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Average ACT Scores by State (Most Recent)

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Posted by Halle Edwards | Nov 24, 2021 11:30:00 AM

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Did you recently get your ACT scores back and are now wondering how your score compares with those of other test takers in your state? Or perhaps you're curious as to how your state's average ACT score stacks up against other state averages.

For this article, we compiled the average ACT scores by state, as well as the average in each subject area, using the latest data from ACT, Inc. Read on to learn how your state's SAT data—and your ACT score—compares with the averages in the rest of the country.


What's the National Average ACT Score?

Over one million students nationwide took the ACT in 2020/2021—1.3 million, to be precise. Out of all of those tests, the national average scores came out as follows:

ACT Section Average Score
English 19.6
Math 19.9
Reading 20.9
Science 20.4
Composite 20.3

Sources: ACT National Profile Report 2021

Remember that each ACT section, and the overall composite score, are scored between 1 and 36.

This means that if you get a composite score of 21 or higher, you will beat half the other high school students in the country. If you get significantly higher than 21, you will have beaten out a majority of test takers. Likewise, if you get lower than 20, a majority of test takers will have beaten out you.

But what about the ACT averages in your state specifically? Read on to learn how well you have to do on the exam to be considered above average in your home state.




All Average ACT Scores by State (2021)

The following table contains all ACT state averages for the class of 2021 (the most recent data available). We've also included state participation rates to give you an idea of the reach of the ACT in each state and the size of the population being tested.

State Participation Composite
Alabama 100% 18.7
Alaska 16% 20.6
Arizona 35% 19.8
Arkansas 99% 19
California 5% 26.1
Colorado 16% 23.6
Connecticut 9% 27.2
Delaware 5% 25.7
District of Columbia 19% 25.6
Florida 34% 20.4
Georgia 24% 22.6
Hawaii 67% 18.2
Idaho 16% 23.0
Illinois 19% 25.2
Indiana 14% 23.1
Iowa 47% 21.5
Kansas 79% 19.9
Kentucky 100% 19.2
Louisiana 98% 18.4
Maine 2% 25.6
Maryland 8% 25.5
Massachusetts 7% 27.6
Michigan 9% 25.1
Minnesota 60% 21.6
Mississippi 100% 18.1
Missouri 63% 20.6
Montana 70% 20.4
Nebraska 86% 20.0
Nevada 100% 17.8
New Hampshire 4% 26.6
New Jersey 12% 25.1
New Mexico 23% 20.7
New York 9% 26.3
North Carolina 92% 18.9
North Dakota 100% 19.6
Ohio 85% 19.6
Oklahoma 58% 19.7
Oregon 20% 20.6
Pennsylvania 7% 25.0
Rhode Island 4% 25.8
South Carolina 50% 18.6
South Dakota 55% 21.6
Tennessee 100% 19.1
Texas 23% 20.1
Utah 86% 20.6
Vermont 4% 24.7
Virginia 9% 25.5
Washington 7% 23.6
West Virginia 30% 20.8
Wisconsin 96% 20.0
Wyoming 91% 19.8
National 35% 20.3

Source: Average ACT Scores by State Graduating Class 2021


ACT Averages by State: Hall of Fame

Now that you've had a chance to skim the list of state ACT averages, we thought it would be fun to highlight the highs and lows of the United States' ACT performance. See if your state made the cut below!


Highest ACT State Score: Connecticut and Massachusetts

Massachusetts has the highest ACT score in the country, with an average composite of 27.6, just above Connecticut (27.2) and New Hampshire (26.6).


… and your high ACT score!


However, it should be noted that these three states have relatively low ACT participation: 4% for New Hampshire, 7% for Massachusetts, and 9% for Connecticut. This is because the SAT is more popular in these states.

So what does this data mean? Ultimately, it suggests that those taking the ACT in these states are ambitious, college-bound students looking to improve their applications, which would make for a higher average ACT score.


Team Players: 100% ACT Participation

There are six states with 100% ACT participation. These states have made the ACT a mandatory part of their statewide testing regimens, helping high school students be better prepared for their college applications.

  • Alabama
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee


Highest ACT State Score With 100% Participation: Utah and Wisconsin

As you know, six states currently have 100% ACT participation. The state with the highest average score out of this group has a lot to be proud of because that average represents the entire high school population of that state.

So who wins? North Dakota is barely ahead of Kentucky, with a 19.6 average composite score (vs. Kentucky's 19.2 average). The runner-up is Tennessee with a 19.1 average composite. 


Lowest Participation: Maine

Maine wins this one by a landslide, with just 5% of its students taking the ACT. This is likely because the SAT is still the test of choice in that northeastern state. However, the SAT, which was once required in Maine, is now optional as well.


ACT-free, it would appear.


Lowest ACT State Score: Nevada

Nevada earns the dubious honor of getting the lowest average ACT score, with an average composite of 17.8.

This low average is likely due to the fact that Nevada mandated statewide ACT testing starting in 2016. In general, big jumps in test takers often result in lower averages. As such, this new average is noticeably lower than Nevada's 2015 average of 21, back when just some students took the ACT.

As the ACT becomes a staple of Nevada's state testing regimen, averages will likely increase.


Key Takeaways: Average ACT Scores by State

As you can see, the average ACT score can change pretty dramatically depending on which state you're looking at.

Nationally, the average composite ACT score is 20.3—but many states' averages are higher or lower than this. In general, states with 100% participation rates (i.e., states that require the ACT) tend to have lower averages, whereas states with low participation rates tend to have higher averages.

In terms of notable states, here's a quick wrap-up of the ACT "awards" we gave above:

  • Highest ACT State Score: Massachusetts (27.6 average)
  • Team Players: 100% ACT Participation
    • Alabama
    • Kentucky
    • Mississippi
    • Nevada
    • North Dakota
    • Tennessee
  • Score With 100% Participation: Utah (19.6 average)
  • Lowest ACT State Score: Nevada (17.8 average)

If you're ever curious what ACT score you need to aim for to be considered above average for your state, simply come back to this page, check the chart, and see whether your state made our Hall of Fame!




What's Next?

Want more context for your ACT score? Learn more about the national ACT average score and ACT score percentiles.

What ACT scores are considered good by various colleges? Check out our guide to developing a target ACT score based on the schools you want to apply to.

Wondering about what your composite ACT score represents in terms of right and wrong answers? Learn the ins and outs of ACT scoring and get tips to help you use this info to your advantage.

Trying to maximize your ACT score? Avoid this common ACT mistake to improve your composite. Also, check out our top strategies to raise your ACT essay score.


Want to improve your ACT score by 4+ points? Download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need in your prep to improve your ACT score dramatically.

Raise Your ACT Score by 4 Points (Free Download)


Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!

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Halle Edwards
About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.

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