New Research Finds High School Academic Levels Impact ACT Test Taking and College Enrollment Behaviors

Posted July 12, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT, Inc., the nonprofit leader in college and career readiness assessment, today released results from its new 2012 Enrollment Management Trends Report. ACT enrollment research has consistently found that student academic achievement as measured by ACT scores is an important indicator of enrollment behaviors. As ACT scores increase, students are more likely to test in the 11th grade (rather than 12th grade), enroll in four-year institutions, enroll out of state or a greater distance from home, and attend the type of college (4-year public or 4-year private) they prefer to attend.

ACT research also suggests that students with higher ACT composite scores make more appropriate and predictable enrollment-related decisions. For example, as scores increase, students are more likely to attend their 1st choice college as reported to ACT. In fact, students with a composite score between 20 and 23, enroll at one of their top four choices over 77 percent of the time.

“ACT scores are just part of the college enrollment process, and are a good predictor of future success when used with other student information, like high school grades,” said Steve Kappler, assistant vice president of educational services at ACT. “This report highlights the importance of colleges and universities understanding and using the ACT data they receive from students.”

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Students tend to enroll at institutions that match the preferences they report to ACT.
  • Students’ testing and enrollment behaviors tend to vary by state educational testing trends.
  • Students who first take the ACT in 12th grade are a largely overlooked subset of ACT-tested high school graduates.
  • Many high school graduates are not prepared academically for college success.

To learn more about ACT’s Enrollment Management Trends Report, please visit