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What's a Good ACT® Score?


You know you need to study for the ACT, but how high do you need to score to get into one of your top college choices?

Each college you’ll apply to has different average ACT score ranges for admitted applicants. Check with individual schools to see what their average scores are. But you can also keep these tips in mind:

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Score Overview

The ACT is scored on a 1 – 36 scale in each section in 1 point increments.

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There is no penalty on the ACT for wrong answers, so definitely guess!

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Raw scores are converted to scale scores for each of the main tests.

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Your Composite score is the average of your four test scores.

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ACT Prep Course

Starting at $899

18 hours of live instruction

  • The ACT Channel, including over 14 hours of interactive live streaming teaching from Kaplan's best instructors—a Kaplan exclusive
  • 8 full-length practice tests with score analysis
  • Updated Quiz Bank and online quizzes—over 1,400 total questions
  • 50 hours of on-demand lessons
  • Books & practice questions

ACT Prep Course PLUS

Starting at $1299

18 hours of live instruction

PLUS 3 hours of private coaching, SAT prep & practice, and Math Foundations Course

  • The ACT Channel
  • 8 full-length practice tests with score analysis
  • Updated Quiz Bank and online quizzes—over 1,400 total questions
  • 50 hours of on-demand lessons
  • Books & practice questions

Score Ranges


English
Math
Reading
Science
Composite
19 or lower
Below Average
Under 50%

These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of college programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population.

20 - 23
Above Average
Top 50%

These good ACT scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs.

24 - 28
Competitive
Top 25%

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers).

29 - 36
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers.

19 or lower
Below Average
Under 50%

These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of college programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population.

20 - 23
Above Average
Top 50%

These good ACT scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs.

24 - 27
Competitive
Top 25%

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers).

28 - 36
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers.

20 or lower
Below Average
Under 50%

These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of college programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population.

21 - 28
Above Average
Top 50%

These good ACT scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs.

25 - 29
Competitive
Top 25%

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers).

25 - 29
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers.

20 or lower
Below Average
Under 50%

These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of college programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population.

21 - 25
Above Average
Top 50%

These good ACT scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs.

24 - 26
Competitive
Top 25%

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers).

27 - 36
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers.

19
Below Average
Under 50%

These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of college programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population.

20 - 26
Above Average
Top 50%

These good ACT scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs.

24 - 27
Competitive
Top 25%

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers).

28 - 36
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers.

How is the ACT Scored?

Every correct answer you give on the ACT will be added up to calculate your raw score. (Remember, there’s no penalty for guessing on the ACT.) Next, your raw score will be converted to a scale score, in a range from 1 to 36 for each section. There’s no advantage to taking the ACT on a particular day; scores are scaled the same way no matter when you take the exam.

How is the ACT Writing Test Scored?

If you take the ACT Writing test, you’ll receive an additional score report, with a total of five scores on the writing portion. You’ll be evaluated on four domain areas, Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use and Conventions, plus you’ll get a single subject-level score, which is the average of the four domain scores. Your writing test scores will range from 2 to 12 points each.

Should You Aim for a Better Score?

If you’re unhappy with your ACT score, or if you’re not sure it’s in the right range for the top colleges on your target list, you can consider retaking the exam. Many students who retake the ACT do better when they take it again. You can also consider whether the SAT might be a better fit--find out here.

Beyond the Score

Remember, colleges look at many factors besides your ACT score. Work toward as high an ACT score as you can get, but don’t let a focus on achievement on this exam get in the way of a high GPA, writing a memorable college essay, or excelling in your extracurriculars.

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