ACT

# ACT Score Chart [Scores, Options Covered]

Written by Shifa Ali

Updated on: 01 Aug 2024

Are you excited about applying to colleges and for your future college journey but the ACT exam and score section spins your head? Don’t worry, you are not alone!

With so much hype and discussion about knowing the right (or good) ACT score, feeling lost in the sea of numbers and unsure about the good ACT score is common.

But now, take a deep breath, future college student. This ACT Score Chart is your one-stop for all the doubts.

In this blog, we will cover and explore all the necessary information from knowing about average or good ACT scores to the strategies that might help you reach your target score.

So, say hello to our ACT Score Chart and read this till the end to understand the ACT scoring system and conquer it with confidence.

## How is the ACT scored?

The ACT exam is divided into 4 compulsory sections:

1. English
2. Mathematics
4. Science

The score range for the ACT is 1 to 36 for each section. This means, in each section, the lowest you can score in ACT is 1 and the highest you can score is 36.

However, if you opt for the writing section in the ACT exam, that separate is being scored on a range of 2 to 12.

Also, ACT does not have negative marking. So, no marks will be deducted if you get any incorrect answers.

Now, to calculate your ACT scores, the following procedure has been followed:

• Firstly, the ACT counts the total number of questions you have answered correctly. The score that you receive from this is known as Raw Score.
• Your raw score is then converted to Scale Score. A scale score is a representation of a consistent and standardized scale.
• Then, the average of your scale score is calculated and rounded off to the nearest whole number. The score that comes out from this is known as the Composite Score.
• Finally, your composite scores are sent to the colleges to which you applied.

To understand the score conversions in a better way, you can refer to the following table which contains sample data:

Raw score and corresponding scale score

From the above table, you can see that if you have got 75 in English, then your scale score for that is 31.

## ACT Score Percentile

The ACT Percentile is like a ranking that you get in addition to your final ACT score. You also get the ACT percentile for each section of the ACT (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science).

ACT percentile helps you to determine your performance relative to the rest of the test takers. For instance, let’s say you get a 72nd percentile score. It means that you have scored the same or better than 72% of all the students who took the ACT exam with you. Therefore a higher percentile is considered a signal of high performance.

The ACT percentile is crucial in the college admissions process as it serves as a benchmark for applicants. It allows colleges and universities to compare your ACT performance with the rest of the test-takers.

You can refer to the below table to find your ACT percentile ranking for your ACT composite score and score for each section:

ACT Score National Ranks & Percentiles 2023

Note: The percentile and the ACT scores slightly vary every year.

To find your percentile, look in the top-left column for the scores between 1 to 36 and then check the corresponding composite score or any subject score.

For instance, a score of 32 has a 97th percentile ranking and the same score of 32 has a 96th percentile for Science subject.

Now, according to the above table, there is not much difference in percentile at the top and bottom of the table.

If you look at the top of the table, a score ranging from 34 to 36 has a percentile of 99th to 100th and if you look at the bottom of the table, a score ranging from 1 to 10 has a 1st percentile.

However, if you look in the middle of the above table, a slight change in the score is changing the percentile drastically.

For instance, just a 4-point score jump from score 24 to 28 changes the percentile from 78th to 90th.

## Does Percentile Really Matter?

Yes, percentile matters as it helps admission officers in understanding how well you performed with respect to the rest of the test takers.

For instance, let’s say, you get a score of 32 out of 36 and a college or university does not consider percentile, so they might think you have performed well because scoring 33 out of 36 represents 92%.

However, if the same college or university considers percentile, then your performance would be excellent for them as your percentile score would be 97th (Based on the data of the above table).

## Average ACT Score

In 2023, roughly 1.4 million students took the ACT exam showing an increase in the number from 2022.

The average ACT score for 2023 was 19.5, which is the lowest since 1995.

Here is the section/subject-wise average score for 2023:

ACT average score for all sections 2023

Over the years, ACT average score has changed a lot, so let’s have a look at it:

Change in Average ACT Scores since 2010

## What is Considered a “Good” ACT Score?

A good ACT score is a score that will be enough for you to get into the college or university you want. Generally, a good ACT score is considered any score that will put in the 25% of all test-takers.

The average ACT score for 2023 was 19.5. Any score above that would have been a good ACT score for students who took the ACT in 2023.

A good ACT score also varies based on the colleges you apply to. For instance, let’s consider state universities, such as the University of California or the University of Colorado. For such universities, a good ACT score is in the range of 29 to 32.

On the other hand, let’s consider Ivy League universities, like Princeton University or Harvard University. For such universities, a good ACT score is in the range of 34 to 35.

To get a good ACT score, you should aim for the 75th percentile. This means your score should be equal to or better than 75% of all the test-takers.

