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 data 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
Alabama 100 18.9
Alaska 38 20.1
Arizona 73 19
Arkansas 100 19.3
California 23 22.6
Colorado 27 23.8
Connecticut 22 25.5
Delaware 13 24
District of Columbia 32 23.5
Florida 54 20.1
Georgia 49 21.4
Hawaii 80 19
Idaho 31 22.5
Illinois 35 24.3
Indiana 29 22.5
Iowa 66 21.6
Kansas 72 21.2
Kentucky 100 19.8
Louisiana 100 18.8
Maine 6 24.3
Maryland 28 22.3
Massachusetts 21 25.5
Michigan 19 24.4
Minnesota 95 21.4
Mississippi 100 18.4
Missouri 82 20.8
Montana 100 19.8
Nebraska 100 20
Nevada 100 17.9
New Hampshire 14 25
New Jersey 25 24.2
New Mexico 63 19.3
New York 22 24.5
North Carolina 100 19
North Dakota 96 19.9
Ohio 100 20
Oklahoma 100 18.9
Oregon 42 21.2
Pennsylvania 17 23.6
Rhode Island 12 24.7
South Carolina 78 18.8
South Dakota 75 21.6
Tennessee 100 19.4
Texas 39 20.5
Utah 100 20.3
Vermont 20 24.1
Virginia 21 24
Washington 24 22.1
West Virginia 49 20.8
Wisconsin 100 20.3
Wyoming 100 19.8
National 52 20.7

 

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. 

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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.