Exams Know-how

ACT Results and Scores: Score Pattern, Important Dates & ACT Scorecard

Sumeet Jain

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 how are ACT scores calculated, along with ACT scoring patterns, calculation methodology, validity and other important information pertaining to ACT results and scores in a simplified manner.

  Table of Contents 

  1. ACT Scoring Pattern: Understanding the ACT Composite & Writing Test Score
  2. What is a Good ACT Score for Getting Into a Top College or University?
  3. ACT Results: When are They Released and How to Check Them? 
  4. Important Dates of ACT Results 2023-24
  5. ACT Scorecard: Interpreting the ACT Student Result Card
  6. How to Use the ACT Results? 
  7. Validity of ACT Scores: How Long Can the ACT Scorecard be Used? 
  8. Retesting the ACT Exam: Why and When to Do It? 

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.

How is the ACT composite score calculated?

Many students get confused about calculating the ACT composite score, and understanding how to calculate ACT 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 through this ACT scoring chart: 

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.

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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 2023-24. The scale score is estimated for each section using this conversion table.

Source: act.org

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.

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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).

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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 percentiles distribution for both the composite score and the writing score for the year 2023-2024.

ACT Composite Score Percentile Distribution

ACT Composite Score

ACT Composite Percentile

















10 & Below


Source: act.org

ACT Writing Score Percentile Distribution

ACT Writing Score

ACT Writing Percentile























Source: act.org

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

Now that we have understood the scoring pattern for ACT, and the ACT score breakdown 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 score distribution 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 6.4. A good ACT score would again depend on the institution but one should definitely aim at a score above the average. If we talk about whats the highest on the ACT? It is 36.

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 2023-24

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

ACT International Test Dates 2023-24

Earliest Possible Date for ACT MCQ Scores Announcement Online

ACT Score Reporting Deadlines

8 & 9 September 2023

12 September 2023

13 September 2023 - 13 October 2023

27 & 28 October 2023

31 October 2023

1 November 2023 - 1 December 2023

01 & 02 December 2023

05 December 2023

06 December 2023 - 06 January 2024

23 & 24 February 2024

27 February 2024

28 February 2024 - 28 March 2024

12 & 13 April 2024

16 April 2024

17 April 2024 - 17 May 2024

07 & 08 June 2024

11 June 2024

13 June 2024 - 13 July 2024

12 & 13 July 2024

16 July 2024

17 July 2024 - 17 August 2024

ACT Scorecard: Interpreting the ACT Student Result Card

The ACT scoring card displays the scores for the 4 main sections along with the score of the optional writing exam. Given below is the ACT scoring card to help you interpret the ACT score percentiles and ACT score results: 

Source: Act.org

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.

Know Everything ABout ACT Scholarships! 

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 2023, their scores will be valid till 11th April 2028.

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. 

What After ACT Exam?

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.


About ACT Scores & Results

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

Does the ACT Writing Score affect the ACT Composite Score?

Where to check the ACT score?

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

Can correction be requested on the ACT Scorecard?

Can ACT scores be cancelled?

Can ACT be taken more than once?

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

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

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

What is the range and average of ACT Composite Score?

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