Bonus Material: ACT Score Ranges for 499 Colleges
What’s a good ACT score? What’s an average ACT score? Is there such a thing as a bad ACT score?
We hear these questions all the time from our students.
In this post, we use up-to-date industry data to define a good ACT score for 2022. We also give insight into what makes for a good ACT score for you personally.
Understanding the components of a “good” ACT score can be helpful for choosing a target score, which should be the first step in your ACT prep.Plus, students who take the time to figure out their personally great ACT scores are more likelyto achieve college admissions success.
We also give readers access to ACT Score Ranges for 499 Colleges, which outlines the score ranges of successful applicants to nearly 500 U.S. institutions. Grab this for free below.
Here’s what we cover in this post:
- Our 2 Data-Backed Definitions of a Good ACT Score for 2022
- How Many Questions You Have to Get Right to Get a Good ACT Score
- What’s a Bad ACT Score? (Is there such a thing?)
- How To Get a Good ACT Score in 2022
- Bonus: ACT Score Ranges for 499 Colleges
A perfect score on the ACT is 36.
Most students assume that because 36 is the highest possible ACT score (both composite and individual), it’s a “good” ACT score.
Yet while a 36 will definitely add a competitive edge to an application, anything less than a 36 isn’t necessarily a badACT score.
In fact, it all comes down to how you define a “good” ACT score. We have 2 definitions for this.
Our 2 Definitions of A Good ACT Score
- “Good” is anything that is “above average” with sectional scores and percentile rankings
- “Good” is anything that will look competitive on a college application
Let’s start with the first definition.
Good ACT Score #1: The “Above Average” ACT Score
ACT regularly releases a “National Norms” report for ACT scores. This includes data from all ACT test scores reported between 2021 and 2022 (although these scores could be from 2019, 2020, and 2021 class graduates).
The most recent National Norms ACT Report includes the average section and composite scores of those reported between 2021 and 2022.
Average scores range from 19.9 to 21.1:
|Section||2021-2022 Average Score|
Using the first definition of a “good” ACT score, a composite score of 21 or higher on the ACT could be considered a competitive score for 2022.
At the very least, we encourage students who are new to the ACT to aim for a target score that is above national averages, on individual sections and the whole test itself.
This would mean establishing a goal score of the following on each section:
|Section||Goal Above-Average Score|
Of course, your starting score may be higher than a composite of 21, so we also recommend that students start with a diagnostic ACT to see where they currently stand.
What about those ACT “Ranks”?
ACT score reports also include information about a student’s “ranking” in the U.S. and that student’s home state. These are approximate percentages of recent grads who have taken the ACT in the U.S. and your state and achieved the same score as youorlower.
The ACT offers these rankings for your composite score, individual section scores, and STEM/ELA scores.
Naturally, the higher your “rankings,” the better. Yet we recommend that students prioritize target ACT scores as opposed to rankings, as these are a lot more straightforward (and less likely to fluctuate dramatically in any given year).
Good ACT Score #2: The College-Competitive ACT Score
Of course, scoring above-average on the ACT is justoneinterpretation of what it means to do well on the test.
In the context of college entrance, one student’s “good” ACT score could be vastly different than another student’s. It just comes down to where you are applying and the average ACT scores of admitted applicants.
So, we like to say that, under this definition, a “good ACT score” is the one that is right for you given your college aspirations. This willprobably be close to the ACT scores of admitted applicants.
Plenty of universities specify ACT score ranges of successful applicants on their websites (although some are not public with this information).
Most do so by specifying the “Middle 50,” or the 25th and 75th percentile of accepted students’ ACT scores.
Here’s a sampling of the Middle 50s from various elite institutions:
|College||25th Percentile ACT Composite||75th Percentile ACT Composite|
Source:The National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS (2019)
We’ve compiled the Middle 50s of ACT score ranges of successful applicants to the top 499 U.S. colleges and universities, which you can download right now.
