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What is a Good ACT Writing Score?

If you are preparing for the ACT, you probably have a lot of queries regarding” What is a good ACT writing score”  and a good writing score, exam pattern, and much more. To make things a little easy for you, we have your doubts covered. Before we proceed with the exam pattern, let us review it at a glance.

ACT is a multiple-choice test. It is a standardized test that evaluates a student’s ability, abilities, and knowledge in five subject areas. They are: English, math, science, reading, and writing. Admissions committees use this test to determine if a high school student is prepared to take on the rigors of college at their specific university.


It is optional to complete the writing section, which consists of an essay. However, if a student writes an essay, they will be given 40 minutes to complete the ACT exam. Do aspirants often wonder what is a good score on the writing ACT?

Read on to know more.


Is the Writing Part of the ACT necessary?

Since the SAT essay is no longer required, many colleges and universities are rethinking whether or not they should force students to write an essay for the ACT. Schools generally like to have a consistent standard across the two tests. Some institutions do not require the ACT Writing section, while others do not consider it at all.

How is the Writing Score in the ACT evaluated?

When taken together with your subject area scores, the writing test does not affect your overall composite score. However, if a student does not receive a passing score on the writing test, they won’t get an English Language Arts (ELA) score.


An evaluation of the essay is done based on the evidence that it gives of your ability to do the following tasks:

The Writing Rubrics of the ACT Exam

Before thinking of what is a good score on the writing ACT, it is important to know the rubrics, based on which essays are marked. The grader will mark your score following the rubric having different subscores. Here we have a table that will help you to understand the rubrics:


The ACT Writing Test is graded on a scale of 2 to 12 (lowest to highest). The average ACT Writing score is between 6 and a 7 on the scale. You will need a score of 8 or above for getting admission to selective universities—however, scores of 10, 11, and 12 stand out and present excellent writing abilities. According to the most recent data given by ACT, Inc., the nationwide ACT writing score percentiles are as follows.

So, if you are wondering what is a good writing score on the ACT, a score of 7-8 works well for getting admission to most colleges. Since a few schools currently require the ACT writing exam, the Department of Education no longer collects the data. Before 2015 when the ACT used a 12-point scale, many institutions included a writing score in their admissions calculations.


How Do You Know If You Have a Good ACT Writing Score?

Tips for Achieving a High ACT Score in Writing

Fact: Most Top Schools Do Not Require the ACT Writing

Surprisingly, the majority of top-ranked schools and universities waive the ACT Writing requirement. Many prestigious colleges, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, and Brown, have eliminated the ACT Writing requirement in recent years. At the moment, none of the Ivy League schools need writing in ACTs. Numerous prestigious public colleges, including the University of Michigan and the University of Texas, have also eliminated the ACT Writing requirement.

Colleges That Require the ACT Writing

As of 2021, just eight colleges in the United States of America continue to need the ACT with Writing:


Currently, six schools specify on their website that they recommend scores for the ACT Writing test: Bethune-Cookman University (FL)

You can still get into many schools even if you don’t take the ACT Writing test, although doing so will help your application stand out. If you’re worried about your prospects of getting into one of these colleges, a high ACT Essay score will help you stand out from the crowd.


Remember that your ACT Writing Test score contributes to a relatively tiny portion of your application. Your composite ACT score is more important than any other section of the exam. A successful application should include letters of recommendation, an impressive academic record, and significant extracurricular engagement.

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ACT Writing Score

Complete Guide to Understanding the ACT Writing Scores, Ranges, & Topics


This section can be a bit nerve racking for many students because writing essays isn’t their strong suit. Don’t worry. This section is easier than you think. With a little practice, you will have no problem writing excellent essays.

Let’s look at the writing section rubric, topics, and tips how you can improve your ACT Writing test scores .

What is the ACT Writing Section?

This is an optional ACT section comprising an essay that students should plan, write, and edit within 40 minutes. You will be offered three different perspectives encouraging you to think critically about the issue and then develop your unique perspective. The student has to explain the relationships of the varying perspectives. Most importantly, the section evaluates expository writing, rhetoric analysis, and evaluative argument skills.

