What Is a Good ACT Score? 

Getting a good ACT score can help you get into your dream college or earn an advantageous merit scholarship. But how do you figure out what your ideal score is? In 2022, what is a good ACT score? A good ACT score is generally 24 or higher; this is because it’s best to aim for an ACT composite score in the 75th percentile or higher. However, a “good” score for you may not be the same as for someone else; your ACT score goal will be determined by your future college, scholarship, and career goals. 

Different colleges and universities will have different requirements for prospective students in order to be accepted. Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes a good ACT score and how you can set your personal target score.

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What Is a Good ACT Score 

The ACT Test: An Overview

The ACT is a standardized test used to prepare students in grades 10 through 12 for post-secondary education. It is administered both nationally and internationally every year. Rather than being an aptitude or IQ test, the ACT questions are intended to demonstrate what students learned in high school. It primarily assesses your math, science, and verbal abilities, with English, Math, Reading, and Science as the four main sections, plus an optional Writing section. The ACT reports that show the results of their test-takers can teach high school educators and counselors a lot. 

These findings may aid counselors and teachers in assisting students with their college and career preparation and decisions. It also allows them to assess the effectiveness of their teaching methods and curriculum. They will be able to make changes and improvements as needed.

What is the ACT’s Scoring System?

The ACT is graded by adding your scores from 1 to 36 on the four main sections and averaging them for your composite score. Rather than penalizing you for incorrect answers, your ACT score is determined by the number of questions you correctly answered. In general, you should aim for an ACT composite score in the 75th percentile or higher – that is, a score of at least 24. However, a “good” score for you may not be the same as for someone else; your ACT score goal will be determined by your future college, scholarship, and career goals. 

Different colleges and universities will have different requirements for prospective students in order to be accepted. The ACT does not have a set passing score. A “good” score is entirely determined by the school you wish to attend, as well as your other educational, scholarship, and career objectives. Your ACT score is a deciding factor in admission decisions at many post-secondary educational institutions. Getting a high ACT score that meets the requirements of the college you want to attend can help you get accepted. Knowing this can assist you in setting a reasonable but challenging goal for yourself.

What Role Does The ACT Play in College Admissions?

Along with the SAT, the ACT is a standardized test and a college entrance exam. In high school, students in the United States (and some elsewhere) can take either the ACT or the SAT. Many colleges and universities do not differentiate between the two tests and will accept either of them. However, your standardized test scores can account for up to 50% of a school’s admission decision. A high ACT score may help boost your application if your GPA is low, depending on the school.

However, not all colleges consider ACT or SAT scores. Some people’s views on standardized tests are changing these days, and some colleges may not like them. Furthermore, since the coronavirus pandemic made it more difficult to complete standardized tests, some schools have gone “test-optional.” Before you sign up for the ACT, check to see if the schools you want to apply to require the ACT as part of the application process. 

If the school is test-optional and your score falls below the 50th percentile range, not sending your score in may actually help your application. These are some things to think about before taking the ACT and sending your results to colleges.

Good Pre-ACT Scores Are Required Prior To Taking The Test.

The PreACT can be an extremely useful practice test for those preparing for the ACT in the future. When studying for the ACT, taking a practice test can help you get a head start. It can assist you in identifying your weak spots. It may also provide you with an opportunity to become acquainted with the test’s format and content.

What is PreACT’s scoring system?

The PreACT is almost identical to the ACT in terms of scoring. Your composite score is the median of your scores from all four of the same sections that are tested on the ACT. It is graded on a scale of 1-35 (while the ACT is 1-36). Because it’s scored so similarly, the average grade is similar to that of ACT test scores: 20 or 21. Naturally, the higher your score, the better, and you should aim for above average. The practice ACT test lasts about 2 hours, or about half as long as the real ACT (depending on whether you complete the writing section). 

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It can be a useful tool for preparing test takers for the real thing. This practice run can also highlight your strong points as well as areas where you need to improve before taking the actual test. Your PreACT results will include predictions for your ACT score ranges in addition to your score. Keep in mind that this isn’t always a perfect predictor of how well you’ll do on the actual ACT. After all, most students take the PreACT in tenth grade and the ACT in eleventh grade at the earliest. You’ll have plenty of time to study the materials from your high school courses. 

You’ll also have plenty of time to prepare for the ACT. However, because you’ll know which areas to focus on after taking the PreACT, you’ll feel more prepared and have more effective study time. Keep in mind that the PreACT is only a practice test. Don’t get too worked up if you don’t like your grade. Admissions officers do not see these scores.

