How is the ACT Scored?

You’ve studied, done test prep in the form of a practice test or two, and maybe you even got some tutoring services as you watched that test date creep ever closer. Finally, test day arrived and went. Now the only thing to do is wait for your score. It can be a nerve-wracking experience waiting for your ACT test score wondering if you did well enough for college admission. Let’s make sure that when you receive your score report you understand it.

Raw Score vs. ACT Composite Score

ACT scoring can be a bit complicated. The raw score represents the number of questions answered correctly. This raw score is not visible on the test itself, but it is converted into a scaled score ranging from one to 36 using a scale score chart. The scale scores are then averaged to find your final composite score.

the fact that the ACT composite score is an average is important. This means that if you were to retake the ACT exam, improving any ACT raw score will improve your overall score. They are not weighted so improving your ACT English score will have the same effect as improving your ACT reading score. Also, scores are only a tally of correct answers so do not leave any question blank. Give yourself the best chance possible for a good score.

Students should also note that the scaled score is standardized from test to test. Therefore, no student should think that one test date is an “easier” or “harder” test date. 

What is the Benefit of an ACT Writing Score?

According to, the writing test is optional because each college board has different needs when it comes to college admissions and placement. Different schools put differing importance on the writing skills you developed in high school, therefore you only need an ACT writing score if the schools you are applying to require it.

The writing test focuses on reading comprehension and reasoning with data. It is not multiple choice like the other sections and it is graded by two separate graders. They grade on the ideas, organization, and language usage, and the two scores are averaged to give you a final score.

What is Considered a “Good Score?”

What is a good score depends on the goals of the individual student.  For example, a student who has been recruited to play football at a Division I school need meet only the NCAA minimum requirements, but may also have to meet higher standards set by a particular school.  And, if a student wants to get into an engineering program, ACT scores needed for acceptance can run toward 30 or higher.  What is “good” is relative to college and career choice.  Preparation, especially with Mackler, can move you to your chosen goal.

ACT Prep with Mackler Associates

ACT scores are an important part of a college application, and you should prepare for them carefully. Do some research into the schools you’re interested in and set goals for yourself based on what they expect from you. It is also important to know the average ACT scores at the various universities that you’re considering, so you can set a realistic goal. Once you’ve done this, you can focus on getting the perfect score for you. With a little effort, you’ll be able to get into the college of your choice. Mackler Associates is here to help with your ACT test prep and we can help with the SAT test too!


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