Understanding the EXPLORE Test

Taken by 8th and 9th graders

The EXPLORE exam is taken by 8th and 9th graders who are looking to determine how to plan their high school courses, prepare for the PLAN and ACT tests, and start thinking about a potential career. According to the ACT, “The EXPLORE® program is designed to help eighth and ninth graders explore a broad range of options for their future. It prepares students not only for their high school coursework but for their post–high school choices as well.” Just like with the PLAN test, your child must visit their high school guidance counselor in order to register for the exam. A great starting point if you and your child are considering taking the EXPLORE exam is the ACT’s Why take EXPLORE? brochure.

Reasons to take the EXPLORE exam

Most students take EXPLORE in order to practice for the PLAN and the ACT. Teachers and counselors also use the results of the EXPLORE test to help students plan their high school academic career, and start guiding them on the road to college and a career.

About the test

The EXPLORE exam consists of four multiple-choice tests; it follows a format very similar to that of the PLAN and ACT. The four subjects tested in EXPLORE are English, Math, Reading, and Science.

The total exam time is two hours.

The exam is very similar to the PLAN and the ACT; in fact, that’s why taking EXPLORE is a logical precursor to the PLAN, and then the ACT. Here’s how all three tests compare:

 

EXPLORE

PLAN

ACT

 Math Section

30 minutes

40 minutes

60 minutes

 Math Questions

30 multiple choice

40 multiple choice

60 multiple choice

 Math Concepts

Pre-Algebra, Elementary Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Probability

Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry

Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Trigonometry

 

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 Reading Section

30 minutes

20 minutes

35 minutes

 Reading Questions

30 multiple choice

25 multiple choice

40 multiple choice

 Reading Concepts

Passage-Based Reading

Passage-Based Reading

Passage-Based Reading

 

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 Science Section

30 minutes

25 minutes

35 minutes

 Science Questions

28 multiple choice

30 multiple choice

40 multiple choice

 Science Concepts

Data Representation, Research Summaries, Conflicting Viewpoints

Data Representation, Research Summaries, Conflicting Viewpoints

Data Representation, Research Summaries, Conflicting Viewpoints

 

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 English Section

30 minutes

One 30-minute section

45 minutes

 English Questions

40 multiple choice

50 multiple choice

75 multiple choice

 English Concepts

Usage/Mechanics
Rhetorical Skills

Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills

Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills

 

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 Writing Section

Not applicable

Not Applicable

30 minutes (optional)

 Writing Questions

Not applicable

Not Applicable

1 essay (optional)

 Writing Concepts

Not applicable

Not Applicable

Writing skills on a persuasive essay

You can view sample EXPLORE test questions at each of the following links: English Sample Questions, Math Sample Questions, Reading Sample Questions, Science Sample Questions.

Scoring

Like on the PLAN and ACT, students will be given an overall Composite Score. This score can range from 1-25. An EXPLORE Score Report will also list scores for each individual test (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science), each of which will range from 1-25. For the English test, students will also receive subscores (in Usage/Mechanics and Rhetorical Skills); these will range from 1-12. You can see a sample EXPLORE Score Report here.

Students will also be able to see how they scored in comparison to other students taking the EXPLORE at their school, in their state, and nationwide. They will be given their percentile performance in each test, as well as overall (for example, if a student scores in the 72nd percentile, then they scored higher than 72% of students taking the EXPLORE, and lower than 28%). You can see a sample percentile report here.

More information about the EXPLORE exam can be accessed on the ACT website.

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