Predictors of Success

GPA and ACT Distributions

ACT continues to recommend the use of multiple criteria when assessing the college readiness of students. Two of the more commonly used criteria for assessing academic readiness are highlighted in this section of the report.

High School GPA Distribution Among ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Reported Grades, 2011

Bar chart showing high school grade-point average distribution

Graph reads: 25% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2011 who reported high school grades earned a GPA of 3.75 or higher.

High School GPAPercent of Students
Less than 2.004%
2.00–2.244%
2.25–2.495%
2.50–2.748%
2.75–2.999%
3.00–3.2415%
3.25–3.4914%
3.50–3.7416%
3.75+25%

Note: Based on 86% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2011 who reported high school grades in core subjects.

The distribution of high school GPAs among the ACT-tested graduating class of 2011 has a sizable concentration of students with GPAs at the upper end of the range and relatively few students with GPAs in the lower end of the range.

  • 41% have a GPA over 3.5
  • 55% have a GPA over 3.25
  • 30% have a GPA under 3.0

Given the skewed shape of this distribution, it is difficult to further differentiate the achievement levels of a large number of students at the upper end of the distribution. As such, ACT recommends that high school GPA not be the sole measure of academic achievement in making admissions, scholarship, and course placement decisions.



ACT Composite Score Distribution Among ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Reported Grades, 2011

Bar chart showing ACT Composite score distribution

Graph reads: 14% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2011 who reported high school grades earned an ACT Composite score between 25 and 27.

ACT Composite Score RangePercent of Students
1–123%
13–1512%
16–1818%
19–2121%
22–2419%
25–2714%
28–308%
31–334%
34–361%

Note: Based on 86% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2011 who reported high school grades in core subjects.

The distribution of ACT Composite scores among the graduating class of 2011 who reported high school GPA is more symmetrical, with a concentration of students in the middle of the score range and fewer students with scores in the upper and lower ends of the range.

Compared to the GPA distribution, it is easier to differentiate the achievement levels of students at the upper end of the ACT score distribution. While the largest number of GPAs is in the range of 3.75 and higher, the largest number of ACT scores is in the range of 19 to 21.