Panorama Community Schools

Tests (Standardized); Descriptions & Practice Downloads/Links

Testing: HS Assessment & College Admissions 
PHS Students can earn elective credit, Pass/Fail grading, by practicing for the ASVAB, COMPASS, ACT, or SAT in our Student Success Center, or simply use the provided links to prepare for these tests during study hall or at home.
a) ACCUPLACER & ALEKS replaced COMPASS Test for DMACC and many other community colleges in 2016 (Gr. 12)
ACCUPLACER is a two area test:
Reading: The reading assessment determine what skills students have to succeed in entry-level college courses.
Writing Skills: The writing assessment requires students to find and correct errors in essays. This includes grammar, punctuation, sentence structure as well as strategy, organization assessment and style in effective writing
Sample test questions may be found on the Accuplacer website. You may download a free study app at the Accuplacer website
Contact DMACC to set up appointment with DMACC TESTING CENTER ( to take the computer delivered ACCUPLACER
ALEKS is a free online math test required before being able to take a DMACC math (Applied Math/MAT772 does not require ALEKS)
b) NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate using the ACT WorkKeys test) - sadly due to ACT's increased costs of $55 per test (3 tests needed for NCRC certification), IowaWorks (Iowa Dept. of Labor) no longer pays for Iowans to complete this test.
Some notable employers in Iowa, such as labor unions recruiting for their apprenticeship programs, require this test before employment.
Local #33 Plumbers & Steamfitters, Des Moines -
This test was taken for free at Panorama for six school years, ending in spring of 2019.
HS Seniors wanting to be eligible for such career opportunities now must contact Iowa Workforce Development to make arrangements to complete the testing - 
c) ACT INFORMATION (originally abbreviated for American College Testing)  (Gr.11 & 12)
  1. ACT, 2019-20 Costs: $52.00, ACT (without optional writing)
    • If unable to pay for ACT, see Mr. Webner for possible fee waiver eligibility
  2. ACT has four sub-tests: English, Reading, Science, Math which are combined to determine an overall Composite Score. The Writing test is Optional and doesn't effect your Composite.
  3. Scale Score: When you hear about ACT scores people are referring to the ACT Scale Scores.
    • Each of these four subtests is scored 1 - 36, and the average of these four tests is called the Composite Score, which also ranges from 1 - 36 (Pages 57-59 of the ACT Prep Test of 2015-16)
    • The Writing test had been scored 1-36 also, but now has range of 2-12
    • Composite Average US score is typically 20, Average Iowa score 21, Average Panorama HS score rang 21-23
      • See ACT Scale Score Norms
        for the four tests and composite - Mean scores in bold on horizontal axis are mathematical averages
Strategies For Best ACT Scores
  1. ACT Practice!
  2. Get the Easier Questions Correctly Answered First!
    • 1st, before answering questions, Find the easier questions, reading passages, and visual graphics, then take youe time getting those answers correct - this may take the bulk of your testing time. Then with fewer minutes left, use your best estimating and guessing skills on more difficult questions (leave none unanswered).
      • Consider the Mathematics area test in 2015-16 Prepping for ACT Test (link above shared by ACT for practice)
        • 27 questions are from Pre-Algebra and Elementary Algebra knowledge items (p.57). If a student got all of these easier questions correct, their Raw Score of 27 would receive a Math Scale Score of 19 (p.59) getting the easier math questions correct, you get just near the national average (and with some good estimating and guessing you likely will score better than that average).  Do the math. The Math test has 60 questions with 5 possible answers each, so there is a 20% chance of getting each answer correct. After answering the 27 easier questions the odds are you you get 20% off the remaining 33 questions, which is 6.6. Add 6 points to the 27 for a raw score of 33 = 22 scale score
          • For reference, the ACT Composite score of 18 is the lowest score that still makes a student-athlete eligible for sports participation at an NAIA college (like Grand View University in Des Moines).
          • A Scale Score of 21 is the national average for the math Sub-test and the overall Composite scores (see linked "ACT Scale Score Norms" above).  
          • PRACTICE: find questions easier to answer here; 2015-16 ACT Practice Math Test (hint: smaller ratio font)
        • Panorama Middle delivers the content, elementary & pre-algebra which account for 27 Raw Math Points (then Pan HS reviews those concepts and adds to them), so it is a good idea to take the practice test and brush up on those questions.
