By Jasmine York
Discover how students in Alabama can now be better prepared for college and a career through comprehensive ACT programs and learn how each program can benefit your student.
Students in Alabama can now graduate high school better prepared for college and a career thanks to comprehensive ACT programs recently adopted by the state: EXPLORE, PLAN, ACT and WorkKEYS. These programs encourage teens to think about their future before entering high school, explore career options, develop a plan, act, and analyze any skills that can translate into the workplace. Public school students can take these assessment tests for free! Learn more about the benefits of taking each program.
8th – 9th Graders
EXPLORE is a shortened version of the ACT that helps 8th and 9th graders get ready for high school, college and their future careers. The test allots 30 minutes for each of the following sections:
• English: 40 questions
• Math: 30 questions
• Reading: 30 questions
• Science: 28 questions
The results help to evaluate each student’s strengths and weaknesses while suggesting ways of improving different areas. It also offers a “World-of-Work Map” that is a personalized report based on scores from the assessment with ideas for careers each child may be interested in as well as high school coursework suggestions. Scores are compared to other students across the nation who took EXPLORE, which will help students see where they rank percentage-wise. Results also predict what each child would make on PLAN if they continue the same academic progress.
“The earlier you start thinking about and planning for the future [parents and students], the more likely you are to reach your goals.” Ed Colby, spokesman for ACT
PLAN is a more extensive version of EXPLORE designated for 10th graders. It tests students by the following:
• English 50 questions, 30 minutes
• Math 40 questions, 40 minutes
• Reading 25 questions, 20 minutes
• Science 30 questions, 25 minutes
Students can use their results from PLAN to discover if they are on track for college. This test points out academic strengths and areas where improvement is needed and gives them time to make necessary adjustments while in high school. PLAN helps students find careers of interest and connects them with suggested colleges based on answers from an interest inventory questionnaire at the end of the assessment. Students who take PLAN tend to score higher on the ACT than students who don’t.
ACT is the well-known standardized test that is mostly used for college admission purposes and is a way in which students can receive college scholarships. This test is most often taken by 11th and 12th graders. Students are given:
• English 75 questions, 45 minutes
• Math 60 questions, 60 minutes
• Reading 40 questions, 35 minutes
• Science 40 questions, 35 minutes
• An optional 30 minutes with a writing prompt
Free student prep booklets are available from most high schools and colleges. Each booklet includes test information, full-length practice tests with scoring keys, a writing prompt and sample essays. Test-fee waivers are also available for students on the free or reduced-price lunch program. Information about how to request a fee waiver is sent each summer to high schools and counselors.
WorKEYS is used by thousands of employers throughout the United States to determine how qualified a candidate may be to fill an open position. WorkKEYS is currently in use in all 50 states. The 2014-2015 high-school senior class will be the first to take the WorkKEYS assessment in Alabama, since this class was the first to take EXPLORE. Results from WorkKEYS show employers each student’s skills, things like their ability to learn, listen, communicate, work in teams and solve problems. It’s better for 12th graders to take this assessment since skills have a stronger correlation to earnings than education. The results give students the opportunity to work on their skill levels. They also have a chance to earn ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate, which looks great on resumes.
By making sure your teen takes EXPLORE, PLAN, ACT and WorkKEYS, you’ll have better indicators of your student’s college and career readiness. And there is financial support available for all of these assessments. To find out more information, ask your teen’s guidance counselor for details.
HOW IT HELPS STUDENTS NOW
Explore, Plan, ACT is designed to measure what students have learned and determine what skills they still need to master by college. In addition, an interest inventory completed by each student takes their likes and strengths and matches them with specific careers.