The rule is simple: the higher the ACT score is, the more chances you will have of getting into a competitive college and getting a college scholarship.

## ACT Scores at Top U.S. Universities

Colleges or universities publish the ACT scores of their admitted students. This helps students in getting an idea about the target score that they should set based on their desired colleges or universities.

The table below shows the ACT composite scores (25th to 75th percentile) of top and popular U.S. universities:

ACT Composite Scores of top U.S. colleges for the class of 2026 or 2027

## What ACT Score Students Should Aim For?

To enhance your chances of getting into your dream college or university, aim to score at least a similar ACT score of already admitted students or higher.

Let’s say, you are applying to an Ivy League university, like Princeton. As per the admission statistics of Princeton, the ACT composite score range for the class of 2027 is 34 to 35.

Hence, to increase your chances of getting admitted to Princeton, you should at least aim for a 34 to 35 ACT composite score out of 36.

Now, consider you are applying to a state university, like the University of California. As per the admission statistics of the University of California, the ACT composite score range for the class of 2019 is 29 to 32.

Hence, to increase your chances of getting admitted to the University of California, you should at least aim for a 29 to 32 ACT composite score out of 36.

## What if your ACT Score is Below Average?

Whether your ACT score is average, above average, or below average, all this depends on the college or university you are applying to.

ACT scores are just a component of your college application. Colleges also focus on other factors, such as your

• GPA
• Essays
• Extracurricular activities
• Letters of recommendation

If the ACT score you receive does not align with your targeted score or is below average for the colleges or universities you are interested in, you can consider the following strategies:

## 1st Option: Consider Retaking the Exam

Retaking the ACT is the best solution to go for, if you have enough time to invest in the preparation for it.

You can enroll yourself in prep courses for better and personalized guidance. Many online platforms, like Wiingy, can offer you a private tutor for ACT prep to help you improve your ACT Scores.

ACT Inc. allows you to take the ACT exam 12 times, so you can take it again to get your desired score.

From taking the ACT for the first time, you get an idea about the areas where you need improvement, so you can focus more on those areas for better results.

If your score is less than your targeted score and you don’t have enough time to retake the exam, consider making some changes to your list of colleges or universities.

For instance, if you were planning to get an ACT score of 33 you had the University of Notre Dame as a match school.

This is because the ACT score range for the University of Notre Dame of admitted students is 33 to 35 for the class of 2027.

## 3rd Option: Explore Test-Optional or Test-Blind Colleges

Some colleges like California College of the Arts and Belmont University have adopted test-optional policies.

This means submitting your ACT score is not mandatory while applying to these colleges. If you want you can submit your ACT scores. It will entirely be your choice.

On the other hand, some colleges like Canisius University and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts have adopted test-blind policies.

This means such colleges do not need your ACT score at all. They will not consider your score even if you submit it.

Research colleges that have such policies and consider applying to them.

## 4th Option: Utilize Free Resources

Take advantage of free resources that are available online, such as The Princeton Review or PrepScholar. These resources provide free

• Practice questions
• Video lessons, and
• Personalized study plans, all as per your needs.

## 5th Option: Highlight Other Strengths

Showcase how better you are apart from academics. In your college application, highlight your club awards (if you have any), extracurricular activities, sports recognition, or any community service.

## Conclusion

The score range for the ACT is 1 to 36. The average ACT score for 2023 was 19.5.

A ‘Good ACT score’ helps you get into a college of your choice. This depends on the colleges and programs you want to apply to.

Getting a high ACT score shows that you have a strong academic understanding. By doing so, you make yourself eligible for scholarships and more financial help.

Remember ACT is only one of the factors and the colleges also focus on other factors, such as your GPA, essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation.

By taking the ACT, you can strengthen your college application as it provides a standardized way for colleges to assess you.

To enhance your chances of getting into your dream college or university, you should aim for the 75th percentile.

What is ACT? [All Things ACT Covered]

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ACT Test Dates | All Dates Updated for 2024

When do ACT Scores come out?

When should you take the ACT?

Is 32 a good ACT score?

32 is a good score if 32 falls between the 25th percentile and 75th percentile or more than the 75th percentile for the colleges you apply to. However, 32 is considered a good ACT score.

Is a 37 on the ACT good?

The score for each section of ACT is 1 to 36. The maximum score you can get in ACT is 36. You can’t get 37 on the ACT.

Does any negative marking happen in ACT?

No, the ACT does not have any negative markings. For every right answer, you get 1 point.

Will a 36 ACT get you into Harvard?

Yes, a 36 ACT score can get you into Harvard. This is because Harvard University’s ACT scores usually range from 33 to 36.

Written by by

Shifa Ali

Reviewed by by

Prerit Jain

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