Monday, December 28, 2009

ACT Advantage: PLAN Test

ACT Inc., is a name synonomous with College preparations. In fact, this year, ACT, Inc. is celebrating their 50th anniversary providing standardized testing services to students, parents and colleges. The ACT of 2010, however, is a great deal more than just a standardized test to add to your college application process. ACT, Inc. currently has a host of opportunities to help students and parents EXPLORE, PLAN and DISCOVER their options for post secondary education.

Earlier this school year I reviewed with the help of my 15 year old son Jonah, the ACT Discover program designed to assist students with discovering a vocation to match their interests, personality and personal goals. Today, Jonah and I took a look at the PLAN test designed for 10th grade students. EXPLORE, PLAN and DISCOVER are components of ACT, Inc.'s ADVANTAGE program available to families through ACT, Inc.'s Homeschool Solutions portion of their website.

The PLAN test administered by many public schools to assess 10th grade college readiness may be purchased by homeschoolers at the ACT, Inc. website, The test
packet sells for $22.95 and includes:

  • Testing booklet titled Sample Test Booklet and Answer Sheet
  • Using Your PLAN Results brochure—a brief overview of score results and the process
  • College Readiness Standards handbook—a handbook that provides ideas for progress in each subject to prepare students for college or the workforce

Jonah and I viewed PLAN as a pre-test for his scheduled ACT test he will take in February as a part of his application process for post-secondary classes at our local University in the fall. Similar to the traditional ACT test, PLAN assesses students in the areas of:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Science.
According to the ACT Plan website, PLAN will answer the following questions for parents:

Where does my son or daughter stand right now?

The test will evaluate students abilities in the four major subject areas listed above by identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

How can I help my son or daughter advance in the four core subject areas?

An "ideas for progress" section in the College Readiness Standards Booklet provided in the packet offers tips and suggestions to assist students in problem areas over the next two years of high school.

How do I know if my child is on track for college?

The Plan Test will reassure homeschool parents who suffer from that "nagging voice" that keeps asking, "Did I cover enough?" Consider PLAN an opportunity to receive a well deserved pat on the back.

The total testing time for PLAN is just over 2 hours; similar to the traditional ACT test taken for college entrance. Students spend 30 mins. answering 50 questions on the English portion, 40 minutes answering 40 Mathematics questions, 20 minutes answering 25 questions for the Reading portion, and conclude with 25 minutes for the 30 questions of the Science test. Sample test questions can be found at the ACT, Inc. website.

Jonah concluded his test in one sitting. He is very familiar with standardized tests including the ACT since taking it the first time last Spring, and the PSAT this Fall. When I asked him if he thought the test was similar to the ACT of last year, he quickly agreed.

"IT was just a normal test; just like the ACT. It was probably a little bit easier because I think it seemed shorter. I think there are fewer sections too, because on the ACT I think the Reading is split up into two sections and the English is split up into two sections", commented Jonah.

Instructions and answer key sheets are included in the test packet for parents. It took me about a half hour to score Jonah's tests and determine his raw, scale and percentage scores. I thought the directions were thorough, but a bit confusing the first read through. Students fill out a bubble sheet for their answers which I had to read through while scoring and then transfer those results to another answer key sheet to compute the raw and scale scores.

I was thrilled to learn that Jonah is very well prepared for college. His composite score of 23 placed him in the 97% percentile for high school sophomores and well on his way towards his goal of acceptance into the University Post-secondary program for the 2010-2011 school year.

* I received the ACT Advantage PLAN test packet free of charge directly from ACT, Inc., in exchange for this personal review.


Pamela Victor said...

Did you give him the test yourself? Or did you do it through a third party? I'd like my son to take the test, but I can't figure out how it works.


Pamela Victor said...

Also, was there a prep system that was most helpful in preparing for this test?