The Common Data Set
If the colleges on your list do not specify these score ranges on their websites, you can check out the Common Data Set.
The Common Data Set (CDS) initiative is an effort to give clear, relevant information to everyone involved in the college admissions process about universities’ “institutional priorities.”
What are institutional priorities? These refer to what a college cares about when it’s admitting an incoming class.
The Common Data Set for Princeton University, for example, contains information about the university’s enrollment, admissions, financial aid, and more. A school’s CDS should also include details about test scores of admitted applicants, as Princeton’s shows here:
Princeton’s CDS also breaks down ACT scores into 25th and 75th percentiles. You can use these percentiles to understand competitive scores of admitted applicants.
For example, one can safely conclude based on this CDS that 50% of admitted applicants to Princeton in 2019-2020 had ACT composite scores ranging from 33 to 35.
How many questions do you have to get correct on the ACT to earn a score that is above average (as per our first definition of a good ACT score)?
Because no two ACTs are alike, it’s difficult to translate average ACT scores into total correct questions. It is possible to generalize, however, which we have done in the following table.
|ACT Section||Average 2020 Score||Average Questions Right|
|English||20.1||~ 43-45 (out of 75)|
|Math||20.4||~ 29-31 (out of 60)|
|Reading||21.2||~ 22-24 (out of 40)|
|Science||20.6||~ 19-21 (out of 40)|
|Total||20.7||~ 113-121 (out of 215)|
Data based on raw score conversion tables for ACT Official Practice Tests 1-5.
Notice that average ACT performance boils down to getting just about (or over) 50%of all questions correct.
We’ve discussed the good. What about the bad? Is there such thing as a bad ACT score?
Once again, the answer to these questions really depends on your definition of “bad.”
Yet from a general perspective, a “bad” SAT score often misses the mark of what ACT.org has called college readiness.
These scores are typically below-average in comparison to the mean. They may also not meet the benchmark scores ACT.org has established in terms of college preparedness, especially with respect to content areas like English and Math.
Here’s what ACT.org says specifically about benchmark scores on its website:
Students who meet a benchmark on the ACT have approximately a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in the corresponding college course or courses.
Here are the benchmark ACT scores for college readiness as of 2022 (Source: ACT):
- English: 18
- Reading: 22
- Science: 23
First-time ACT students should prioritize meeting and surpassing these benchmark scores.
We’ve discussed the goodandthe bad. Now what can you do to get a good ACT score?
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
The ACT is entirely different from traditional high school tests. Much like a second language, it requires dedication, immersion, and time to understand and eventually master.
To launch your ACT test prep journey, begin by establishing your initial goal score.It’s also important to set aside a decent amount of time for your ACT prep.
The ACT is not a test that students can cram, and nor should it take a side-burner in a student’s college application process. Allocate a generous timeline for sufficient ACT test prep, and stick to it!
Build that college list.
Crafting a list of colleges of interest can help students identify ballpark ACT score ranges for competitive entry.
It can also inform other aspects of the college application, such as supplemental essay topics, scholarship opportunities, and optional application components.
Take a diagnostic ACT.
Taking a diagnostic practice ACT can give students a greater understanding of their personalgreatscore.
Plus, it’s an essential starting point for effective test prep!
Download ACT Score Ranges for 499 Colleges
Curious about what ACT score you need to get into your dream school?
We’ve compiled the ACT score ranges of successful applicants to the top 499 U.S. colleges in one simple document, which you can download for free below!
Here’s what you’ll get with this handy resource:
- Middle 50 ACT composite scores for the top 499 U.S. colleges and universities
- Middle 50 ACT sectional scores for English and Math
- Admit rate for each college
- All based on the most recent available data (2020)
Kate is a graduate of Princeton University. Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.