The most important aspect is the section is optional, and currently, around 27 institutions required students to take the ACT with writing. Therefore, if you apply to one of the universities or colleges that required the ACT writing section, you should take it.

Alternatively, if you are not sure about the colleges you will apply for, it is advisable to take the ACT writing section beforehand to make it easier should one of the colleges you are applying to have that requirement.

How is the ACT Writing Test Graded?

The ACT Writing score is scaled from 2 to 12 with 12 being the highest. The average ACT writing test score is 6 – 7 according to the most current report published by ACT, Inc.

The ACT writing test is graded by two human graders who follow a specifically designed scoring rubric. Notably, each reader will score the four domains on a 1-6 scale. Then, the two scores are combined to give the final domain score of 2-12.

Sometimes, when there is too much difference between the graders on the domain score, a third reader will be consulted.

Here is the ACT Writing rubric for grading the test.

ACT Writing Score Range

The ACT writing score range is graded on a scale of 2-12 with 12 being the highest score possible.

Here is a chart showing the range of ACT writing scores along with the ACT percentiles that each score falls in.

Average ACT Writing Score

According to the 2022 National Norms for ACT Writing Report, the average ACT Writing score is 6-7. Roughly 50-66% of test takers receive scores between 6 and 7.

Here is a chart that shows the average score for the ACT writing section.

Highest Score for Writing on ACT

The highest ACT writing score is 12 and only occurs when scoring a perfect 6 on both domain scores.

Only the top 100th percentile of test takers score a perfect ACT writing score.

What is a Good ACT Writing Score?

Typically, good ACT writing score is any score over 8.

Keep in mind that getting a good score on your ACT writing section depends on which colleges and schools you are applying to. Higher tiered universities will require higher ACT scores in order to get in.

Thus, a good score for one school may not be good enough for another.

What Schools Require the ACT Writing Test?

Most schools don’t require the ACT writing test because they feel that the General ACT test is sufficient to gauge the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of topics.

A few colleges do, however, require ACT writing test results be submitted with your application.

Here is a complete list of the colleges and school that currently require the ACT writing test:

Tips on How to Improve Your ACT Writing Score

Tip#1: practice writing.

This sounds obvious, but it’s true. Work on your writing. Write short stories. Write essays. Write anything. Just practice writing. You will get better.

Tip#2: Read More

Another obvious tip is to simply read more. You will learn though osmosis. The more you read good literature, the more you will be able to organize your thoughts and ideas.

Tip#3: Study the Rubric

Remember, the ACT writing section is graded by human graders– not computers. They are looking for certain things in your essay, so give it to them. Make grading your essay simple.

What Topics & Skills are Tested on the ACT Writing Section?

For students taking the ACT writing test, they will receive a subject-level writing score and four domain scores. These domain scores are based on the criteria used to score the essays with the score derived from the domain scores. You will be tested on idea and analysis, organization, development, and support, as well as conventions and language use skills.

It is easy to prepare for the ACT writing tests, and the preparation doesn’t include writing. All you should do is reading magazines, newspapers, listening to the radio and watching television analysis, and take part in debates that can build the foundation for your writing skills. This will help you familiarize with current issues and different perspective on the issues. The good news is your English writing classes will suffice.

You will be evaluated on ideas and analysis skills based on how well you present your opinion on the issue related to the essay prompt. The test evaluates how thorough you are in analyzing the given opinions and understanding the issue at hand. Equally, the development and support area tests the student’s explanation of reasoning, argument strength, and persuasiveness. Language use and convention assessment focus on word use choices, writing structure, sentence structure, and writing technique including, punctuation, syntax, and grammar.

On the other hand, the organization assessment area considers ideas grouping, essay unity, transition, and sequencing. All four skills will be assessed and form part of the final ACT writing section score.

ACT Writing Test Format & Structure

The ACT writing section comprises one essay question that students should write in 40 minutes. This part is optional, and you don’t have to complete it to receive test scores of the Math , English , Reading , and Science tests . The test evaluates the writing skills acquired in high school English courses.

Most importantly, scoring is between 2 and 12 in the four domain areas, and the final score will be an average of the four parts.

