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Average ACT Scores – A Complete Guide

Oct 20, 2022
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The colleges and universities you are considering will determine what constitutes “good” on ACT scores. A 23 on ACT score is above the current national average and will make you a good applicant to many universities, but it may be below the average score for admitted students at more selective colleges. The possibilities available to you increase with your ACT scores. 

Understanding ACT Scores

Apart from SAT, ACT is one of the sought-after examinations for students to get into undergraduate studies. Though accepted by a lesser number of colleges in comparison to SAT, ACT is the next best-preferred examination for students targeting specific universities. As per the scores, the highest attainable score in the ACT is 36 and the current average score is around 21.

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Is there something like a Good ACT Score?

The ACT examination is scored on a scale of 36 and the exam comprises four sections namely Math, English, Science, and Reading, and each section is scored 36 points. The average SAT score is drawn out of the sum of these individual sections’ scores and taken as an average of it.

Here is a brief overview of Average ACT scores per Section:

SECTIONAVG ACT SCORE
English20.3
Math20.7
Reading21.4
Science21.0
COMPOSITE21.0

As per the annual average scoring terms, 23 is supposed to be called a good ACT score that increases the chances of getting into a good college. However, a good ACT score depends on the colleges and universities the student is aiming for. If the student is aiming for a high-rated college, he/she should aim at a score higher than the average ACT score for best results.

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Above Average ACT Scores:

These scores are a number that is much above the average ACT score and proven to be useful for the students who are aiming for prestigious colleges such as MIT and Harvard.
Here is the list of ACT score range for such high rated colleges in the US:

ACT Score Ranges for Selective Colleges

SCHOOLACT COMPOSITE SCORE
(25TH–75TH PERCENTILE)
ACCEPTANCE RATE
Columbia University32–356%
Harvard College32–355%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology33–358%
New York University29–3332%
Princeton University32–357%
University of California—Berkeley29–3415%
University of Pennsylvania31–3410%
Yale University31–357%

What about Below Average ACT Scores?

These scores are less than the average ACT score mark, but still, the student can get a chance to get into a four-year college. However, the below-average score should be compensated with an outstanding application. Some colleges might ask the students to get into some remedial courses before offering an admission- for the students applying with below-average ACT scores.

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Why is a high ACT Score Important?

The reasons are obvious why higher ACT scores will be advantageous. It greatly increases the number of options you can choose for college applications. A high ACT score keeps your application in the forefront and stands out in front of other applications. The student can have higher liberty to choose the colleges of their choice with a higher ACT score.
Getting a high ACT score also provides the student with an opportunity to avail of merit scholarships- which will ease the study expenses. Taking the guidance of an experienced counselor can help the student gain a better ACT score, make a good college application, and guide towards studying in a dream college of their choice.

How to Get and Use my Old ACT Score?

If you have appeared for the ACT from Spring 2008, the scores can be attained easily online. However, to access the courses, the student needs to have an official ACT account. If at all you have already registered earlier, you will have to log in with the official ACT credentials on the website.
For the students who do not have an online account, they will have to know about the ACT ID numbers to access the scores. The ACT ID number is present on your admission ticket and the official ACT score report, that is sent to the high school and colleges you requested. It’s an eight-digit number beginning with a hyphen.

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What if I forgot my ACT ID?

One can call the customer care of ACT inc to recover the ACT ID by validating their basic credentials such as
• Full Name
• Date of the ACT test
• The Home Address ( That was given during the exam application)
• Date of Birth
ACT Inc’s customer care number is 319-337-1270.
If at all you appeared for the ACT test before Spring 2008, you cannot get the score online, unfortunately. But, ACT Inc has an offline database of all the scorers and appeared tests as long as the year 1966.

Having the basic credentials and test-related information on hand can help the agent find your score. The test date and the home address given at the time of the application are mandatory for this process.
Sending an ACT Score Report for an Old Test
The ACT scores are archived for tests taken before September 1, 2015. If a score is archived, it is not present in the active file.
The student needs to pay an additional $24 fee for finding and sending archived ACT score reports. Additionally, report requests for archived scores take an additional working day to process and complete.

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What are the Options for ACT Score Ordering?

One can order the ACT scores online through the official ACT account login by paying a fee through a valid credit card.
The student can also order ACT scores in offline mode by mail- sending a request letter to ACT, Inc at the below address:
ACT Customer Care—Score Reports
PO Box 451
Iowa City, IA 52243-0451
USA

The letter must include the following mandatory information:

  • Your full name
  • Your full name at the time you registered for or took the ACT (if different)
  • Your current mailing address
  • Your home address at the time you registered for or took the ACT (if different)
  • Your ACT ID number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your phone number
  • Test date (month and year) for which you want scores reported (include test location if you tested more than once in the same month)
  • Valid codes and names (with city and state) for the colleges and/or scholarship agencies to which you want to send your scores
  • Be sure to specify whether you want regular or priority reports, and include your payment in the form of a check or money order payable to ACT, Inc.
  • To get priority reports, the student can also order ACT scores over the phone and make the fee payments through a valid credit card. An additional $15 fee for each score report request made by phone.

Comparing ACT Scores from Different Years:

A composite score of the current ACT score of 35 is equivalent to 35 in the year 1995.

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Below is a chart showing ACT percentiles over the past six testing years:

Year99th %ile75th %ile50th %ile25th %ile1st %ile
201734-362420161-11
201634-362420161-10
201533-362420161-11
201433-362420161-11
201333-362420161-11
201233-362420171-11

The Final Word:

Understanding ACT scores will give the student a good understanding of how to apply to colleges and plan their career accordingly. There are multiple ways in which the student can attain the ACT scores- online/offline/ or by calling the customer care number.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. How Important are ACT Scores? 

A: Different schools give different weights to ACT scores. Your high school GPA, academic record, letters of Recommendation Additionally, the majority of American colleges and universities accept SAT results instead of ACT score commendation, interviews, and personal essays are additional crucial considerations for admissions officers. Get in touch with the admissions offices of the colleges you’re applying to for further details on how important ACT scores are there. 

Q2. How to Register ACT Test? 

A: Five weeks before each test date, registration deadlines are set. Your school counselor can provide you with registration materials, or you can get a registration packet by calling ACT, Inc. at 319-337-1270. Additionally, ACT.org offers an online registration option. 

Q3. Do I need to take the SAT or ACT? 

A: This depends on the specifications of the institutions you are applying to. You have a choice if any of the schools don’t indicate a preference. Try our Princeton Review Assessment to determine which option could be better for you. 

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