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The ACT, like the SAT, is a standardized multiple-choice test used to assess college readiness and preparedness. It is produced and administered by ACT, Inc. which also owns ACT Aspire. The ACT was developed as an alternative to the SAT, but is just a different test, not a better one.
The ACT consists of five individual tests: English, Math, Reading, and Science and an optional writing test. The score report for the "Enhanced ACT Assessment" includes a composite ranging from 1-36, a score for each individual test, and seven sub scores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.). There is also an optional writing test, The ACT Plus Writing.
ACT Aspire reports predict score ranges for the ACT, providing estimates of how a student will perform on the ACT in the spring of 11th grade. This is a new test that combines and replaces the former ACT Explore and ACT Plan. ACT Aspire, like the PSAT, can only be purchased and administered by a school or school district. Because it is new to the market, it is not currently being used as a standardized test nationwide. As more data becomes available from those who are using it, expect to see it gain in popularity and use.