Understanding ACT Scoring and How to Compute Your Score
The next step after you’ve taken the ACT test is to calculate your test score. This sounds pretty easy, but it can be a bit confusing for many students.
The confusion start when you get your initial test results. These raw scores need to be converted into scale scores, so they can be comparable to other students across the country. This conversion process is simple, but can be a little tricky.
Let’s look at some scoring charts for the ACT along with a step-by-step score conversion process, so you can calculate your ACT score.
What is an ACT Scoring Chart?
An ACT scoring chart is a conversion table that allows you to convert your raw ACT score to a scale score and compute your total composite score.
Once you take the ACT practice test, you might want to estimate how you performed, or you might want to predict how many questions you should get correct to get a particular score. This is where the ACT score conversion chart comes in handy. The ACT score chart is a chart that has scores that guides you on how to convert your raw score into a scaled score. The raw score is the number of questions that you get right per each section.
For instance, if you answer 50 questions correctly in the Math test, then your ACT Math raw score will be 55. This score is converted into a scaled score, and the ACT Score chart is important in helping you convert the score on a scale of 1-36. 36 will be the highest score you get in the ACT. For instance, if you get a raw score of 50 in math, then your scaled score will be 30.
As you prepare for the ACT, it is vital to take a full practice test and then grade your test to get the raw score. After getting the raw score, the score chart will help you convert your raw score into a scaled score to get an idea of how you will perform on the actual test.
Sample ACT Scoring Chart
Here is an sample ACT scoring chart that the ACT has published to help you better understand the test scoring process. This example ACT raw score conversion table shows the scale scores and corresponding raw scores of each test section in a grid, so you can compute your score.
Remember, this is only an example ACT score chart, as each test requires a different conversion.
|Scale Score||English Raw Score||Math Raw Score||Reading Raw Score||Science Raw Score|
|36||75||59 - 60||40||40|
|35||73 - 74||57 - 58||39||39|
|34||71–72||55 - 56||38||38|
|28||64 - 65||47 - 48||33||33|
|27||62 - 63||45 - 46||32||31 - 21|
|26||60 - 61||43 - 44||31||30|
|25||58 - 59||41 - 42||30||28 - 29|
|24||56 - 57||38 - 40||29||26 - 27|
|23||53 - 55||36 - 37||27 - 28||24 - 25|
|22||51 - 52||34 - 35||26||23|
|21||48 - 50||33||25||21 - 22|
|20||45 - 47||31 - 32||23 - 24||19 - 20|
|19||42 - 44||29 - 30||22||17 - 18|
|18||40 - 41||27 - 28||20 - 21||16|
|17||38 - 39||24 - 26||19||14 - 15|
|16||35 - 37||19 - 23||18||13|
|15||33 - 34||15 - 18||16 - 17||12|
|14||30 - 32||12 - 14||14 - 15||11|
|13||29||10 - 11||13||10|
|12||27 - 28||8 - 9||11 - 12||9|
|11||25 - 26||6 - 7||9 - 10||8|
|10||23 - 24||5||8||7|
ACT Math Score Chart
Every year the ACT publishes an ACT Math score chart that students can use to calculate their scores on the math ACT test. This scoring grid shows both the raw and scale scores of the test, so you can see what your standard score would be.
Here is an example ACT math scoring chart, so you can see the scoring process.
|Scale Score||Math Raw Score|
|36||59 - 60|
|35||57 - 58|
|34||55 - 56|
|28||47 - 48|
|27||45 - 46|
|26||43 - 44|
|25||41 - 42|
|24||38 - 40|
|23||36 - 37|
|22||34 - 35|
|20||31 - 32|
|19||29 - 30|
|18||27 - 28|
|17||24 - 26|
|16||19 - 23|
|15||15 - 18|
|14||12 - 14|
|13||10 - 11|
|12||8 - 9|
|11||6 - 7|
ACT English Score Chart
Once per year, the ACT issues an ACT English scoring chart for students to compute their standardizes score for the English ACT test. The scoring table displays a grid of scale and raw scores, so students can convert their raw English score into a scale score.
