Average ACT Score
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Roughly 1.3 million students, or 36% of the U.S. high school graduating class of 2022, took the ACT.
In 2022, the national average composite score was 19.8. That's the lowest it has been in at least the past three decades.
The ACT may be becoming less popular. The percentage of highschool graduates who take the ACT has dropped 12 percentage points between 2012-2022.Note Reference 
Women have outscored men overall since 2017.
Broken down by subject, men have outscored women in math and science since 1970.Note Reference 
Students in Massachusetts and California had the highest average composite scores of 26.5.
Each year, over one million high school students take the ACT exam. Scores from the test offer universities a way to compare student profiles for admissions. Competitive test scores also increase students' chances for scholarships.
Keep reading to learn more about average ACT scores, including average scores by year, state, race/ethnicity, and gender.
Table of Contents
- Average ACT Score in 2022
- National Average ACT Score Over Time
- ACT Average Score by State
- Average ACT Scores for Ivy League Colleges
- Average ACT Scores for Popular Colleges
- Frequently Asked Questions About the Average ACT Score
Average ACT Score in 2022
According to the 2022 ACT report, the average ACT score this year was 19.8.Note Reference 
Scores largely depend on how you fared against other high school students in the country. For example, you would have needed a composite score of 31 or higher to have scored among the top 5% (the 95th percentile) of all test-takers.
|Percentile||Composite (All Tests Combined)||English||Math||Reading||Science|
Based on the composite scores, English and reading have higher average scores than math and science. To score in the 90th percentile (or top 10%), you would need to score a 31 in English and reading but only a 28 in math and science.
Behind the Numbers
What's a percentile? The term
percentile is commonly used in standardized tests. It's a measure of how your test score compares to other test-takers' results. If you scored in the 99th percentile, only 1% of test takers scored higher than you. If you scored in the 40th percentile, 60% of test takers scored higher than you.
National Average ACT Score Over Time
In 2022, the national average composite score (19.8) was the lowest since 1990.Note Reference 
- A greater percentage of students took the ACT in 2021 than in 2022 by one percentage point (35% vs. 36%).Note Reference 
- The overall percentage of graduates who take the ACT appears to be dropping, with the figure down by 12 percentage points from 10 years ago (48% in 2012 vs. 36% in 2022).Note Reference 
- The average ACT score has been decreasing as well. In 2012, the average composite score was 21.1. In 2022, it was 19.8.Note Reference 
|Graduating Class||Average ACT Score||Year-Over-Year Change|
Did You Know…
Fewer students take the ACT each year than the SAT, and it's declining in popularity.
- Roughly 1.3 million students, or 36% of the U.S. high school graduating class of 2022, took the ACT.Note Reference 
- This is much lower than the 58% of high school graduates who took the test in 2016.Note Reference 
- In contrast, 1.7 million high school graduates took the SAT in 2022, which is an increase from 1.5 million in 2021.
The ACT and SAT have many of the same components. For example, they are both approximately 3 hours in length. Both tests also cover reading, English (or language on the SAT), and math.
The two tests also have some key differences.
- While they are roughly the same length, the ACT has many more questions than the SAT (215 questions vs. 154).
- For the ACT, the minimum score is 1 and the maximum, 36.
- For the SAT, scores range from 400-1600, with 400 being the lowest you can score and 1600 being the highest.
- The ACT also has an additional science section that the SAT doesn't have.
Average ACT Scores by Gender
Based on the 2022 ACT report, women students outperformed men. Women earned an average composite score of 20, which is 0.3 points higher than men's average composite score of 19.7.Note Reference 
Three percent of test-takers selected
another gender or
prefer not to respond. This group had an average composite score of 18.3.Note Reference 
- In 2022, men scored 0.6 points higher in math and 0.1 points higher in science than women.Note Reference 
- In 2022, women scored 1.1 points higher in English and 0.9 points higher in reading than men.Note Reference 
- Students who selected another gender and those who did not select any gender scored the lowest in every section, 2.1 points behind women in English, 1.9 points behind men in math, and 1.6 points behind men in science.Note Reference 
- Women have outscored men overall since 2017. However, men continue to perform better in math and science, and this has been the case every year since 1970.Note Reference 
- Women students have outperformed men in the English section as far back as 1970 and the reading section since 1994.Note Reference 
Average ACT Scores by Race/Ethnicity
The average composite score for all students, irrespective of race, has been on a downward trend for the past five years. This has not been true for all racial and ethnic groups, however. See the table below to understand how scores have changed within groups when broken down by race and ethnicity.
