What is a Good ACT Score in 2019?

good act score graphic

If you’re new to the ACT, you may be wondering how the whole scoring thing works. What is a good ACT score in 2019? What ACT score do Ivy Leagues look for? And how do you figure out what your own goal score should be?

In this post, we’ll go over the basics of how the ACT is scored and walk you through what makes up a good ACT score. 

How is the ACT Scored?

We’ll keep this quick: your composite ACT score is the average of your four section scores. Each section of the test (English, Reading, Math, and Science) is scored on a scale of 1-36 and then the four scores are averaged into a composite score, also out of 36. 

You can read more in detail about how the ACT is scored here

What is the Average ACT Score in 2019?

The average composite ACT score for 2019-2020 is a 21. About 50% of test-takers earn at least a 21 on the test. 

In contrast, according to last year’s data less than one-half of one percent (0.27%) of students get a 36 composite on the ACT. Although this number has risen slightly year over year, it’s still a mix of knowledge, testing conditions, and luck that get you a 36 on the ACT. 

(Because the odds are so small and hard to control, this is just our friendly reminder that if you’re scoring really high on the ACT (like 34-35), then it’s really more strategic to focus on other aspects of your college application, like the essays, than it is to focus your efforts on getting a 36 on the ACT!)

That being said, the higher your ACT score is, the more competitive an applicant you will be. Take a look at the 2019 ACT score percentiles:


Via ACT.org

We see from this table that you don’t even have to get a 30 to be in the top 10% of ACT scorers! Furthermore, scoring a 24-25 sets you higher than 75% of ACT test-takers. 

What ACT Score Do I Need to Get into a Top 10 (Ivy League) School?

It’s no secret that the top 10 universities in the US have really high test score expectations. In fact, the average composite ACT score of a Yale student is a 33-35, which is a score in the 99th percentile. 

The most accurate way to determine what ACT score you need for a top 10 school is to visit the school’s admissions page. See if they have information about the average test scores of admitted students and the expectations around standardized test scores. It’s best to go straight to the source for this information. 

There’s no denying that test scores are important, especially when applying to a highly competitive school. But remember, your ACT score is just one part of the college admissions equation. Don’t forget about the role your grades, extracurriculars, and personal essays play in completing your college application – these factors can supplement a lower ACT score. 

What is a Good ACT Score for ME ?

This is the most important section of this blog post! How do you determine what a good ACT score is for you, specifically?

Well, you need to look at the average ACT scores of students admitted to the schools you are interested in attending. A good ACT score for you is a score that matches or exceeds these averages. 

Look at the average ACT scores of students admitted to the schools you are interested in attending. A good ACT score for you is a score that matches or exceeds these averages. 

To figure out the average scores for the schools you’re interested in, you’ll need 3 things: a list of colleges you are interested in attending, internet access, and a note-taking device. 

Once you have your list of colleges, take to the internet and find each college’s admissions page or their “freshman statistics” page. They will usually list their average ACT scores. Write down the highest and lowest score they list. 

*If you can’t find this information on a college’s website, try giving their admissions office a call and ask if they have data (they do) on the average ACT score of admitted freshmen. If this doesn’t work, sites like Niche.com and Magoosh.com are pretty reliable sources.

Below are some examples of ACT score statistics listed on a college’s website. We found that many colleges gave a range of the average ACT scores for their freshman class:

SchoolLow ACT ScoreHigh ACT Score
University of Virginia3034
University of Texas at Austin28 (in-state)
30 (out-of-state)
33 (in-state)
34 (out-of-state)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill2833

The lowest score on the list is a 28, and the highest is a 34. So if you’re looking at these colleges, then your goal ACT score should be about a 32. Aiming for a 32 puts you on the upper ACT score range for every school, bolstering what is surely a fabulous admission application of well-written essays, a good GPA, and a few meaningful extracurriculars!

So What is a Good ACT Score in 2019?

A good ACT score is a score that aligns with your dream college’s ACT score range. So, only you can answer that question! But in general, a score in the 75th percentile, around 25, has a high likelihood of helping you get into a great school.

Not achieving your goal ACT score? It’s time to start prepping! Check out our list of the best prep courses for every budget, or visit www.olive-book.com to enroll in The Olive Book’s online ACT course!

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