ACT Score Calculator – 2024

January 5, 2024

ACT score calculator

Along with the SAT, the ACT is one of the standardized tests used in the college admission process. Even if you plan to apply to test-optional or test-blind colleges, chances are you’ll sit for at least one of the standardized entrance exams. Both the SAT and ACT are widely accepted by colleges, and it is not uncommon for college-bound high school students to take both tests (although understanding the differences is helpful). Luckily, there’s an overlap in test preparation for the ACT and SAT. As you gear up for the ACT, it is helpful to establish a target score that aligns with your college aspirations. How do you identify a target score? Can you predict your score? Below, we discuss how using our ACT Score Calculator (and ACT Superscore Calculator) can help you prepare for the test and the role of your score in your applications. We’ll cover:

  • What is the ACT?
  • How is the ACT structured?
  • How long is the ACT?
  • How is the ACT scored?
  • What is an ACT Superscore?
  • What’s the ACT score range?
  • What’s a good ACT score?
  • Can I predict my ACT score?
  • How do I improve upon my predicted ACT score?

Enter Scores

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ACT® English Section Score:
ACT® Math Section Score:
ACT® Reading Section Score:
ACT® Science Section Score:
Total ACT® Score:

What is the ACT?

The ACT (which stands for “American College Testing” or “American College Test”) has been around since 1959 when it was introduced as a competitor to ye olde SAT. As a college entrance exam, the ACT has evolved since then but is still paired with, and often compared to, the SAT. The ACT is administered by a nonprofit of the same name, whereas the SAT is administered by the College Board, which also offers Advanced Placement exams.

The ACT is offered 7 times a year, and college-bound students typically sit for it at some point during their junior year. There are variations to the test for each date, but the scaled scoring system (see below) evens out any differences in level of difficulty across test dates.

The goal is to be academically prepared for the ACT while still allowing yourself time to retake the test once or twice. ACT Academy provides free learning resources for students preparing for the test. Additionally, utilizing the ACT Score Calculator can help you assess your readiness and determine your timeline.

How is the ACT structured?

The ACT is divided into 4 multiple-choice sections: English, Reading, Math, and Science. There is also an optional Writing test, which is required by some schools. Be sure to check requirements before you register for the ACT. If you’re not sure where you’re applying, it is a good idea to opt into the Writing test to cover your bases. The sections are structured as follows:

  • English (grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills)
    • 75 multiple-choice questions
    • 45 minutes
  • Math (Algebra I and II, geometry, and basic trigonometry)
    • 60 multiple-choice questions
    • 60 minutes

ACT Score Calculator (Continued)

  • Reading
    • 5 passages with 8 questions per passage for a total of 40 multiple-choice questions
    • 35 minutes
  • Science (questions on science-based passages presented with graphs, charts, tables, and research summaries)
    • 40 multiple-choice questions
    • 35 minutes
  • Writing (Optional)
    • 1 Essay
      • You’ll receive a prompt outlining a complex issue and 3 perspectives. Your task is to craft your own position and explain how it relates to the given perspectives.
    • 40 minutes

The ACT totals 215 multiple-choice questions and 1 optional essay.

How long is the ACT?

You’ll have 175 minutes, or 2 hours and 55 minutes, to complete the 4 required sections of the ACT. Including breaks, the test takes 3.5 hours to complete. If you sign up for the optional Writing Test, you’ll have 220 minutes, or 3 hours and 40 minutes, to complete the test (just over 4 hours with breaks).

Note that while the ACT is longer than the SAT, the time per question is shorter. This means that effective time management is crucial for the ACT.

How is the ACT scored?

First, we’ll discuss how the 4 required sections are scored. Then we’ll discuss the scoring of the optional Writing test.

ACT Scoring

  1. First, your raw scores are calculated. Your “raw scores” are the number of questions you answered correctly. For example, let’s say you answered 50/60 questions correctly in the math section. Your raw score would be 50. There is no penalty for incorrect answers. Always, always venture a guess rather than skipping a question altogether!
  2. Next, on each section of the ACT (English, math, reading, science), your raw score is converted to a “scaled score” of 1-36. The scaled scoring system evens out any differences in level of difficulty across test dates. This is known as an “equating process,” and it also means that you’ll notice differences in the scoring across practice tests.
  3. Finally, your Composite score is calculated by taking the average of your four section scores and rounding them to the nearest whole number. Decimals less than .5 are rounded down; decimals of .5 or more are rounded up.Let’s say, for example, that your scaled score for each section was as follows:

    English: 32
    Math: 29
    Reading: 31
    Science: 30

    The average would be 30.5, and would be rounded up to a Composite score of 31. Your Composite Score constitutes your “official” ACT score, although different institutions may be interested in your section-specific scores or your STEM score, which is the average of your math and science scores.

