What Scores for the ACT Test Exist and What They Mean

ACT test is a way to get admission to your favourite college and having a good score will boost the chances. But how you know what is a good or average score and what is a bad or below average ACT score?

Knowing the average score for the admission in your favourite college can help you prepare for the best score in the ACT test. It may become easy for you to be among the top scorers. Many colleges publish useful information on their websites like the average score, the number of students selected for the year, fees and financial aids. So you can check it online.

Though your ACT score is not the only factor considered for your admission in a college, it plays an important role while you are being evaluated by a university. You will know more about the ACT score and about the good and the bad score in the next sections of this article.

What is a Good ACT Score?

A good score is different for different universities. The current national average of ACT score is 21, so if you have a score of 23, you are fit for the admission in most of the universities. But there are many universities which consider even higher score. So your score will fall below the average in this case.

How to calculate ACT composite score

An ACT score is a number between the scale of 1 to 36 so the highest possible score in the ACT score range is 36. The national average score is 21 so if you want to score average or above, you have to perform well in all four sections of the test.

These four sections are English, Math, Science and Reading with 36 points for each. The total score of all four sections is used to obtain an ACT composite score of your test result. Add up the score of each section and divide the total by 4 and you will get your composite score.

You can see the section-wise scores and composite ACT scores range for colleges in the year 2017 in below table.

Section Top Scores Above Average Scores Average Scores Below Average Scores
English 29 – 36 24 – 28 20 – 23 19 or lower
Math 28 – 36 24 – 27 20 – 23 19 or lower
Reading 30 – 36 25 – 29 21 – 28 20 or lower
Science 27 – 36 24 – 26 21 – 25 20 or lower
Composite 28 – 36 24 – 27 20 – 26 19


Test takers with the highest ACT score are those who come within the top 10% of total students who pass the test. Those who achieve an above average score are among the top 25% of those who pass the test. Then come the average scorers and they make a portion of 50% or more.

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What are Typical Average ACT Scores?

For the year 2017, the average ACT score was 21 based on the four sections. Here are the average scores for the individual section of the test.

Section Average Score
English 20.3
Math 20.7
Reading 21.4
Science 21.0
Composite 21.0

How to improve your ACT scores

Though there is no negative points or penalty for a wrong answer, you should aim for as many points as possible. This is because your score is affected with every single point. An increase of one point in your score will increase your percentile ranking by 5 points.

So it can result in a big difference and may boost your chance of getting selected in your favourite college or university.

You can know about the top, good, average and bad scores from the chart available on the college or university websites. So you can prepare yourself accordingly for the test. But apart from ensuring your admission to your favourite college, a good or the top score can also help you get a scholarship. So you should try to achieve the highest possible score in your ACT test.

You can also see the test scores distribution among the top 10%, top 25% and rest of the test takers. So it will be easy for you to know your stand and accordingly your possible steps to improve your scores.

Read also: Use  scholarship essay service to guarantee perfect results.

Where to get your ACT scores

Once the test is complete and the results are declared, they are published online which can be viewed by logging in with your secure ACT web account. If you can’t see your score, you should wait and keep checking for some weeks as ACT processes and posts the scores online each week.

When do ACT scores come out

Your multiple-choice scores are made available within two weeks after the test is conducted, but it may also take up to eight weeks. After the multiple-choice scores, the writing scores are made available within about two weeks.

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