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Based on the data above, we can conclude that ACT scores of 21 or higher can be considered “good” ACT scores for 2023 as well since ACT score averages stay fairly stable year over year.What is a good score for a pre ACT test? ›
(Read our complete PreACT guide to learn more.) So what is a good PreACT score? Because it's scored on the same scale as the ACT, we can infer that average scores will hover around 21. Anything above average will start to distinguish you from the pack.What ACT score is good enough? ›
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. The ACT Writing section is optional and uses a separate scoring scale.Is a 25 good on the PreACT? ›
PreACT 8/9 scores of 23 or PreACT scores of 25 are considered the 90th percentile. Practice over the summer and fall. Take the OTC Grade 8/9 course or do lots of practice questions. Free practice tests are also available from ACT.Do ACT scores matter for 2023? ›
But for now, the short answer is that most colleges are not requiring SAT or ACT test scores for the class of 2023.Is the PreACT easier than the ACT? ›
The PreACT is a slightly shorter, slightly easier exam designed to help students prepare for the official ACT exam by simulating the test and testing experience. The PreACT is a paper-and-pencil test comprised of multiple-choice sections for English, Math, Reading, and Science.Is 15 a bad pre ACT score? ›
The 25th percentile score is 15, and the 75th percentile score is 24. This means that if you got 15, you'd have scored the same as or better than 25% of all test takers. Meanwhile, the 75th percentile means you scored better than 75% of test takers.Does pre ACT predict ACT scores? ›
#1: PreACT Scores are Accurate Predictors of ACT Test Scores
PreACT scores are strong predictors of ACT scores. This is not surprising given that the PreACT measures the same knowledge and skills as the ACT, but at a level appropriate for students in grades 8–9 (PreACT 8/9) and grade 10 (PreACT).
Unsurprisingly, the highest potential comes with ACT scores 30+. With ACT scores in the 30-36 range, it's possible to win $10,000 or more in scholarship prizes.What ACT score do most colleges accept? ›
Top colleges and universities usually look for ACT scores in the 32-36 range.
The minimum requirements to receive a scholarship are a rank in the top 50% of your class, a GPA of 3.5 or over, and an SAT score of 1100 or an ACT score of 22.What is the average ACT score first time? ›
The average ACT score is 20.
If you've scored 21, then you've scored higher than 50% of test-takers. That's pretty good, depending on your frame of reference.
The PreACT is a great way to learn how to manage your time, figuring out how much time it will take you to answer a certain section or write an essay in a real, test-taking environment.Is a 33 on the PreACT good? ›
To help you understand how great of a score this is, let's look at this from the angle of percentiles. A 33 puts you at the 98th percentile, meaning you scored higher than 98% of all test takers! Congratulations! You're also qualified for a sizable amount of merit aid, which can really help pay off college tuition.Is the ACT changing in 2023? ›
We've compiled the most important updates for the new 2022-2023 season below! The SAT and ACT will still be compared using the same concordance tables; they have no plans to adjust these moving forward.Will a 23 ACT get you into college? ›
A 23 ACT score makes you eligible to apply at a good number of colleges and universities, and competitive to apply at many, too. You won't be competitive at selective schools quite yet, but you're certainly in a good place to be accepted at many decent schools.What is the lowest ACT score to get into college? ›
Colleges That Accept Average ACT 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.Will it be easier to get into college 2023? ›
Admission rates for 2022-2023 have not been announced but are expected to remain just as low. Given this competitive environment, admission experts say students shouldn't assume they'll be a 'shoe-in' at any school.Do colleges prefer ACT or SAT? ›
Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Most colleges do not prefer one test over the other. Neither the SAT or ACT is harder than the other. Different students tend to do better on one test over the other.Is ACT score more important than GPA? ›
A GPA has always been an important part of the university admissions process in the United States. According to a 2020 study, high school GPA is a better predictor of college graduation than ACT scores.
