Test Taking

Many high school students across the United States take the ACT in preparation for college.

Number of ACT-Tested High School Graduates, 2012

  • 1,666,017 students from the high school graduating class of 2012 took the ACT.
  • Just over half (52%) of all ACT-tested high school graduates live in 9 states: CA, CO, FL, IL, MI, NY, OH, TN, and TX.
  • Of the 9 states with the most ACT-tested high school graduates, 4 states (CO, IL, MI, and TN) administer the ACT statewide to all public high school 11th graders.
US map showing number of ACT-test high school graduates by state for 2012

Map reads: In Florida, more than 100,000 students from the high school graduating class of 2012 took the ACT.

StateNumber of ACT-Tested High School Graduates
Alabama20,001–40,000
Alaska1–10,000
Arizona20,001–40,000
Arkansas20,001–40,000
California100,001 or more
Colorado40,001–100,000
Connecticut10,001–20,000
Delaware1–10,000
District of Columbia1–10,000
Florida100,001 or more
Georgia40,001–100,000
Hawaii1–10,000
Idaho10,001–20,000
Illinois100,001 or more
Indiana20,001–40,000
Iowa20,001–40,000
Kansas20,001–40,000
Kentucky40,001–100,000
Louisiana20,001–40,000
Maine1–10,000
Maryland10,001–20,000
Massachusetts10,001–20,000
Michigan100,001 or more
Minnesota40,001–100,000
Mississippi20,001–40,000
Missouri40,001–100,000
Montana1–10,000
Nebraska10,001–20,000
Nevada1–10,000
New Hampshire1–10,000
New Jersey20,001–40,000
New Mexico10,001–20,000
New York40,001–100,000
North Carolina10,001–20,000
North Dakota1–10,000
Ohio40,001–100,000
Oklahoma20,001–40,000
Oregon10,001–20,000
Pennsylvania20,001–40,000
Rhode Island1–10,000
South Carolina20,001–40,000
South Dakota1–10,000
Tennessee40,001–100,000
Texas100,001 or more
Utah20,001–40,000
Vermont1–10,000
Virginia20,001–40,000
Washington10,001–20,000
West Virginia10,001–20,000
Wisconsin40,001–100,000
Wyoming1–10,000

Percent Change in Number of ACT-Tested High School Graduates, 2003–2012

  • Over the past 10 years, the number of high school graduates who took the ACT increased by 42%—up from 1,175,059 students in 2003.
  • Just over half (51%) of this 10-year increase in the number of ACT-tested high school graduates can be attributed to test-taking increases in 6 states: CA, FL, GA, MI, NY, and TX.
  • All 6 states are among the most populous with regard to ACT-tested graduates. Of these states, only Michigan began administering the ACT statewide to all 11th graders between 2003 and 2012.
US map showing percent change in number of ACT-tested graduates by state for 2003 to 2012

Map reads: Between 2003 and 2012, the number of ACT-tested high school graduates in California increased by 100% or more.

StatePercent Change
Alabama10%–49%
Alaska10%–49%
Arizona100% or more
Arkansas10%–49%
California100% or more
Colorado10%–49%
Connecticut100% or more
Delaware100% or more
District of Columbia50%–99%
Florida100% or more
Georgia100% or more
Hawaii50%–99%
Idaho10%–49%
IllinoisLess than 10%
Indiana50%–99%
IowaLess than 10%
KansasLess than 10%
Kentucky50%–99%
LouisianaLess than 10%
Maine10%–49%
Maryland50%–99%
Massachusetts100% or more
Michigan50%–99%
MinnesotaLess than 10%
Mississippi10%–49%
Missouri10%–49%
MontanaLess than 10%
NebraskaLess than 10%
Nevada10%–49%
New Hampshire100% or more
New Jersey100% or more
New Mexico10%–49%
New York100% or more
North Carolina50%–99%
North DakotaLess than 10%
Ohio10%–49%
OklahomaLess than 10%
Oregon100% or more
Pennsylvania100% or more
Rhode Island100% or more
South Carolina50%–99%
South DakotaLess than 10%
Tennessee50%–99%
Texas50%–99%
Utah50%–99%
Vermont100% or more
Virginia100% or more
Washington10%–49%
West VirginiaLess than 10%
WisconsinLess than 10%
Wyoming10%–49%

The ACT participation rate—i.e., the percentage of high school graduates who take the ACT—varies by region and state. A state’s ACT participation rate is a good indicator of the overall representation of ACT-tested graduates among all high school graduates in that state.

