What is a good ACT score? This is a common question many students ask when they get their ACT scores back.
Some students may want to know what a good ACT score is before they take their exam. Knowing what a good score is gives students a goal score they can work towards.
We will review ACT scores and what is a good ACT score in this guide. Our team also will provide you with ACT percentile scores as well as common ACT scores from popular public and private schools.
Summary: Learn about ACT scores, common ACT scores for various schools, and ACT percentiles.
What is a Good ACT Score?
Before we can answer this question, we need to understand how the ACT is scored. The ACT is scored on a scale from 1-36, with 36 being a perfect score.
There are 4 sections on the ACT – each section is also scored on a scale from 1-36. To calculate your composite score, you would take the score from each section, add them up, and divide by 4.
Example: A student scored a 25 in English, 26 in Math, 27 in Science, and 29 in Reading. Their composite score would be (25+26+27+29)/4. This would be a 26.75, which rounds up to a 27.
Now that we know how the ACT is scored, lets get into specifics. We know a 36 is a perfect score. But what about a 27? Is that a good ACT score?
One way to tell how you scored on the ACT is by looking at your percentile. Percentiles allow students the ability to compare their scores to others around the country. Your percentile score tells you what percentage of students you scored the same as or better than.
Example: If you are in the 65th percentile, this means you have scored better than 65% of all ACT test takers.
Keep in mind, a 50th percentile score means you exactly in the middle. In other words, your score is average.
Summary of Average, Good, and Excellent ACT Scores
- Poor: 17 or lower (bottom 34% of test takers)
- Average: 20 (exactly in the middle)
- Good: 25 (top 75% of test takers)
- Excellent: 30 (93%+ higher than all test-takers)
The data provided above is raw data that helps us determine what is a good ACT score. Keep on reading to view specific percentile scores for every ACT score and specific ACT sections.
ACT Score Percentiles
You can view a breakdown of ACT scores and various percentiles below. The average of the ACT was 20.6, according to the ACT’s annual report.
|ACT Scale Score||Composite||English||Math||Reading||Science|
Source: ACT Annual Report
As you can see from the chart above, most students will score around the 20 mark. Notice how the majority of 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. In order to get a high score on the ACT, most students will need to put in the work.
What is a Good ACT Score for You?
What may be considered a good ACT score for one student may be a poor score for another student. What is considered a good score should depend on your individual goals.
If you are trying to get into a top school, like Yale, you will need a top ACT score. If you are just trying to attend any college, an average ACT score will most likely get the job done.
In simple terms, a good ACT score is the score that allows you to be competitive in the admissions process when applying to your schools of choice.
Our team has collected data from the National Center for Education Statistics which outline ACT scores for public and private universities. These scores are the average accepted score for each institution. The first table is 100 public universities while the second table is 100 private universities.
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. Our team went ahead and did a lot of the heavy lifting for you. You can view ACT scores for 100 public and 100 private colleges and universities below.
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 anyone. Some students may want to shoot for a really 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, the ACT 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 tests 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.
Super-Score Your Score
Super scoring 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.
While this is unconventional, it may work for certain school or certain programs within colleges or universities. It is worth they try to ask someone at that school if they take super scores.
Find What Works Best For You
Students learn in many different ways. Some students may learn best in a classroom setting while others may learn best by self-studying. Find what works for you and stick with it.
ACT prep courses are a great way to improve you score. These courses include various learning methods, so they have something for everyone. You can compare different courses and offerings by checking out our ACT prep course reviews.