The current 2021-2022 ACT practice test is the most accurate test available.What is the average ACT score for a 11th grader? ›
|State/District||Average ACT Score|
Taking the ACT with writing will not improve your composite score. If you are confident that you will score highly on the ACT multiple-choice sections, but are a weak writer, you may prefer to skip this section.What is the lowest ACT score Harvard accepted? ›
The average ACT score of Harvard-accepted students is 33. Although Harvard claims there is no minimum ACT score, if you apply with a 29 or lower, you'll have difficulty getting in. So, to get into Harvard, it is important to note the different Harvard University requirements for test scores.What is the lowest ACT score to get into Harvard? ›
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.Is 18 a low ACT score? ›
What percentile is a 18 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.How ACT scores change with test preparation? ›
Among students who took the ACT twice, those who reported preparing for the second test earned on average ACT Composite scores about 1.4 points higher than their scores on the first test.What is the single biggest predictor of ACT scores? ›
Cleveland Kids' Book Bank - Reading is the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and ACT scores. #KBB #CLEreads | Facebook.How much harder is the ACT than the pre ACT? ›
The PreACT is easier than the ACT: Because the PreACT targets 10th graders and the ACT targets 11th and 12th graders, the PreACT uses a slightly easier difficulty than the ACT does. Consequently, the maximum score on the PreACT is 35, compared with 36 on the ACT.What ACT score will get a full ride? ›
Overall, my research so far has been surprising in that there are a few schools that will offer full-tuition scholarships starting in the 22 – 25 ACT range, but most full-ride scholarships require a 28 ACT or higher.
College admission tests like the SAT and ACT are standardized tests typically taken in your junior or senior year. Colleges use scores from these tests to help them make admission decisions. Each college has its own admission processes and policies, and they use scores differently. Here are the facts you need to know.Will a 27 on the ACT get you scholarships? ›
30+ is a great score, but scholarships can be available for students scoring in the mid-20s or even lower—it just depends on which scholarships you're applying for.Do colleges look at GPA or ACT scores more? ›
When it comes to the GPA and the ACT, students often wonder which one is more important. Although college admissions officers often say that they give much more weight to a student's GPA, even they will admit that your ACT score is of considerable importance.What is the minimum ACT score to get into 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.Do colleges still care about the ACT? ›
Though many four-year colleges and universities in the United States require ACT or SAT scores for admission, these days, many do not. Colleges that don't require ACT scores are known as "test-optional" schools. This means that you do not have to send in any ACT/SAT scores with your application but may if you want to.How much scholarship money can I get with a 25 ACT? ›
The student has a top 10% class rank and a 3.9 unweighted GPA. Here, you can see that a student with a 21 ACT score gets zero merit money. A 25 gets the student $8,000 per year or $32,000 over four years. An increase from 25 to 29 would increase the scholarship by $22,000 over 4 years.What is the lowest ACT score acceptable to receive the HOPE scholarship? ›
Meet the following criteria:
A minimum composite score of 24 is required for the ACT. A minimum score of 1160 is required for the SAT.
ACT test scores are a big factor in merit scholarships and awards, meaning awards based on academic achievement. On average, students who take the test more than once increase their score and can take advantage of superscoring - the average of your best scores from each subject from multiple test attempts.Do colleges look at how many times you take the ACT? ›
5. Can Colleges See How Many Times You Have Taken the ACT? As is the case with the SAT, colleges only see the ACT score you choose to send them. However, you can not pick and choose between sections on different tests.What's the lowest score ever on the ACT? ›
A perfect score is a 36, so that would be the highest ACT score ever recorded. The ACT is scored out of a total of 36 points — this is known as the composite, or total, score. The lowest possible composite score is 1.
English: 34 (miss no more than around 7 questions) Math: 28 (miss no more than around 16 questions) Reading: 34 (miss no more than around 3 questions) Science: 30 (miss no more than around 7 questions)Is Prep Scholar for the ACT good? ›
PrepScholar provides a robust and high-touch curriculum that should work well for most students. With hundreds of hours of lesson work, thousands of practice problems (7,100+ SAT and 4,300+ ACT), and 16 total practice tests (10 SAT and 6 ACT), PrepScholar definitely delivers on the prep volume front.What are the downsides of Preact? ›
Cons of Preact
This makes the project large and slow. No Synthetic Event Handling: Preact is based on browser API and doesn't support synthetic event handling, which can affect app performance and cause maintenance issues while using React for development and Preact for production.
