Understanding the PLAN Test

Taken by 10th graders

The PLAN exam, sometimes called the “Pre-ACT,” is a standardized test to help students gauge their performance on the ACT. According to the ACT, “It is a comprehensive guidance resource that helps students measure their current academic development, explore career/training options, and make plans for the remaining years of high school and post-graduation years.” The PLAN test is administered to 10th grade students by local high schools. To register, your child must visit their high school guidance counselor.

Reasons to take the PLAN exam

Most students take PLAN in order to practice for the real ACT. Additional benefits include completing a career interest survey and receiving pertinent college and scholarship information from the makers of the ACT.

About the test

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

The total exam time is just under two hours.

The PLAN exam is very similar to the ACT. Here’s how both tests compare:




 Math Section

40 minutes

60 minutes

 Math Questions

40 multiple choice

60 multiple choice

 Math Concepts

Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry

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

 Reading Section

20 minutes

35 minutes

 Reading Questions

25 multiple choice

40 multiple choice

 Reading Concepts

Passage-Based Reading

Passage-Based Reading

 Science Section

25 minutes

35 minutes

 Science Questions

30 multiple choice

40 multiple choice

 Science Concepts

Data Representation, Research Summaries, Conflicting Viewpoints

Data Representation, Research Summaries, Conflicting Viewpoints

 English Section

One 30-minute section

45 minutes

 English Questions

50 multiple choice

75 multiple choice

 English Concepts

Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills

Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills

 Writing Section

Not Applicable

30 minutes (optional)

 Writing Questions

Not Applicable

1 essay (optional)

 Writing Concepts

Not Applicable

Writing skills on a persuasive essay

You can view sample PLAN test questions here.

There are two primary differences between the PLAN and the ACT:

1. The concepts tested on the ACT are of a higher level than those tested on the PLAN (because the ACT is an 11th grade examination, whereas the PLAN is a 10th grade test);

2. The scoring scale on the PLAN ranges from 1-32, while the ACT’s goes from 1-36.


Like on the ACT, students will be given an overall Composite Score. This score can range from 1-32. A PLAN Score Report will also list scores for each individual test (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science), each of which will range from 1-32. For the English and Mathematics tests, students will also receive subscores (in Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, Pre-Algebra/Algebra, and Geometry); each of these will range from 1-16. You can see a sample PLAN Score Report here.

Students will also be able to see how they scored in comparison to other students taking the PLAN 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 61st percentile, then they scored higher than 61% of students taking the PLAN, and lower than 39%). You can see a sample percentile report here.

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

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