          • PRACTICE: Look over the Reading and Science Tests.  Identify which written passages most familiar or easy to to understand, then spend the most testing time getting those easier questions correct before using your best estimating and guessing strategies on the other passages.
      • Guessing strategies for multiple choice tests, like the ACT.
        • answer every question because there is no penalty for guessing, p. 3 of ACT prep test booklet
        • English - 1) before looking at the options, think how you would have chosen to complete the underlined section and then select the option that is most like your thinking - in could be "NO CHANGE", 2) determine the best answer by substituting the five options for the underlined section to judge which seems best, p.8 of ACT prep test booklet
  3. Take in Fall or Mid-Year of Junior Year as “trial run”. Top academic Freshmen and Sophomores can benefit in late spring too, then using results reports from ACT to study for a retake in spring of Grade 11 &/or Fall of Grade 12.
    • Students often do not retest, but knowing they have option to retest can encourage less anxiety and more focus during testing.
    • This strategy has helped many students to take the ACT a little early, but take it like they are playing a game and they just want to get as many points as possible.
    • Remember, the ACT isn't an intelligence is just a predictor of a person's grades as a freshmen at college.
  4. Practice Steps Explained for using practice tests (first untimed reviewing results with explanations to questions, 2nd practice timed) -
ACT Re-Takers Are Often Scholarship Chasers
  1. Most colleges recruit by using HS students' GPA and ACT scores for automatic scholarships or an invitation to apply for scholarships. Examples: Central of Pella, Dordt of Sioux Center,  Morningside
    of Sioux City,  Simpson of Indianola U of Iowa of Iowa City (click icons)
  2. If you want to maximize your odds of colleges offering you scholarships based on your ACT scores, ACT's 2013 research on students who score highest
    shows those students who take the most years of math beyond Algebra 2 tend to score higher ACT scores than students who take fewer math courses after Algebra 2.
  3. Another way to increase your ACT scores to test early, review your results, study areas of weakness, and test often.
  4. Highly competitive colleges with low acceptance rates may dislike seeing an applicant take multiple ACT testings, because it makes the tester look like they are simply trying to get lucky with high scores on one of the attempts...most colleges do not worry about multiple testing and some actually encourage it with "Super-Scoring". Super scoring is taking highest subtest score and combining then several testings for a higher overall computation of the composite and then use it for scholarship qualification (as described to CW by Simpson College admissions representative).
  5. Your correct and incorrect answers are provided by ACT for additional cost ($20 in 2016) - December, April, June testings only
    • take advantage of the "Test Information Release"; which is a complete review for your personal correct and incorrect answers of your taken ACT (if you study and use that report it will be very good use of $20 and your effort).
  6. More ACT Practice Opportunities
    • Visit Iowa HS Athletic Association link -  ACT &/or SAT Prep Packet to be mailed to your home, for low price ($20 is fee to cover association costs, packet is regularly $250).
    • Visit US Army ACT Test Prep March2Success website to study for ACT for free online (register then sign in for activities).
    • Panorama guidance office has copies for retired ACT tests
      • Panorama staff members have access to "ACTPracticeTest2011-12, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17" through computer network District Public (N:)
    • PHS elective credit - you may set block in schedule aside to take test prep as an elective for 9 weeks, earn Pass/Fail HS grade
ACT Related Videos
2018-2019 Test Dates (National)
Test Date Registration Deadline (Late Fee Required)
September 8, 2018** August 12, 2018 August 13-26, 2018
October 27, 2018 September 28, 2018 September 29-October 14, 2018
December 8, 2018 November 2, 2018 November 3-19, 2018
February 9, 2019* January 11, 2019 January 12-18, 2019
April 13, 2019 March 8, 2019 March 9-25, 2019
June 8, 2019 May 3, 2019 May 4-20, 2019
July 13, 2019* June 14, 2019 June 15-24, 2019
 Who uses ACT scores? 
  1. Every 4 year college and university in U.S. accepts the ACT as part of their admissions process.
  2. ACT scores can now be used for community college admissions instead of COMPASS test.
  3. Colleges use the scores to determine acceptance into their institution or perhaps a specific program/major, also helps them in advising freshmen student course placement, and us often used as a criteria for free money in form of academic scholarships used to recruit students into their university or program.
  4. Students can use the scores too, to help them think about potential majors, or simply know which area of a test they could review more before taking the ACT again.
