ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign

ACT Research Reports on College and Work Readiness

How do we determine whether an individual is ready for college, a career, or a specific position in the workplace? For decades, ACT has been focusing extensive research on answering that compelling question. The result is a vast and growing body of data evaluating the readiness of the US population. The reports on this page define readiness and also provide crucial insights into who is ready—and who is not. Applying these findings is the key to creating solutions that will advance our goal of achieving college, work, and career readiness for all Americans.


Catching Up to College Readiness report cover

In Catching up to College and Career Readiness, ACT focuses on how many fourth graders and eighth graders catch up academically to become college and career ready before they graduate. Efforts to improve students’ academic preparation have often been directed at the high school level, although for many students, gaps in academic preparation begin much earlier.

Condition of College and Career Readiness report cover

In The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2014, ACT uses the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks and ACT® college readiness assessment scores to provide a series of graphical pictures highlighting the college and career readiness of the ACT-tested high school class of 2014.

Readiness Matters report cover

In Readiness Matters: The Impact of College Readiness on College Persistence and Degree Completion, ACT highlights the importance of college readiness for persisting in college to timely degree completion. This study is based on a nationally representative random sample of ACT-tested high school graduates who immediately enrolled in either a two- or four-year postsecondary institution after high school and were tracked for seven years.


A Better Measure report cover

In A Better Measure of Skills Gaps, ACT evaluates use of the phrase “skills gap” and proposes a methodology that uses more detailed and specific measures of skills for economic and workforce analysis.

WorkKeys Standards and Benchmarks report cover

In Work Readiness Standards and Benchmarks, ACT defines “work readiness,” presents a framework for aligning education and training to current job skill requirements, and describes what individuals must achieve to secure in-demand jobs and to make transitions throughout their careers.

Condition of Work Readiness report cover

In The Condition of Work Readiness in the United States, ACT highlights the levels of work readiness for various subgroups of ACT WorkKeys® examinees in the United States and provides work readiness standards and benchmarks for selected groups of targeted high-demand and high-wage occupations.