College & Workforce Readiness

New 10th Grade ACT Test May Compete With PSAT

By Catherine Gewertz — March 29, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

ACT Inc. has added a new test to its lineup: the PreACT, a multiple-choice test designed to prepare 10th grade students for the company’s college-entrance exam.

The PreACT, which will be available next fall, is a paper-based test in the same four subjects as the ACT: English/language arts, math, reading, and science. It will not include a writing section. That section is optional on the ACT.

The PreACT uses the same format and 1-36 score scale as the ACT. At one hour and 55 minutes or less, the PreACT is an hour shorter than the ACT without the writing portion. The Iowa-based testing company is aiming the new product at schools, districts, and states. It’s not linked to scholarship opportunities, as is the College Board’s PSAT.

Announcing the new test last week, ACT officials said its core purpose is to give students a preview of the experience of taking the ACT, and a sense of how they’ll do on the college-entrance exam. In fact, they’ll be answering real ACT questions. Paul J. Weeks, ACT’s senior vice president for client relations, said that all the questions on the PreACT will be repurposed items from earlier ACT exams.

The PreACT aims at the same age group that takes the rival College Board’s PSAT, and the two companies have been battling for market share for their respective product lines. Asked whether the PreACT, at $12 per student, is a competitor for the PSAT, which costs $15, Weeks said, “I think it will be.” But he added that that wasn’t the original idea behind it.

Vehicle for Practice

The PreACT was developed because school and district staff members said they wanted a test that would let students practice for the ACT, produce early scores that would signal areas of weakness, and yield results quickly, Weeks said. ACT puts free, full-length practice versions of the college-entrance exam online, but Weeks said the PreACT program would make a practice experience available to all students in a school or district, rather than leaving it to individual students to seek out online.

Because the questions are nonsecure—they won’t appear again on the ACT, so they’re no longer secret—schools and districts can give the test whenever they wish, and students can see the questions, and their answers, within two weeks of taking the test, Weeks said.

The PreACT could fill a hole left in the market by the demise of two tests which were run-ups to the ACT: Explore, for grade 8 or 9, and Plan, for 10th grade. Those tests accounted for 1.8 million administrations in 17 states in 2014. But that same year, ACT announced that it was sunsetting them, as it unveiled a new line of summative tests for grades 3-10 called ACT Aspire.

ACT Aspire was intended to capture a chunk of the common-core testing market just as the federally funded PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests were set to make their debut. Four states—Alabama, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—bought the Aspire system to use statewide this school year, and it’s also used in more than 900 individual schools or districts.

Ellen Forte, whose consulting company, edCount, works with states on assessment, said she sees the launch of the PreACT as a strategic bid for district-level business.

“Having an entire suite of products that is designed to consider progress toward college- and career-readiness as indicated by the ACT could be very enticing [to districts]. And profitable,” she said in an email.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 30, 2016 edition of Education Week as ACT’s New 10th Grade Test Provides Competition for PSAT


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says New Data Paint Bleak Picture of Students' Post High School Outcomes
Students are taking much longer to complete credentials after high school than programs plan.
2 min read
Student hanging on a tearing graduate cap tassel
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness This East Coast District Brought a Hollywood-Quality Experience to Its Students
A unique collaboration between a Virginia school district and two television actors allows students to gain real-life filmmaking experience.
6 min read
Bethel High School films a production of Fear the Fog at Fort Monroe on June 21, 2023.
Students from Bethel High School in Hampton, Va., film "Fear the Fog"<i> </i>at Virginia's Fort Monroe on June 21, 2023. Students wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film through a partnership between their district, Hampton City Schools, and two television actors that's designed to give them applied, entertainment industry experience.
Courtesy of Hampton City Schools
College & Workforce Readiness A FAFSA Calculation Error Could Delay College Aid Applications—Again
It's the latest blunder to upend the "Better FAFSA," as it was branded by the Education Department.
2 min read
Jesus Noyola, a sophomore attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, poses for a portrait in the Folsom Library on Feb. 13, 2024, in Troy, N.Y. A later-than-expected rollout of a revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FASFA, that schools use to compute financial aid, is resulting in students and their parents putting off college decisions. Noyola said he hasn’t been able to submit his FAFSA because of an error in the parent portion of the application. “It’s disappointing and so stressful since all these issues are taking forever to be resolved,” said Noyola, who receives grants and work-study to fund his education.
Jesus Noyola, a sophomore at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, stands in the university's library on Feb. 13, 2024, in Troy, N.Y. He's one of thousands of existing and incoming college students affected by a problem-plagued rollout of the revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FASFA, that schools use to compute financial aid. A series of delays and errors is resulting in students and their parents putting off college decisions.
Hans Pennink/AP
College & Workforce Readiness How Well Are Schools Preparing Students? Advanced Academics and World Languages, in 4 Charts
New federal data show big gaps in students' access to the challenging coursework and foreign languages they need for college.
2 min read
Conceptual illustration of people and voice bubbles.