  5. Students use the ACT to get scholarship money and sometimes reduce their required courses. 
    • Example - ISU says English of 24 gets student out of taking their required Composition 1 course
Why ACT? 
Originally created to predict level of success for the freshmen year of college.
Required for admission to most 4-year college/universities (community college will accept if scores are 19 or above).
How does Panorama & colleges get student scores? Student gives ACT their school code. Panorama School Code is 163465 (online ACT tool helps you find this without having it yourself).  Colleges also have codes the student enters during the registration application completion - 4 college codes may be entered for each testing without additional cost.
History of ACT
ACT was created by E.F.Lindquist, born in Gowrie, Iowa 1901, as an alternative to the SAT. Lindquist also created the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills while a professor at the University of Iowa. This means Iowa students have practiced for the ACT each year they have taken either the ITBS or ITED. Only correct responses receive points so it is to testers advantage to make educated guesses and not leave answers blank in order to maximize test results.
d) ASVAB - Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (Gr.11 & 12)
Full length & shortened practice tests at
  • use a career placement tool for our U.S. armed forces, required for joining military, but anyone can take it for free
  • Panorama's military recruiters often have with them a laptop with an ASVAB predictor assessment that they offer students who give a sincere impression they want to enter their branch of the military (predictor ASVAB takes 20 something minutes).
  • Our school does not deliver ASVAB as done in old days, but instead now rely upon recruiters to provide this service to potential recruits, and the recruiters do so happily, typically in Gr.11&12 
    • Depending on program you are considering (some students join military in Gr11 & complete basic training in summer before Gr.12)
e) ITP – Iowa Testing Program (all secondary grade students except seniors)
  • 2016 ITP Panorama Teacher Activity Guide
  • Letter sent home to parents with final Term 4 grade report, has a sticker of child's Iowa Tests Scores (MS Parents' Letter & HS Parent's Letter
    ), both shared in Adviser with groups (emphasis placed on NSS growth of hopeful year's worth of points.  Also prior to testing all students reviewed previous year's scores, identified areas of school that can help skills measured on these tests, & made prediction about their upcoming performance
  • Formally called Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED) and Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS)
  • 80 percent chance that score ranges on ITED will be same as on ACT. Same question format as ACT. Colleges will review ITED scores for students whose ACT are questionable to help them decide if applicant is ready for college.
  • Direct relationship between ITP high school student scores and success at college noted in this research article - NSStiedCollegeGrades
f) MAP Assessments (all secondary grade students except seniors)
Computerized tests that customize to student knowledge base and reveal skills the student is ready to learn. Before students graduate and pursue college or professional work, skill targets have been 
Reading target 240
Math target 255
g) PSAT (Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test - volunteer Gr.10 & 11)

Sign up with front office and Bring $16 to office by October 14, also meet with Mr. Webner to discuss details Fri, Oct. 14, 2pm

  • What? This is a practice test for the SAT. Product of College Board.
  • (The SAT is a college admissions test, like the ACT).
  • When? The third Wednesday of each October (OCTOBER 19, 2016, Oct. 18, 2017, Oct. 17, 2018, Oct. 18, 2019)
  • Who? Recommended for Juniors in top 15% of their class (Panorama typically administers test to ten or fewer volunteer students).
  • Why? The PSAT has been selected as the qualifying test for a scholarship competition called the NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifier Test), which is a prestigious competition awarding full academic scholarships to the nation’s top qualifying students. Only junior students may qualify for the competition in taking the PSAT.
  • IF TAKING PSAT IS A HIGH PRIORITY FOR YOUR STUDENT, then let Mr. Webner know by third week of September, so extra test materials can be ordered if needed during your child's junior or sophomore year.
  • Cost is $16, checks payable to Panorama High School
  • New in 2015 - students who take the PSAT will be given study plan for SAT using Kahn Academy, based on PSAT scores, this study plan can be done in our alternative room (Mrs.Ambrose & Mr.Kirtley) for an elective credit.
Practice for the PSAT - college board link to live practice page
2017 PSAT Practie Tests - pdf of PSAT student guide; first test explains the answers for each question, 2nd test gives list of answers
h) SATScholastic Aptitude Test (Gr.11 & 12)
SAT tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math — subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school, like ACT most all colleges and universities use it to make admission decisions. Different from ACT, SAT wrong answers result in partial point deductions from overall scores.