The essay evaluates students on three different perspectives on a contemporary issue. They are supposed to give their opinion, articulate the opinion on the issue, and then link their opinion with provided perspectives. Most importantly, you can agree or disagree entirely or in part with the essay prompt’s assertions.

It would help if you focused more on completing the essay instead of spending much time on word count or length since the length is not a part of the assessment. Your essay should follow the following format:


In the first paragraph, you should introduce your view in the essay prompt, and the perspective relates to what you will be discussing. Avoid jumping into the discussion because a good introduction makes a good introduction.

Thesis statement

This is part of the introduction, and you should clearly state your view in the prompt paragraph. It advisable to use one of the three provided perspectives in the essay prompt as your perspective or position to avoid using much time coming up with a position.

Discuss the correlation between different perspectives

In the main body of the essay, you can discuss the correlation between your position and one of the provided perspectives.

Give reasoning or examples to support positions

You should give supportive arguments against and for each perspective. The examples should be in the same paragraph as the perspective, and you should explain your reasoning.

Clear organization

You should discuss a single point or perspective in a paragraph because this will make it easier for you to stay on track.

Should I Take the ACT with Writing or Without?

You should take the ACT with writing if you feel it will give you a better chance at being accepted to your college of choice.

All the ACT sections offer multiple-choice questions, and all one worries about is picking the correct answer based on the passage provided.

However, the writing section is different. You are required to write essays. It’s more of a creative writing project than an exam. Students write a prompt describing an issue and presenting three different perspectives on the issue.

This test complements the ACT Reading and English tests very well, but if you aren’t a strong writer, you might want to take the ACT test without the writing section.

Who Should Take the ACT Science Section?

The ACT writing test is an optional test that students clearing high school thinking of college should take. Around 300 colleges recommend or require students applying for a spot in the college to take the Writing section test.

It is important to note that most selective colleges and universities will require applicants to submit the ACT writing cores, but others don’t.

ACT Writing Testing Fees

The cost of the ACT test fees are listed below:

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ACT Writing


As you study for the ACT, it's easy enough to calculate your ACT composite target score . But where does your essay score fit into all this? What's a good ACT Writing score? Read on to find out how to figure it out!

feature image credit: Had a Good Boogie Lately? by Jocelyn Kinghorn , used under CC BY-SA 2.0 /Cropped from original.

How Do You Figure Out What's a Good ACT Writing Score?

A good essay score depends on what your goals are. These goals should be concrete and determined by the colleges you're applying to . Find out more about why this is the only factor that truly matters in our article on what a good, bad, and excellent ACT score is .

So how do you figure out your target ACT Writing Score?

Step 0: Is ACT Writing Required?

Especially now that the SAT essay is no longer mandatory, many schools have been reevaluating their stance on whether or not to require the ACT essay (since schools generally like to have a consistent standard across the two tests).

Some colleges are ACT Writing-optional, while others don't consider it at all. Use our complete list of which schools require ACT Writing to figure out where the schools you're applying to stand on the issue.

Step 1: Use Our Worksheet

We've created a handy worksheet to help you figure out your target ACT score . For now we'll be adapting the worksheet to figure out what a good ACT Writing score is for you, although I definitely recommend also filling out a second sheet to figure out your target ACT composite score .

Step 2: Fill In Your Schools

On the worksheet, fill in the names of the schools you want to get into in the leftmost column. Include dream or "reach" schools, but don't include "safety schools" (schools you think you have at least a 90% chance of getting into).

Step 3: Get ACT Writing Score Data

You can try to get the data from each school's admissions website, but this is time-consuming and not always successful, as admission sites aren't laid out in a particularly standardized way.

The best source of data for ACT Writing scores is a school's Common Data Set , if the school chooses to publish it. The Common Data Set, or CDS, is a set of survey items that schools can choose to fill out and put online to give students information about the school in a standardized way. The CDS's section about First-Time, First-Year (Freshman) Admission may include information about students' 25th and 75th percentile scores on ACT Writing.

It's not mandatory for schools to fill out the CDS, and even if they do, they don't have to fill out the information about ACT Writing, so you won't always find that information, but the CDS is the most up-to-date and reliable source for ACT Writing score information.

