How does your ACT score compare? When you get back your ACT score, you might wonder how your score looks compared to other students taking the test in your state or across the country. So what is the average ACT score, and how does yours compare?
Average Score on the ACT
The latest scoring data shows that the average composite score on the ACT is a 20.7. But the data doesn’t stop there. It’s broken down by each section of the test.
Average English score: 20.1
Average Math score: 20.4
Average Reading score: 21.2
Average Science score: 20.6
Using this data can be helpful to understand where your score stands. So if you scored a 21, that means you’re slightly above the 50th percentile— roughly 50% of test takers scored higher than you and 50% scored lower.
Average Scores by State
This chart shows the latest date for average ACT scores by state. An important thing to note is the percentage of students who take the test in a particular state. If it’s a state where the ACT is mandated for all high school juniors, the overall scores might be lower since everyone takes the ACT. In some other states, students may only take the ACT if they are planning to use their scores as part of a college application process, or students in a particular state may primarily take the SAT instead.
|State||% taking the ACT||Average Score|
|District of Columbia||32||23.5|
Want to compare your state’s scores with another state (where your cousin lives, perhaps)? The most accurate comparisons will exist between states that have similar percentages of students taking the ACT each year.
Does the average ACT score matter?
While the average ACT score can be a good benchmark to help you see where you stand compared to other students, especially in your state, it shouldn’t be your goal.
Start by looking at the colleges you want to attend. If the admissions requirement at your top school is a 22, then you don’t want to settle for an average ACT score of 20.7. Even then, that can only be your final goal if you are looking to pay full price for college.
Set a realistic but ambitious goal for yourself. For some, that might be the state or national average ACT score. For others it might be higher. If your ACT score is too low to receive any merit-based aid at your dream school, it might be good to add a few more schools to your list!
Remember that you are your own biggest competition. Your goal should be to work your hardest to get your best score. That means preparing well, taking practice tests, and taking the ACT multiple times. It doesn’t mean comparing yourself to your classmates or siblings.
One family kept each child’s score secret from the others until after they graduated from high school. This might not work for every family, but it was a good way to encourage each child to work their hardest without the pressure of performing better than their siblings.
Keep taking the test. Most people earn their best score the third or fourth time they take the ACT. So don’t stop with your first (or even second) score! Keep working hard and pushing yourself to see how you can improve.
And whether you’re looking to improve your below-average score to above-average or to get into your best-fit college (and win those scholarship dollars!), ACT prep can help. Learn more on our website.