Act Score Percentages

July 21, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Act Score Percentages

Similar to the SAT, the American College Testing (ACT) is a standardized examination that prospective college students take. You will almost certainly be required to take one of these exams if you plan to apply to college in the United States; however, even if you intend to attend school outside of the United States, it is possible that you will still be required to do so. It’s important that you know more about ACT score percentages.

The American College Testing (ACT) is a standardized test that is designed to show colleges how well prepared you are for higher education. It does this by measuring your reading comprehension, your knowledge of writing conventions, and your computational skills, and then comparing you to the other high school students who take the test.

The majority of schools with a four-year degree program require applicants to submit either their ACT or SAT scores, which can then make up as much as half of the admission decision.

Male student looking up at the camera while taking a test.

Your application will benefit greatly from having solid scores on standardized tests.

In addition, there are a lot of students whose high schools make them take the ACT even though they don’t want to. Because the ACT is used as a statewide assessment test in a number of states, it is required of all juniors attending public schools in those states.

The ranking of ACT score percentages or percentiles is important because it enables colleges to compare your performance on the ACT with that of other individuals who took the test. Your overall percentile ranking is not nearly as important as the score ranges for the ACT that is required by the colleges to which you are reapplying.

When making admissions decisions, colleges and universities frequently rely on the average ACT score ranges for accepted students, which do not typically undergo significant shifts from one academic year to the next. This range represents the middle fifty percent, or the scores between the 25th and 75th ACT score percentages, of applicants who were admitted.

How to Calculate the ACT Score?

The process of learning how to calculate the ACT score only takes a few minutes of your time.

First, determine your raw score in each of the sections.

In the first step, your raw score will be determined by using the answer key that was provided with the ACT practice test that you purchased.

Using a laptop for Common app essay.

Give yourself one point for every answer that you get right. You will not lose any points for giving answers that are incorrect.

Take your time and carefully evaluate the sections on English, mathematics, reading, and science. When you’re in a hurry to finish grading, you might make careless mistakes.

Example: When Justine has finished the 2021-22 ACT practice test, she then retrieves the answer key for that test. Before adding up her raw scores for each section, she makes a note of the questions she answered incorrectly and marks them. She got all 58 questions about English right, 53 questions about math, 23 questions about reading, and 30 questions about science.

Converting your raw scores to scale scores is the second step.

The next step is to convert each of your four raw scores (one for each section) into a scale score out of a possible 36. You’ll need the ACT score chart that came with your practice test in order to do this.

Find the column on the chart that corresponds to the part of the ACT that you want to score, and then locate the raw score that you received for that section.

Check the far left or far right column for the scale score (out of 36) that corresponds to the answer you are looking for.

If the ACT practice test that you purchased does not come with a scoring chart, you can use an official ACT score chart to get an estimate of how your raw scores may translate into scale scores.

Example:  Justine uses the scoring chart that came with her practice test to move her finger across the chart, moving it from each raw score to the appropriate scale score. According to the chart, a scale score of 26 represents a raw score of 58 on the English test, a raw score of 53 on the math test corresponds to a scale score of 33, a raw score of 23 on the reading test corresponds to a scale score of 21, and a raw score of 30 on the science test corresponds to a scale score of 26.

Combine all of your scale scores into one average.

The last thing you’ll need to do is calculate your composite score on the ACT.

When reviewing your official score report, college admissions counselors look at this score first. The average of your four scale scores can be computed with the help of a calculator at your disposal. To determine your average, first add up the scores on each of the four scales you used, and then divide that total by 4.

Your result may include a decimal point. Round up to the nearest whole number if the decimal is 0.5 or higher, and round down to the nearest whole number if the decimal is less than 0.5. This recommendation comes from ACT Inc.

Example: Justine enters her four scale scores, which are 26, 33, 21, and 26, into the calculator app on her phone. The resulting average score is 26. The average is calculated to be 26.5, but she goes ahead and rounds it up to 27. This indicates that her overall score on the ACT was 27 out of a possible 36.

The next step, which is completely optional, is to estimate how well you wrote.

Calculating your raw score, scale score, or composite score on the ACT takes less time and effort than estimating your score on the writing section of the exam. You are required to use the same grading rubric that the official ACT graders use, and you must also take into consideration how your essay develops ideas, organizes thoughts, and uses language.

The official website for the ACT offers a wide variety of sample essays, some of which have received high scores while others have received the lowest possible ACT score. Prior to evaluating your practice essay, it is recommended that you spend some time reviewing these materials first.

You could also think about asking a friend, a parent, a guidance counselor, or a teacher to grade your essay for you using the ACT Writing rubric.

What is a Good ACT Score in 2021?

A composite score of 20.7 on the ACT is expected to be the average for the academic year 2020-2021.

Students taking a test in their arm chairs.

On this test, approximately fifty percent of the people who take it earn a score of at least 20.7. The average score on the ACT in the 2019-2020 school year was 20.6, so this score is actually 0.01 percent higher than that.

In contrast, according to the data from the previous year, a total score of 36 on the ACT is achieved by less than one-quarter of one percent (0.27 percent) of students.

A score of 36 on the ACT requires a combination of preparation, performance under test conditions, and even a little bit of good fortune, despite the fact that this number has increased slightly from one year to the next.

To put this into perspective, the higher your ACT score is, the more of an advantage you will have over other applicants.