- In 2022, Asian students achieved the highest average ACT composite score of 24.7.Note Reference 
- This is 8.6 points higher than the average composite score of Black students, which was 16.1.Note Reference 
- Asian students were the only racial or ethnic group to see an increase in average scores from 2018 to 2022.Note Reference 
- Many other minority groups, including Hispanic and Latino/as students and Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders, experienced a 1.1 drop in the past five years.Note Reference 
|Race||Percent of Total Students||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022|
|Black/ African American||13%||16.9||16.8||16.7||16.3||16.1|
|American Indian/ Alaska Native||1%||17.3||17.0||16.7||16.9||16.4|
|Native Hawaiian/ Other Pacific Islander||0%||18.2||17.9||17.5||17.2||17.1|
|Two or More Races||4%||21.1||21.0||20.9||20.6||20.1|
ACT Average Score by State
- The percentage of high school students who take the ACT differs by state. One hundred percent of students take the ACT in six states: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming.Note Reference 
- The fewest students take the ACT in Maine (2%) and California (4%).Note Reference 
- Students in Massachusetts and California have the highest average composite score of 26.5.Note Reference 
- Students in Nevada have the lowest average score of 17.3. Those in Mississippi have the second-lowest score of 17.8.Note Reference 
Average ACT Scores for Ivy League Colleges
Ivy League students have some of the highest ACT score averages. To be in the middle 50% of admitted students, you need a near-perfect score. Even then, these colleges all have single-digit acceptance rates.
|School||ACT Composite Score (25-75th Percentile)||Acceptance Rate|
|University of Pennsylvania||33-35||8.0%|
Some schools no longer require test scores, including Yale and Cornell. Some schools plan to exclude standardized testing from their requirements starting in 2023, including Harvard and Vanderbilt., 
Average ACT Scores for Popular Colleges
Below are average ACT composite scores for some popular colleges. Schools with higher acceptance rates tend to have lower ACT score averages.
|School Name||ACT Score (25-75th Percentile)||Acceptance Rate|
|University of Georgia||31-34||42.2%|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||35-36||3.96%|
|University of California Los Angeles||29-32||9.0%|
|Brigham Young University||27-32||66.2%|
|North Carolina State||29.2||47.4%|
|New York University||31-35||12.2%|
|The Ohio State University||28-32||54%|
Both Brigham Young and Ohio State accept over half of their applicants, and both schools have average ACT composite scores ranging from the high 20s to the low 30s.
This is in contrast to colleges with acceptance rates lower than 5%, such as Stanford and MIT, both of which require near-perfect scores to be in the middle 50% of the class.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Average ACT Score
How long is the ACT?
The ACT is 3 hours long (2 hours and 55 minutes to be exact) including breaks. In total, it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to take the exam, accounting for the beginning time it takes to fill out personal information.
There is also an optional essay (the ACT Plus Writing) section that takes an additional 40 minutes to complete.
How many questions are on the ACT?
There are 215 questions for the test portion of the ACT: 75 for English, 60 for math, 40 for reading, and 40 for science.Note Reference  Unlike the SAT, the ACT has just one section for each subject.
What is the lowest score on the ACT?
Your score can range from 1 (lowest) to 36 (highest).
To calculate your score, you start with your number of correct answers. This raw score gets converted to the ACT scale score.
The composite score, which is the average of the four test scores, is rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down, and fractions greater than one-half are rounded up.