A third option is to take to Google and search out other sources for this data; however, you should differentiate between this kind of unofficial information and official data released by the schools.

Step 4: Average Both Columns

Total up the 25th and 75th percentile scores, then find the average of each column. We recommended that you use the 75th percentile score as your target ACT Writing score since getting that score will give you a very strong chance of getting into the schools you've listed. If you're applying to humanities programs, you may even want to consider a higher target score for ACT Writing, as it may be used for placement in certain courses.

A quick refresher on what percentile scores mean: 25th percentile means that 25 percent of the students attending have a score at or below that number (below average). The 75th percentile means that 75 percent of students have a score at or below that number (above average).

For example, let's say that the 25th/75th percentile ACT Writing score range for Northwestern University is 7/10. If you score above the 75th percentile score (a 10), your Writing score will help your chances of admission; if you score below the 25th percentile (a 7-8), your Writing score might harm your chances of admission.

What If There's No ACT Writing Score Data?

Unfortunately, very few colleges actually release their ACT Writing score ranges . Rarely is the information easily accessible on the school websites (since admission sites have no standardized formats)—instead, you have to search for a school's most recent Common Data Set or rely on data provided by third parties.

If there is no data for ACT Writing scores at all, you can take a look at the school's composite ACT score ranges to get a rough idea of where your ACT Writing score should be.

Because it requires exceptional skill to get 6 in all domains (or a 12/12) on the ACT Writing, even the most competitive schools will accept a 9/12 on the essay (which puts you in the 96th percentile for ACT Writing ) , even if the school's ACT composite range is 32-35.

We've created a chart below that compares percentiles for ACT composite scores and ACT Writing scores. You can use this chart to help you figure out roughly where your Writing score should fall, based on your composite score.

source: two different pages

As an example, Northwestern 's 25/75 range for ACT composite scores is 33-35, so you should aim for an overall ACT Writing score of between 10 and 11 out of 12 .

In general, as long as your Writing score percentile is in the general ballpark (within 20-30 percentile points) of your composite score percentile, you'll be fine.

Summary: How to Decide What a Good ACT Writing Score Is


What's Next?

Now that you've stuck your toe in the waters of ACT Writing scoring, are you ready for more? Of course you are. Get into the depths of ACT Writing with this full analysis of the ACT essay grading rubric .

Is a longer essay always better? Find out how essay length affects your ACT Writing score here .

Completely confused about how the ACT Writing test is scored? You're not alone. Dispel your confusion with our complete guide to ACT essay scoring .

Curious about where your ACT Writing score stands in comparison to everyone else? Find out what an average ACT Writing score is in this article .

Want to improve your ACT score by 4 points?

Check out our best-in-class online ACT prep classes . We guarantee your money back if you don't improve your ACT score by 4 points or more.

Our classes are entirely online, and they're taught by ACT experts . If you liked this article, you'll love our classes. Along with expert-led classes, you'll get personalized homework with thousands of practice problems organized by individual skills so you learn most effectively. We'll also give you a step-by-step, custom program to follow so you'll never be confused about what to study next.

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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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What's a Good ACT Writing Score?

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For the ACT 2019-2020 reporting year, the average writing score is a 6.5 on a 12-point scale. The number comes from an ACT report on national norms , and represents roughly 2.8 million taken between 2017 and 2019. 

Do You Need the ACT Plus Writing?

Ever since the SAT evolved to include a written component, more and more colleges changed their policies to require ACT students to take the optional Writing Test (see the list of colleges that require ACT Plus Writing ). Hundreds of more colleges "recommend" the Writing Test, and if a selective college recommends something, you should probably do it. After all, strong writing skills are an essential part of college success.

As of March 2016, the SAT no longer includes a required essay section, and we're already seeing many colleges dropping the ACT writing exam as a requirement for admission. Time will tell if this trend continues. However, it is still a good idea to take the ACT Plus Wiring if 1) the colleges you're looking at recommend the test; and 2) you have solid writing skills.

There's no reason to take a recommended exam if you're likely to perform poorly on it. Unless the writing exam is required, take it only if you think it will strengthen your college application. Strong writing skills are essential to college success, so the score certainly can play a positive role in the admissions equation if you get a high score.

