ACT Scores & Results: How, What & Why of the ACT Scores & Results 2021  Image
Exams Know-how

ACT Scores & Results: How, What & Why of the ACT Scores & Results 2021

Yocket Editorial Team
20 mins read

The ACT scores are widely accepted in the US and in 200 universities around the world for admissions to undergraduate courses. A good ACT score can not only ensure your admission to a top notch institution but also opens up the possibility of merit scholarships. This is exactly why you must understand the intricacies of ACT scoring pattern and result. The current article will help you understand ACT scoring patterns, calculation methodology, validity and other important information pertaining to ACT results and scores in a simplified manner.

ACT Scoring Pattern: Understanding the ACT Composite & Writing Test Score

Let us begin by understanding the scoring pattern of the ACT exam.

The ACT format is distributed in four sections - English, Math, Reading and Science. Apart from these compulsory sections, students can also take the optional writing test.

It needs to be remembered that the ACT score calculation for the writing test and the multiple choice tests is different.

ALSO READ: Everything you must know about SAT scores & results

How is the ACT composite score calculated?

Many students get confused about calculating the ACT composite score. Therefore, a simple 3-step way to arrive at the ACT Composite score is being shared below.

Step 1: Calculating section wise raw scores

The first step is calculating the raw scores for each of the four sections of ACT.  Each section contains multiple choice questions. For every correct response, 1 mark is awarded and no marks are deducted for incorrect answers.

Based on the number of correct answers, raw scores are estimated for each of the four sections. That means for a test of 40 questions, a student can score a maximum raw score of 40. Similarly, for a 60 questions test, 60 is scorable.

Let us look at the number of questions and the maximum raw score for each section -


ACT Section

Total Number of Questions & Maximum Raw Score










Step 2 : Calculating the section wise scale score from raw scores

The raw scores for each section are converted to a scale of 1-36. Once converted, the four section scale scores (one per section) can be used to arrive at the composite score also known as the ACT composite score.


Why is Raw Score Converted to Scale Score?

In the ACT exam, every section has questions of varying difficulty levels. While some questions may be hard, others might be easy. So, getting a raw score of 50 in math can be as difficult as getting a raw score of 60 in reading. Therefore, changing the raw scores into a scale score helps eliminate the differences that may occur. Scale scores  allow a direct comparison between the scores of the students.

To determine the scale scores for each section, score conversion tables are used.

Please Note the scale conversion tables differ for different forms of the exam. 

Given below is the sample conversion table taken from the Free ACT practice test 2020-21. The  scale score is estimated for each section using this conversion table.




Step 3: Calculating the ACT composite score from section scale scores

Your overall ACT score or ACT composite score is calculated by taking an average of the scale scores of the four sections. This means English, Math, Reading, and Science scale scores are added and divided by 4. This average is rounded to the nearest whole number.


How Is the ACT writing test scored?

The optional writing test is scored differently than the multiple choice sections. In the ACT Writing Test, the students are asked to write an essay. This essay is then evaluated by 2 readers who score the essay on a scale of 1–6 for four different parameters. These are ideas and analysis, conventions, development & support, organization and language use. The final essay score will be provided on a scale of 2 (lowest score) to 12 (highest score).


ACT Score Percentile Distribution for Composite Score & Writing Test Score

The ACT scores can be viewed in the form of percentiles to compare your performance with other students. It is important to remember that for admissions, ACT scores are more important than percentiles because most colleges compare your composite scores to their own ACT score range.

Given below are ACT score percentile distribution for both the composite score and the writing score for the year 2020-2021.


ACT Composite Score Percentile Distribution


ACT Composite Score

ACT Composite Percentile

















10 & Below





ACT Writing Score Percentile Distribution


ACT Writing Score

ACT Writing Percentile


























ACT Score: What is a Good ACT Score for Getting Into a Top College or University?

Now that we have understood the scoring pattern for ACT, the next question is – what is a good enough ACT score? Since the ACT score has two parts, the answer is also two-fold. Let us discuss them both below.

What Can Be Considered as a Good ACT Composite Score?

A good score depends on the college and university you will be applying to as an aspirant. The higher the score, the more liberty you have in picking the college of your choice.

For the year 2020, the average ACT Composite score was 20.6. In order to get into the top schools, your score should be way over the average.

For reference sake, lets  a look at the ACT composite score range for top Universities -



ACT Composite Score Range

John Hopkins University


Duke University


Stanford University


Yale University


Harvard University


Princeton University


University of California, Berkeley


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)



Source: Kaplan


What’s Considered a Good ACT Writing Score

Although the writing test is optional, many students take this test to improve their chances of getting into a good college. Also, some colleges and universities recommend students to take the writing test including some reputed institutions like Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Yale University, Harvard University, Wellesley College, and many more.

