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What's a Good ACT Score?

The ACT is scored out of 36, with the top 10% of test-takers getting a composite score of 28-36. When setting your ACT score goal for 2021, it’s a good idea to look at the score averages for the schools to which you’re applying. Overall, the average ACT score is 21, and a score of 23 or above is often considered a good score. Read on for the breakdown of ACT scores in the top 10%, top 25%, top 50%, and below:

ACT Score Ranges + Percentiles: Average, Good, and Highest Scores


 Best ACT Scores


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

BEST ACT ENGLISH SCORES: 29 – 36

BEST ACT MATH SCORES:  28 – 36

BEST ACT READING SCORES: 30 – 36

BEST ACT SCIENCE SCORES: 27 – 36

BEST COMPOSITE ACT SCORES: 28 – 36

 Competitive ACT Scores


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

COMPETITIVE ACT ENGLISH SCORES: 24 – 28

COMPETITIVE ACT MATH SCORES:  24 – 27

COMPETITIVE ACT READING SCORES: 25 – 29

COMPETITIVE ACT SCIENCE SCORES: 24 – 26

COMPETITIVE COMPOSITE ACT SCORES: 24 – 27

 Good ACT SCORES


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

GOOD ACT ENGLISH SCORES: 20 – 23

GOOD ACT MATH SCORES:  20 – 23

GOOD ACT READING SCORES: 21 – 28

GOOD ACT SCIENCE SCORES: 21 – 25

GOOD COMPOSITE ACT SCORES: 21 – 26

 Below Average ACT Scores


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

BELOW AVERAGE ACT ENGLISH SCORES: 19 or lower

BELOW AVERAGE ACT MATH SCORES:  19 or lower

BELOW AVERAGE ACT READING SCORES: 20 or lower

BELOW AVERAGE ACT SCIENCE SCORES: 20 or lower

BELOW AVERAGE COMPOSITE ACT SCORES: 20 or lower


ACT Scoring: How is the ACT scored?


The ACT is scored on a 1 – 36 scale in each section in 1 point increments. The 4 multiple choice sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science) will all have scores provided separately. This relatively small scale means that small improvements in your score can make a big difference in your percentile ranking (sometimes, a 1 point increase in your score can boost your percentile ranking by 5 points).
Remember that on the ACT, you are NOT penalized for wrong answers. Understanding the scoring and knowing how to approach each section is important part of doing your best on test day.

Expert Test Tip

Katie Sollenberger, Manager of Content and Curriculum, ACT, SAT, and GED

“Standardized tests like the ACT or SAT can feel scary because they may feel or look different from tests you’ve taken in school. Luckily, both the ACT and the SAT are predictable precisely because of their standardized nature. With routine practice, you can know exactly what you’re looking for on the test, lowering your stress levels and increasing your confidence. Don’t try to cram; give yourself at least two months to prepare, and plan to practice at least twice per week.”

ACT Superscore


ACT test-takers now have the ability to take the ACT multiple times, and then combine their best score from each ACT subject into an ACT Superscore. Your ACT Superscore can increase your odds at getting admitted to the college of your choice by better reflecting your abilities and skills. Wondering if your target school/college(s) Superscores ACT? And if so, how to Superscore your ACT? Read more about the new ACT Superscore system.

What factors other than ACT Score influence college admissions?


Keep in mind that your ACT score does not stand alone. Whether or not you are admitted to a college program (and whether or not you receive scholarship money) depends on several factors. In addition to focusing on getting the best ACT score possible, you should also work on obtaining the best GPA possible, writing a spectacular personal statement, taking a challenging course load, and rounding out your application with extra-curriculars.

VIDEO: What is a good ACT score?



QUIZ: ACT Score Calculator