What is a good ACT score? This is a common question many students ask when they get their ACT scores back.
Knowing what a good score is will help you gauge where you are at and help you set expectations before taking the exam.
We will be reviewing everything you need to know including good ACT scores, average ACT scores, ACT score ranges, and how the exam is scored.
Summary: We cover everything ACT score related in this guide. For help improving your score, consider using ACT online courses to study.
What is a Good ACT Score?
A good way to gauge whether or not you scored a good ACT score is by looking at percentiles. A percentile is a comparison of your score with other test-takers.
For example, if you scored in the 65th percentile, this means you have scored better than 65% of other test-takers.
A 50th percentile score means you are exactly in the middle of all test-takers.
Good ACT Score: Looking at data released by the ACT, a score of 25 would put you in the 75th percentile. This would be considered a good score.
The abbreviated table below shows different ACT scores and the percentiles they would put you at. The table shows your composite score as well as each individual subject score.
|ACT Score||Composite Score||English Score||Math Score||Reading Score||Science Score|
As you can see from the chart above, most students will score around 20. Notice how most students are grouped between an 18 and 22? This is by design.
The ACT follows a normal distribution curve which means it will be rarer to score much higher or much lower than the average.
What is the Average ACT Score?
Just like when determining a good score and using percentiles, we can do the same with finding an average score.
Keep in mind that receiving an average score is not a bad thing. You can always take the exam again and improve your score. For help improving your score, take an ACT practice test.
Average ACT Score: According to data from the ACT, the average ACT score was 20.6.
The ACT score range is 1 to 36. With 1 being the lowest possible score and 36 being the highest possible score.
There are 4 total sections on the exam. You will receive a score for each individual section. Those 4 sections are:
You will also receive a composite score. The composite score is the average of the 4 subject scores. The composite score is rounded to a whole number.
The composite score is what is commonly used by colleges and universities when applying to schools.
Please note, the optional essay section does not count towards your composite score.
Top ACT Score: The highest possible ACT score is a 36.
ACT Score Ranges – Biggest 50 Public Universities
If you are curious about the ACT scores range for various schools around the country, review the table below.
We have included the 25th and 75th percentile ACT scores for the 50 biggest universities in the country.
|Institution name||Enrollment||ACT Composite 25th Percentile||ACT Composite 75th Percentile|
|Texas A & M University-College Station||67,929||25||30|
|University of Central Florida||66,059||24||29|
|Ohio State University-Main Campus||59,837||27||31|
|Florida International University||56,718||22||27|
|University of Florida||52,669||28||32|
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||51,848||26||31|
|The University of Texas at Austin||51,525||26||33|
|Arizona State University-Tempe||51,164||22||29|
|Michigan State University||50,019||23||28|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||48,216||26||32|
|Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus||47,119||25||30|
|The University of Texas at Arlington||46,497||20||27|
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||46,166||27||32|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||46,002||30||33|
|University of Houston||45,364||23||27|
|University of California-Los Angeles||44,027||29||34|
|University of South Florida-Main Campus||43,540||24||29|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||42,977||27||31|
|Purdue University-Main Campus||42,699||25||31|
|University of California-Berkeley||41,891||30||34|
|Florida State University||41,362||26||30|
|California State University-Northridge||41,319||17||22|
|California State University-Fullerton||40,905||19||24|
|University of Maryland-College Park||40,521||29||33|
|Texas State University||38,666||20||26|
|The University of Alabama||38,563||23||32|
|University of North Texas||38,276||21||27|
|California State University-Long Beach||37,622||20||26|
|University of Georgia||37,606||26||31|
|University of California-Davis||37,380||25||32|
|University of Cincinnati-Main Campus||37,155||23||28|
|Texas Tech University||36,996||22||27|
|Iowa State University||36,158||22||28|
|George Mason University||35,984||24||30|
|Kennesaw State University||35,846||21||26|
|San Jose State University||35,835||19||26|
|University of California-San Diego||35,772||27||33|
|University of Colorado Boulder||35,338||25||30|
|University of California-Irvine||35,242||25||32|
|San Diego State University||35,158||23||28|
|University of South Carolina-Columbia||34,731||25||30|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||34,440||25||30|
|North Carolina State University at Raleigh||34,432||26||31|
|Colorado State University-Fort Collins||33,083||22||28|
|Georgia State University||32,816||19||26|
|University of Utah||32,800||22||29|
|University of Iowa||32,166||23||28|
|California State University-Sacramento||31,255||17||23|
|Oregon State University||30,896||22||28|
|Average ACT Score of Top 100 Public Universities||22.9||28.4|
Find Your ACT Goal Score
Finding your ACT goal score is something every student preparing for the ACT should do. Finding a goal score will help keep you motivated and will give you something to works towards.
(click on image to enlarge)
Step 1: Determine Which Schools You Want to Apply To
This should be the first step in determining your ACT goal score. Every school has different ACT requirements. It is important to figure out which schools you want to apply to so you can figure out their ACT requirements.
Try and pick schools in different categories. For example, do not pick all Ivy League schools. Pick some target, reach, and safety schools to put on your list.
Step 2: Find ACT Scores for the Schools You Are Applying To
Once you have your list of schools, find ACT scores for applicants who applied and received acceptance to those schools.
Find those scores and write them down next to each of the schools on your application list.
Step 3: Determine Your Goal Score
This step will be different for everyone. Some students may want to shoot for a high score, while others are content with shooting for an average score.
Look at the 75th percentile scores for the most competitive school on your list. This score should be your goal. If you get this score, you should be able to gain admission into every other school on your list (in theory).
If you miss by a couple of points, you should be fine for some of the other schools on your list.
Improving Your ACT Score
If you are looking to improve you ACT score, review some of the tips listed below. Remember, improving your score is a process, and a lot of students end up taking the exam multiple times.
If you are looking for something more in-depth when studying, consider one of the best ACT prep courses that our team reviewed.
Familiarize Yourself With the ACT
It is true: practice makes perfect. The more practice questions you answer, the more comfortable you will become with the format and feel of the ACT.
Use our ACT practice questions to become more familiar with the ACT.
Re-Take the Exam
Retaking the exam is very common. Plenty of students end up taking the ACT more than once. Students will have a better idea of what to expect the second time around.
In general, students will improve their scores the second time around - whether it is because they studied more or were more comfortable.
Tip: Review ACT test dates before scheduling your second exam. Make sure you have plenty of time to study for the second exam.
Superscore Your Score
Superscoring your score means taking the best score from every section of every ACT you have taken and creating a new composite score.
Say you have taken the ACT 2 times. The first time you got a 29 in math and the second time you got a 24 in math. Assume every other section score was better the second time around, except math.
You could take the 29 from the first exam and combine that with the section scores from the second ACT.
The ACT will automatically send superscores to your colleges - it may work for certain schools or certain programs within colleges or universities. It is worth asking someone at that school if they take superscores.
Find What Works Best for You
Students learn in many ways. Some students learn best in a classroom setting while others learn best by self-studying. Find what works for you and stick with it.
ACT prep courses are a great way to improve your score. Using a course will help you save time and study more efficiently. This is a great option for plenty of students.
ACT Score FAQs