PreACT 8/9 scores of 23 or PreACT scores of 25 are considered the 90th percentile. Practice over the summer and fall. Take the OTC Grade 8/9 course or do lots of practice questions. Free practice tests are also available from ACT.Is a 33 ACT 99th percentile? ›
On the ACT, 34 and up is the 99th percentile.
So if you score 34 or higher, you're in the top 1% of test takers!
Admission to any of the eight Ivy League schools is highly selective, and ACT scores are an important piece of the admissions equation. Generally applicants will need a composite score of 30 or higher to be competitive although some applicants are admitted with lower scores.What is the average SAT score for class of 2023? ›
The average score for the Evidence-Based Writing (ERW) section is 529, and the average score for the Math section is 521. A good SAT Score for 2023 will likely be close to 1050 as well.Is a 25 a good first time ACT score? ›
Is 25 a good ACT score? A “good” ACT is one that makes you eligible to apply to a vast majority of colleges and makes you competitive, which a 25 ACT score definitely does. Make sure the rest of your college application is up to par with your great ACT score!Is a 31 ACT good enough 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.
Because competition for elite schools is fierce, every extra point both on your ACT score and GPA will help. A 33 lands you solidly in the mid-range for average acceptance at places like Yale and Harvard, above their 25th percentile, which is 32, but below the 75th, which is 34-35.What is a perfect SAT score in 2023? ›
Both the Math and English sections are scored on a scale of 200 to 800. The maximum possible score on each section is 800, so the maximum total score you can get on the SAT is 1600.Will 2023 SAT be easier? ›
Many of the changes to the SAT's format and content are designed to make the exam more accessible for students. The digital SAT will be shorter, reading passages will be more concise, questions will be more direct, and students will have access to a wider range of digital tools.Does Harvard require SAT scores 2023? ›
Yes. Applicants may provide self-reported SAT and ACT test scores (including Subject Tests, Advanced Placement, IB, etc.). Admitted students who decide to enroll at Harvard College will be required to submit official test scores.Can I get into Harvard with a 25 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.
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.How hard is it to get a 25 on ACT? ›
With a score of 25, you are in the 79th percentile of all test takers. More likely than not, with a score of 25, you'll often be in or near the commonly accepted range at selective colleges.What ACT score gets you a full ride? ›
Overall, my research so far has been surprising in that there are a few schools that will offer full-tuition scholarships starting in the 22 – 25 ACT range, but most full-ride scholarships require a 28 ACT or higher.What's the lowest ACT score Harvard has accepted? ›
The average ACT score of Harvard-accepted students is 33. Although Harvard claims there is no minimum ACT score, if you apply with a 29 or lower, you'll have difficulty getting in. So, to get into Harvard, it is important to note the different Harvard University requirements for test scores.What is the lowest ACT score for Harvard? ›
Harvard College is extremely selective with an acceptance rate of 4%. Students that get into Harvard College have an ACT score of 34–36. Regular applications are due January 1.
Cornell is considered the "easiest" Ivy League to get into because it has the highest Ivy League acceptance rate. While it's easier, statistically speaking, to get into Cornell, it's still challenging. It's also important to remember that students apply directly to one of Cornell's eight undergraduate colleges.Do Ivy Leagues prefer ACT or SAT? ›
A common myth is that prestigious schools, like the Ivy League (Yale University, Princeton University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Columbia University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, University of Pennsylvania) prefer the SAT. This is not true, though. Schools have no preference in regards to ACT vs.Can 32 ACT get into Harvard? ›
ACT scores range from 33 to 35, with 35 representing the 75th percentile. Even though Harvard probably states that there is no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 33 or lower, you will likely struggle to get in unless you have other extremely strong application materials.