Unlike the composite score, the writing score can vary between 2 and 12. The average ACT Writing score for the ACT 2019-2020 was 6.5. A good score would again depend on the institution but one should definitely aim at a score above the average.


ACT Results: When are they released & how to check them?


The ACT scores are released within two to eight weeks after taking the test on the official website of ACT. To see your ACT scores, you must proceed with the ACT login on MyACT Accounts.

While the ACT Composite score for the multiple choice questions is declared within two weeks of the test, the writing scores are announced two weeks after the ACT Composite Scores are declared.


Remember: Writing test scores released separately, have no effect on the ACT composite score.


Important Dates of ACT Results 2021

Given below are the important dates related to ACT Scores. Check them out to find out when the ACT scores are expected to be released.


International ACT Test Dates

Score Reporting Date (Writing score not included)

5th and 6th February 2021

10th February 2021

16th and 17th April 2021

21st April 2021

11th and 12th June 2021

16th June 2021

16th and 17th June 2021

21st June 2021


ACT Scorecard: Interpreting the ACT Student Result Card

The ACT scorecard displays the scores for the 4 main sections along with the score of the optional writing exam.





The four sections have been categorized into two further sections called STEM and ELA.


The STEM score reflects the overall performance in science and mathematics whereas ELA does the same for English and Reading sections.


The Purple Line Represents ACT College Readiness Benchmarks for each section, and also for the STEM and ELA scores.

If your score is above or equal to the Benchmark, it reflects that you have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher, or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in specific first-year college courses in the corresponding subject area. There is currently no Benchmark for writing.

Along with the composite score the detailed breakdown of marks is given under each section along with the writing test.


How to Use the ACT Results?

The ACT scores can be used in the following ways -


College Admissions & Course Placements


The ACT scores obtained are significant for college admission. Other factors such as academic record, plans, etc. are equally important. These factors help colleges select candidates who are the best fit for a given program in their college or university.

Your ACT score and photo are automatically sent to the institutions you reported when you registered for the test. Your institution will use this information along with your other information to help identify candidates who can benefit most from their programs.


Scholarships and Loans

For high ACT scores, several scholarships are granted to students. Colleges can use the results to assist scholarship & loan agencies in identifying qualified candidates, place students in the first-year courses, and help students develop an appropriate program of study. We at Yocket provide personalised counsel to ensure that you sail through the process safely.


Validity of ACT Scores: How Long Can the ACT Scorecard be Used?


The ACT scores are valid for a period of 5 years from the day of the ACT exam. It means that if a candidate takes the ACT exam on 11th April 2021, their scores will be valid till 11th April 2026.


Retesting For ACT Exam: Why & When to Do It?


You can choose to retake the ACT exam more than once if you are convinced that the retest will improve your score. When you test more than one, ACT allows you to choose the test date and score you want to send to the colleges of your choice.

In the latest update, ACT allows students to combine scores from different test dates, it is known as Supercoring. Superscoring also allows students to combine the writing score of a writing test from one date with thesection score from another test. 


11 Commonly Asked Questions About ACT Scores & Results


  1. Do the colleges consider both composite and writing test scores for admissions?

While some colleges will only consider only the ACT composite scores, others may recommend students to take the writing test as well. Identify the colleges you are interested in and see what they recommend.


  1.  Does the ACT Writing Score affect the ACT Composite Score?

The Writing Test scores do not affect the composite scores. Both are calculated separately.


  1. Where to check the ACT score?

The results are available on the official website of ACT and can be accessed by logging in with your MyACT account.


  1. What is the range and average of ACT Composite Score?

ACT Composite score ranges between 1 and 36. The average composite score for 2020 was 20.6


  1. What is the range and average of ACT Writing Test Score?

ACT Writing Test Score varies between 2 and 12. The average score was 6.5 for the year 2019-2020


  1. How can I send ACT scores & Results to Colleges & universities?

The scores are directly sent by ACT to the universities selected by the candidate at the time of registration for the ACT test. Students can also send their score cards directly to other universities.


  1. Can correction be requested on the ACT Scorecard?

If you wish to report an error in information other than your scores, you can write to ACT for the same. This change can be made within three months of receiving your scores


  1. Can ACT scores be cancelled?

The ACT scorecard can be cancelled in case it is invalid. The candidate can also cancel the scorecard voluntarily upon request.


  1. Can ACT be taken more than once?

Yes, you can attempt ACT more than once.


  1. If you take the ACT test more than once, which of the ACT scorecards is considered as valid?

You can choose the scores you wish to send to the institutions in case of multiple ACT scorecards.


  1. Is it possible to combine the score of tests taken on different dates?

Yes, with ACT Superscoring, students can combine the results from two different dates, the exam was taken.

We hope this article helped you clarify any doubts that you may have regarding ACT scores and results. Our intent was to help you frame a strategy around what marks you need to target to get into your dream college.


All the very best !

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