How does your ACT score compare? When you receive your ACT score, you might wonder how your score compares to other students in your state or nationwide. So what is the average ACT score, and how does yours compare? 

Average Score on the ACT

The latest scoring data (2021) shows that the average composite score on the ACT is a 20.3. But the data doesn’t stop there. It’s broken down by each section of the test.

Average English score: 19.6
Average Math score: 19.9
Average Reading score: 20.9
Average Science score: 20.4

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 factor is the percentage of students who take the test in a particular state. In a state where the ACT is mandated for all high school juniors, overall scores might be lower since everyone takes the ACT.  In other states, students might only take the ACT to use their scores in college applications, or students in a particular state may primarily take the SAT instead. 

State % taking the ACT Average Score
Alabama 100 18.7
Alaska 16 20.6
Arizona 35 19.8
Arkansas 99 19
California 5 26.1
Colorado 16 23.6
Connecticut 9 27.2
Delaware 5 25.7
District of Columbia 19 25.6
Florida 34 20.4
Georgia 24 22.6
Hawaii 67 18.2
Idaho 16 23
Illinois 19 25.2
Indiana 14 23.1
Iowa 47 21.5
Kansas 79 19.9
Kentucky 100 19.2
Louisiana 98 18.4
Maine 2 25.6
Maryland 8 25.5
Massachusetts 7 27.6
Michigan 9 25.1
Minnesota 60 21.6
Mississippi 100 18.1
Missouri 63 20.6
Montana 70 20.4
Nebraska 86 19.9
Nevada 100 17.8
New Hampshire 4 26.6
New Jersey 12 25.1
New Mexico 23 20.7
New York 9 26.3
North Carolina 92 18.8
North Dakota 100 19.6
Ohio 85 19.6
Oklahoma 58 19.7
Oregon 20 20.6
Pennsylvania 7 25
Rhode Island 4 25.8
South Carolina 50 18.6
South Dakota 55 21.6
Tennessee 100 19.1
Texas 23 20.1
Utah 86 20.6
Vermont 4 24.7
Virginia 9 25.5
Washington 7 23.6
West Virginia 30 20.8
Wisconsin 96 20
Wyoming 91 19.7
National 35 20.3

 

Want to compare your state’s scores with another state? 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, 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. Don’t compare yourself to your classmates or 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.