How is the ACT Scored?

Isn’t it funny how a test first created in 1959 still confuses so many people? Americans have learned to interpret the 400-1600 scale of the SAT but still seem bewildered by ACT scoring. Yes, ACT scoring today makes much more sense than that of the SAT.

The current ACT includes four multiple choice test sections–English, Mathematics, Reading, Science–with different numbers of questions per section. Test takers receive a raw score for each section based entirely on the number of questions answered correctly. Then, raw scores are used to produce scale scores.

Each of the four sections is scored on a scale of 1-36, with 36 being the highest. These scale scores are averaged, following rounding rules, to produce a 1-36 ACT Composite. As far as college admissions go, that’s all that matters!

Students who sit for the optional ACT Writing Test also received four domain scores on a 2-12 scale. The total or subject-level score of 2-12 will be the rounded average of the four domain scores. The ACT Writing score has no impact on the Composite score.

ACT provides various subscores. The main score report includes a STEM score of 1-36, which is the average of the Math and Science scores, and an ELA score of 1-36, which is the average of the English and Reading scores. Students also see subscores in various Reporting Categories by section. Colleges, to our knowledge, do not look at subscores.


ACT page on Understanding Your Scores
ACT page on Writing Test Scores


What does the ACT cover?
How is the SAT scored?
What are percentiles and why do they matter?
Do colleges look at subscores?
What is a superscore?

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