school.
  • ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks
    While the College Readiness Standards describe the skills students likely have, ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks empirically establish college readiness as measured by performance on EXPLORE, PLAN, or The ACT.
  • Common Core State Standards
    Our longitudinal data and long-standing commitment to all students becoming college and career ready uniquely established ACT as a valuable partner in—and advocate for—the Common Core State Standards Initiative. ACT's College Readiness Standards, upon which PLAN is based, is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. ACT data were used to develop the Common Core State Standards, which reflect a shared goal of preparing students for credit bearing college courses and for careers, and is consistent with international standards that promote high student performance.