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Standards & Benchmarks


Photo of students raising their handsACT College and Career Readiness Standards help students understand the meaning of the scores earned in ACT Aspire and the ACT® college readiness assessment.

For parents, teachers, counselors, and students, these scores can:

  • Communicate widely shared learning goals and educational expectations
  • Relate test scores to skills that lead to success in high school and beyond
  • Unpack the complex set of skills students need to develop in English, mathematics, reading, science, and writing

ACT Aspire and the ACT measure student development of knowledge and skills in the same academic areas from grades 3 through 12. The scores from these assessments can help educators monitor students’ academic growth over time.

The ACT College and Career Readiness Standards serve as a link between what students have learned and what they are ready to learn next. The Standards are also linked to college instruction. More than 40 years of research has shown that performance on the ACT is directly related to first-year college grade point average. ACT also conducts a regular survey of college instructors to ensure that the Standards are aligned to college-level work.


How the ACT Readiness Benchmarks Were Created:

The ACT Readiness Benchmarks for grades 8 to 11 were obtained based on the concordance analysis. The ACT Readiness Benchmarks for grades 3 to 7 were back-mapped based on grade 8’s concorded ACT Readiness Benchmark values, using the z-score approach. For those grades, the ACT Readiness Benchmarks were the ACT Aspire scores that had the same standardized scores as those for the grade 8 Benchmarks.

What the ACT Readiness Benchmarks Mean:

The ACT Readiness Benchmarks on the ACT Aspire scale for students in grades 8 to 10 are the concorded values that correspond to the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks on the ACT Explore/ACT Plan scale and are taken from the ACT Explore/ACT Plan to ACT Aspire concordance table. The meaning of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks on ACT Explore/ACT Plan is carried over to the ACT Aspire scale through the concordance. Students who are at and above the Benchmark are on track to have a high probability of future success in first-year college courses.