How to Get a 27 on the ACT

Your ACT score doesn’t need to be perfect to be good. A common ACT benchmark is 27—get a 27 ACT score or higher, and many doors will open to you. Now, why would you want to get a 27 on the ACT?

If this post caught your eye and you’re reading it now, you may already know the value of a 27 on the ACT. You may even have a few schools that require that score in mind…

In this post, I’ll show you how to score at least a 27 on the ACT, as well as telling you about the benefits of a 27 act score.

To Get a 27 ACT Score, Get Inspired

Motivation is one of the key factors in pushing yourself to get that higher score! For example: If you get a 27 on the ACT, you’ll maximize your chances of acceptance at literally hundreds of colleges.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the median 50% ACT scores (25th-75th percentile) of the top 100 U.S. universities. You’ll see that an ACT score of 27 places you right smack in that golden range for more than HALF of them. (Quick tip: You can sort the table by ACT scores by clicking on the box labeled “25th Percentile Scores.”)

College ACT Score Range for the Top 100 Universities

College RankingCollege Name25th Percentile Scores75th Percentile Scores
1Princeton University3235
2 (tie)Columbia University 3335
2 (tie)Harvard University3335
2 (tie)Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
5Yale University 3335
6 (tie)Stanford University 3135
6 (tie)University of Chicago3436
8 University of Pennsylvania 3335
9 (tie)California Institute of Technology (Caltech)3536
9 (tie)Duke University3435
9 (tie)Johns Hopkins University 3435
9 (tie)Northwestern University3335
13Dartmouth College 3235
14 (tie)Brown University3335
14 (tie)Vanderbilt University 3335
14 (tie)Washington University in St. Louis3335
17 (tie)Cornell University 3235
17 (tie)Rice University 3436
19 University of Notre Dame 3235
20University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 2934
21Emory University3134
22University of California--Berkeley2735
23 (tie)Georgetown 3135
23 (tie)University of Michigan at Ann Arbor3134
25 (tie)Carnegie Mellon University3335
25 (tie)University of Virgina 3034
27 University of Southern California (USC)3034
28 (tie)New York University (NYU)3134
28 (tie)Tufts University3235
28 (tie)University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)2633
28 (tie)University of Florida2933
28 (tie)University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)2733
28 (tie)Wake Forest University3033
34 (tie)University of California--San Diego2633
34 (tie)University of Rochester3034
36 (tie)Boston College3134
36 (tie)University of California, Irvine (UCI) NANA
38 (tie)Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) 3135
38 (tie)University of California, Davis (UC Davis)2531
38 (tie)University of Texas, Austin (UT Austin) 2633
38 (tie)College of William and Mary3034
42 (tie)Boston University 3034
42 (tie)Brandeis University3133
42 (tie)Case Western Reserve University3135
42 (tie)Tulane University3033
42 (tie)University of Wisconsin Madison2732
47University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign2733
48University of Georgia2732
49 (tie)Lehigh University2933
49 (tie)Northeastern University3335
49 (tie)Ohio State University2632
49 (tie)Pepperdine University2631
49 (tie)Purdue Univesity-West Lafayette2533
49 (tie)Villanova University3033
55 (tie)Florida State University2731
55 (tie)Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute2934
55 (tie)Santa Clara University2832
55 (tie)University of Miami 2832
59 (tie)Syracuse University2530
59 (tie)University of Maryland--College Park2934
59 (tie)University of Pittsburgh--Pittsburgh Campus2832
59 (tie)University of Washington2733
63 (tie)George Washington University2933
63 (tie)Pennsylvania State--University Park2530
63 (tie)Rutgers University2532
63 (tie)University of Connecticut2732
63 (tie)Worcester Polytechnic Institute2933
68 (tie)Fordham University2732
68 (tie)Indiana University--Bloomington2431
68 (tie)Southern Methodist University2932
68 (tie)Texas A&M University--College Station2532
68 (tie)University of Massachussetts-Amherst (UMass Amherst)2732
68 (tie)University of Minnesota--Twin Cities2531
68 (tie)Yeshiva University2431
75 (tie)Baylor University2631
75 (tie)Clemson 2732
75 (tie)Loyola Marymount2731
75 (tie)Virginia Institute of Technology (Virginia Tech) 2531
79 (tie)American University2732
79 (tie)Brigham Young University--Provo2632
79 (tie)Gonzaga University2530
79 (tie)North Carolina State University--Raleigh2732
83 (tie)Binghamton University2932
83 (tie)Colorado School of Mines2833
83 (tie)Elon University2530
83 (tie)Howard University2226
83 (tie)Marquette University2530
83 (tie)Michigan State University2329
83 (tie)Stevens Institute of Technology3134
83 (tie)Texas Christian University2531
83 (tie)University of California--Riverside2229
83 (tie)University of Iowa2229
93 (tie)Stony Brook University (SUNY)2632
93 (tie)University at Buffalo2329
93 (tie)University of California--Merced1722
93 (tie)University of Delaware2531
93 (tie)University of Denver2631
93 (tie)University of San Diego2531
99 (tie)Auburn University2531
99 (tie)University of Colorado Boulder2431
99 (tie)University of Oregon2229
99 (tie)University of Utah2229

Inspired? Is your motivation soaring?

Excellent! Now let’s look at what you should do to get that 27 ACT score.

To Get a 27 ACT Score, Know Your Weaknesses

Getting a 27+ on the ACT is doable, but if you do really badly in one section, that section could pull your entire score to 26 or lower. Don’t let this happen! With study and hard work, you can be strong enough on the exam to get a 27—even if your scores in a section or two are a little below that 27 target.

To reach that goal of 27, take some practice exams from the official ACT Test Prepration website or their official book, The Real ACT Prep Guide. Make note of sections or question types that you aren’t doing so well on. And then figure out why you don’t do well  on certain parts of the exam.

For instance, some ACT test-takers do poorly in math because they struggle with order of operations or make small calculation errors in in ACT Math. Other ACT preppers may fall short on vocabulary for ACT Reading comprehension, or have trouble understanding the charts and graphs in ACT Science. Whatever your weak areas are, these weaknesses can be overcome, and improved on enough for a 27 target score.

To Get a 27 on the ACT, Know Your Strengths

Everyone has strengths in some ACT skill or another—you may be really good at math, have a keen eye for writing and grammar, a high confidence with science texts… you get the idea.

Good performance in a section of an ACT is a powerful secret weapon for keeping your composite score at 27 or higher, even if you get a number of questions wrong in other areas on the exam.

So build on your strengths and take advantage of them– think about just how high you could score in a strong area. If you’re a math whiz, that’s a section of the test where you may be able to place in the low or even mid-30s; this can keep your overall composite score nice and high. If you’re good at language arts, you can do well in both ACT Reading and ACT English. That’s two sections where you can really shine! If you get at least a 30 in both ACT Reading and English, a few missteps in ACT Math and Science probably won’t pull your score down to below 27.

To Get a 27 on the ACT, Aim for a Score Above a 27

No matter what your target score is on the ACT, always aim higher than your goal. This gives you the “wiggle room” you need to make sure you get at least your minimum. And it also increases the odds that you’ll get a score above the minimum goal– always a good thing!

I’ve seen students hope for a 27 and successfully overshoot, getting a 29, 30, 31, or even 32 on test day. I’ve also seen students hit the 27 mark under very bad circumstances, reaching their target score because they overshot. Aim for a 30 or more, and if you’re tired, sick, or distracted on test day, you’ll likely still be able to get a 27 or 28 on the ACT, even under adverse conditions.


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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