What Is On The ACT Test?

December 5, 2022
By AdmissionSight

What is on the ACT Test?

What is on the ACT test?

The ACT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. So what is on the ACT Test? It is a multiple-choice exam with four sections: English, Reading, Math, and Science, that is given by the test-makers, using paper and pencil.

The ACT test is designed to assess a high school student’s preparation for college and to give universities a single piece of comparable data with which to evaluate all candidates. Standardized test results will be compared to your high school GPA, courses you took, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews, and personal essays by college admissions officers. The importance of ACT scores in the college admissions process varies by school.

Overall, the higher your ACT and/or SAT scores, the more options you will have for attending and funding college. AdmissionSight prepared some frequently asked questions about what is on the ACT Test.

How long does the ACT last? The ACT has a 40-minute writing test, which is an additional option on the ACT. You could be required by some universities to pass the ACT Writing Test, which lasts for 2 hours and 55 minutes. The ACT with Essay will last 3 hours and 35 minutes if you decide to take it. The admissions guidelines for each college are available on the institution’s website.

Female student writing in front of her laptop

How is the ACT scored? A scale of 1 to 36 points is used to assign scores on each ACT section. Your composite ACT score, which is also on a scale from 1 to 36, is the average of your four section scores. You will get a different score on the writing test if you take the ACT along with it.

What are the ACT Fundamentals? The ACT is a standardized test that evaluates a student’s proficiency in five fundamental subjects: writing, math, reading, and science (optional). In order to submit their test results to institutions as part of the college admissions process, students in grades 11 and 12 take the ACT.

What is considered a good score on the ACT?

Now that we have learned some points about what is on the ACT, it is time to know what is considered a good course on the ACT.

You undoubtedly want to know how you did if you took the ACT and got your test results back. Or perhaps you’re preparing for the ACT and want to know what composite score you should aim for. So, what is considered a good ACT score?

What is a good overall ACT score?

The ACT has a scoring range of 1-36. As one might expect, the better you did, the higher your score was. But does an “acceptable” ACT score have a certain cutoff?

It’s critical to comprehend how test scores function in order to respond to this issue. Your composite score, which ranges from 1-36, is translated into a percentile that shows how you performed in relation to the entire ACT test-taking population. If you have a higher percentile, you scored higher than that percentage of students. (A 55th percentile score denotes that you performed better than 55% of students.)

Scores on the ACT are designed to have a normal distribution. This indicates that student performance often falls in the middle of the scale, with the majority of test-takers scoring in the range of slightly below and slightly above the average. Significantly fewer test takers reach the upper and lower ends of the scale.

The ACT score nationwide is 20. If you received a score of 21, you outperformed 50% of the test participants. Depending on your point of view, that is reasonable. You are in the 74th percentile with a score of 24, outperforming 3/4 of the test participants!

A score of 16 places you in the 28th percentile according to the test score percentile criteria, which means you did better than around 25% of test-takers. This is not a very impressive rating.

The average ACT score at the 50th percentile is 20, as we already mentioned. With a score of 24, you outperformed 74% of students. If you get a 28, you outperformed 88% of students, and if you get a 30, you outperformed 93% of them! Anything at or above 34 is in the 99th percentile, which is an incredibly high mark.

Female student using a laptop while studying on her desk.

Due to the small percentile difference between scores, you can also see that not many people fall between the lowest and highest scoring ranges. All of the composite scores between 1 and 8 are in the 1st percentile, and all of the composite scores between 35 and 36 are in the 99th percentile.

The majority of test takers are grouped around the middle of the scale at 20, where a few more points can make a significant difference: moving from 18 to 22 pushes you from the 41st to the 64th percentile—a huge 23 percentile points! However, a similar 4-point increase from 24 to 28 only moves you up to the 88th percentile (from the 74th). There have only been a 14-percentile uptick. And there is only a 6-percentile increase from 30 to 34.

What is the highest score possible on the ACT?

Knowing what is on the ACT Test, will lead to the question of what is the highest score possible on the ACT. The maximum score is 36, and the average score nationwide is 12. A strong ACT composite test score is typically regarded as anything over 27.

The ideal ACT composite score is 36, which is the average of the four subject areas of math, reading, and science. A scale of 1 to 36 is used to grade each section. It is imperative to keep in mind that the writing component does not count toward the composite scores and that a perfect score of 36 can be achieved without also receiving a perfect score on the essay portion.

The test score is a single number without any decimals. Thus, if you receive an average score of 35.5, which indicates that you did not receive the highest score in each section, the number might be rounded up to 36, which would still result in a perfect score.

How uncommon is an ACT perfect score?

Only about 0.334% of test takers receive the highest possible score, which is a flawless 36.

For instance, in 2018, over three times as many students as in 2017 achieved the next-highest ACT score of 35, yet only 0.961% of students did so. It’s interesting to note that a sizable percentage of students—roughly 1.251%—get a 34.

Three students working on a table.

Because of this, achieving a score of 36 will set you apart, especially when applying to competitive colleges. Even the top test scorers seldom achieve this score.

We will also provide you with step-by-step guidance for determining what an appropriate score is for you based on the universities you intend to apply to. We’ll also

In this blog, AdmissionSight was able to discuss what is on the ACT and what constitutes a strong composite score. Taking the said test should be a little simpler now that you have a better idea of what will be covered.

When in doubt, AdmissionSight is the best admissions consultant that can provide guidance for determining what an appropriate test score is for you based on the universities to which you intend to apply to. Plus, we could address what you can do if your score falls short of your target range and present ACT score ranges for 38 well-known colleges. Contact us now.


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