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The PLAN examination by ACT, Inc. was a test for 10th grade students designed to help them prepare to take the full ACT examination in the 11th or 12th grade. It was originally introduced in 1987 as the "P-ACT+".[1][2] Following the introduction of the Enhanced ACT in 1989, the P-ACT+ was modified to better match the ACT, and the name of the examination was changed to PLAN.[1]

In 2014, the examination was retired and replaced by the ACT Aspire examination.[3]

Function of the Test

PLAN Study Guide

The PLAN examination was most commonly given to 10th grade high school students in school districts which used the ACT examination. The PLAN served as a preparatory and diagnostic examination to help students ready themselves for the ACT examination and to assist educators in identifying students' specific strengths and weaknesses.[2]

Just as the ACT exam seeks to measure each student's college readiness, the PLAN exam also estimated students' likelihood of succeeding in first-year college courses.[4] ACT, Inc. also suggested that school districts use the PLAN examination to measure students' readiness to pursue rigorous curricula such as International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the final two years of high school. To this end, ACT, Inc. published statistics demonstrating that "moderate to strong" correlations existed between PLAN and AP test scores. For example, a student who earned an average score of 26 out of 32 on the English and Reading sections of the PLAN would have a 50% chance of passing the AP English Language examination with a score of 4 or higher.[5].

In 2013, its last full year of operation, a total of 1,470,262 students took the ACT Plan examination.[2]

Test Administration

PLAN Flashcards

The PLAN examination was ordered and administered by individual school districts.[2] Typically, the full cost of the examination was paid by the state or school district; however, individual schools may have charged students all or a portion of the cost of the examination.[6]

The full examination took 115 minutes to complete, not including any rest breaks.[7]

The examination was typically only taken once per student in the 10th grade. Unlike the full ACT examination, students were not typically given an opportunity to retake the exam.

Students with disabilities were required to arrange accommodations directly with their schools. ACT, Inc. encouraged such students to meet with a guidance counselor to explore options for accommodation.[8]


Distribution of Content on the ACT PLAN exam[7]
Subject Description # of
English Usage/Mechanics 30 30 minutes
Rhetorical Skills 20
Mathematics Pre-Algebra/Algebra 22 40 minutes
Geometry 18
Reading Reading 25 20 minutes
Science Science 30 25 minutes
Total 145 115 minutes

Test Environment

On the day of the exam, test-takers are expected to bring their school ID number or Social Security number for identification. It is recommended to bring a few, new, number 2 pencils. A wrist watch is allowed in the testing room, and will serve to help keep pace, but beeping watches are not allowed. A calculator is allowed for the math test.[9]

Test Structure

The ACT PLAN covers four multiple choice tests: English, Math, Reading, and Science. The English test lasts thirty minutes, and contains fifty multiple choice questions. The Math test lasts forty minutes, and contains forty questions. The Reading test has twenty-five questions, and lasts twenty minutes. The Science test lasts twenty-five minutes, and consists of thirty questions. ACT PLAN Content 29 July 2014</ref>

Test Content

The following are topics covered by each of the four PLAN sections

Sample English Questions:
Numbers 1 and 2 pertain to the following passage:
The Wampanoag Indians of the Northeast were typical of the tribes of the time. They (1)speak a language that is a part of the Algonquin language family. At that time, the Wampanoag people lived (2)in what is Massachusetts.
  1. A. no change
    B. spoke
    C. understand
    D. speaks
  2. A. no change
    B. in what is now Massachusetts
    C. in
    D. in Massachusetts now
Sample Mathematics Questions:
  1. Which of the following can be divided by 3, with no remainder?
    A. 2018
    B. 46
    C. 8912
    D. 555
    E. 739
  2. A taxi service charges $5.50 for the first 1/5 of a mile, $1.50 for each additional 1/5 of a mile, and 20¢ per minute of waiting time. Joan took a cab from her home to a flower shop 8 miles away, where she bought a bouquet, and then another 3.6 miles to her mother’s house. The driver had to wait 9 minutes while she bought the bouquet. What was the fare?
    A. $20
    B. $120.20
    C. $92.80
    D. $91
    E. $90
Sample Reading Questions:
Numbers 1 and 2 pertain to the following passage:
I had not been in Buenos Aires for a number of years. The place where I had once landed from packets in a cart was now built up with magnificent docks. Vast fortunes had been spent in remodeling the harbor; London bankers could tell you that. The port captain after assigning the Spray a safe berth with his compliments sent me word to call on him for anything I might want while in port and I felt quite sure that his friendship was sincere.
  1. The passage suggests that the Spray was
    A. A packet
    B. A sailboat
    C. A bust
    D. A jet of water
  2. The author found that, since his previous visit, the greatest changes in Buenos Aires had taken place:
    A. Downtown
    B. At the harbor
    C. At a lemonade stand
    D. At the bank
Sample Science Questions:
Question 1 pertains to the graph below:
Science PLAN.JPG
  1. A recycling company collects sorted materials from its clients. The materials are weighed and then processed for re-use. The chart shows the weights of various classes of materials that were collected by the company during a representative month. Which of the following statements is NOT supported by the data in the chart?
    A. Paper products, including cardboard, make up a majority of the collected materials.
    B. One quarter of the materials collected are made of glass.
    C. More plastic is collected than cardboard.
    D. Plastic and cardboard together represent a larger portion of the collected materials than glass bottles.
  2. During the process of oogenesis, primary oocytes produce:
    A. Sperm
    B. Eggs
    C. Oogonia
    D. None of the above


The ACT examination was divided into four sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.

There was no penalty for guessing on the PLAN exam.[2] Students' raw scores were converted to a scaled score ranging between 1–32 for each section of the exam.[10] Students also received a composite score ranging between 1–32 which was simply the average of the four individual section scores.

Students' score reports also included information such as what percentile the student fell in compared to other students in the same school; what the student's estimated ACT composite score range would be; and whether the student is on track to achieve college readiness before finishing high school. The score report additionally included a section on career possibilities which rated each student's aptitude for various careers, plotting this information on a two-dimensional "World-of-Work Map" with four compass points corresponding to "people," "data," "things," and "ideas."[10]

Recent Developments

As of June 13, 2014, the PLAN test was retired by ACT, Inc. The test has been replaced by the ACT Aspire examination.[3]

Answers to Sample Questions

English 1;B 2;C Mathematics 1;E 2;C Reading 1;B 2;B Science: 1;C 2;B

Related Tests


  1. ^ a b PLAN Technical Manual June 28 2014
  2. ^ a b c d e ACT Plan® Factsheet June 28 2014
  3. ^ a b ACT Explore®/ACT Plan® Migration June 28 2014
  4. ^ ACT College Readiness Benchmarks June 28 2014
  5. ^ Using PLAN to identify student readiness for rigorous courses in high school June 28 2014
  6. ^ Ozark Academy Testing Information June 28 2014
  7. ^ a b ACT PLAN Sample Test Questions June 28 2014
  8. ^ Why take ACT Plan? June 28 2014
  9. ^ ACT PLAN Tips 29 July 2014
  10. ^ a b Using Your ACT PLAN Results June 28 2014