What Is an Average ACT Score?

What Is An Average Score on the ACT Test?

50% of students make less than a 20 on the ACT test, so you might say an average ACT Composite score is 20. But if you want to get into big state schools or prestigious East Coast universities your expectations will differ. Many state schools require an ACT score in the 22 to 25 range, while Ivy League schools expect composite scores of 30 or higher. If you want to get into your local college, getting a 19-20 on your ACT will work.

What Is the ACT?

“A.C.T.” stands for “American College Testing”. The ACT is produced by ACT, Inc. to help colleges determine students’ worthiness for college admissions. The test has existed since 1959 and is the second-most used test, behind the SAT, which has existed since 1901. Some students do better on the ACT than the SAT, so consider taking both and using the higher score.

All U.S. universities accept the ACT, though some place a different emphasis on the importance of the ACT in admissions. GPA, class rank, and extracurricular activities might take precedence.

The ACT is taken more often in the “middle states” than the ACT, while the SAT is used more on the East Coast and the West Coast. Exceptions include Texas and Indiana, who use the SAT more often than the ACT test, while most of the rest of the Midwest, South and Southwest use the ACT more often. There is some evidence that east coast states are beginning to use the ACT more often.

What Is an “ACT Composite Score”?

The ACT test covers four broad subjects: English (grammar), reading, math and “science reasoning”. The time to take all four tests is 2:55 minutes, with an optional 30 minute writing test.

The English test is 45 minutes and 75 questions long; the Mathematics test is 60 minutes and 60 questions long; the Reading Comprehension test is 35 minutes and 40 questions, while the Science Reasoning test is 35 minutes and 40 minutes long, as well. This creates a composite test of 215 questions taken in just under 3 hours. The writing section of the test counts minimally towards your composite score (2 points at most), though some schools do take into account your score on the writing section of the ACT.

ACT Comparison Scores

Below is a short example of ACT composite scores for a variety of universities nationwide. I’ve included scores for a few Ivy League schools, a few private schools and some top public universities. These are the elite schools of their type, so if you have no intention of going to these schools, don’t be intimidated by the high numbers. Most colleges admit students with a 20-22 ACT Composite Score.

75% means that 75 per cent of the admissions require this composite score, while the 25 per cent means that 25% get in with the lesser composite ACT, usually because of high GPA and/or extracurricular activities.

I’ll give the school and then two numbers. The first number is what around 25% of admissions will need, if they have excellent extracurricular activities and a good GPA. The second number is what approximately 75% of admissions will need to enter the university.

Also, be sure to check out our new site, average ACT score, which covers the ACT test in much more detail.

School Average ACT Score
Columbia 28-33
Cornell 28-32
Princeton 30-34
Yale 29-34
Harvard 31-35
Duke 29-34
Johns Hopkins 29-33
Georgetown 28-32
Notre Dame 31-34
Stanford 30-34
UCLA 24-30
UC Berkeley 23-30
UC San Diego 23-29
UNC Chapel Hill 25-30

This is part of our series of articles about average test scores: