How is the ACT scored?

Math 19, Science 18, English 24, Reading 23. Composite 21.  So what do all of these numbers mean? This blog will help you understand your scores, what goes into your composite score and how to use it!

First, let’s break down what goes in to a composite score.  The number of correct answers is converted to a score that ranges from 1 to 36 from each of the four tests, the composite is the average.  Still doesn’t make sense? Let’s break it down further.

Recently, at 8:30am on a Saturday morning, you sat for the three hour ACT test.  You open your score report and see the results, but how were they scored?
1. All correctly answered questions are counted. (So it is best to guess if you don’t know the answer!)

2. The number of correct answers, or your “raw scores,” are then converted to “scale scores.” Wait, huh? That way no matter which date or version you took of the ACT, the scale scores have the same meaning. Let’s look at the English test as an example.  The English section has 75 multiple choice questions, meaning the highest raw score you can receive is a 75.  So if you answered  55 correctly, your raw score would be 55 and your scale score (based on the chart below) would be 23.

3.   Your composite score and each score from the individual tests range from 1 to 36. The composite score is an average of the four tests.

4.   Reporting category, or the standards that target college and career readiness, are broken down by the number of questions in that category, the number of questions answered correctly in that category and the percentage of questions correct.

After reading that, now you might be wondering how exactly the ACT can predict college and career readiness? For each subject test, there are benchmarks to represent what is required for student’s to be successful and ready for first year college courses (think English composition, college Algebra, etc).  How is that configured? uses a sample of 214 institutions and more than 200,000 students in order to identify a typical set of expectations.

Being able to understand your score report allows you to get the most from your test results and to know what area you need to work on to help increase your score.  Remember, our recommendation is to take the ACT (or SAT) two to four times.


Here is an example of a score report —>