Enrollment by Choice Number

Students can send their test scores to up to four colleges in preferential order when registering for the ACT. This ranking of college choices provides an early indicator of students’ intentions.

Choice Number of College Attended by State ACT Participation Rate, 2012

  • As state ACT participation rate increases, so do the percentages of ACT-tested students who attend either their 1st choice college or a college that was among their 2nd–4th choices.
  • Conversely, the percentages of students who attend either a college that received an official ACT score report outside of the ACT registration process—i.e., supplemental choices— or did not receive an official ACT score report decrease as state ACT participation rate increases.
  • Statewide administration states are an exception to these patterns.
Chart showing Choice Number of College Attended by State ACT Participation Rate, 2012

Graph reads: 25% of college-enrolled ACT-tested students from states administering the ACT statewide attend their 1st choice college.

State ACT Participation RateScore Report Not ReceivedSupplemental Choice2nd to 4th ChoiceFirst Choice
Less than 26%50%26%11%12%
26%–50%47%20%14%19%
51%–75%37%20%18%25%
76%–100%32%11%22%35%
Statewide (100%)37%17%21%25%

Note: Percentages within state ACT participation rate may not sum to 100 due to rounding.


Choice Number of College Attended by ACT Composite Score, 2012

  • The share of students who attend their 1st choice college or a college among their 2nd–4th choices is larger for students in the middle ranges of the ACT Composite score scale compared to their peers in the upper or lower ranges of the score scale.
  • As ACT Composite score increases, the percentage of students who attend a supplemental college choice also increases.
  • Conversely, the percentage of students who attend a college that did not receive an official ACT score report decreases as ACT Composite score increases.
Chart showing Choice Number of College Attended by ACT Composite Score, 2012

Graph reads: 68% of college-enrolled ACT-tested students with an ACT Composite score in the range of 1–15 attend a college that did not receive an official ACT score report for that student.

ACT Composite Score RangeScore Report Not ReceivedSupplemental Choice2nd to 4th ChoiceFirst Choice
1–1568%4%13%16%
16–1954%9%16%21%
20–2340%17%18%25%
24–2730%25%19%27%
28–3220%37%18%25%
33–3612%55%15%18%

Note: Percentages within ACT Composite score range may not sum to 100 due to rounding.


Choice Number of College Attended by Parent Education Level, 2012

  • The percentages of students who attend their 1st choice college or a college among their 2nd–4th choices remain fairly stable across parent education levels.
  • As parent education level increases, however, the percentage of students who attend a supplemental college choice also increases.
  • Conversely, the percentage of students who attend a college that did not receive an official ACT score report decreases as parent education level increases.
Chart showing Choice Number of College Attended by Parent Education Level, 2012

Graph reads: 26% of college-enrolled ACT-tested students whose parents earned a bachelor’s degree attend their 1st choice college.

Parent Education LevelScore Report Not ReceivedSupplemental Choice2nd to 4th ChoiceFirst Choice
No College51%9%17%22%
Some College44%13%18%25%
Bachelor's Degree34%21%19%26%
Graduate Degree29%28%18%25%

Note: Based on 84% of college-enrolled ACT-tested high school graduates for whom parent education level is available. Percentages within parent education level may not sum to 100 due to rounding.


Choice Number of College Attended by Degree Plans, 2012

  • The percentage of students who attend their 1st choice college decreases slightly as degree aspirations increase.
  • As degree aspirations increase, so does the percentage of students who attend a supplemental college choice.
  • In contrast, the percentage of students who attend a college that did not receive an official ACT score report decreases as degree aspirations increase.
Chart showing Choice Number of College Attended by Degree Plans, 2012

Graph reads: 24% of college-enrolled ACT-tested students who plan to earn a graduate degree attend their 1st choice college.

Degree PlansScore Report Not ReceivedSupplemental Choice2nd to 4th ChoiceFirst Choice
Less Than Bachelor's Degree55%5%13%27%
Bachelor's Degree41%16%18%25%
Graduate Degree35%24%18%24%

Note: Based on 91% of college-enrolled ACT-tested high school graduates for whom degree plans are available. Percentages within degree plans may not sum to 100 due to rounding.