EXPLORE College and Career Prep with MASTERs Plus

by Zena Smith

For high school upperclassmen, autumn is the season of college prep. From personal statements to standardized tests to letters of recommendation and financial aid applications, students spend much of their semesters thinking about their futures in higher education and beyond.

But college prep doesn’t have to be—and we’re here to say it isn’t—just for juniors and seniors. Quite the opposite, students who are serious about pursuing a college education should start preparing as early as the first semester of their freshman year. That’s where the EXPLORE test prep comes in.

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 8.30.52 PMIf you’re a parent or student at Homewood-Flossmoor High School (or literally thousands of schools like it across the country) you may have already heard of EXPLORE. If you haven’t, EXPLORE is an academic and career aptitude test designed to tell 8th and 9th graders everything they “need to know—to plan high school courses, prepare for the ACT, or choose a career direction.” It’s like a life coach and a college advisor rolled into one.

The test, which is taken during a normal school day, consists of four multiple-choice exams (and three questionnaires), which aim to identify 1) a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses; 2) their professional interests; and 3) their  aptitude for related careers. EXPLORE’s four component exams break down as follows:








30 Minutes



(25 Questions)

-Rhetorical Skills
(15 Questions)




30 Minutes



(19 Questions)

                             (7 Questions)

                             (4 Questions)



30 Minutes


-Reading Comprehension




30 Minutes


-Data Representation (graphs, tables, etc.)

                  -Research Summaries

                  -Conflicting Viewpoints



So how exactly does EXPLORE work? EXPLORE is actually the first in a series of three tests of its kind (MASTERs Plus recommends PLAN for sophomores and ACT for juniors). As such, EXPLORE scores on a scale of 1 (lowest possible score) to 25 (highest possible score). NOTE: Students who take the PLAN and ACT exams in subsequent years will see the highest possible score increase to 32 and 36 as the tests grow more difficult.

gradBe sure to take these scores seriously as EXPLORE is, by design, highly revealing of a student’s strengths in the classroom, the career that he or she is most naturally suited for (given their current interests and skill set), and any academic deficiencies he or she may need to address in order to pursue a desired career.

If you are asking yourself whether or not the EXPLORE program is really worth the time and effort, our answer is, emphatically, YES! MASTERs Plus Tutoring highly recommends EXPLORE to any and all incoming freshmen.  Whether to prepare for the ACTs in order to get into a reputable college or simply to determine the right classes for a particular career, EXPLORE is a proven and useful program. And in today’s highly competitive job market and college admissions cycles, any advantage is a big advantage.

Parents and students who are interested in the test should sign up sooner than later as most schools’ EXPLORE test dates are just around the corner (Homewood-Flossmoor will administer the test on January 14, 2014).

Of course, if you don’t think you’re ready to take the test just yet, don’t worry! You’ve still got a bit of time to practice up on your English, math, reading, and science before the big day, and MASTERs Plus can assist you with that! Give us a call, send us an email, or stop by in person! We’re here, and we’re here to help.

Now study, study, study!


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  1. Tiffany Winston
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    How much is the Explore Program? Does it meet weekly like the Trio. Is the program, similiar to Trio?

    • MASTERs Plus Tutoring
      Posted November 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Mrs. Winston,

      The EXPLORE test prep program is forty-two (42) hours in length, with students attending two (2) two-hour sessions per week for ten (10) weeks. The program is billed at $45/hour, and books for the program cost $75. All EXPLORE test prep attendees are instructed in a private, one-on-one setting at our Homewood location (18354 S. Governors Highway).

      This program is distinct from TRIO, which is a free program offered through the federal government. Read more about TRIO here.

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