Last Updated On: December 29th, 2015

The ACT or the ACT Aspire? Are they the same exam? If not, which test are you supposed to take and when? How do you get a good score? Which one will get you into college?

Let’s explore the relationship between the ACT and the ACT Aspire to resolve the confusion about these two different exams.

What is the ACT Aspire?

The ACT Aspire, administered for grades 3-10 throughout the school year, assesses a student’s college and career readiness. The suite of tests—introduced in 2014 to replace the ACT PLAN and the ACT Explore—includes sections on English, math, reading, science and writing. The ACT Aspire is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. School districts in states like Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Wisconsin have incorporated the ACT Aspire into their academic calendars. These tests are used to help teachers and administrators determine the continuing educational needs of their students for the year and to keep families on track. The ACT Aspire is intended to follow a student’s progress from elementary school through high school and possibly prepare students for the ACT.

How does the ACT Aspire relate to the ACT?

The ACT and the ACT Aspire were created by the same ACT company and have similarities. Both tests are timed and have sections covering English, math, reading, science and writing, subject areas that correspond to the curricula at most schools. However, the tests also have differences between them. The ACT is one paper test administered mainly for eleventh and twelfth graders and has multiple-choice questions along with an optional writing section. The composite score for the ACT ranges from 1 to 36, and these scores are used on applications for college admissions.

Conversely, the ACT Aspire is based on grade level (3-10) and comes in both an interim form (short tests given throughout the year) and a summative form (one test given at the end of the year). It can be taken on paper or on a computer. Additionally, the ACT Aspire has both multiple choice and constructed response questions as well as a mandatory writing test. Furthermore, the scores for each ACT Aspire subject test range from a low of 400 to varying high of 430 and above, depending on both the grade level and the subject. The ACT Aspire Current Progress Report also provides an ACT Predicted score based on the student’s performance on the ACT Aspire in grades 9 and 10:

Will the ACT Aspire predict my ACT score?

Even though the ACT Aspire does provide a predicted ACT score for each student, it probably will not function as an accurate reflection of your potential performance on the ACT. Taking the ACT Aspire will help prepare you for the general process of sitting for standardized tests in the future, and it will assess your proficiency in the subjects test at your grade level. But, since the two exams are constructed and scored differently, and since the ACT Aspire only has two years of data to work with, it is unlikely that the scores on one exam will exactly translate to those of another. The best predictor of how well you will do on the ACT is taking a practice ACT, preferably a previously administered official test in a proctored exam setting.

What should I do?

In both cases, doing well in your academic courses will bolster your performance on the ACT Aspire and eventually on the ACT. Build your foundations in English, math, reading, science and writing to increase your skills on both exams. And, if you want to improve your score on either the ACT or the ACT Aspire, working with a tutor can help. For a free consultation from LA Tutors on how to perform your best on either the ACT Aspire or the ACT, click here or call 866.60.TUTOR today!

Mahlena-Rae Johnson

Author Mahlena-Rae Johnson

Mahlena graduated from Loyola Marymount and received her MBA from USC with a focus on Marketing, Entertainment, and Entrepreneurship. Her specialty lies in graduate level test prep and is also a regular contributor to the LA Tutors blog.

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