How is the ACT Scored?

Guide to ACT Scoring & the ACT Grading Scale in 2022

how-is-the-act-scoredUnderstand ACT Scoring and How is the ACT Grading Scale Works

Taking the ACT is regarded as one of the steps you take towards your college admission. As a result, a good ACT score is important. Although the ACT score is one of the requirements for university admission, some universities take it as an option.

Since the score is an important aspect of your college admission, it is vital to understand how grading is done. Some schools prefer test scores, but some might allow individual applicants to decide if their scores can be used for the review process.

A good score is vital in boosting your chances of joining a prestigious college. Generally, a good ACT score will be one above the 50th percentile or median score. It is vital to note that the ACT writing section, which is optional, has a different scoring scale relative to the other four sections.

The ACT scoring system is challenging to understand since it is not a straightforward representation of how you have scored in the test. You get a raw score for the correctly answered questions, and the score will be converted into a scaled score, and the average of the scores will give your ACT score.

Let’s look at how the ACT is scored and how you can compute your own ACT score.

How is the ACT Score Calculated?

The ACT test is scored based on a 1 – 36 scale range. Your composite score is computed based on the average score of your four test scores: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Fractional scores are round up if they are above one-half and rounded down in they are below one-half.

ACT scoring is a trick, so as you prepare for your ACT, you may be wondering how scoring happens. The four sections or subject areas of Reading, Math, Science, and English are given a scaled score of 1-36. The grading of the optional writing section is different. The average of the subject scores is taken to get the composite score which will range from 1-36. You might be wondering where is the scaled scored derived from.

For each question you get right, you get the point, and the total questions answered correctly will be your raw score which will be converted on a scale into the scaled score. There is no penalty or deductions of points for wrong answers.

ACT uses scaled scores to ensure consistency across several test dates for the scores. This implies that a score of 28 in the April testing window will be the same as a 28 on the June testing window. It is vital to note that scaling does not curve a test taker’s score relative to other test takers who took the test.

Most importantly, scaling analyzes average scores for each ACT version to ensure no testing window is harder or easier than the other.

1 - 19Below AveragePoor
20 - 25AverageGood
26 - 29Above AverageCompetitive
30 - 35HighestBest

How the ACT Writing Test is Scored

The ACT writing section is optional, but sometimes students do take the section. The section is not a multiple-choice section like the other four sections, but this requires the student to write an essay. The essay section is evaluated by two scorers who will grade the section on a 1-6 scaled on four domains resulting in a score of 12 for every domain.

Thus, the writing score will be the average of the four domain scores, and the total ACT writing section score ranges from 1-12, with 12 being the highest possible score on the essay section. After the section has been scored, ACT will add the essay score to the Reading and English section scores and average them to produce the English/Language Arts subscore ranging from 1-36.

Interestingly the ACT writing score does not affect the composite score. Your composite score will entail the four multiple-choice sections, and the writing section only offers additional information about your writing skill.

Sometimes colleges, especially prestigious colleges, require students to take the ACT with the writing section. Therefore you should always check the requirements and ensure you are right with the version of the test you are taking.

ACT Writing ScoresACT Writing Percentiles

How are Raw Scores Converted into Scale Scores?

ACT scoring can be a bit complicated because you have to convert raw ACT score to scaled ACT scores. This sounds difficult, but it’s not that confusing.

Scaled scores are derived from the raw scores. There is a score conversion chart where you can convert the scores on a 1-36 scale.

To get your scaled score when you take a practice test, add the number of correctly answered questions to get the raw score, and then on the ACT score chart, find an equivalent scaled score to your raw score for each subject. Add your scaled scores and divided them by four to get the final scaled score.

How are Composite Scores Calculated?

Already we have indicated that your composite score is the one that appears on your scorecard that is submitted to the college or university. You will get a score ranging between 1 and 36 for each ACT section that is converted from the raw score.

A composite score is always a whole number, and it is calculated by averaging the scaled scores of the four multiple-choice question sections. Remember that half points will be rounded up, and less than half points will be rounded down.

For instance, if you score 24 on science, 28 on math, 30 on reading, and 29 on English, your composite score will be (24+28+30+29)/4 = 27.75. Therefore this will be rounded up to 28.

What are ACT subscores?

Besides the composite score for the four sections, you will also get a subscore in three of the four sections. Reading, English, and Math sections have subscores that offer additional information regarding the student’s weaknesses and strengths in each subject area. The subscores will range between 1 and 18, and they are derived from the raw score.

It is important to note that there is no correlation between the subscores and the final scaled score. The subscores don’t add up to the composite score, and they only offer additional information regarding how the test taker performed and areas they can improve on. Colleges are only interested in the composite score, so the subscores should not worry you.

What’s the ACT Score Range?

The composite score ranges from 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score you can get for the four sections. Additionally, the score range for the writing section is 2-12.

For example, in the English section, there are 75 questions, and if you get 55 answers correctly, your raw score will be 55, and o the ACT score range, this will be a score of 23. The same applies to other ACT sections.

ACT Test Score PercentilesEnglishMathReadingScienceComposite Scores

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