Getting Ready For The Test

It may be helpful to think of this time as an extra class while studying and preparing for the ACT. Put in the same amount of time and effort as you would for one of your high school courses (or even more!). Make a study schedule for yourself and decide what materials and strategies you’ll employ to prepare. Consider hiring a tutor, using a practice book, or taking a practice test among your options. Choose the approach that best suits you and your learning style, and then build your weekly study schedule around it.

Check out the official ACT prep materials for classes, books, tutoring, practice tests, and more if you’re looking for ACT study materials. Your test preparation strategy should include narrowing down your list of colleges to apply to. Include “match” schools (those that perfectly match your academic ability), “reach” schools (those that are slightly above your academic achievements), and “safety” schools in your search (which are a bit below your academic capabilities, but may provide a safety net, should things fall through with your preferred schools).

Schedule at least one ACT test after you’ve made study plans and a solid list of colleges. It’s probably best to take the ACT for the first time during your junior year, in the fall or winter. This allows you to have covered the majority of the material in your high school classes before taking the test. It will, however, give you plenty of time to retake the test later if you so desire. Remember that you can take the ACT as many times as you want if things don’t go as planned the first time. When you’re ready to apply to colleges, only submit your highest score.

Taking Advantage Of Test Day

It’s critical to prepare your mind and body for focus and calm on the day of your ACT exam. This implies that you should be well-rested and fed. Get a good night’s rest the night before. Limit your evening activities and go to bed early enough to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep. Then, in the morning, eat a balanced, nutritious breakfast to avoid becoming too hungry during the exam. The ACT test takes about 3.5 hours to complete, including breaks. The ACT Plus Writing takes about half an hour longer. As a result, your entire testing day, including all administrative instructions and protocols, will most likely last 4.5-5 hours. 

That has been a long day. Don’t forget to bring a snack and a water bottle. As the day progresses, you’ll have the opportunity to snack during your test breaks. It’s completely normal for test-takers to feel anxious before a test as important as the ACT. A little nervousness can help you concentrate on improving your performance. However, excessive test anxiety can make for a miserable day. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths. Also, keep in mind that you’ll always have other options if things don’t go as planned. During the college admissions process, colleges will take into account more than just the ACT.

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What Does a Good ACT Composite Score Mean?

Let’s go over the components of an ACT composite score: The ACT test has four sections that must be completed: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Each is graded on a scale of 1 to 36, and your total score is the average of all four. (While the test includes an optional writing section, it is scored separately and is not included in your composite score.) Composite scores above the 50th percentile – roughly 19-21 – are considered good ACT scores. However, it is unlikely to be sufficient for admission to a competitive college. 

For an above-average ACT score, you’ll probably want to aim for the 75th percentile – a score of around 24. Keep in mind, however, that the term “good score” is subjective. It depends entirely on your objectives and the type of college or university you wish to attend. For example, if you want to attend a highly competitive school like an Ivy League, you should aim for a score in the 32-26 range (which we’ll go over in more detail later). This is why it’s critical to use some of your ACT preparation time to figure out what you want to do after high school.

What To Do If You’re Dissatisfied With Your Grade

Remember that you can prepare, study, and retake the ACT if your score is lower than you expected. If necessary and time allows, you can repeat this process several times. If this happens, make sure you spend extra time studying and preparing for the sections where you scored lower. If you were only 1 or 2 points short of your goal, it might be best to just accept your final score and move on. Of course, this will depend on how competitive the school you want to attend is. However, in many of these situations, your time would be better spent improving other aspects of your college application.

If necessary, you might want to change your school list to make it more accessible. You can still get a good education if you go to a school that isn’t quite as selective as you had hoped. If you don’t have time to retake the test, this is an excellent strategy. You can still apply to your dream schools, but you should focus your efforts and time on the “match” and “safety” schools on your list. You could also include some schools that do not require ACT scores as part of the application process.

It’s important to remember that making mistakes is normal. Avoid the temptation to compare yourself to others and focus on doing your best. You can be compassionate to yourself and even proud of what you’ve accomplished! It may sound cliche, but getting a lower ACT score than you expected isn’t the end of the world. You will still be able to find a great higher education path that is right for you. Let’s look at what constitutes a good score in each of the ACT subjects:

What Does an ACT English Score Mean?

The ACT English section focuses on grammar, punctuation, passage organization, rhetorical skills, and sentence structure. There are 75 multiple choice questions and 5 passages in this test. This section of the test will take 45 minutes to complete. For the English section, 1-19 represents below average, 20-23 represents the average, 24-28 represents above average, and 29-36 represents the highest possible score.

What Does a Good ACT Math Score Look Like?

Pre-algebra, intermediate algebra, elementary algebra, plane geometry, coordinate geometry, and trigonometry are all tested in the ACT math section. It consists of 60 multiple-choice math problems, with test-takers having 60 minutes to complete them. The score ranges in this section are similar to those in English: 1-19 is below average, 20-23 is average, 24-27 is above average, and 28-36 is the highest possible score.

