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Thomas Broderick

ACT Raw Scores and You

Depending on your television preferences, the word ‘raw’ can conjure up a few different scenarios.

ACT Raw Score -Magoosh

act raw score -Magoosh

Today I’ll be adding a new meaning to this oft used term: the ACT raw score. Now before you go retreating back to the comforting embrace of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay or WWE wrestlers, stick with me for a few minutes as we talk about your ACT raw score, what it is, and why it’s important to your success on the ACT.

What’s so raw about an ACT score?

Simply put, your ACT raw score is the number of correct answers you provide to each of the four tests on the ACT. For example, if you answered 34 questions correct on the ACT Science Test, your raw score would be 34/40. Simple enough.

So what’s the big deal? Let me take you through some basics before I let you in on the big secret:

You probably (hopefully) already knew this, but here’s the kicker: 36, the highest composite score you can get on any of these tests, does not divide evenly into any of these numbers. With fractions to deal with, ACT has fudged the number of bit to turn raw scores into composite scores. Go ahead and check out the numbers to see what I mean.

What’s it mean to me?

act raw score -Magoosh

In certain cases, it means you can have two different ACT raw scores and earn the same composite score. It’s not cheating; it’s just the nature of fractions. But before you go off thinking you can slack just a little bit come test day, know that these ‘double scores’ come pretty infrequently, and not at all if you’re aiming for the perfect 36 on the English, Math, or Science tests.

There is one other big insight to take away from ACT raw scores. If you look at the link provided earlier in the article, you’ll find some interesting comparisons between the ACT Reading and Science Tests. Though both have 40 questions, their raw scores are converted into composite scores in very different ways.

  • 34/40 ACT Reading Raw Score  = 32 Composite Score
  • 34/40 ACT Science Raw Score  =  27 Composite Score

What’s the take away? For one, it explains why so many students (maybe you’re part of this group) earn lower ACT Science Test scores when compared with the rest of the ACT. On the flip side, a higher ACT Reading Test score requires fewer correct answers. If you hoping to raise your composite score, spending more time on Reading may lead to a better result with less effort.

Though you can crunch the numbers for days, don’t forget to prepare for all sections of the ACT. As a former high school teacher and ACT test prep instructor, that’s my best advice when it comes to success on test day.

Back to your practice tests, ACT scholars. Get out there and earn some raw scores!

About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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