Predictors of Success

Degree Completion

High school GPA and test scores often provide unique information about a student’s achievement level that is predictive of his or her academic success in college. ACT recommends that high school GPA and ACT scores be used together when measuring the academic achievement of students, and that these measures are combined with other evidence in making decisions about the college readiness of students.

Among a random sample of ACT-tested students who entered 4-year colleges in fall 2003, 35% earned a bachelor’s degree within 4 years and 62% earned a bachelor’s degree within 6 years.

Whether one looks at 4-year or 6-year rates, degree completion rates increase with both high school GPA and ACT Composite score.

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Within 4 Years by ACT Composite Score and High School GPA

Line graph showing bachelor's degree completion within 4 years by ACT Composite score range and high school grade-point average

Graph reads: 39% of ACT-tested students at 4-year colleges with an ACT Composite score between 20 and 23 and a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher obtained a bachelor’s degree within 4 years.

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Within 6 Years by ACT Composite Score and High School GPA

Line graph showing bachelor's degree completion within 6 years by ACT Composite score range and high school grade-point average

Graph reads: 54% of ACT-tested students at 4-year colleges with an ACT Composite score between 28 and 32 and a high school GPA of less than 3.0 obtained a bachelor’s degree within 6 years.

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Within 4 Years by ACT Composite Score and High School GPA
ACT Composite
Score Range
HS GPA
Less than 3.00
HS GPA
3.00 to 3.49
HS GPA
3.50 to 4.00
1–155%11%17%
16–1910%20%27%
20–2317%30%39%
24–2722%39%51%
28–3237%44%63%
33–36  71%

Overall 4-Year Completion Rate = 35%

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Within 6 Years by ACT Composite Score and High School GPA
ACT Composite
Score Range
HS GPA
Less than 3.00
HS GPA
3.00 to 3.49
HS GPA
3.50 to 4.00
1–1522%32%40%
16–1934%49%58%
20–2344%60%70%
24–2748%65%78%
28–3254%70%84%
33–36  90%

Overall 6-Year Completion Rate = 62%

Note: Based on 18,860 ACT-tested students who entered college in fall 2003. Degree completion rates not provided for ACT Composite score ranges where sample size is less than 50.

  • Within each GPA range, there are large differences in completion rates by ACT Composite score. For example, for students with a high school GPA in the range of 3.5 or higher, 4-year completion rates vary from 17% to 71%, depending on ACT Composite score.
  • Similarly, within any ACT Composite score range, there are large differences in completion rates by high school GPA. For example, for students with an ACT Composite score between 24 and 27, 6-year completion rates vary from 48% to 78%, depending on high school GPA.