Understanding the ACT Grading Scale

What is ACT Grading Scale

First let us start with explaining what ACT is before jumping into the details on ACT grading systems and ACT grading scores ! ACT is a standardized test used for admissions in colleges and universities especially in the US.

ACT, a nonprofit group with the same name, is currently in charge of its management. This could bring in some doubt on how it is different from another most popular grading exam -SAT.

They are very much similar in terms of difficulty level and are equally preferred among the universities but the main difference comes in its subject . ACT is much more dedicated to the science section than the rest . 

So what else is included in ACT?

The ACT exam evaluates four academic skills and knowledge: English, mathematics, reading, and  scientific reasoning with an extra optional writing test .

All of these sub-tests will be in multiple-choice questions format.


The English test is for 45 minutes and has 75 questions

The test will be based on :

  • Grammar
  • Punctuations
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Sentence structuring and organisation
  • Style


The math test is for 60 minutes and has 60 questions

The test will be based on :

  • Elementary algebra
  • Intermediate algebra
  • Coordinate geometry
  • Plain geometry
  • Trigonometry


The Reading test is for 35 minutes and has 40 questions

The reading test has passages based on :

  • Prose fiction
  • Humanities
  • Social studies
  • Natural science


The science test is for 35 minutes and has 40 questions

The test will cover:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Also Read:  How to Feel Motivated to Study?

In addition, there is another optional writing test as mentioned above which examines your writing skills, the time given is 30 mins. The total time given would be 2hrs 55mins.

Looking for an ACT grading guide?

The ACT grading system might seem confusing in the beginning but it is called “standardized” for a reason. This ACT grading system helps in standardizing the scores even when the subjects may contain different amounts of questions.

After the completion of each subject, they are given raw scores which will then later be converted to scale score and this will eventually be transformed into your final composite score. 

Each subject will be given a score between 1- 36 which remains as it is until an average will be taken by calculating all the four subjects , which will also be in between 1- 36.

But in a real life situation there aren’t usually scores under 5 , so it would be ideally between 5-36. The median ACT score for several years has been around 21.

This could also be dependent on your opponents.In simpler terms your ACT score will be based on your performance v/s everybody else taking the test . If it comes to be in decimal, according to the ACT grading system they will round up to the nearest 0.5 giving you the higher score.

This ACT chart is very important since the scores given in respect to it are used as a scale for your applications in the top universities. 

For eg: yales, Harvard, Princeton, etc including the other top ivy league schools consider an ACT score of 32 – 36 for qualification.

There are few universities in the US that don’t require a particular score but they rank way below the other unis. But if you are aiming for a good university it is advised to have an ACT score of a minimum of 30.

Further Reading:


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