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Thomas Broderick

ACT Reading Scores

You might be an enthusiastic reader who loves nothing more than curling up with a good book. On the other hand, you might read only for homework. No matter what your “reading personality,” though, you may be surprised when you see your ACT Reading scores, whether on your first practice exams or on the official exam.

This actually happens to a lot of students! Why? Because on the “interesting” scale, ACT Reading passages can range from this:

Love reading -Magoosh

…to this:

ACT Reading Scores

No matter your particular tastes, your ACT Reading score is much more than your love or hate relationship with the printed word. And you can raise it, even if you (very reasonably) find that it’s hard to stay focused on some of the drier ACT Reading passages. So let’s dive in! In this post, we’ll look at the ACT Reading scoring system, what makes a good ACT Reading score, and how you can raise your own scores to hit your goal.

What’s in a Score?

Te number of correct answers you provide to 40 multiple choice questions determines your ACT Reading score. If you’re new to ACT Reading scores, or just ACT scores in general, here are a few things you should know right away:

  • In each section on the ACT, including Reading, you will receive a score of between 1 and 36.
  • Your ACT Reading score reflects your reading comprehension skills.
  • Scores are determined only by the number of correct answers. There’s no penalty for wrong answers.
  • You can (generally) miss two questions and still get a perfect 36.
  • In 2016, the average ACT Reading score was 21.3.


So is My ACT Reading Score Any Good?

We take an in-depth look at what “good” ACT scores are in our ACT Score Range post, so check that out for the long answer.
Here’s the short answer: it depends on what you want to do with it. If you’re planning on attending college, you will need to consider your overall ACT composite score as well as your ACT Reading scores. Another easy-to-use resource that will let you know if your score is high enough for your dream school is Magoosh’s post on ACT Scores for Top Universities.

Where Can I Get In With My ACT Reading Scores?

A certain ACT score may also quality you for different colleges’ merit scholarships. As these awards and their requirements vary among colleges, it’s best to check with the colleges at which you intend to apply.

If college is on your mind, you should know that according to ACT test-makers, a high school student who scores below a 23 on the ACT Reading Test will likely struggle in (and might not even pass) his or her college freshman year English course. If you fall into this group, use your high school’s senior English course as a way to improve your reading skills. By exposing you to a variety of reading materials, this course will also help you prep for retaking the ACT. We also highly recommend that you check out all of our ACT Resources to help translate those reading skills into ACT points!

Finally, if your ACT Reading score negatively affected your overall composite score, focus on the Reading Test before you retake the ACT. Tips for ACT Reading will get you started on the path to success, but don’t forget that the best way to improve your score is through timed practice tests combined with careful evaluation and study.

But I Love to Read! Why Did I Get a Low ACT Reading Score?

First of all, that’s awesome! It’s great that you love to read. Even so, I doubt you usually read under timed conditions, in a stressful environment, and answer multiple choice questions about what you’ve read. Those factors combined can negatively affect your ACT Reading score. Never fear, for here are a few resources you can use to better understand the test, and put your skills to good use:

With this info tucked away in your mind (along with a few practice tests and our great free Magoosh resources), retaking the ACT Reading Test should accurately reflect your literary might.

Good luck, test takers, and I’ll see you in the library!

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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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