ACT Explore


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 the future.

In April 2014, ACT will launch our new student readiness assessment system—ACT Aspire™—the first computer-based, longitudinal assessment system that connects student growth and progress from the elementary grades through high school in the context of college and career readiness.

ACT Aspire will replace the current ACT Explore and ACT Plan programs.

ACT Explore and ACT Plan will be available ONLY for the remainder of the 2013–2014 testing year and will not be available after June 2014. ACT Aspire will be available in April 2014 and will meet your college readiness assessment needs moving into the future. ACT is fully committed to providing you with the tools and support needed to migrate successfully to ACT Aspire.

Visit to learn much more about ACT Aspire, including a comparison of ACT Explore/ACT Plan to ACT Aspire features and benefits, migration timelines, support and more.


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.

For Students

Taking ACT EXPLORE as an 8th or 9th grader tells you things you need to know to plan your high school courses, prepare for the ACT Test, think about college, or choose a career direction. ACT Explore includes four multiple-choice tests: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Your skills in these subjects will make a big difference—in school and, eventually, in your career. Your ACT Explore score report will help identify your strengths and areas where you need improvement.

Subject Number of Questions How Long It Takes
English 40 30 minutes
Math 30 30 minutes
Reading 30 30 minutes
Science 28 30 minutes


Following is the process for administering ACT Explore. Questions? Call Customer Services at 1.877.789.2925.

  • Order test materials at least four weeks before testing.
  • Communicate with parents and students about the benefits of ACT Explore.
  • Review the ACT Explore Test Supervisor's Manual and share test administration details with school staff.
  • Prepare your students for test day.
  • Administer the ACT Explore test as scheduled by school.
  • Return answer folders to ACT for scoring. Answer folders must be received at ACT by June 13th in order to be scored.
  • Districts will receive district-level reports and copies of school-level reports after the answer document return deadline stated on the online order form.
  • Distribute and review student score reports with students and families.
  • Share and discuss aggregate data results with staff.
  • Develop intervention plans for identified areas of need based on reported data.