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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 2013 - 2015
Score English Math Reading Science Composite
36 99 99 99 99 99
35 99 99 99 99 99
34 98 99 98 99 99
33 97 98 97 98 99
32 95 97 95 97 98
31 93 96 92 96 96
30 92 95 89 95 95
29 90 93 86 94 92
28 88 91 84 92 90
27 85 88 81 90 87
26 82 84 78 87 83
25 79 78 75 83 79
24 74 73 71 77 74
23 69 67 66 70 68
22 64 62 61 63 63
21 58 57 55 56 56
20 52 53 48 48 50
19 45 49 42 40 43
18 40 43 36 33 36
17 36 37 31 27 30
16 32 27 25 22 24
15 27 15 21 17 18
14 21 6 16 13 12
13 16 2 11 9 7
12 13 1 7 6 4
11 10 1 4 4 1
10 7 1 2 2 1
9 4 1 1 1 1
8 2 1 1 1 1
7 1 1 1 1 1
6 1 1 1 1 1
5 1 1 1 1 1
4 1 1 1 1 1
3 1 1 1 1 1
2 1 1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1 1 1

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 2013 - 2015
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 98 96 99 99 97 96
16 91 97 92 98 99 92 91
15 87 92 88 96 95 87 85
14 83 86 82 90 89 81 79
13 78 79 76 82 82 75 73
12 72 71 67 72 74 67 66
11 66 61 58 63 63 57 58
10 56 51 50 51 52 49 49
9 46 41 42 37 40 38 41
8 37 31 34 24 26 29 32
7 29 21 24 14 15 19 24
6 21 15 11 8 9 11 17
5 14 10 5 4 6 5 10
4 8 5 2 2 3 2 5
3 4 2 1 1 1 1 2
2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

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
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