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
What is the ACT out of?
The ACT is scored on a scale from 1-36. The best score you can get is a 36.
How is the ACT scored?
Each subject is scored separately. Your composite score is the average of all 4 subject scores. The composite score is rounded.There are 4 total subjects scored on the exam that count towards your composite score. The optional essay section does not count towards the composite score.
Can I take the ACT again?
Yes, you may take the ACT multiple times. This is very common as many students take the exam multiple times.
Official Data Sources USed
What is a good score for ACT average? ›
|State||Participation Rate||Average Composite Score|
Looking at this from a different angle, a score of 23 on the ACT puts you at the 68th percentile, meaning that you scored higher than 68% of test takers, something that colleges and universities know and appreciate.Is scoring a 23 on the ACT good? ›
A score of 23 on the ACT is above the current national average and will make you a strong applicant at many universities, but it may fall below the average score for accepted students at more selective colleges. The higher your ACT score, the more options are open to you.Is 27 a low ACT score? ›
Is a 27 ACT Score (85th Percentile) Good? A 27 ACT score puts you a good deal about the national average (20.8) and makes you eligible for acceptance at a vast majority of schools. It also makes you competitive at some selective institutions, as well as eligible for merit aid!Is 26 a low ACT score? ›
Is 26 ACT Score Good? With a score of 26, you are in the 83th to 85th percentile of all test takers. More likely than not, with a score of 26, you'll often be in or near the commonly accepted range at selective colleges. The exception may be the most selective colleges and the Ivy League.Should I retake the ACT if I got a 34? ›
Should I Retake the ACT with a 34 Score? There's no need to retake the ACT with a score of 34. A 34 makes you eligible and competitive for all colleges and universities, which is the goal! For juniors, remember that most colleges weigh ACT scores and GPA about equally.How hard is it to get a 32 on the ACT? ›
A 32 ACT score puts you at the 97th percentile — that means you scored higher than 97% all test takers! Congratulations!Is 18 a decent ACT score? ›
Earning an 18 on the ACT puts you at the 38th percentile, meaning that you scored higher than 38% of all test takers.Is 37 a good ACT score? ›
In general, a good ACT score is any score in or above the 75th percentile — at least a 24. Students should aim to hit or exceed the middle 50% of ACT scores at their chosen colleges.Is a 24 A BAD ACT score? ›
A score of 24 on the ACT certainly makes you an eligible candidate, as well as competitive! To put this another way, a 24 ACT score puts you at the 73rd percentile, meaning you scored higher than 73% of all test takers — which is definitely something to be proud of!
How many questions can you miss and still get a 36 on the ACT? ›
Use your practice test's ACT scoring chart to see how your raw scores translate into scale scores. You can miss 1-3 questions on each ACT section and still earn a 36 composite score.Is a 25 on the ACT easy? ›
Earning an ACT score of 25 puts you above average, making you eligible at a wide variety of schools and competitive at some selective institutions. To put this accomplishment in another light, a 25 ACT score puts you at the 75th percentile — that means you scored higher than 75% of all test takers.What ACT score will get a scholarship? ›
As your SAT score goes up, the required class rank goes down—students with a 1200+ SAT score or 25+ ACT score may receive a scholarship at a top 30% class ranking, and students with a 1400+ SAT or 31+ ACT score may receive a scholarship at a top 40% class ranking.How many people get a 36 on the ACT? ›
Percentage of All Test Takers
Unsurprisingly, a full 36 is the rarest score of all—just 0.313% of all test takers earned a perfect ACT score. Roughly three times more students earned the next-highest score of 35; however, this is still a very rare score that just 0.925% of test takers earned.
A score that means you scored better than 80% of test takers. While that's good, it's still not admission worthy for elite colleges like Harvard and MIT.Is 18 on ACT bad? ›
18 ACT Score Standings
Out of the 1.91 million test-takers, 1225478 scored the same or higher than you. You can apply to 104 colleges and have a good shot at getting admitted. You have a very low chance of getting into 1395 schools with this score.
In general, many US colleges and universities accept applicants with 16 or 17 ACT scores. In fact, an ACT score of 16 or lower is accepted by 33 schools.What is a 27 ACT score? ›
What percentile is a 27 ACT score? A 27 ACT score puts you at the 85th percentile, meaning you scored higher than 85% of test takers.Can you get into Harvard with a 26 ACT? ›
Average ACT: 34
The 25th percentile ACT score is 33, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35. In other words, a 33 places you below average, while a 35 will move you up to above average. There's no absolute ACT requirement at Harvard, but they really want to see at least a 33 to have a chance at being considered.