ACT Scores of 100 Public Universities
|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|
|Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College||30,861||23||28|
|University of Missouri-Columbia||30,844||23||29|
|The University of Texas at San Antonio||30,768||20||25|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||30,675||21||27|
|University at Buffalo||30,648||24||28|
|Washington State University||30,614||20||26|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||30,539||20||26|
|University of Nevada-Las Vegas||30,471||19||24|
|University of Massachusetts-Amherst||30,340||26||31|
|Florida Atlantic University||30,208||21||26|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||29,911||28||33|
|Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis||29,791||19||26|
|San Francisco State University||29,758||18||24|
|University of Kentucky||29,465||22||28|
|Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus||29,376||30||34|
|Ohio University-Main Campus||29,369||22||26|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||29,317||22||26|
|East Carolina University||29,131||20||24|
|Kent State University at Kent||28,972||21||25|
|University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus||28,642||27||32|
|California State University-Los Angeles||28,531||15||20|
|University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus||28,527||23||29|
|West Virginia University||28,406||21||27|
|The University of Tennessee-Knoxville||28,321||24||30|
|The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley||27,809||17||22|
|Utah State University||27,679||21||27|
|The University of Texas at Dallas||27,642||26||32|
|University of Kansas||27,625||23||28|
|University of Connecticut||27,578||26||31|
|University of Arkansas||27,558||23||29|
|Wayne State University||27,064||21||28|
|Portland State University||26,693||19||25|
|University of New Mexico-Main Campus||26,221||19||25|
|University of Nebraska-Lincoln||26,079||22||29|
|California State Polytechnic University-Pomona||26,053||20||27|
|Stony Brook University||25,989||26||31|
|California State University-Fresno||25,325||16||22|
|Oklahoma State University-Main Campus||25,295||22||28|
|The University of Texas at El Paso||25,078||16||22|
|University of California-Santa Barbara||25,057||28||33|
|Grand Valley State University||25,049||21||26|
|University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee||24,988||20||25|
|University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus||24,839||21||27|
|Old Dominion University||24,375||18||25|
|University of Virginia-Main Campus||24,360||29||33|
|Boise State University||24,121||21||26|
|University of Delaware||23,774||25||29|
|Missouri State University-Springfield||23,697||21||26|
|Average ACT Score of Top 100 Public Universities||22.9||28.4|
ACT Scores of 100 Private Universities
|Institution name||Enrollment||ACT Composite 25th Percentile||ACT Composite 75th Percentile|
|Brigham Young University-Idaho||51,881||20||25|
|New York University||51,123||29||33|
|University of Southern California||45,687||30||34|
|Brigham Young University-Provo||34,334||27||32|
|Columbia University in the City of New York||30,454||31||34|
|George Washington University||27,973||29||32|
|University of Pennsylvania||25,367||32||35|
|Johns Hopkins University||25,151||33||35|
|St John's University-New York||21,340||22||29|
|Nova Southeastern University||20,793||23||28|
|University of Miami||17,003||28||32|
|Loyola University Chicago||16,673||24||29|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||16,584||26||32|
|University of Chicago||16,227||32||35|
|Washington University in St Louis||15,303||32||34|
|Saint Louis University||14,581||25||31|
|Carnegie Mellon University||13,869||32||35|
|Savannah College of Art and Design||13,163||21||27|
|Saint Leo University||13,099||20||25|
|Pace University-New York||12,986||21||27|
|University of Notre Dame||12,467||32||34|
|Tulane University of Louisiana||12,384||30||33|
|Case Western Reserve University||11,824||30||33|
|Southern Methodist University||11,789||28||32|
|University of Rochester||11,648||29||33|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||11,466||33||35|
|University of Denver||11,434||25||30|
|University of San Francisco||11,063||22||28|
|University of Dayton||10,882||24||29|
|Texas Christian University||10,489||25||30|
|The New School||10,389||24||28|
|University of the Cumberlands||10,097||19||25|
|California Baptist University||9,941||19||25|
|Azusa Pacific University||9,926||21||27|
|University of St Thomas||9,878||24||29|
|Seton Hall University||9,801||24||28|
|Loyola Marymount University||9,618||26||31|
|University of San Diego||8,905||26||30|
|The University of Tampa||8,895||22||27|
|Santa Clara University||8,629||28||32|
|University of the Incarnate Word||8,603||17||23|
|University of New England||8,281||21||26|
|University of La Verne||8,159||19||25|
|Saint Joseph's University||8,085||23||28|
|Indiana Institute of Technology||7,871||17||23|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus||7,846||20||25|
|Maryville University of Saint Louis||7,689||21||27|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||7,592||28||32|
|New York Institute of Technology||7,403||21||27|
|Illinois Institute of Technology||7,164||25||31|
|University of New Haven||6,984||21||27|
|Average ACT Scores of Top 100 Private Universities||25.4||29.9|