FAQ: What is a good ACT score?

Postit note asking What is a good ACT score?The ACT test has four sections, English, Math, Reading, and Science, each scored on a scare of 1 to 36. The ACT also calculates a composite score which is an average of all four test. The single composite score is generally used when discussing ACT scores. However, the total of all four scores, 144, is used by organizations such as the NCAA.

According the ACT, of the 2016 college-bound seniors, the 50th percentile scores were:

Table of ACT 50th Percentile Scores

The ACT offers a writing section that is offered in addition to the regular test. Generally, colleges don’t report Reading and Science scores, only the Composite, English, and Math scores.

Whether or not your ACT scores are “good” depends on the colleges you are applying to. Most colleges report their 25th and 75th percentile scores. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison reports the following test scores:

University of Madison ACT scoresThis means that 50% of students had scores within the given range. If your scores are above the 75th Percentile, they would definitely be considered “good” for the school.  However, it is important to remember, that 25% of students attending had scores lower than the 25th Percentile. Scores are not the only thing colleges consider in admissions.

Among 50-50 schools (accepts at least 50% of students and have at least a 50% graduation rate) where at least 20% of students reported ACT scores, the unweighted
average percentiles were as follows:

ACT scores for 50-50 CollegesThis puts the Composite 25th percentile for 50-50 schools at approximately the 64th percentile for all high schools seniors. For English, 21.6 is between the 59th and 65th percentile nationally and 21.6 for math is between the 59th and 64th percentiles.

If you eliminate the admission rate requirement, the unweighted average for all colleges with a graduation rate of 50% or better is as follows:

All ACT Scores for 50 plus grad ratesWithout going into statistical analysis, an ACT Composite score of 25 will be a respectable score for the majority of colleges in the country.  Interested in raising your ACT score? Try a free 7 day trial at Magoosh for ACT online prep (this is an affiliate link.)

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