What is a Good ACT Score in 2022?

Updated: May 2

The American College Testing ("ACT") is a multiple-choice college entrance exam. Admissions boards use ACT scores to determine whether high school students are prepared to join their particular institutions. ACT scores, along with high school GPAs, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities, reflect a student’s academic prowess.

For the high school class of 2021, ACT composite scores dropped by 0.3 points from the previous year. According to a recent ACT report, 1,295,349 students took the ACT in 2021, and their average composite score was 20.3 points. The pandemic prevented many high-school students from taking the ACT.

The highest possible score students can get on the ACT is 36. However, of the 1,295,349 students who took the ACT in 2021, only 4,055 earned the perfect 36. That’s only 0.313% of all the test takers! So, don’t let this statistic discourage you. Not everyone can or has to be a perfect scorer. But, with persistence and preparation, you can get a good ACT score that helps you land your dream college admission.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the scoring process and help you understand what’s a good ACT score to get into the college you desire.

What’s a Good ACT Score?

Generally, a composite score of 24 or higher is considered good by national standards. Scores in this range put students in the 74th percentile or higher. In other words, a composite score of 24 means that you’re better than 74% of all test takers. Higher scores make students stand out more in ACT score percentiles.

What is an Average ACT Score?

According to the latest ACT report, the average composite score for students who took the ACT in 2021 was 20.3. Students who earn composite scores around this mark can consider their performances to be average.

What is the Highest ACT Score?

The highest possible composite score that students can earn on the ACT exam is 36. This score is the composite (average) of the four scores in the four different subject areas. As stated before, only 0.313% of all the test takers managed to score 36. Do you have to answer all 215 questions correctly to get a perfect score? Not necessarily as composite scores are rounded up/down.

Scoring 36 on three sections and 34 on one may also help you get a score of 36. But, getting an average score of 35.5 or 35.75 is just as hard as scoring 36 on all four sections. Students who take the ACT with the optional writing section don’t have to score 12 to get a perfect 36. The essay writing scores DO NOT AFFECT the student’s composite scores.

High ACT exam score

What sections does an ACT Exam constitute?

The ACT exam constitutes 4 sections - Math, Science, Reading, and English, along with an optional writing section. For the Math section, students have to answer 60 questions in 60 minutes. The topics in this section of the exam are covered in middle and high school curriculums. The Science section consists of 40 questions that need to be answered in 35 minutes. The ACT science section tests the student’s understanding of basic scientific concepts. There’s no lab work. But, students are required to analyze and interpret data from sample experiments to draw their own conclusions. The Reading section tests students on their reading comprehension abilities and requires students to answer 40 questions in 35 minutes. Lastly, the English section comprises 75 questions that must be answered in 45 minutes. This test section covers a range of topics associated with English reading and writing, such as spelling, punctuations, grammar, sentence structures, and style. In addition to these 4 sections, students have an optional essay which they need to write within 40 minutes.

So the ACT consists of a total of 215 questions and an optional essay. Students receive 2 hours and 55 minutes in total to complete all sections. There are no penalties for guessing. Raw scores are exclusively dependent on the number of questions answered correctly. Hence, students shouldn’t leave any questions blank.

How are ACT scores calculated?