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What You Need to Know About Scoring on the ACT Test

The ACT Test is scored very differently from the SAT – here’s the top ten things you need to know about what you’ll see on your score report after taking the ACT exam!

Your ACT Test score is really a “composite score.” It’s arrived at by averaging the four major subject scores (English, Math, Reading and Science). It is the primary score colleges look at in determining admissions.

You’ll get two scores for each test: “raw” and “scaled.” A “raw score” is calculated  by adding up the total questions correct, which is then put into a “scoring formula” to achieve a final “scaled score.” Each test has its own “scoring formula.”

Every scaled score falls between 1 and 36. The majority of test-takers score somewhere between a 17 and a 23. The national average is approximately 20.

The ACT percentiles change from year to year. Here’s roughly how a scaled score aligns to percentiles.


The ACT has a generous curve! Answering only 75% of the questions correctly (which would be a C in academic subjects) will actually put you in the 90th percentile on the ACT! Achieving a 90th percentile means that 90% of test takers did as well as or worse than you did. In other words, you are in the top 10% of test-takers! Let’s say your scaled score was a 23. Answering only 63% of questions correctly (a D or an F in academic subjects) would put you in the 76% percentile, meaning you would be in the top quarter of test-takers!

There are no points subtracted for incorrect questions! That means you should make sure to answer every single question, even if you have to randomly guess on some of them. Every question you get correct (even if it was just a lucky guess) will raise your scaled score.

The English, Math, and Reading Tests have “sub-scores.” These sub-scores are calculated as follows:


There are no sub-scores for the Science or Writing test. Your scaled score for these two sections is the only score you’re receive for those two.

The overall composite score does not include the Combined English/Writing score.This extra score (from 1 – 36) will, however, be included on your score report and colleges will see it.

Your first 4 score reports are free! When you sign up for the ACT, you can choose colleges to receive your scores automatically. Unless you have a deadline quickly approaching, you may want to wait until you receive your score and then send it to the schools yourself. That way if you are unhappy with your score, you can re-take the test and send only the better score.


About Magoosh ACT

Magoosh is a company of passionate educators, located in Berkeley, CA. We are here to provide you with everything you need to prep for the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and TOEFL! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @Magoosh.

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