An outstanding ACT Ⓡ test score could be the ticket to getting into your dream college. But what exactly makes a “good” score?

You’ll be taking the ACT test once or twice in the 11th grade (if not more often than that), and you want to have a score goal in mind before you start preparing for the test.

You need to first know what a “good” ACT score looks like so that you can set a SMART test score goal. Your target score and your performance on a practice test will give you a good idea of the level of effort you’ll need to put toward test prep for the ACT test.

In this blog, we’ll explain what test scores you’ll need to get into competitive colleges like the Ivy League schools and Texas public universities.

If you’re looking for SATⓇ test score information, visit this post: “What Is a Good SATⓇ Score in 2019?

A “Good” Score

In short, the answer to whether your score is a good one depends on where you want to go to college (and what the other pieces of your college application look like).

If you’re aiming for the Ivies, a competitive score will definitely be in the 30s.

If location matters most to you, check out score averages for Texas colleges to find out what’s considered a good score.

Test scores are an important part of the college application — but they aren’t the only part. If other parts of your application are super strong, you might have some wiggle room for what score looks good on you.

How is the ACT test graded?

The ACT test consists of four main components: English, Math, Reading, and Science.

The writing section of the ACT test is optional and scored separately.

Basically, you get one point for each correct answer and nothing subtracted for a wrong answer. For this reason, you should answer every question, even if you’re guessing.

Your raw score of right answers is calculated by summing up the points gained for each section. Then the raw score is converted into your scaled score for each section, ranging from 1 to 36.

Finally, your composite score is the average of all four section scaled scores.

That’s how your overall score is generated. Therefore, you’ll end up with a composite score ranging from 1-36. Some colleges will only look at your composite score while others will want to know exactly how you did in specific subject areas.

Average ACT Test Scores

You could talk about good scores in terms of averages. In other words, an above average score is better than an average one.

The national average composite score for the ACT test in 2018 was 20.8.

In Texas, the average composite score for the Class of 2018 was a 20.6.

So if you score a 24, you’re above average. You’ve actually hit the 75th percentile, which means you made a higher score than 75% of all test takers.

ACT provides score percentiles for the Class of 2018.

ACT Composite Score Percentiles

  • 36 – 100%
  • 34-35 – 99%
  • 33 – 98%
  • 32 – 96%
  • 31 – 95%
  • 30 – 93%
  • 29 – 91%
  • 28 – 88%
  • 27 – 85%
  • 26 – 82%
  • 25 – 78%
  • 24 – 74%
  • 23 – 69%
  • 22 – 64%
  • 21 – 58%
  • 20 – 52%
  • 19 – 46%
  • 18 – 40%
  • 17 – 34%
  • 16 – 27%
  • 15 – 21%
  • 14 – 15%
  • 13 – 9%
  • 12 – 4%
  • 1-11 – 1%

ACT Test Scores for Selective Colleges

Many colleges will require ACT test scores as part of your college application.

Below we’ve provided the average scores of current students at each college who fall between the 25-75 percentile. In order to maximize your chances of being accepted, aim for a score equal to or higher than the scores listed for your ideal colleges.

Ivy League Colleges – ACT Test Score Averages

  • Brown University — 31-34
  • Columbia University — 33-35
  • Cornell University — 32-34
  • Dartmouth College — 31-35
  • Harvard University — 33-35
  • Princeton University — 32-35
  • University of Pennsylvania — 33-35
  • Yale University — 32-36

Texas Public Universities – ACT Test Score Averages

  • Angelo State University — 18-23
  • Lamar University — 21
  • Midwestern State University — 21-24
  • Prairie View A&M University — 15-20
  • Sam Houston State University — 19-24
  • Stephen F. Austin State University — 18-24
  • Tarleton State University — 18-23
  • Texas A&M – College Station — 24-30
  • Texas State University — 20-29
  • Texas Tech — 22-27
  • Texas Woman’s University — 21
  • University of Houston — 21-24
  • University of North Texas — 16-22
  • University of Texas – Arlington – 22
  • University of Texas – Austin — 25-33
  • University of Texas – Dallas — 26-32
  • University of Texas – San Antonio – 20-25

Texas Private Universities – ACT Test Score Averages

  • Abilene Christian University — 24
  • Austin College — 24-29
  • Baylor University — 26-31
  • Dallas Baptist University — 19-24
  • Hardin-Simmons University — 18-24
  • Houston Baptist University — 20-25
  • Howard Payne University — 20
  • LeTourneau University — 20
  • Lubbock Christian University — 18-25
  • McMurry University — 18-22
  • Our Lady of the Lake University — 17
  • Rice University — 33-35
  • Schreiner University — 22-23
  • St. Edward’s University — 22-28
  • Southern Methodist University — 28-32
  • Southwestern Adventist University — 18-21
  • Southwestern University — 23-29
  • St. Mary’s University of San Antonio — 20-26
  • Texas Christian University — 25-30
  • Texas Lutheran University — 21
  • Texas Wesleyan University — 19
  • Trinity University – Texas — 29-33
  • University of Dallas — 24-31
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor — 19-25

How important is my ACT test score?

Pretty important, along with all the other pieces of your college application. Most colleges require that you submit your ACT test scores as part of your college application.

Consequently, test scores are often the first thing universities use to accept or reject applications. From there, they start a more nuanced decision-making process.

If you plan to apply to one of the colleges listed above, aim for the score average or above to increase your chances of admittance.

In conclusion, a composite score of more than 32 will likely help your application stand out amongst the competition at almost any school. If you aim for the 75th percentile or above, admissions officials will likely give your application a closer look.

Need help raising your ACT test score?

KD College Prep offers a variety of test prep programs that can help improve your composite ACT score. Contact us to schedule a tour and consultation at a campus near you.