What is a Good Score on the ACT?

You know that your ACT score is important, but what is a Good Score on the ACT? Most students who complete the test do not take the time to familiarize themselves with the test mechanics, and that is understandable because by the time you take the test you will be well on your way to selecting schools or even applying to them. It might help to answer the question of what is a good score to understand what the scores mean.

How the Scores are Calculated

ACT scores are based on averages. First, your correct answers are counted. There is no deduction for being wrong, so it is wise to guess, even if you don’t know. The number of correct answers, which is your raw score, is then converted into a “scale score” according to the ACT website.

The range of possible scores for the ACT composite is 1-36. That composite score is the average of your scores on the sub-tests rounded to the next number. In other words, anything less than a 3.5 will be rounded to 3 and scores 3.5 or greater will be reported as 4.

These sub-tests are English, math, reading and science. The sub-test scores are tabulated in the same way, but the possible range of scores is 1-18. The sub-scores don’t link directly to the composite arithmetically; your composite score will probably not be the sum of your sub-test scores.

What Sub-tests Entail

There are 75 multiple choice questions on the English test that assess your understanding of usage, or the mechanics of the language, and your verbal abilities. The math portion contains 60 questions that include algebra and trigonometry in addition to basic math. There are 40 questions on the reading portion which test your ability to understand written matter and extrapolate information from it. There are also 40 questions on science. Keeping in mind that 18 is a perfect score on these tests, you will probably encounter some questions to which you have no answers. Your score, however, is based upon the number of correct answers you gave.

What a Good Score Is

There are two ways to look at this. The first is in comparison to a national average, according to the PrepScholar.com website. These numbers show how many students nationally scored the same as you scored, or better. For example, a score of 22 on the ACT composite equates to a 63 percent. That means that 37 percent of students who took the test scored a 22 or higher. On the science portion a 19 is 63 percent. Scoring a 22 on the written portion of the test means you scored in the 62nd percentile.

The other way to determine what is a good score is more practical. A good score is one that will meet the minimum accepted score of the schools you want to attend. The ACT score is designed to accommodate the average score of 20. The top 25 percent scores 24 and above and the bottom 25 percent scores 16 or less. That said, some schools accept minimum scores of 17. You have to know what your school expects. To find that, search the school application requirements on the Internet.

Although these scores are just numbers and may indicate more about how you react to taking tests as opposed to your knowledge, they are one standard by which colleges and universities predict your success in their programs. That means that a Good Score on the ACT is the score that will get you into the college of your choice.