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What Is A Good ACT Score?

While the SAT seems to dominate the press, the ACT has quietly become a very close rival for the number of students taking college entrance exams. Last year nearly 2.1 million students took the ACT. The ACT, for your information, is accepted at all universities equally with the SAT, and with recent changes to the SAT, the two exams have many similarities.

While the ACT and SAT are closer than ever before, their scoring ranges are still very different. The ACT uses a Scaled Score of 1 - 36 for each of the four sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science). The ACT then will average these scores to give a Composite Score of 1 - 36. For reference, the National Average ACT score is 20.9. For comparison, the SAT has two section scores (Reading & Writing and Math), then adds the two scores together to give a Composite Score. The scale for each section is 200 - 800, and the scale for the Composite Score is 400 = 1600. Each test has an optional essay but uses different scoring methodologies. Click here for ACT essay scoring and here for SAT essay scoring.

Since these Composite and Section Scores do not offer much clarity, the best advice I can give you is to convert your section scores to a national rank, as well as convert your Composite Score to a relative percentile. This percentile will give you a much clearer picture of how your score ranks compared to all other students who took the test nationally. To determine which test is better for you, simply compare your ACT percentile rankings to your SAT percentile rankings.


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