What's the Lowest ACT Score You Can Get? The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, meaning that the absolute minimum ACT score you could get is 1. This composite score is calculated by taking the average of all four section scores (English, Math, Reading, and Science) and rounding (so anything ending with a .
How can I raise my ACT score fast? ›
- Work questions out of order. Spending too much time on the hardest problems means you may rush through the easiest. ...
- Choose a “Letter of the Day.” ...
- Forget the right answer—find the wrong ones. ...
- Know the best way to bubble in. ...
- Tailor your strategy to each section of the ACT.
In general, students applying to competitive colleges should plan to take the ACT once in the spring of junior year and once in the fall of senior year. For example, you might take the exam in June of your junior year.Can I get into Harvard with a 32 ACT? ›
Average ACT score for Harvard University (With Writing)
The average ACT score for students who get accepted into Harvard is between 32 and 35. This is well above the national average of 21.
Should I Retake the ACT with a 35 Score? An ACT score of 35 is a demonstration of excellence in all academic fields at the high school level. There's no pressing reason to retake the ACT, especially with a score so close to perfect.How to raise ACT score by 6 points? ›
Not many students will be able to keep up with this plan, but if you're set on increasing your baseline score by 4-6 total points, you'll need to prep for at least 80 hours, or about 20 hours a week. Here are your options for prep schedules: 5 hours, four times a week. 4 hours, five times a week.What if I have a high GPA but low ACT scores? ›
In most colleges, a high GPA may compensate for low ACT/SAT scores. Put extra time into writing an exceptional admission essay that will impress the judges and sway their decision in your favor, regardless of your test scores.What is the average ACT score for 12th graders? ›
The average ACT score is 20.6, which is at the 50th percentile. The scores follow a normal distribution in that most test-takers score a little below or a little above the average test score.What is considered a good ACT score for the first time? ›
The top 100 US colleges and universities consider ACT scores from 17 to 36 good. The majority of highly selective schools prefer applicants with ACT scores of 30 and higher. On the other hand, many high-ranking US schools that are not that selective accept students with ACT scores of at least 18.Is 28 a low ACT score? ›
Is a 28 ACT Score (88th Percentile) Good? A score of 28 places you in approximately the 88th percentile of all high school students. With a 28, you're an extremely competitive candidate at a majority of schools, as well as able to consider applying to more selective institutions as well.
Can I get into Yale with a 35 ACT? ›
The middle 50 percent of students admitted to Yale score between 31 and 35 on the ACT. This is the composite score, or the average of all four sections. For comparison, the highest possible score on the ACT is a 36.Can I get into Yale with a 32 ACT? ›
No Score Cutoffs
SAT-Math: 740-790. ACT Composite: 33-35.
Is 21 a good ACT score? A 21 ACT score puts you right at the national average, making you eligible to apply to a number of schools. It offers you a slight competitive edge, but won't make you competitive for most selective schools.Does retaking the ACT improve your score? ›
As referenced earlier, retesting at least once is associated with increases in average Composite scores when comparing first and second test instances.Is a 19 a good ACT score? ›
Is 19 a good ACT score? A 19 ACT score doesn't make you eligible or competitive at as many colleges and universities as most would want. To improve your eligibility and competitiveness, you'll want to aim for a 20 to 21, which puts you right at the national average.What is the best answer to guess on ACT? ›
For those guessing on only a few of the last ten questions, A/F would be the better option. The Safe Bet: Answer choice E/K is the safest choice because it, so far, has always had one correct answer. In fact, E/K has met or exceeded the expected average 82% of the time, making it the most consistent answer choice.What section of the ACT is easiest to improve? ›
If you're trying to boost your ACT score, the English section is the easiest to tackle. Here's why: there is only a handful of technical grammar content covered and there are really only a handful of rhetorical skills covered.What level of Math is on ACT? ›
The ACT Math Test usually breaks down into 6 questions types: pre-algebra, elementary algebra, and intermediate algebra questions; plane geometry and coordinate geometry questions; and some trigonometry questions.Can I get into an Ivy League with a 25 ACT? ›
What's a Good SAT/ACT Score for the Ivy League?
