If you, or your student, are making plans to attend college, no doubt you’ve wondered what constitutes a good ACT score, or whether those scores are good enough for the school of your choice. When you’re looking at taking the ACT, the answers to these basic questions will help you navigate the process.
Is taking the ACT that important?
In a word, yes. Scores are important and they will aid the student in the admissions process at many of the country’s schools. Admissions offices use these scores when comparing applicants. When the spaces are limited, better scores are obviously going to be in your favor.
When applicants are roughly equal in terms of say GPA and extracurricular activities, the better ACT score may be a determining factor as to whether or not a college offer is received. But don’t rely on the score alone. The full picture, which includes the GPA and extracurricular activities, as well as recommendations and more, is how the final decision is made.
How do I know if I got a good score?
When researching a college you’ll find that most will provide the average ACT scores of their current students. Make that the first place you look. If the information is not readily available, contact the school or enlist the help of your high school guidance counselor.
These websites may also provide helpful information:
The ACT comes in four parts: English, Reading, Math, and Science. Each category has a possible score of 36 points. These are averaged together to give the student a composite score. Nationally the average composite score is in the 20 point range. Students who score above 34 points are in the top 1 percent of all students taking the test. Most Ivy League schools are looking for an average score of 28, while public colleges and universities are expecting at least an 18.
What score do I need to make on the ACT?
According to the ACT website, the average composite score in 2013 was 20.9.
In each of the categories, the national average was as follows:
- English 20.2
- Math 20.9
- Reading 21.1
- Science 20.7
To have the best chances at being accepted at a preferred college, a student should aim to be in the upper half of all those taking the test, which means getting a score of 21 or better. Obviously, the higher the score, the more options a student will have.
When do I need to take the ACT?
Most high school students will take the ACT in the spring of their junior year. By this point in an academic career the student will have had the necessary coursework to be able to successfully complete the exam. By taking the exam as a junior, the student will have the opportunity to take the test again if he or she does not get the desired results on the first time out.
To start planning, visit the ACT website for test and registration dates.
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