Percent of High School Graduates Who Take the ACT, 2012

  • Nationally, just over half (52%) of all students from the high school graduating class of 2012 took the ACT.
  • High school graduates in 7 states (CO, IL, KY, ND, MI, TN, and WY) participated in a statewide administration of the ACT during 11th grade.
  • Several states, including CA, NY, and TX, have both a sizable number of ACT-tested high school graduates and a relatively low ACT participation rate.
US map showing percent high school graduates who took the ACT by state in 2012

Map reads: Texas is one of the states in which 26%–50% of the high school graduating class of 2012 took the ACT.

StateACT Participation Rate
Alabama76%–100%
Alaska26%–50%
Arizona26%–50%
Arkansas76%–100%
CaliforniaLess than 26%
ColoradoStatewide (100%)
Connecticut26%–50%
DelawareLess than 26%
District of Columbia26%–50%
Florida51%–75%
Georgia51%–75%
Hawaii26%–50%
Idaho51%–75%
IllinoisStatewide (100%)
Indiana26%–50%
Iowa51%–75%
Kansas76%–100%
KentuckyStatewide (100%)
Louisiana76%–100%
MaineLess than 26%
MarylandLess than 26%
MassachusettsLess than 26%
MichiganStatewide (100%)
Minnesota51%–75%
Mississippi76%–100%
Missouri51%–75%
Montana51%–75%
Nebraska76%–100%
Nevada26%–50%
New HampshireLess than 26%
New JerseyLess than 26%
New Mexico51%–75%
New York26%–50%
North CarolinaLess than 26%
North DakotaStatewide (100%)
Ohio51%–75%
Oklahoma76%–100%
Oregon26%–50%
PennsylvaniaLess than 26%
Rhode IslandLess than 26%
South Carolina51%–75%
South Dakota76%–100%
TennesseeStatewide (100%)
Texas26%–50%
Utah76%–100%
Vermont26%–50%
VirginiaLess than 26%
WashingtonLess than 26%
West Virginia51%–75%
Wisconsin51%–75%
WyomingStatewide (100%)

National = 21%


Percentage-Point Change in ACT Participation Rate, 2003–2012

  • Over the past 10 years, the share of all high school graduates who took the ACT increased by 12 percentage points, from 40% in 2003 to 52% in 2012.
  • ACT Test participation rates in 9 states increased by more than 20 percentage points between 2003 and 2012. Four of these states (KY, MI, TN, and WY) began administering the ACT statewide during this time.
  • In other states, like FL, GA, and SC, the ACT participation rate increased from fewer than 50% of high school graduates tested in 2003 to more than 50% tested by 2012.
US map showing percentage-point change in ACT participation rate by state from 2003 to 2012

Map reads: Since 2003, the ACT participation rate in Michigan has increased by more than 20 percentage points.

StatePercentage-Point Change in
ACT Participation Rate
Alabama11–20
AlaskaLess than 6
Arizona6–10
Arkansas11–20
California6–10
ColoradoLess than 6
Connecticut11–20
Delaware6–10
District of ColumbiaLess than 6
Florida21 or more
Georgia21 or more
Hawaii11–20
Idaho6–10
IllinoisLess than 6
Indiana11–20
IowaLess than 6
KansasLess than 6
Kentucky21 or more
Louisiana11–20
MaineLess than 6
Maryland6–10
Massachusetts11–20
Michigan21 or more
Minnesota6–10
Mississippi11–20
Missouri6–10
Montana6–10
NebraskaLess than 6
NevadaLess than 6
New Hampshire11–20
New Jersey11–20
New Mexico11–20
New York11–20
North CarolinaLess than 6
North Dakota11–20
Ohio6–10
Oklahoma11–20
Oregon21 or more
Pennsylvania6–10
Rhode Island6–10
South Carolina21 or more
South Dakota11–20
Tennessee21 or more
Texas6–10
Utah21 or more
Vermont11–20
Virginia11–20
WashingtonLess than 6
West VirginiaLess than 6
WisconsinLess than 6
Wyoming21 or more