According to percentiles, an ACT score of 30 is quite high. Data collected by ACT, Inc., shows that a 30 corresponds to the 94th percentile. In other words, very few test takers—only 6 percent—score 30 or higher on the ACT, making it a great score to aim for on test day.
What happens if you get a 36 on the ACT? ›
A 36 ACT score is most certainly good — in fact, it's great. It's the best possible score! A 36 ACT score makes you eligible to apply as a competitive candidate at all institutions — this includes elite and selective colleges and universities, as well. On top of that, you can expect a sizable amount of merit aid.Can you get a full ride with a 35 ACT? ›
It is possible to get a full-ride scholarship with a 31-35 ACT score. However, this is rare and only happens in exceptional cases. It is more common for students with high ACT scores to receive scholarships that cover most of the cost of college or even all of it.What ACT score is needed for top colleges? ›
As a whole, the average ACT scores for the top 20 universities in the US are 34–36 for English, 31–35 for Math, and 33–35 for composite ACT scores. This means that if you hope to apply to the top-tier universities in the US, you should aim for ACT scores in the 30s, ideally in the 34–36 range.What ACT score is good for colleges? ›
Generally, a composite score of 24 or higher is considered good by national standards. Scores in this range put students in the 74th percentile or higher. In other words, a composite score of 24 means that you're better than 74% of all test takers. Higher scores make students stand out more in ACT score percentiles.Can you get into Harvard with a 36 ACT? ›
The middle 50% of Harvard's class of 2025 earned SAT scores of 1480-1580 and ACT scores of 33-36. Any score in the middle 50% is good, however, the higher in the range you score, the better your odds of admission are.Can I get into Harvard with a 28 ACT? ›
What SAT or ACT Scores Do You Need To Get Into Harvard? Students' admitted to Harvard had average SAT scores from 1460 to 1580 points; and ACT scores ranging from 33 to 35.What state has the highest ACT scores? ›
Average ACT Score by State 2023.
|% Passing English||88%|
|% Passing Reading||74%|
|% Passing Math||74%|
|% Passing Science||66%|
Average ACT score for Harvard University (With Writing)
The average ACT score for students who get accepted into Harvard is between 32 and 35. This is well above the national average of 21. Considering 36 is the highest you can score, this is a daunting goal.
|Raw Score English||Raw Score Math||Scaled Score|
Even though Harvard likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 33 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 34 and above that a 33 will look academically weak.
What is the minimum ACT score for Ivy League? ›
Generally speaking, you need a minimum ACT score of 31 to get into an Ivy League School. The minimum score is 32 at a few of these schools, including Harvard and Yale. The minimum SAT score to get into an Ivy League school ranges from 690 to 730 for the reading section and from 700 to 730 for the math section.What ACT score is needed for scholarships? ›
At a minimum, an ACT score of 25 should qualify you for lower-level scholarship money. However, as the amount increases, scholarships become more competitive and the score ranges increase. Again, the barest minimum to shoot for is the 20-25 score range.What is a good ACT score for a senior? ›
In general, a good ACT score is any score in or above the 75th percentile — at least a 24. Students should aim to hit or exceed the middle 50% of ACT scores at their chosen colleges.Is a 28 A BAD ACT score? ›
Is a 28 ACT Score (88th Percentile) Good? A score of 28 places you in approximately the 88th percentile of all high school students. With a 28, you're an extremely competitive candidate at a majority of schools, as well as able to consider applying to more selective institutions as well.Can I get into Yale with a 27 ACT? ›
Average ACT: 34
The 25th percentile ACT score is 33, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35. In other words, a 33 places you below average, while a 35 will move you up to above average. There's no absolute ACT requirement at Yale, but they really want to see at least a 33 to have a chance at being considered.
Earning an ACT score of 25 puts you above average, making you eligible at a wide variety of schools and competitive at some selective institutions. To put this accomplishment in another light, a 25 ACT score puts you at the 75th percentile — that means you scored higher than 75% of all test takers.Is 18 an average ACT score? ›
The average ACT hovers just below 21, at a 20.9, making that a great benchmark for all college-bound students. Several colleges will accept an ACT score of 18, but not as many as we'd typically like to see. Re-taking the test and aiming for the 21 score would be ideal.What score is a 50% on the ACT? ›
The average ACT score is 20.
If you've scored 21, then you've scored higher than 50% of test-takers.