What is a Good ACT Aspire Score?

act aspire scores - magoosh
ACT Aspire tests are scored on kind of a funky scale that changes between subjects and between grades tested. For the tests given in grades 9 and 10, which predict your ACT scores for 11th grade, here’s how the scoring breaks down:

ACT Aspire Scoring, Grades 9 and 10

SubjectGrade 9 Score RangeGrade 9 Benchmark ScoreGrade 10 Score RangeGrade 10 Benchmark Score

Data from ACT Aspire Summative Technical Manual.

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty about what this all means, what a “good” ACT Aspire score is, and how these crazy scores in the low-400s correlate to ACT scores from 1-36.

What is ACT Aspire?

First of all, let’s back up a little here and review, because ACT Aspire is pretty new. ACT Aspire debuted in 2014 as a “suite” (so fancy!) of assessments to test students in every year from grade 3 to grade 10. It’s given on the computer, so it’s different from the ACT in that sense, although many of the question types are similar to the ACT’s.

Before ACT Aspire, there was the PLAN test, which was more like what the PSAT is currently for the SAT: a mini-ACT that was a little shorter and a little easier than the grown-up ACT. The current PreACT test has replaced the PLAN and offers sophomores a shorter, easier practice ACT.

Scores on the PLAN ranged from 1-32, so they were more like ACT scores, except for the fact that the highest score on the ACT is a 36. This was because the PLAN was easier than the ACT. Now the PLAN is defunct, which means we all must get used to the new ACT Aspire scores.

A few years ago, the exam had separate Writing scores–this is no longer the case. While testers still encounter Writing items, this contributes to the overall ELA score, instead of getting its own score.

Why Are the 9th and 10th Grade Tests so Important?

Although all of the ACT Aspire tests might be important to schools in terms of providing some benchmarks regarding how their students are doing, the ACT Aspire 9 and 10 are the most important test for YOU in terms of your college admissions and test prep plans. Why? Because the Aspire tests you take in high school also give you your predicted score on the ACT, so it acts like the PSAT does for the ACT.

However, you shouldn’t put too much stock in these predictions right now, since the Aspire is so new. The testmaker admits that it is still updating the predictions each year to make them more accurate, as more data becomes available. Basically, it will take time to see how accurate these predictions are; a better indication of your ACT scores would be to take an ACT practice test.

OK, But I Care. So What is a Good ACT Aspire Score?

It’s definitely important to have some perspective on where you stand compared to other students on the same standardized test. So here are the numbers you should be looking at:

The first score to pay attention to is what the ACT Aspire calls a benchmark score. Achieving this benchmark score means you have a “high probability of success in first year college courses.” In other words, you are on track to be college-ready.

Unfortunately, the exam does not provide benchmark scores for composite scores, so you need to determine whether you hit the benchmark for each individual subject on the test. In the table below, we’ve listed the benchmark scores for grades 9 and 10.

Benchmark Scores for Grades 9 and 10

SubjectGrade 9 Benchmark ScoreGrade 10 Benchmark Score

Data from ACT Aspire Summative Technical Manual.

So, according to the testmakers, if you are aiming to attend college, you have a good core if you hit the benchmark.

The second set of numbers to be paying attention to are your percentile rankings. In fact, you’ll probably find these to be more useful than your actual Aspire scores. For each subject you’ll see how you compare nationally to other students who took the test.

So depending on your goals, maybe doing better than half of students out there is good for you, or maybe you would like to be above 90% (if you are aiming for one of the top colleges in the country, this is ideally where you want to be on Aspire percentiles).

Now let’s talk about how the ACT Aspire scores compare to ACT scores (and whatever you might think is a good ACT score).

ACT Aspire to ACT Score Conversion

The ACT provides information about ACT Aspire to general ACT scores each year. It’s important to note that the testmaker is constantly adapting this information, so it may not carry over accurately from year to year. Nevertheless, the information it provides freshmen and sophomores is not only interesting, but also valuable. Take a look:

ACT Aspire 9 and 10 to General ACT Scores Conversion

ACT Aspire 9 ScoreProjected ACT ScoreACT Aspire 10 ScoreProjected ACT Score

Data from ACT.

Note that, no matter how great you did on the ACT Aspire, the testmakers won’t predict that you’re going to get a perfect score on the ACT! This may be because perfect scores are so rare (but still possible!) that they hesitate to open themselves up to students’ disappointment in future years.

Again, keep in mind that a lot of factors can influence your official ACT test score. Don’t rely on your predicted scores from the ACT Aspire to get you your ideal score! It’ll still take a fair amount of solid preparation.

And if your projected ACT score is lower than you’d hoped to score on the exam, just let that light a fire under you! You can still achieve the score of your dreams with thorough prep and the right materials, so don’t be discouraged.

Two Ways to Evaluate: What’s a Good ACT Aspire Score?

Based on what we’ve seen, we now have two different measures with which to evaluate what a good ACT Aspire score is for you. On the one hand: Are you meeting the benchmarks for your grade level? That’s between 425 and 432, depending on the section and your grade.

On the other hand: Is your ACT Aspire score in line with where you hope to score on the ACT? The average score on the ACT is currently 20.7, meaning that scores above 431 for a freshman and 433 for a sophomore would make your predicted ACT score above average, what most people would consider a good score.

So What’s Next?

Take an ACT practice test and start from there. Remember that the Aspire is not exactly like the ACT and you may perform differently on the ACT. So a practice test will provide a better diagnostic. Then find a quality class, tutor, or online program for the ACT and start prepping!

The ACT Aspire is different from the PreACT. For everything you need to know about the PreACT, check this out!


  • Kristin Fracchia

    Dr. Kristin Fracchia has over fifteen years of expertise in college and graduate school admissions and with a variety of standardized tests, including the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and LSAT, with several 99% scores. She had a PhD from the University of California, Irvine, an MA degree from The Catholic University, and BA degrees in Secondary Education and English Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park. She was the recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award and the Chancellor’s Club Fellowship from the University of California, Irvine. She’s worked as a high school teacher and university professor, as an independent college and graduate school admissions counselor, and as an expert tutor for standardized tests, helping hundreds of students gain acceptance into premier national and international institutions. She now develops accessible and effective edtech products for Magoosh. Her free online content and YouTube videos providing test prep and college admissions advice have received over 6 million views in over 125 countries. Kristin is an advocate for improving access to education: you can check out her TEDx talk on the topic. Follow Kristin on LinkedIn!

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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