What’s a Good ACT Score?

The ACT is a test used by many colleges for admissions and scholarship decisions. Recent studies have shown that test scores are closely linked to college success, even more than high school GPAs. Some states require all public school juniors to take the test (often paid by the state itself) but all students can register for a fee to take the test on selected Saturdays.


Scores are typically released online 10-14 days after the test date. Each of the four subject areas (English, Math, Reading, and Science) and the Composite are scored on a 1-to-36 scale. ACT also shares grade-level benchmarks for each subject to assess whether students are on track to be college-ready. If you have taken the test at least twice, ACT automatically calculates a Superscore which includes your best score for each section. Note: not all universities accept superscores.

Average and College Readiness Benchmark Scores for each subject and composite in 2023 are shown below:

English Math Reading Science Composite STEM ELA (includes Writing)
Average Score 18.6 19.0 20.1 19.6 19.5 19.5 17.5
Benchmark Score 18 22 22 23   26 20

You can also check your specific score against ACT Score National Ranks. In the linked table, find the row matching your subject or composite score, then find your national rank in the column for that subject or test. For example, the national rank for a Composite score of 22 is 69. This means that 69 percent of recent high school graduates who took the ACT achieved a Composite score of 22 or lower. Similarly, the national rank for a STEM score of 26 is 87. Thus, 87 percent of recent high school graduates who took the ACT achieved a STEM score of 26 or lower.

Test-Takers English Math Reading Science Composite STEM ELA (includes Writing)
Top 5% 32 29 33 30 30 29.5 28
Top 10% 28 26.5 30.5  27 27.5 27 25
Top 20% 24 23.5 26 23.5 24 23.5  22
Top 50% 17.5 16.5 19 18.5 18.1 17.5 17.5

Only about 2,500 students in the U.S. earn a perfect 36 composite score each year. Another approximately 20,000 students will score 34-35, and 29,000 more will score 32-33.

Prepare and Improve Your Score

  • Take an OnToCollege ACT Prep course (In-Person classes available in Lincoln, Omaha, and Live! Online), and do lots of practice questions.
  • Use the free practice tests that are also available from ACT.
  • Attend OnToCollege free Live! Online Help sessions before the test and bring your questions for our OTC master tutor to answer.

Working hard to increase your score can help you become a college graduate with minimal (or no) debt.


More related topics:
5 Tips to Improve Your ACT Score
How Do You Convert ACT to SAT Scores?
When Are the ACT Test Dates in 2024?
Do Colleges Prefer the ACT or SAT: Taking the Right Test
The Ultimate Guide to the ACT in 2024