SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

What Is the ACT Out Of?


You may have heard of this standardized test called the ACT. What's this test out of? What's the highest and lowest ACT score? And what score should you try to get? I'll answer all of these questions below.


What Is the ACT Out Of?

When you get your ACT score report, you'll see several numbers including your composite ACT score and your individual section scores (there are four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science).

The composite ACT score is the primary number that colleges look at. The composite ACT score is out of 36. Scores range from 1 to 36. Each section is also out of 36, with scores ranging from 1 to 36 in the individual sections. To give you a sense of the range of ACT scores in the US, I've assembled this chart with approximate national ACT percentiles:

Percentile ACT Score
25th 16
50th 20
75th 24


Your final ACT composite score is calculated by average the 4 section scores and rounding to the nearest whole number. For further explanation, read How Do You Calculate ACT Score?




What Score Should You Aim for in the Range?

You don't necessarily need to aim for a perfect 36. You should choose your target score for the ACT based on what score will get you into your target schools. Find out what the average ACT score is for accepted students to your target schools by search “[College Name] ACT” in Google. You'll likely find the school’s 25th/75th percentile scores.

What are these numbers? The 25th percentile ACT score means that 25% of admitted freshmen received a score at or below that number (75% of admitted students scored higher). The 75th percentile score means that 75% of admitted freshmen received a score at or below that number (25% of admitted students scored higher).

Well, what should you aim for in the 25th/75th percentile range? You should aim for a score at or above the 75th percentile score to have the best chance of being admitted. For a more in-depth explanation of what your target ACT score should be, read What is a good ACT score? A bad ACT score? An excellent ACT score?


What’s Next?

Learn more about the ACT test format and prepare to rock the ACT:


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)


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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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