Average Scores on the Current 12-Point Writing Exam

An average score on the current ACT Writing Exam is a a 6.5. For highly selective colleges, you'll want a score of 8 or higher. Scores of 10, 11, and 12 truly stand out and highlight strong writing skills.

Unfortunately, for the past couple of years, almost no colleges report ACT writing scores to the Department of Education, so it's difficult to learn what score ranges are typical for different types of colleges. Later in this article, however, you'll see data from the pre-2015 12-point ACT writing exam, and those numbers can give you a pretty accurate sense of what scores will be competitive at different schools.

ACT Writing Scores by College

Because so few schools now require the ACT writing exam, the data is no longer reported to the Department of Education. The data below is historical—it's from pre-2015 when ACT used a 12-point scale and many colleges used the writing score as part of the admissions equation. Nevertheless, the numbers may be useful for seeing what writing scores were typical at different types of colleges and universities.

The data below shows the scores for the 25th and 75th percentile of matriculated students at certain colleges. In other words, half of all enrolled students scored somewhere between the lower and upper numbers. Again, keep in mind that this is  not  current data.

You can see that you don't need a perfect 12 to get into the most selective colleges in the country. In fact, a 9 or 10 puts you in a strong position even at schools like Harvard and MIT.

Keep in mind that your ACT Writing Test score is just a tiny part of your application. Your overall ACT composite score matters more than any individual section of the exam. A strong application also needs to include glowing letters or recommendation , a winning essay , and meaningful extracurricular involvement . Most important of all is a strong academic record .

Watch Now: Difference Between the SAT and ACT

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What is a Good ACT Writing Score?

The ACT Writing section is the only optional part of the ACT. However, optional does not mean unnecessary . A number of colleges do require it to be included with the rest of your ACT scores as part of their application process. If any of the schools you’re considering require you to take the ACT Writing Section, you definitely need to know what constitutes a good ACT Writing Score.

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Act writing: essay percentiles.

The ACT Essay is scored from 1-6 in four categories by two graders. This gives you four scores from 2-12. You then receive a final ACT Essay score from 2-12 that is the average of these four scores. This is the score you will be reporting to colleges. For more detail on how the essay is scored, make sure you check out Rachel’s article on ACT Essay scores .

Here’s the breakdown for ACT essay scores and percentiles for the 2022 reporting period:

As you can see from this table, the mean, or average, score on the ACT Writing section is 6. It’s a good idea to aim for at least the 75th percentile, so in this case a good ACT writing score would be an 8 or above. A 9 or above would put you in the 96th percentile, which is great!

Of course, a lot depends on the schools to which you apply ( this thorough rundown on ACT scores has more info). Generally, the more selective the school, the higher your score should be to be competitive.

Liam got a 35 on the ACT. Get a higher ACT score with Magoosh.

Universities that require the ACT Writing will almost always have an average score range on their admissions website, so make sure you do your research. If you aspire to Ivy League or other highly-selective schools , a 9 is the threshold you should try your best to reach to be safe.

However, most schools do not provide a cut-off score, so theoretically a below-average score will not eliminate you from being considered for admission. Then again, it won’t help you either.

If you are ever concerned that your essay score is inaccurate, however, you can ask for your essay to be re-scored. The $50 fee for the re-score will be refunded if you do get a higher score .

So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Really, a few key points:

ACT Essay Grader

If you’re coming to this post after taking your first ACT practice test, you might be wondering how the heck you’re supposed to even grade your essay. You’re thinking, “What even IS my ACT Essay score?”

To start, let your essay sit for a day or two before grading it (it’s helpful to get some distance). Then, follow the official scoring rubric from ACT , and ask a trusted friend/teacher/parent to do the same. Be as objective as possible as you grade—you won’t do yourself any favors by inflating your score!

Then, use our handy ACT Essay Grading tool to find your score:

Click the button below to get started:   Start Quiz!

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Elizabeth holds a degree in Psychology from The College of William & Mary. While there, she volunteered as a tutor and discovered she loved the personal connection she formed with her students. She has now been helping students with test prep and schoolwork as a professional tutor for over six years. When not discussing grammar or reading passages, she can be found trying every drink at her local coffee shop while writing creative short stories and making plans for her next travel adventure!

