The ACT Scoring Scale

An ACT score report includes scores for each of the four subject area tests (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science) and all associated subscores (which are calculated separately).

The first step in calculating a score for a subject area test is to determine the raw score for that test. The raw score is equal to the number of questions answered correctly on that test (there is no penalty for incorrect answers). Then, the raw score converted to a scaled score between 1 and 36 using a metric that takes into account variations in difficulty among different test administrations.

The seven subscores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.) are calculated in the same way, except that these scores range between 1 and 18. There is no direct arithmetic relationship between subscores and test scores (that is, a test score is not simply the sum of the subscores).

The Composite Score is the average of the four subject area test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.

Your score report will also contain a percentile ranking that shows the percentage of recent test-takers whose ACT score was at or below your own. The chart below lists the possible scaled scores and their corresponding percentile rankings:

Percentile rankings are based on ACT-tested high school graduates
from 2009 - 2011
Score English Math Reading Science Composite
36 99 99 99 99 99
35 99 99 99 99 99
34 99 99 99 99 99
33 97 98 97 99 99
32 96 97 95 98 98
31 94 96 93 98 97
30 93 94 91 96 95
29 91 93 87 95 93
28 88 91 85 93 91
27 85 88 82 91 87
26 82 84 78 88 84
25 78 79 75 84 79
24 73 74 71 77 74
23 68 67 66 71 68
22 63 61 60 63 62
21 57 57 54 56 55
20 50 52 48 47 48
19 43 47 42 38 41
18 38 41 35 31 34
17 33 34 30 24 28
16 29 26 25 19 21
15 24 14 19 14 16
14 18 06 15 11 11
13 14 02 10 08 06
12 11 01 06 05 03
11 09 01 03 03 01
10 04 01 01 01 01
09 01 01 01 01 01
08 01 01 01 01 01
07 01 01 01 01 01
06 01 01 01 01 01
05 01 01 01 01 01
04 01 01 01 01 01
03 01 01 01 01 01
02 01 01 01 01 01
01 01 01 01 01 01

The chart below contains percentile rankings for the subscores on each of the multiple-choice tests. There is no subscore for the Science Test:

Percentile rankings are based on ACT-tested high school graduates from 2009 - 2011
English Mathematics Reading
Subscore Usage/
Mechanics
Rhetorical
Skills
Pre-Alg./
Elementary
Algebra
Algebra/
Coord.
Geometry
Plane
Geometry/
Trig.
Social
Studies/
Sciences
Arts/
Literature
18 99 99 99 99 99 99 99
17 96 99 96 99 99 97 97
16 92 98 91 98 98 94 91
15 88 92 87 95 95 88 85
14 83 86 81 92 90 82 77
13 78 79 74 83 82 76 71
12 71 71 66 74 73 69 65
11 64 60 58 64 63 59 57
10 56 49 48 51 52 50 47
09 44 38 40 36 38 40 39
08 35 27 32 22 25 29 31
07 27 19 20 13 15 18 23
06 19 12 09 07 09 10 16
05 13 08 03 04 06 05 09
04 07 04 01 02 03 02 04
03 03 02 01 01 02 01 01
02 01 01 01 01 01 01 01
01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01

Writing Test Scores

If you take the ACT Plus Writing, you will receive two additional scores: a Writing subscore and a Combined English/Writing score. You must take both the English and Writing Tests in the same session to receive a Writing score.

The Combined English/Writing score is created by using a formula that weights a student's score on the English Test twice as heavily as his or her score on the Writing Test. The Combined English/Writing score is then reported on a scale between 1 and 36. Taking the Writing Test does not affect your scores on subject area tests or your Composite score.

Writing Test essays are scored based on your ability to:

  • stake out and argue for a position on an issue
  • focus on the topic throughout the essay
  • develop a position using reasonable support
  • organize ideas clearly and coherently
  • use language effectively and adhere to the rules of standard written English

Your essay will be scored based on the overall impression it creates. Two trained readers will score your essay on a scale of 1 to 6; the sum of these scores is your Writing subscore, which is reported on a scale of 2 to 12. If the two ratings differ by more than one point, a third reader will read your essay and resolve the discrepancy.

Percentile rankings are based on ACT-tested high school graduates
from 2009 - 2011
Score Combined English/Writing Writing
36 99
35 99
34 99
33 99
32 99
31 98
30 95
29 93
28 90
27 87
26 84
25 79
24 74
23 69
22 61
21 55
20 47
19 41
18 34
17 28
16 24
15 18
14 14
13 10
12 08 99
11 05 99
10 04 99
9 02 94
8 01 86
7 01 51
6 01 37
5 01 11
4 01 7
3 01 2
2 01 1
1 01