Navigating the college admissions process can be challenging, and understanding what is a good ACT score is a crucial part of this journey.
The ACT, like the SAT, is a standardized test used by colleges to assess the academic abilities of applicants.
In this guide, we'll explore what a good ACT score looks like, how it can impact your college applications, and why it's important to aim for a score that aligns with your educational goals.
Understanding ACT scores and percentiles is crucial for gauging where you stand in comparison to other test-takers. The ACT consists of four sections, each scored on a scale from 1 to 36.
These section scores are then averaged to calculate your composite score, which also ranges from 1 to 36. Your composite score significantly influences your competitiveness in college admissions; it reflects your academic proficiency and enhances your appeal to colleges.
In the context of the ACT, percentiles play a vital role in ranking your score relative to other students. For instance, being in the 75th percentile means you have scored higher than 75% of the test-takers. This percentile ranking is instrumental for colleges to evaluate your academic abilities in comparison with other applicants.
Understanding the significance of your ACT score in this context can help you make informed decisions about your college applications.
There are four sections within the ACT:
Each section of the ACT is designed to measure a range of academic skills that are important for success in college-level coursework. Preparing for each section and understanding how they are scored can help you target your study efforts and improve your overall performance on the test.
A good score on the ACT varies based on individual goals and college aspirations. Nationally, the average ACT score is around 21, so anything above this is generally seen as good.
For admissions to more selective colleges, particularly top-tier institutions like Ivy Leagues, a score in the high 20s to 36 is often necessary. Being in the 75th percentile, which is approximately a score of 24 or higher, is considered competitive for a wide range of schools.
Ultimately, a good ACT score for colleges should align with your personal academic objectives and meet or exceed the average scores of your target colleges. Keep in mind that this score is a part of a holistic admissions process that includes other factors such as GPA, extracurriculars, essays, and recommendations.
Remember, if your initial score doesn't meet your expectations, you have the chance to enhance it by dedicating time to preparation and by opting to retake the test.
An above-average ACT score is any score above the national average, which currently hovers around 19.5. If you score above that, you’re scoring higher than more than half of the test-takers nationwide, which is a decent benchmark. However, to be truly competitive, especially at more selective colleges, aiming higher is necessary.
If you've completed the ACT exam and find yourself in need of an ACT to SAT score conversion, check out our automatic ACT to SAT score converter.
What’s considered a good ACT score can vary significantly from one college to another. For instance, at highly selective schools, good ACT scores might be in the 30-36 range, whereas at less selective schools, scores around 25 might be considered good.
To give you a clearer picture, let’s look at some popular colleges in the U.S. and their ACT score expectations:
These ranges represent the middle 50% of admitted students, meaning that 25% scored below this range and 25% scored above.
Ivy League schools are some of the most competitive in the nation and, therefore, have higher ACT score expectations. A good ACT score for an Ivy League application is typically above 30, with many students scoring in the 33-36 range.
Here’s a table showcasing the ACT score ranges for the middle 50% of admitted students at each Ivy League institution:
Source: US News
An effective ACT score depends on the colleges you aim for and how competitive their applicant pools are. Highly selective institutions often require scores above 30, while mid-20s may meet the criteria for less selective schools.
It's worth noting that ACT scores are typically released within two weeks after taking the test, allowing you to promptly gauge your performance and plan accordingly. Always check the latest class profiles of your target schools for up-to-date information.
Keep in mind that a strong ACT score can significantly bolster your application, but it's only one aspect of a holistic admissions review process. Additionally, you have the opportunity to take the ACT multiple times to improve your score, so consider retaking it if you believe you can achieve a higher result.
This process takes into account your academic record, involvement in extracurricular activities, compelling essays, strong letters of recommendation, and, if needed, seek tutoring support to achieve your desired ACT score.
To get an idea of what to expect on the exam, take a look at this table that reflects how each section of the ACT is graded and includes the number of questions on each subject.
Take a look at our answers to a few frequently asked questions about ACT scores.
A score of 19 on the ACT is just below the national average of 19.5. While not high for selective colleges, it may be acceptable for many universities with broader admission criteria. Remember, colleges consider your entire application, including GPA and extracurriculars, not just your ACT score.
Yes, a 24 is a good ACT score. It's above the national average and places you in the 74th percentile, meaning you scored higher than 74% of test-takers. This score can open doors to a number of colleges and universities. However, for more selective institutions, you might need a higher score to be competitive.
The ACT does not have a specific passing or failing score. Instead, colleges utilize ACT scores to evaluate and compare applicants for admission. A higher ACT score can broaden your choices for higher education opportunities.
It's advisable to strive for a score that meets or exceeds the average of 21, but it's essential to note that many colleges and universities admit students with a diverse range of scores.
A 20 is right around the national average. It's a solid score that can lead to college admissions, especially at local and state universities. However, if you're looking to attend a more competitive or selective school, you may want to aim higher.
A good ACT math score is one that falls within or above the middle 50% range of the colleges you're interested in. Nationally, a 19.5 score is average, so anything above that can be considered good. For top-tier colleges, you'll likely need a score in the upper 20s or even 30s.
For the English section of the ACT, a score above 20 is generally considered good, as it's higher than the national average. If you're aiming for elite colleges, you'll want to target a score in the upper 20s or higher. A strong English score can demonstrate your readiness for college-level writing and comprehension.
Yes, a 27 is a very good ACT score. It places you in the 85th percentile, meaning you scored better than 85% of test-takers. This score can make you a competitive applicant at many universities, and it's above average for several selective institutions.
However, for the most prestigious colleges, especially Ivy League schools, you might need a score above 30 to be considered competitive.
With a deeper understanding of '"What is a good ACT score," you're now better equipped to set clear testing goals. Remember, a strong ACT score not only aligns with your educational aspirations but also enhances your college application.
Best of luck in your preparations, and may your dedicated study sessions lead you to uncover the perfect ACT score for your success!