ACT Test Scores: Understanding Your Scores

Learn what goes into your composite score, how to use it, and more!

Make Sense of Your Scores

Learn what goes into your composite score and how to use it

What’s in a composite score? Your number of correct answers converts to a score that ranges from 1 to 36 for each of the four tests—and your composite score is the average of those. 

But it’s what you do with your scores now that really matters.

You may be wondering if you’re ready for college or if the major you’re considering is a good fit for you. Knowing how to use the right planning tools can help you navigate this time in your life.

For explanations of the different sections of your ACT score report and how you can use it to make decisions about college and beyond, download this FREE eBook.


How ACT Figures the Multiple-Choice and Composite Scores

From Reporting Category to Composite

You’ve answered the questions and we’ve scored the results. Here’s how:

  1. First we counted the number of questions on each test that you answered correctly. We did not deduct any points for incorrect answers. (There is no penalty for guessing.)
  2. Then we converted your raw scores (number of correct answers on each test) to "scale scores." Scale scores have the same meaning for all the different forms of the ACT® test, no matter which date a test was taken.
  3. Your Composite score and each test score (English, mathematics, reading, science) range from 1 (low) to 36 (high). The Composite score is the average of your four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.
  4. Each reporting category includes the total number of questions in that category, the total number of questions in that category you answered correctly, and the percentage of questions correct. ACT reporting categories are aligned with ACT College and Career Readiness Standards and other standards that target college and career readiness.


How Do Tests, Questions, and Reporting Categories Relate to One Another?

Score reports help students get the most from their test results

Users wishing to drill down further into what their scores mean can directly reference Reporting Category information found in their score reports. Reporting Category results are directly tied to ACT’s College and Career Readiness Standards.

Additional information regarding Reporting Categories can be found in the ACT Reporting Category Interpretation Guide (PDF).

TestNumber of QuestionsReporting Categories
English 75

Production of Writing (29-32%)

Knowledge of Language (15-17%)

Conventions of Standard English (52-55%)


Preparing for higher math (57-60%)

  • Number & Quantity (7–10%)
  • Algebra (12–15%)
  • Functions (12–15%)
  • Geometry (12–15%)
  • Statistics & Probability (8–12%)

Integrating essential skills (40-43%)


Reading 40

Key ideas and details (52-60%)

Craft and structure (25-30%)

Integration of knowledge and ideas (13-23%)

Science 40

Interpretation of data (40-50%)

Scientific investigation (20-30%)

Evaluation of Models, inferences, and experimental results (25-35%)


Standards and Benchmarks

For College and Career Readiness

The Benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject-area tests that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. These college courses include English composition, college algebra, introductory social science courses, and biology. Based on a sample of 214 institutions and more than 230,000 students from across the United States, the Benchmarks are median course placement values for these institutions and as such represent a typical set of expectations. 

Scoring for the Writing Test   

Taking the ACT with writing will provide additional scores to you and the schools to which you have ACT report scores. Find more information about how the writing test is scored.

What are National Ranks? 

Your national ranks tell you how your scores compare to those earned by recent high school graduates who took the ACT. Your national ranks appear on your score report under “US Rank”. Learn more about national ranks

ACT / SAT Concordance

ACT and the College Board have completed a concordance study that is designed to examine the relationship between scores on the ACT test and the SAT. These concordance tables do not equate scores, but rather provide a tool for finding comparable scores.