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Practicing for a great ACT Writing score

You get 40 minutes to write, but ACT graders have to grade each essay in less than five.

The way to get a great ACT writing score is to make the graders’ jobs easy. So, don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the big picture: a clear position, logical organization, and strong examples.

ACT Writing Rubric

The ACT essay is scored by two graders who will each assign a score of 1–6 for a total score of 2–12.

View a sample ACT essay prompt . Your ACT writing score will be based on how well you can do the following:

What's a Good ACT Writing Score?

The ACT Writing Test is scored on a scale of 2 (lowest score) to 12 (highest score). The average ACT Writing score is between a 6 and 7. Here's a look at national ACT writing score percentiles, according to the latest data released by ACT, Inc.


More ACT Writing Tips

Your argument, organization, and supporting examples are the most crucial pieces of your essay, but these four writing tips can help boost your score.

Yes, ACT graders really do tend to reward longer essays. Try to write at least four paragraphs spanning two to three pages. If your handwriting is large, make sure you write an extra page to compensate!

Read More: What's A Good ACT Score?

2. Keep It Interesting

Vary your sentence structure to improve the rhythm of your essay. If you write a really long sentence with lots of modifiers and dependent clauses, it sometimes helps to follow it with a shorter, more direct sentence. It really works.

3. Watch Your Word Choice

Sprinkle some nice vocabulary words throughout your essay (make sure to spell them correctly!). If you’re uncertain about the meaning or spelling of a word, it’s best just to pick a different word. Using a big word incorrectly makes a worse impression than using a smaller word correctly.

4. Practice Your Best Handwriting

Though graders shouldn’t take neatness into consideration when determining your ACT writing score, the bottom line is that a neat, legible essay is easier to read. And a happy grader is a good thing! For an essay that's truly easy on the eyes, make sure you indent each paragraph and avoid messy cross-outs.

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Your national ranks tell you how your scores compare to those earned by recent high school graduates who took the ACT. The numbers indicate the percentage of students who scored at or below a given score.

National Ranks for English, Math, Reading, Science, Composite, and STEM Scores

·  Based on ACT-tested high school graduates of 2020, 2021, and 2022

·  Used for ACT tests taken from September 2022 through August 2023

Download table: ACT Score National Ranks (PDF)

How to use the table: Using the leftmost column, find the row for one of your content area test scores or your Composite score. Next, find the national rank in the column corresponding to that test. For example, the national rank for a Composite score of 22 is 67. This means that 67 percent of recent high school graduates who took the ACT achieved a Composite score of 22 or lower. Similarly, the national rank for a STEM score of 26 is 85. Thus, 85 percent of recent high school graduates who took the ACT achieved a STEM score of 26 or lower.

National Ranks for ELA and Writing Test Scores

·  Based on the subset of ACT-tested high school graduates of 2020, 2021, and 2022 who took the ACT Writing test

Download table: ACT ELA and Writing National Ranks (PDF)

How to use the table: Using the leftmost column, find the row for your ELA or writing score. Next, find the national rank in the column corresponding to that test. For example, the national rank for a writing score of 9 is 96. This means that 96 percent of recent high school graduates who took the ACT writing test achieved a writing score of 9 or lower.

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ACT Results and...

ACT Results and Scores: All about the ACT Scores and Results 2022


The ACT scores are widely accepted in the US and in 200 universities around the world for admissions to undergraduate courses. A good ACT score can not only ensure your admission to a top notch institution but also opens up the possibility of merit scholarships. This is exactly why you must understand the intricacies of ACT scoring pattern and result. The current article will help you understand how are ACT scores calculated, along with ACT scoring patterns, calculation methodology, validity and other important information pertaining to ACT results and scores in a simplified manner.

ACT Scoring Pattern: Understanding the ACT Composite & Writing Test Score

Let us begin by understanding the scoring pattern of the ACT exam.

The ACT format is distributed in four sections - English, Math, Reading and Science. Apart from these compulsory sections, students can also take the optional writing test.

