What is a Good ACT Score in 2024?

As you gear up to tackle the ACT, it’s natural to experience some jitters about the results. Striving for a strong performance is essential, but determining what constitutes a satisfactory score might leave you feeling uncertain. Moreover, you may be curious about how your score influences your college aspirations. While standardized testing can be daunting, fear not – we’re here to offer guidance through the process. This article aims to demystify the concept of a good ACT score, equip you with effective preparation strategies, and provide insights into what to anticipate on test day.

Also read Scholarships Based on SAT/ACT Scores 2024

What is a good ACT score?

Understanding what constitutes a good ACT score is fundamental to your test preparation journey. Let’s break down the basics of the ACT grading scale before delving into score assessments. The ACT utilizes a numeric scale from 1 to 36, where higher scores indicate superior performance. Your raw score, reflecting the number of correct answers, is then converted into a scaled score. This conversion considers slight variations across different test forms to ensure fairness. For instance, if you answer 72 out of 75 English questions correctly, your raw score would likely translate to a perfect scaled score of 36.

Your composite score, an average of all four sections, holds paramount importance for colleges. Imagine achieving scores of 36 in English, 33 in Math, 34 in Science, and 35 in Reading. Averaging these yields a composite score of 34.5, typically rounded up to 35. While the definition of a “good” ACT score varies, it largely hinges on your target colleges’ expectations. More competitive institutions like Harvard and Stanford seek scores in the 34-36 range, while others like the University of Oregon and Washington State University often accept scores around 24. Therefore, identifying your desired colleges and researching their ACT score requirements is crucial. Ultimately, your goal should be to achieve a score that aligns with your college aspirations and opens doors to scholarship opportunities. By understanding each university’s criteria, you can confidently determine what constitutes a good ACT score for you.

What’s A Good ACT Score? University Requirements

Determining what constitutes a good ACT score involves understanding the expectations of your target universities and colleges. Below, we’ve compiled ACT score ranges for 20 esteemed institutions in the U.S. to provide clarity on what qualifies as a good score for each.

Note: If your score falls within the 25th-75th percentile range, it aligns with the average incoming student’s score. Scoring above the 75th percentile indicates a more impressive performance, while scoring below the 25th percentile suggests a lower likelihood of acceptance at that specific university.

  1. Harvard University
    • ACT Score Range: 34-36
  2. Stanford University
    • ACT Score Range: 34-35
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    • ACT Score Range: Not Reported
  4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
    • ACT Score Range: 34-36
  5. University of Chicago
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  6. Columbia University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  7. Yale University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  8. Princeton University
    • ACT Score Range: 32-35
  9. University of Pennsylvania
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  10. Northwestern University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  11. Duke University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  12. Johns Hopkins University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  13. Brown University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  14. Dartmouth College
    • ACT Score Range: 32-35
  15. Vanderbilt University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  16. Washington University in St. Louis
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  17. Cornell University
    • ACT Score Range: 32-35
  18. Rice University
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  19. University of Notre Dame
    • ACT Score Range: 33-35
  20. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
    • ACT Score Range: 31-35

By reviewing these score ranges, you can gauge what a good ACT score looks like for your desired institutions and tailor your preparation accordingly.

Also see Average GMAT Score by School 2024

What to Expect on the ACT

Preparing for the ACT can feel daunting, but understanding what to expect in each section can ease some of those nerves. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll encounter on the ACT:

1. English Section

  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Questions: 75 multiple-choice
  • Content: Grammar rules, vocabulary, writing style, and literary elements

2. Math Section

  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Questions: 60 multiple-choice
  • Content: Word problems, geometry, algebra, and basic trigonometry

3. Reading Section

  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Questions: 40 multiple-choice
  • Content: 5 passages with questions testing reading comprehension, inference, and recall

4. Science Section

  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Questions: 40 multiple-choice
  • Content: Interpreting data, research summaries, and evaluating models and graphs

Now, you might be wondering what constitutes a good score in each section. Since the ACT provides individual scores for each section, aiming for your target composite score and then breaking it down can be helpful. For instance, to achieve a composite score of 35, you’d need at least a 35 in two sections and no less than a 34 in the other two.

If the prospect of the ACT feels overwhelming, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources available to help you improve your score once you’ve determined your target. And remember, practice and perseverance go a long way in achieving your desired score.

Preparing for the ACT

Preparing for the ACT doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some steps to help you feel more confident:

1. Practice with Sample Questions:

  • Utilize the official ACT website to access sample questions in each section. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the format of the exam and the types of questions you’ll encounter. Additionally, the website offers valuable test-taking strategies to help you maximize your performance.

2. Identify Areas for Improvement:

  • After completing sample tests, assess which sections you find challenging. This awareness helps you tailor your study plan to focus on areas where you need the most improvement. For instance, if you struggle with the English section but excel in STEM subjects, allocate more time to review grammar rules and writing styles.

3. Take Regular Practice Tests:

  • Incorporate regular practice tests into your study schedule. These tests simulate real exam conditions and allow you to gauge your progress over time. Reviewing answer explanations for incorrect responses helps reinforce concepts and refine your test-taking strategies.

4. Consider Taking the Test Multiple Times:

  • Taking the ACT more than once can be beneficial. With each attempt, you become more familiar with the test structure and timing, reducing test-day anxiety. Additionally, multiple attempts provide opportunities to improve your score and achieve your desired outcome without the pressure of a single test attempt.

Remember, preparation is key to success on the ACT. By practicing regularly, identifying areas for improvement, and utilizing test-taking strategies, you can approach the exam with confidence and maximize your performance.

Curious about the ACT with Writing?

Let’s dive into what constitutes a good score and how it can impact your college applications.

Scoring for the Writing Section:

The writing section of the ACT is graded on a scale from 2 to 12. On average, scores typically range from 6 to 7, with a score of 10 considered particularly commendable. However, it’s crucial to note that not all colleges require the writing section, so be sure to check the requirements of your prospective schools.

If you opt to take the writing section, the official ACT website offers sample prompts and essays for practice. Additionally, you can access a breakdown of scoring criteria, providing insight into how your essay is evaluated by graders.

Understanding the ACT Superscore

An ACT superscore is calculated by averaging your best section scores from multiple test dates. For instance, if your first attempt yields a 33 composite score, and your second attempt results in a similar composite, you can’t improve your overall score.

However, some universities permit superscoring, allowing you to combine your highest section scores across different test dates to create a new composite score. This approach enables you to submit your most favorable score, potentially enhancing your chances of admission and merit aid.

Also see SAT Score Calculator 2024

Comparing ACT and SAT Scores

If you’re considering both the ACT and SAT, understanding how scores translate between the two exams can be valuable. Utilizing an ACT to SAT conversion chart can provide insights into your performance on each test. Remember, some students may excel more on one exam over the other, so it’s essential to determine which test aligns best with your strengths.

By familiarizing yourself with these aspects of the ACT, you can better strategize your test-taking approach and optimize your college application process.


Understanding what constitutes a good ACT score is essential for navigating the college admissions process effectively. By researching the score requirements of your prospective universities and colleges, you can set realistic goals and tailor your preparation accordingly. Remember, while achieving a high score is important, it’s equally vital to focus on areas where you can improve and utilize resources like practice tests and test-taking strategies to enhance your performance. Whether you’re aiming for a top-tier institution or exploring scholarship opportunities, your ACT score plays a significant role in shaping your academic journey. With thorough preparation and a clear understanding of your target score, you can approach the ACT with confidence and maximize your chances of success.