ACT Score Calculator (Continued)

Moreover, after you take the ACT, you’ll receive an official score report that includes your raw scores. Using the ACT Score Calculator can help you assess how even minor adjustments to your raw scores can affect your Composite Score should you choose to retake the test.

ACT Writing Test Scoring

Taking the optional Writing test won’t affect your Composite score, but it does add an English Language Arts (ELA) score to your report. Like the ACT Composite Score, the ACT ELA score is out of 36, and represents your overall performance on the English, reading, and writing tests. That is, your ELA score is arrived at by considering: 1) your scaled scores in 2/4 of the required ACT sections, and 2) your Writing test domain scores (see below).

Your essay is evaluated according to four domains:

  1. Ideas and Analysis
  2. Development and Support
  3. Organization
  4. Language Use and Conventions

Two trained readers will score your essay on a scale of 1-6 in each of the 4 domains. The domain scores of the two readers are added together, giving you final domain scores on a scale of 2-12.  If readers’ ratings differ by more than one point, a third reader evaluates the essay to resolve the discrepancy.

To help you prepare, ACT provides sample prompts and essays, as well as additional details about the scoring rubric.

What is an ACT Superscore? – ACT Superstore Calculator

Superscores are actually pretty cool. While your Composite score is the average of your four subject scores from one ACT attempt, your ACT Superscore is the average of your four best subject scores from all your ACT test attempts.

That is, your Superscore combines your best performances into one score. This eliminates much of the risk of taking the test multiple times, and allows you to take a focused approach to improving your performance in select sections. Like we said: pretty cool.

What’s the ACT score range?

A perfect ACT score is a 36, but we can’t all be perfect! Interestingly, though, it is possible to achieve a perfect ACT score without getting every single question correct.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the ACT score ranges and establish a target score using the ACT Calculator as you are preparing for the test.

ACT breaks down the score range as follows:

  • Below Average Score Range: 1-16
  • Average Score Range: 17-24
  • Above Average Score Range: 25-36

For the class of 2023, ACT reports an average ACT score of 19.5—reflecting a slight decline from past years.

What’s a good ACT score?

Ah, the million-dollar question! The fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your outlook) answer is that it depends.

Firstly, it is important to understand that your standardized test scores are just one component of your college application. It would be a mistake to obsess over your ACT score but neglect your essay, for instance. Furthermore, some schools place more significance on your ACT (or SAT) score than others.

Finally, it’s not just your score that matters, but your percentile. You can explore how different Composite scores correspond to percentiles using the ACT Score National Ranks. For example, a Composite score of 23 is 74. That means that 74 percent of recent students who took the ACT achieved a Composite score of 23 or lower. Put another way, scoring a 23 would place you in approximately the top 25%.

ACT Score Calculator (Continued)

Rather than trying to identify an objectively “good” ACT score, your time is better spent identifying your individual target score—one that aligns with your college aspirations. You determine your target score in two ways:

  1. Firstly, assessing your own score potential by preparing academically, familiarizing yourself with the test structure, taking practice tests, and experimenting with the ACT Score Calculator to identify opportunities for improvement.
  2. Secondly, researching the ACT score ranges at different institutions. The average ACT score for students accepted to many state schools falls in the mid-twenties. The average ACT score for Arizona State University, for instance, is 25. Meanwhile, the average ACT score for MIT is 35. These are both “good” scores!

Can I predict my ACT score?

We thought you’d never ask! The ACT Score Calculator is designed to provide predictions so you can go into the ACT having a good sense of how you’ll perform. The ACT Calculator is interactive, which allows you to explore different scenarios and determine where and how to strive for improvements to your score based on your aspirations. Even minor improvements to your raw score in each section can have a significant impact on your Composite score.

Are you planning to take advantage of superscoring? The tool works as an ACT Superscore Calculator as well—just enter the highest scores earned on each section to determine your ACT Superscore.

Utilizing the ACT Score Calculator as part of your test preparation and target score setting can also help you refine your college search by allowing you to focus on institutions wherein the range of scores of accepted applicants align with your own predicted score.

How do I improve upon my predicted ACT score?

In summary, beyond taking practice tests and reviewing testing strategies, you can prepare for the ACT by identifying targeted areas for improvement and taking advantage of Superscoring. Additionally, interacting with the ACT Score Calculator will enable you to focus on certain academic areas for increased study and review. It will also alert you to which aspects of the test you’ll need to devote the most care and attention.