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Calculate Your ACT Score: A Comprehensive Guide

How To Calculate ACT Score The Basics

ACT scoring is complex and standardized which makes it a bit more confusing than the other tests. Once you understand how the calculation works you will figure out the rest by yourself, all you need to do is stay patient till the end of this article. Without further ado let us get started on how to calculate ACT scores.

What you may receive as your final score is called the composite score, which is out of 36. The composite itself means it is a congregate score of two or more subjects. ACT’s composite score consists of 4 sections- English, Math, Reading, Science.

It is essentially an average of all these four sections. All of these subjects will be scored on 1 – 36. This is not to be confused with raw scores!

Let’s first have a small recap on the number of questions of each subject before we explain raw scores( bracket shows the range of score attainable)

English- 75 (1- 36 )

Math- 60  (1- 36 )

Reading- 40  (1- 36 )

Science- 40  (1- 36 )

There is an additional paper on Writing which is optional 

Essay-  (1- 12)

As you might have noticed the score is different for essays therefore it is not included in the final score.

They also don’t come with the composite score, they in fact come a few days/weeks after your main ACT results. Raw scores show the number of questions the student got out of the total number of questions.Say you got 60 in the English section out of 75 questions, then 60 is your raw score.

You will be provided marks for every right answer and luckily will not be deducted any scores even if it is wrong. This means to try your luck even if you are unsure of the answer, there is nothing to lose.

But the problem is that each section contains a different weightage/no: of questions ( as mentioned above), which has to be brought equal for the final score you would be wrong if you had thought that raw scores directly get converted to composite scores.

There is one more step for averaging out these raw scores into the range of 1 – 36. These raw scores are mapped onto a scale of 36 with respect to the number of questions in the section.

Certain questions carry one whole score on a scale score i.e if you answer one question right your score will be increased by one. But sometimes it requires two questions to up the score on the scale.

Also Read: Perfect ACT Score: Strategies and Tips for Achieving the Maximum Score

This system is assigned to every section once the raw score is received which standardizes all the raw scores, this is called the scale score.

Don’t worry, we are onto the final step!

Now that we have got our ranges similar, all we have to do is take the average of all the four scale scores combined, which will be out of 36 itself.

For example:

If you score

English- 24

Math- 24

Reading- 25

Science- 25

Take the average of all these ! ( 24+24+25+25/4 = 24.5)

Lucky for you ACT has a standard rounding system, which implies that there wouldn’t be any decimal score and that it will be rounded off to the nearest whole number!

Here your average shows 24.5 but your composite score would be 25! You can retake your ACT if you aren’t satisfied with your current score.

Another good news is, ACT is now providing students the option to retake one subject alone instead of all four sections for the sake of one. Your ACT scores will anyhow be valid for 5 years.

Now that you have managed to figure out how to calculate your ACT scores, we are sure that you would also want to know how your admissions in your future colleges and universities would look like, with the mark you have obtained/to be obtained.

The table below is for the students who aim unapologetically big!

This table shows the required ACT scores for IVY League 

Schools Required ACT scores
Harvard 33-35
Columbia 33-35
Brown 33-35
Yale 33-35
Princeton 32-35
Penn 32-35
Dartmouth 32-35
Cornell 32-35

As you can see there are pretty high requirements for these schools because of their ranking. So, if you don’t get above 30-32 there is a very low chance that you will be accepted.

There is no need to panic even if you don’t get 32, even if it is below the score of 32 there are still chances of you getting into a decent reputed college across America.

Here is another table for a few of the best colleges and their ACT score requirements.

School Name Required ACT(min)
MIT 33
John Hopkins 32
University of Chicago 32
Stanford 31
Duke University 31
Columbia University in the City of NewYork 31
Northwestern University 31
Williams College 31
Haverford College 31
Berkeley 30
Georgia Institute of Technology 30
University of Southern California 30
Georgetown University 30
Case Western Reserve University 30
Pomona College 30
University Of Michigan- Ann Arbor 29
University of Virginia 29
NewYork University 29
Brandeis University 29
Emory University 29
University of California- Los Angeles 28
University of North Carolina 28
University of California – San Diego 28
Ohio State University 27
The University of Texas at Austin 26

There are more universities that provide admissions for similar scores that haven’t been listed above, make sure you go through them too!

ACT may seem intimidating but with the right guidance and resources, you may make your way into your dream colleges. Make sure to check the links out, now that you know your goal score!

Further Reading:


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