In addition to the PSAT, there exists the practice ACT. This exam is referred to as the ACT Plan. This test is intended for sophomores, and here at Mountain View High School, our AVID sophomores are given the opportunity to take it.
Ruby Ochoa, an AVID senior, is among the AVID students who had taken the ACT Plan during her sophomore year.
“For me, it felt really nice to have that practice test because the SAT tests something else that the ACT doesn’t,” Ochoa said. “Having the opportunity to practice for the ACT was very valuable. [I think] students should have the choice of whether they want to take the PSAT or the practice ACT.”
The ACT Plan is a shorter version of the ACT, as the PSAT is to the SAT. The ACT Plan has now become the ACT Aspire, over recent years. The ACT Aspire is similar to the ACT Plan, in that it is an online test, but its content is more aligned with the common core standards. The common core standards are a set of college and career standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics.
“The district is willing to [administer the ACT Aspire for all sophomores], and have actually purchased tests for the whole school but online versions,” Lynne Ewald, the MVHS vice principal said. “It would test during classes so it would take multiple days to get the whole test done so that would mean you would not have your computer [for three days].”
The ACT Plan, now the ACT Aspire, is given to AVID sophomores, while the PSAT is given to sophomores and juniors. Both are indicators for college readiness and the ACT or SAT.
“The plan was to give the [ACT] aspire test to all tenth graders, but we are not sure due to these computer issues whether it was going to work out or not,” Ewald said.
What makes the PSAT unique is that juniors can qualify for different levels of the National Merit Scholarship. Around 10-20 juniors each year from MVHS have qualified for this scholarship. However, the PSAT does not test common core standards, while the ACT Aspire does.
What makes administration hesitant in offering the ACT Aspire are the complications arising from the use devices over several days and whether not students would be using their own devices.
“You have to build time into the schedule so I don’t know if it could happen this year,” Ewald said. “It certainly something we are looking into.”