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
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|
|District of Columbia||19||25.6|
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.