It needs to be remembered that the ACT score calculation for the writing test and the multiple choice tests is different.

Also Read: Everything you must know about SAT scores & results

How is the ACT composite score calculated?

Many students get confused about calculating the ACT composite score, and understanding how to calculate ACT score. Therefore, a simple 3-step way to arrive at the ACT Composite score is being shared below: 

Step 1: Calculating section wise raw scores

The first step is calculating the raw scores for each of the four sections of ACT . Each section contains multiple choice questions. For every correct response, 1 mark is awarded and no marks are deducted for incorrect answers.

Based on the number of correct answers, raw scores are estimated for each of the four sections. That means for a test of 40 questions, a student can score a maximum raw score of 40. Similarly, for a 60 questions test, 60 is scorable.

Let us look at the number of questions and the maximum raw score for each section through this ACT scoring chart: 

Step 2 : Calculating the section wise scale score from raw scores

The raw scores for each section are converted to a scale of 1-36. Once converted, the four section scale scores (one per section) can be used to arrive at the composite score also known as the ACT composite score.

Top 10 Colleges Accepting ACT!

To determine the scale scores for each section, score conversion tables are used.

Please Note the scale conversion tables differ for different forms of the exam. 

Given below is the sample conversion table taken from the Free ACT practice test 2020-21. The scale score is estimated for each section using this conversion table.


Step 3: Calculating the ACT composite score from section scale scores

Your overall ACT score or ACT composite score is calculated by taking an average of the scale scores of the four sections. This means English, Math, Reading, and Science scale scores are added and divided by 4. This average is rounded to the nearest whole number.

What to Bring on ACT Test Day?

How Is the ACT writing test scored?

The optional writing test is scored differently than the multiple choice sections. In the ACT Writing Test, the students are asked to write an essay. This essay is then evaluated by 2 readers who score the essay on a scale of 1–6 for four different parameters. These are ideas and analysis, conventions, development & support, organization and language use. The final essay score will be provided on a scale of 2 (lowest score) to 12 (highest score).

Everything You Need to Know about ACT Superscore!

ACT Score Percentile Distribution for Composite Score & Writing Test Score

The ACT scores can be viewed in the form of percentiles to compare your performance with other students. It is important to remember that for admissions, ACT scores are more important than percentiles because most colleges compare your composite scores to their own ACT score range.

Given below are ACT score percentiles distribution for both the composite score and the writing score for the year 2021-2022.

ACT Composite Score Percentile Distribution

Act writing score percentile distribution.

Top 10 ACT Prep Resources!

What is a Good ACT Score for Getting Into a Top College or University?

Now that we have understood the scoring pattern for ACT, and the ACT score breakdown the next question is – what is a good enough ACT score ? Since the ACT score has two parts, the answer is also two-fold. Let us discuss them both below.

What Can Be Considered as a Good ACT Composite Score?

A good score depends on the college and university you will be applying to as an aspirant. The higher the score, the more liberty you have in picking the college of your choice .

For the year 2020, the average ACT Composite score was 20.6. In order to get into the top schools, your score should be way over the average.

For reference sake, lets a look at the ACT score distribution for top universities -

Source: Kaplan

What’s Considered a Good ACT Writing Score?

Although the writing test is optional, many students take this test to improve their chances of getting into a good college. Also, some colleges and universities recommend students to take the writing test including some reputed institutions like Stanford University , UC Berkeley , Yale University , Harvard University , Wellesley College , and many more.

Unlike the composite score, the writing score can vary between 2 and 12. The average ACT Writing score for the ACT 2019-2020 was 6.4 . A good score would again depend on the institution but one should definitely aim at a score above the average. If we talk about whats the highest on the ACT? It is 36.

ACT Results: When are they released & how to check them?

The ACT scores are released within two to eight weeks after taking the test on the official website of ACT . To see your ACT scores, you must proceed with the ACT login on MyACT Accounts.

While the ACT Composite score for the multiple choice questions is declared within two weeks of the test, the writing scores are announced two weeks after the ACT Composite Scores are declared.

Remember: Writing test scores released separately, have no effect on the ACT composite score.

Important Dates of ACT Results 2022

Given below are the important dates related to ACT score results. Check them out to find out when the ACT scores are expected to be released.