What is a good ACT score in science?

Biology, physics, chemistry, and space/earth sciences are all covered in the science section of the ACT. It consists of seven passages and forty multiple-choice questions based on them. Participants will have 35 minutes to finish the section. The following are the ACT science section score ranges: 1-20 is considered below average. The average range is 21-24, the above-average is 25-26, and the highest range is 27-36.

What is a Good Reading Score on the ACT?

Test takers will have 35 minutes to complete 40 multiple choice questions that correspond to passages or passage pairs in the ACT reading section. Each passage is followed by approximately ten questions. Natural sciences, humanities, literary fiction, and social science are commonly covered in the passages. A good ACT reading score is determined by your objectives, but the following score ranges are common: The score ranges are 1-20 below average, 21-25 average, 26-29 above average, and 30-36 highest.

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What Does an ACT Writing Score Mean?

As previously stated, the ACT writing section is optional. If one of the schools on your list requires it, you only need to complete it. The cost of taking the ACT with this section is $85 instead of $60 for the ACT without the writing section. It also contains an essay prompt. You’ll assess three different points of view on a topic or argument. In your own essay, you’ll examine the strengths and weaknesses of each viewpoint and compare them to provide a comprehensive analysis of the various arguments surrounding the topic at hand. 

Finally, you’ll present your own viewpoint on the subject. This section will take 40 minutes to complete. Your essay will be graded on its ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, language use, and conventions by two readers. You’ll get a total score on a scale of 2-12 based on the averages of the grades you get for each category. This score is reported separately and does not factor into your overall score. Your writing scores, though optional, can be important to colleges depending on your score range. 

A 6 is an average, respectable score. A score of 8 or higher is in the 90th percentile and is considered good. A score of 10, 11, or 12 indicates exceptionally strong writing abilities.

Schools with High ACT Scores

Find out what the colleges on your list look for when making admissions decisions to help you determine your target ACT score. You should aim to score at or above the school’s average ACT score – that is, the middle 50% of their student’s ACT scores. On the school’s website, look for a first-year class profile page or a facts and figures page to find this number. You can also look up the school’s name and the phrase “ACT score range” online. Determine the range of ACT scores between the 25th and 75th percentiles at that school, and then aim for the 50th to 75th percentile.

Less competitive institutions are more likely to accept an ACT score closer to the national average of 21. Universities with strict admissions policies will prefer something in the 32-36 range. In fact, a 34 or higher appears to be the magic number for an Ivy League school. Here is a list of 20 of the best schools in the United States to get you started. Many of them are highly competitive, while others are average. The 25th percentile and 75th percentile ACT scores for each school’s students are also listed.

School25th Percentile75th Percentile
Johns Hopkins University$33$35
University of Pennsylvania32$35
Harvard University$32$35
Stanford University$32$35
Yale University$32$35
University of Notre Dame3234
Duke University$31$35
Princeton University$31$35
Columbia University$31$34
Cornell University3134
Georgetown University$30$34
Villanova University$30$33
New York University$29$33
Boston University$29$32
Clemson University$27$31
Purdue University2531
Indiana University Bloomington$2531
Penn State University25$30
Texas A&M University25$30


An excellent ACT score places you ahead of the majority of test-takers. As a result, any composite score higher than the 50th percentile, or 19-20, is considered good. However, many competitive colleges will not accept a 20. This is why you should aim even higher, preferably in the top 25% — or a composite score of around 24. English, Math, Reading, and Science are the four sections of the ACT. On a scale of 1-36, each subject is graded. The average of your four section scores is your total ACT score. To achieve a good ACT score, you should aim for a score of around 24 in each section.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum ACT scorae for Harvard?

Although there is no absolute ACT requirement at Harvard, they do want to see at least a 33 to be considered. A university of Harvard’s caliber has equally high ACT requirements.

Is a 7 on the ACT a good score?

You have a good chance of getting into three colleges if you apply to three. With this score, you have a very slim chance of getting into 1496 schools.

Is a 14 on the ACT a good score?

Is a 14 an acceptable ACT score? A score of 14 is clearly inadequate. It puts you in the bottom 13th percentile of the 2 million people who took the ACT entrance exam nationwide. The score indicates that you performed extremely poorly on the English, Math, Reading, and Science sections of the test.

What is a genius ACT score?

Unsurprisingly, a perfect 36 is the most uncommon score of all—only 0.313 percent of all test takers received a perfect score on the ACT. The next highest score, 35, was earned by roughly three times as many students; however, this is still a very rare score, as only 0.925 percent of test-takers received it. 25 Nov 2021

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