In 2014, a brand new test preparation program called the ACT Aspire replaced the ACT Plan, a pre-test similar to the actual ACT, and ACT Explore. Unlike the ACT, which measures student understanding at a consistent level year after year, the ACT Aspire is designed to reflect the progressive difficulty of each year of school. That being said, can the ACT Aspire predict your ACT score? Read on to learn more about the differences between both tests.
An overview of the ACT Aspire test
The ACT Aspire, which can be administered beginning in third grade and through 10th grade, is designed to assess both understanding of new Common Core standards and college readiness. The program tests students in five main subjects: math, reading, English, writing, and science. The goal of the ACT Aspire program is to measure student educational growth as an indicator of how well each student may eventually score on the actual ACT.
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Differences between ACT Aspire test and the ACT
There are a few differences between the ACT Aspire test and the actual ACT that are worth mentioning.
One of the bigger differences between the ACT Aspire test and the actual ACT is how each is scored. The ACT is scored on a scale from 1 to 36 for each subject, with 36 being the best score. The ACT Aspire is scored on a scale from 400 to 470 for each subject, with 470 being a top score. As you can see, the scale is very different between the two exams, which may make it more difficult to interpret how your ACT Aspire score will translate to the ACT. When students receive ACT Aspire scores, they do also receive an “estimated ACT score”—however, keep in mind that this is an estimate based on their performance on the Aspire (which usually happens before you move on to advanced classes that are tested on the ACT). The best way to truly gauge how you might score on the actual ACT is through ACT practice tests.
Additionally, the ACT Aspire and the ACT differ in test format. The actual ACT consists of all multiple-choice questions (with the exception of the optional writing portion), but the ACT Aspire consists of multiple-choice and constructed response (short-answer and long-answer) questions. The idea is that students will be tested using multiple question formats to ensure they fully understand the concepts, even though the actual ACT is not set up in this way. This may affect your preparation. To succeed on the ACT, you may only need to have content knowledge, as well as strategies in place for multiple-choice questions. An ACT tutor or other test prep instructor can also help you determine how you should study, depending on which test you take.
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Is the ACT Aspire test worth taking?
It is evident that the ACT Aspire Test is quite different from the actual ACT. However, the ACT Aspire can still provide valuable information about potential gaps in a student’s knowledge, due to its cumulative scoring. Students who take the ACT Aspire over several years receive test scores (and subscores) each year, making it easy to monitor their progress and skill level during that time.
If you are looking for a way to sharpen your skill set for the real ACT, in addition to studying an ACT test prep book and other resources, the Aspire test can also be a helpful precursor—but don’t put too much weight into your estimated ACT score. A student’s score and improvement on both tests depends on how seriously he or she takes preparing for each test. If the student uses study strategies tailored to each test format, the chances for success are greater.
However, if you are looking for an exam to replicate the ACT exactly, then you may need to look into other test options. If you’ve received a high score on the ACT Aspire test, don’t make the mistake of winging the ACT. The tests are not necessarily comparable. There are a variety of ACT practice tests out there that are professionally written to mimic the rigor of the actual exam. Students can time themselves while taking these practice tests to get a more accurate picture of how they might score on test day.
ACT hopes that this new testing program will become the national standard for testing college readiness. It is important to consider all of the differences between the programs before making a decision on which preparation program is best.