Information Brief 2013-35

Bachelor’s Degree Completion by ACT Composite Score and Race/Ethnicity

Among Students Enrolled in a Four-Year Postsecondary Institution

Students’ Chances of Completing a Bachelor’s Degree within Six Years of Enrolling in a Four-Year Postsecondary Institution by ACT Composite Score and Race/Ethnicity

ACT ScoreWhite studentsMinority students
1021%13%
1123%15%
1225%17%
1326%18%
1428%20%
1530%22%
1633%25%
1735%27%
1837%30%
1939%33%
2042%35%
2144%38%
2247%41%
2349%44%
2452%48%
2554%51%
2657%54%
2759%57%
2861%60%
2964%63%
3066%66%
3168%69%
3270%71%
3372%74%
3474%76%
3576%79%
3678% 

Note: Underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students included African American, American Indian, and Hispanic students. Results based on data from nearly 126,000 ACT-tested students who enrolled in a four-year postsecondary institution as new students in fall 2000 through 2003. More than 60 institutions were represented. Degree completion from initial institution was tracked. For a more detailed description of the study, see ACT Research Report 2013-5.

A recent ACT study1 that included data from more than 60 four-year postsecondary institutions found that the typical six-year bachelor’s degree completion rate across institutions was 14 percentage points higher for White students than for underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students (44% versus 30%, respectively).

However, when students’ academic achievement levels (as measured by Composite score on the ACT® college readiness assessment) were taken into account, smaller racial/ethnic differences in degree completion rates were seen, especially among students with higher ACT Composite scores. For example, for students with an ACT Composite score of 25, White students had a 54% chance of completing a bachelor’s degree from their initial institution compared to a 51% chance for minority students.

For students with ACT Composite scores of 30 or above, chances of completing a bachelor’s degree for minority students were the same as or slightly higher than those for White students.


1 Justine Radunzel and Julie Noble, Differential Effects on Student Demographic Groups of Using ACT College Readiness Assessment Composite Score, ACT Benchmarks, and High School Grade Point Average for Predicting Long-Term College Success through Degree Completion, ACT Research Report 2013-5 (Iowa City, IA: ACT, Inc., 2013).


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