For almost 50 years, ACT has played a pivotal role in promoting student
access into and success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Through academic and career assessments, career development tools, and extensive research, we have helped inform students, parents, teachers, career counselors, employers, and policymakers
about the skills that are needed to perform effectively in STEM fields.
Our research and recommendations for policymakers and educators are based on the more than one million U.S. high school graduates who take the ACT college admission and placement exam each year. The ACT is the only national college admission test that includes an interest inventory as well as both math and science assessments. The results provide a clear picture of high school students’ interest and academic achievement in STEM, and the news is mixed. Interest in STEM is declining, and most students are not adequately prepared to succeed in college-level coursework. However, students who plan early and strategically and have access to high-level and rigorous coursework are more likely to be prepared for and succeed in the STEM fields.