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What Is The Lowest ACT Score Colleges Will Accept?

Mar 1, 2024

The wish to pursue quality education for a dream career requires taking exams that evaluate your college readiness capability. 

More than 3000 colleges, universities, and scholarship agencies utilize the ACT score for admission, course placement, and scholarship decisions, indicating the test’s significance. Scoring good offers the opportunity to enter the desired college to pursue higher education. But what is a good score? What can be the lowest score that colleges would accept? How do you set the target score for preparation? Join us as we answer. 


What are the Criteria of Assessment in the ACT Test?

Firstly, understand the aspects of evaluation in the ACT test, which decides the score. The ACT test is assessed through four components, namely English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, with an optional writing test. 

  • The English test evaluates writing and language skills to identify student’s experiences and interests. 
  • The Mathematics test evaluates the knowledge and problem-solving skills pertaining to basic formulas. 
  • Reading tests judge evidence-based, logical reasoning, and analytical abilities. 
  • Science tests further judge the candidates’ interpretation, evaluation, analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. 
  • The ACT writing test measures writing skills over complex issues. 

What are the Possible ACT Scores? 

ACT score depends individually on the previously stated four multiple-choice tests. Each multiple-choice test offers scores ranging between 1 and 36. The final score is the overall composite or average with a round-off to the nearest whole number. The average ACT score is 20. 


What is the Lowest ACT Score Colleges Will Accept? 

Several colleges indicate the acceptable ACT score range on their websites. The acceptable score varies depending on the college. 

For instance, prestigious universities require minimum scores of 32 and 33. However, other colleges lower the criteria. Several public schools accept scores of around 26 to 27, while the schools at the state level open admission for students lying in the ACT score range of 18 to 22. 


The public universities further lower the requirements by accepting the top 10% or 7% of the graduates in high school class. Moreover, the schools dealing with creative subjects like music and art also lower their standardized test requirements. 

Yet, students with one or two points lower scores compared to the acceptable range are not discouraged from applying. Rather, in rare opportunities, they do stand a chance for admission. The key here is to present themself with another important strength of theirs deemed considerable or worthy of acceptance for the college. 


How Do You Know the SAT Equivalence of ACT Score? 

The requirements of colleges might vary with specific requirements for ACT or SAT scores. ACT offers the concordance table comparing the SAT to ACT and ACT to SAT scores. Find there the composite and subject-wise comparison to know the SAT equivalent of your ACT score.  

How to Improve ACT Score?

Not getting the desired school presents another opportunity to strengthen your concepts and take the test again. With the option available to retake the exam, here are the points to necessarily consider to achieve your dream: 


Strategic preparation: Though your preparation will be thorough, remember to identify your weak and strong points. You can pace up the preparation to meet the admission deadline in the same session or give yourself the dedicated time for preparation. Either way, focus and schedule the preparation strategy based on your strengths and weaknesses. Be clear with your target date of attempting the exam and stick to it. 

SMART approach: Firstly, no negative marking or penalty exists. Hence, utilize the opportunity to answer every question. Secondly, it is a multiple-choice test. For some questions, identify the wrong options rather than looking only for the right option. The elimination method certainly helps and saves time. Go through the paper to check your familiarity with the questions. Mark them according to the familiarity, time required to answer, and hardness level. Complete the easiest or most known questions first, followed by time-consuming ones. Head for the remaining ones if time permits. 


Target score: Since you have your results, you know how far you lie compared to the required score. Go through the practice tests and identify the areas of better scores to reach the target. Work on those areas while simultaneously polishing your high-scoring parts. 

Practice: Ensure you perform as much practice as possible. You must analyze your practice sessions with detailed and broadened viewpoints for unbiased judgment. There are multiple free and paid study guides and practice resources available. Make use of those to reach the target.  



Numerous schools and colleges accept ACT test scores. With scores ranging between 1 to 36, the aim should be to excel. Practice and deep analysis of one’s strengths and weaknesses open the scope to get the desired result. Ensure that you dedicate your time to reaching the target score. While the lowest and highest acceptable ACT score varies among the schools and colleges, we encourage you to apply even if you lack one or two points. Do present your strengths that are important for the school of choice and the subject, presenting yourself as a worthy candidate. Alternatively, the option remains to opt for state-level schools and other colleges. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many times can I take the ACT test?

There are no limits to the number of attempts to take the ACT test. Moreover, generally, students take the test 2 to 3 times to reach their desired score.

Is the ACT score the only criterion for admission into elite institutions?

The students are also judged based on the quality of their answers, recommendations, and GPAs.

What is ACT superscore?

ACT superscore is the average of best subject scores from different attempts. It does count as the official score and is automatically calculated on retaking the test.

Do I need to register again to retake the ACT test?

Retaking the ACT test does not require registering again. Moreover, eligible students can also expect test fees to be waived for up to four ACT tests.

Who is eligible to take the ACT test?

The 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade candidates are eligible to take the ACT test. 

what is the lowest ACT score colleges will accept


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