Missouri students are taking the ACT college-entrance exam for free for the first time.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said in a news release that the test was offered Tuesday to juniors. Starting this year, the state is picking up the tab for one free administration of the test. Students will be on their own if they want to retake the exam and try for a higher score.

The results will be used to evaluate the students' readiness for college and careers.

The state has set aside $3.8 million to pay for the test. About 65,000 public school juniors were expected to participate.

With the administration of the exam, Missouri joins more than a dozen states that already offer the ACT test to all their students.

Hemera