Take a look at the ACT score percentages for the years 2020 and 2021:

ACT Score Percentages or Percentiles

Percentile English Math Reading Science Composite
90% 31 28 32 28 29
75% 24 24-25 25-26 23-24 24
50% 19 18-19 20 20 20-21
25% 14 15-16 15 16 16

As we can see from this table, in order to be considered among the top 10 percent of ACT scorers, the answer to “what is a good ACT score in 2021?” is astounding. You don’t even need a score of 30!

In addition, achieving a score of 24 on the ACT places you in the top 25 percent of all test takers.

What ACT Score is Needed for College?

The American College Testing Program (ACT) is a standardized test that, like its more well-known relative, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), is designed to evaluate a candidate’s potential for academic achievement in a college setting as well as their prior academic knowledge.

The higher your score, the greater the likelihood that you will be accepted to the colleges and universities of your choice.

Male student taking an exam in a table with a woman next to him.

Having said that, there is no definitive answer to the question of what constitutes a good or bad score; rather, it is entirely dependent on the individual, their goals, their grades, their extracurricular activities, the schools to which they wish to apply, and a variety of other factors.

On the ACT, a score that is considered to be passing for one person may not be considered to be passing for you, and vice versa.

If you get a score of 30 or higher, you are immediately placed in the 90th percentile, which places you above the majority of the students who take the test.

You have a good chance of being awarded financial support from a scholarship.

Now, what ACT score is needed for college scholarships? Surprisingly, there are opportunities for students with ACT scores in the twenties or even lower to win scholarships. The long answer to your question is this: which scholarships and schools are you considering applying to? It is important to keep in mind that in order to qualify for some scholarships, specific ACT subsection scores are required.

For instance, scholarships in the fields of engineering and other sciences will naturally require high scores in those respective sections. It is essential that you carefully read over all of the scholarship applications you submit.

How to Improve the ACT Score?

A strong performance on the ACT can improve your chances of getting into certain colleges and universities, and it can even make you eligible for certain scholarships.

We strongly advise getting ready for the ACT at least a few months in advance by going over the content of the test, taking practice exams, and figuring out where your weak spots are to make sure to get into high ACT score percentages.

Writing a college letter on a table.

The following are some of the most helpful tips and tricks on how to improve the ACT score. These have been informed by test-prep experts to assist you in raising your ACT score and feeling more confident on the day of the test.

1.Get experience using high-quality learning resources.

Taking full-length practice tests and reviewing study guides is likely the piece of advice that is the easiest to remember for the ACT test.

When preparing for the ACT, you should make sure that the resources you use to do so are dependable and accurate with regard to what the actual test will be like.

According to Judi Robinovitz, certified education planner and founder of Score at the Top Learning Centers and Schools, “Start by acquiring materials that help you review concepts and include official tests for practicing,” such as “The Official ACT Prep Guide.” “The Official ACT Prep Guide” is one example of such a resource.

In addition, students have access to a wide variety of free resources on the ACT website, such as sample questions and tests to put their knowledge to the test.

Test-takers are encouraged to seek assistance from other people by Robinovitz, who states that “Teachers, ACT tutors, and even your peers can be of great assistance when you need to brush up on a concept or learn something new.”

Taking an ACT prep course online is yet another choice you have.

2. Hone your time management skills.

Students need to practice taking the ACT under the same time constraints that they will face on test day.

The pressure of a limited amount of time can result in a lower score. There is a direct correlation between your familiarity with the time limits on the ACT and your ability to achieve satisfactory results on the test.

Finding a sense of approximately how much time you can spend on each question on the ACT is the most effective way to manage your time while taking the test. There are some parts of the test that give you more time to answer each question than others.

On the English portion of the test, for instance, you will have only about 36 seconds per question, but on the math portion, you will have an entire minute per question

ACT Section on Timing and Pacing


Time Limit Number of Questions

Time per Question

English 45 minutes 75 36 seconds
Math 60 minutes 60 60 seconds
Reading 35 minutes 40 53 seconds
Science 35 minutes 40 53 seconds

3. Select the same option as your previous answer.

Since there is no penalty for giving an incorrect answer on the ACT, students should make every effort to avoid leaving many questions unanswered.

Having said that, you should be prepared to answer some questions based on your best-educated guess. In circumstances like these, the process of elimination is the method that should be utilized. However, in the event that you have run out of time, it is recommended by specialists that you stick with the same answer for your guessing.

4. Give the questions that you already know the answers to the highest priority.

Even if you have to skip around, you should make it a priority to answer the questions to which you already know the answers.

If you are able to answer questions about which you are certain first, you will have more time to figure out answers to questions about which you are less certain. Make sure you leave enough time to revisit any questions that you may have missed. Making an educated guess is preferable to leaving the space unfilled, even if you are unsure of the correct response.

5. Commit to memory the most common mathematical formulas.

The mathematics portion of the ACT test covers topics such as algebra and geometry.

To find the answers to many of the questions, you will need to be familiar with the relevant formulas. Research the equations and formulas that you might be asked to use on the ACT, and do your best to commit them to memory before taking the test.

6. Accelerate the pace at which you read.

If you are able to reduce the amount of time it takes you to read the questions and understand the passages, you will have more time to think about the answers.

The techniques that increase your reading speed are something that Robinovitz recommends practicing.

She went on to explain that if you have trouble reading through lengthy passages or if you frequently find yourself pressed for time, you should consider working with a tutor or conducting research on how speed reading can be of assistance.

You can contact us in AdmissionSight if you would like to know more about the ACT score percentages and how to improve your test strategies. We also provide assistance in college admission preparations; book a consultation now.

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