ACT Scorecard: Interpreting the ACT Student Result Card

The ACT scoring card displays the scores for the 4 main sections along with the score of the optional writing exam. Given below is the ACT scoring card to help you interpret the ACT score percentiles and ACT score results: 


The four sections have been categorized into two further sections called STEM and ELA.

The Purple Line Represents ACT College Readiness Benchmarks for each section, and also for the STEM and ELA scores.

If your score is above or equal to the Benchmark, it reflects that you have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher, or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in specific first-year college courses in the corresponding subject area. There is currently no Benchmark for writing.

Along with the composite score the detailed breakdown of marks is given under each section along with the writing test.

How to Use the ACT Results?

The ACT scores can be used in the following ways: 

College Admissions & Course Placements

The ACT scores obtained are significant for college admission. Other factors such as academic record, plans, etc. are equally important. These factors help colleges select candidates who are the best fit for a given program in their college or university.

Your ACT score and photo are automatically sent to the institutions you reported when you registered for the test. Your institution will use this information along with your other information to help identify candidates who can benefit most from their programs.

Scholarships and Loans

For high ACT scores, several scholarships are granted to students. Colleges can use the results to assist scholarship & loan agencies in identifying qualified candidates, place students in the first-year courses, and help students develop an appropriate program of study. We at Yocket provide personalised counsel to ensure that you sail through the process safely.

Know Everything ABout ACT Scholarships! 

Validity of ACT Scores: How Long Can the ACT Scorecard be Used?

The ACT scores are valid for a period of 5 years from the day of the ACT exam. It means that if a candidate takes the ACT exam on 11th April 2022, their scores will be valid till 11th April 2027.

Retesting For ACT Exam: Why & When to Do It?

You can choose to retake the ACT exam more than once if you are convinced that the retest will improve your score. When you test more than one, ACT allows you to choose the test date and score you want to send to the colleges of your choice.

In the latest update, ACT allows students to combine scores from different test dates, it is known as Supercoring. Superscoring also allows students to combine the writing score of a writing test from one date with thesection score from another test. 

What After ACT Exam?

We hope this article helped you clarify any doubts that you may have regarding ACT scores and results. Our intent was to help you frame a strategy around what marks you need to target to get into your dream college.

Frequently Asked Questions about ACT Scores & Results

Ques. Do the colleges consider both composite and writing test scores for admissions?

Ans. While some colleges will only consider only the ACT composite scores, others may recommend students to take the writing test as well. Identify the colleges you are interested in and see what they recommend.

Ques. Does the ACT Writing Score affect the ACT Composite Score?

Ans. The Writing Test scores do not affect the composite scores. Both are calculated separately.

Ques. Where to check the ACT score?

Ans. The results are available on the official website of ACT and can be accessed by logging in with your MyACT account.

Ques. What is the range and average of ACT Composite Score?

Ans. ACT Composite score ranges between 1 and 36. The average composite score for 2020 was 20.6. 

Ques. What is the range and average of ACT Writing Test Score?

Ans. ACT Writing Test Score varies between 2 and 12. The average score was 6.5 for the year 2019-2020. 

Ques. How can I send ACT scores & Results to Colleges & universities?

Ans. The scores are directly sent by ACT to the universities selected by the candidate at the time of registration for the ACT test. Students can also send their score cards directly to other universities.

Ques. Can correction be requested on the ACT Scorecard?

Ans. If you wish to report an error in information other than your scores, you can write to ACT for the same. This change can be made within three months of receiving your scores.

Ques. Can ACT scores be cancelled?

Ans. The ACT scorecard can be cancelled in case it is invalid. The candidate can also cancel the scorecard voluntarily upon request.

Ques. Can ACT be taken more than once?

Ans. Yes, you can attempt ACT more than once.

Ques. If you take the ACT test more than once, which of the ACT scorecards is considered as valid?

Ans. You can choose the scores you wish to send to the institutions in case of multiple ACT scorecards.

Ques. Is it possible to combine the score of tests taken on different dates?

Ans. Yes, with ACT Superscoring, students can combine the results from two different dates, the exam was taken.

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