Here is an example ACT English score chart that will help you understand the scoring process for the ACT English section.
|Scale Score||English Raw Score|
|35||73 - 74|
|28||64 - 65|
|27||62 - 63|
|26||60 - 61|
|25||58 - 59|
|24||56 - 57|
|23||53 - 55|
|22||51 - 52|
|21||48 - 50|
|20||45 - 47|
|19||42 - 44|
|18||40 - 41|
|17||38 - 39|
|16||35 - 37|
|15||33 - 34|
|14||30 - 32|
|12||27 - 28|
|11||25 - 26|
|10||23 - 24|
How are ACT Scores Calculated?
As stated, the number of questions you get right will account for your raw score. It is important to note that you will not be penalized or points deducted if you get some questions incorrect. For instance, if you get 40 questions correct in the Math test, that will be the raw score for the Math section.
Your raw score is then converted to a scaled score of 1-36. There is a scaled score for all multiple-choice sections, and for each section test, you will get subscores. The subscores indicate how many questions you git right per category. Your total ACT score will be the average of the scaled scores. You will add the Math, English, Reading, and Science section scores and then divide by 4 to get the composite score.
Remember, the composite score is always a whole number, so you should round off to the nearest whole number if you get a decimal.
ACT Score Calculator
There are several ACT score calculators available online, but you have to be careful using them. The raw to scale score conversion tables change every year, so if the calculator isn’t using the current tables, it might be calculating the wrong score.
These are useful to use as a starting point to see where your final score will end up, but you should always check their calculation against the ACT published scoring chart to make sure your score is accurate.
The last thing you want is to think you got a higher score than you did and get a surprise when you get your official results back in the mail.
ACT Raw Score vs ACT Scale Score – What’s the difference?
Raw score is the number of correctly answered questions. Notably, you get one point for every question you answered correctly and no points for incorrect or omitted answers. There is no penalty for wrong answers.
Therefore ensure you answered all questions even if it means guessing some of them answered for the difficult questions. On the other hand, a scaled score is derived from the raw score where the number of correctly answered questions will be converted on a scale of 1-36. 36
I the highest possible score you can score for each section. Also, for every multiple choice question, you receive a scaled score.
What is an ACT Composite Score and How is it Calculated?
A composite ACT score is the average of the section scores. To calculate your composite score, you add the Math, English, Reading, and Science scaled score and then divide it by four. The score is always rounded to a whole number.
Each section will include the number of questions you have correctly answered and the proportion of the correctly answered questions. Since the composite ACT score is an average, you can still get less than a 36 in one of the ACT sections and get a perfect score.
For instance, if you score 34 in maths,36 in English, 36 in Science, and 36 in reading, your composite score will be 35.5, but this is rounded to 36 to give you a perfect score.
How to Calculate your ACT Score using a Scoring Chart
Raw ACT scores will not always fit into the same scaled score. There are variations depending on the questions’ level of difficulty. Therefore there is o on-size-fit-all ACT scaled score chart that one can use to convert raw scores. To estimate your score, you can use the available conversion chart on the ACT practice test.
For instance, if you get 70 out of 75 questions correct in English, 57 out of 60 in Maths, 36 out of 40 in Science, and 36 out of 40 in reading, your raw scores will be 70, 57, 36, and 36.
On the conversion chart, a 70 raw score in English is scaled to 33, a 57 score in Math to 34, a 36 in Science is scaled to 30, and a 36 in reading is scaled to 33. Therefore your composite score will be (33+34+30+33)/4= 32.5 rounded to 33.
Is the ACT Graded on a Curve?
ACT is curved but not the same way another test might be curved. Interestingly the ACT curve is not a “grading curve” as the performance of other test takers doesn’t affect your ACT score.
It is vital to point there is no redistribution to receive a normalized curve even if most test-takers get low scores. The curve in the ACT is for correcting minor fluctuations in test difficulty.
But, generally, your score will always remain the same as you scored in the test. The process of addressing the fluctuations in test difficulty is called equating. It ensures that ACT scores for various jurisdictions will reflect the same ability levels irrespective of with whom or when you will take the ACT.
Time to Start Studying
Doing well in the ACT is crucial as it will help you in narrowing down the choice of colleges. High ACT scores increase your chances of joining Ivy League colleges and prestigious institutions, and you can also win scholarships.
In addition, the ACT is essential in college admission as it helps college boards to make admission decisions. However, it is vital to remember that the admission process is not only pegged in the ACT scores. Even the prestigious schools will take a holistic approach to select candidates.