How the ACT Exam Scoring Scale Works

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When applying for college, you’re probably aware of the importance of achieving a good GPA score, as well as penning a standout personal statement. But did you know that your ACT (American College Testing) exam score can also make or break your application? 

What defines a good ACT score varies depending on what college you are applying to. To make things more confusing, the ACT exam is split into four parts. Plus, there is an additional writing section marked entirely differently from the rest of the examination. 

What Defines a Good ACT Score? 

It is impossible to fail an ACT exam because there is no official pass mark. However, the more prestigious the college is that you’re applying for, the higher the ACT score you should strive towards. 

ACT exams are split into four parts: Science, Mathematics, Reading, and English. Each section counts for a total of 36 points, from which point your Composite score is determined based on the mean average score of the four sections. 

Realistically, any score that is above the national average is a good ACT score. The national average fluctuates every year. 

Based on the 2020-2021 term, the national average Composite score was 19-20 out of 36. Based on this, students will have to aim to score roughly 20 on each section of the ACT exam for their score to be considered acceptable. For help getting the best ACT score possible, follow this link. 

What Score are Colleges Looking For? 

As we’ve already mentioned, it depends on what college you’re applying to, as ACT score requirements can differ significantly. 

For example, more prestigious institutions are more likely to judge your application negatively if your ACT score falls below the 30 points mark. On the other hand, less prestigious schools may view a score of between 20-30 points as an impressive ACT score. 

One way of figuring out what ACT score your desired college looks for is by checking the facts and figures page on the institution’s website or simply Googling the institution’s name followed by ‘ACT score range.’ 

ACT Writing Section 

This section of the examination is optional, and, instead of being scored out of 36, it is scored from 1-12. Completing the ACT writing section is a good idea if the college you are applying to asks for an admission essay in the application. 

This section remains totally separate from the rest of your ACT exam and is not included in the overall Composite grade. A score out of 12 is determined based on the essay’s strength in four sections: Language Use and Conventions, Organization, Ideas and Analysis, and Development and Support. 

Concluding Thoughts 

Please reference this article in the future if any confusions arise during the preparation for your ACT exam.

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