ACT Score Range

Are you confused about the ACT score range? In this article, we break it down for you. Also, know the the ACT percentile, the highest act score and much more.

Updated by TCM Staff on 7th October 2020

The ACT is a standardized college entrance exam that measures a student's skills in five core areas: English, math, reading, science, and writing (optional). The colleges and universities use ACT as a part of the college admissions process. 

The ACT scores range between 1 to 36 which comprises 2 scoring sections. One being the section scores and the other is your composite score.

ACT Score Range

The ACT test score range is from 1 to 36. This basically includes thee two scores,

1. Section Scores

There are four sections in the ACT test section scores namely,

  • English

  • Maths

  • Reading

  • Science

The scaled score’s range is from 1 to 36. This is achieved by converting the raw score of each section and the number of questions answered correctly. There is no penalty for an incorrect answer.

2. Composite Score

It is the average of all four sections of the test.

ACT Subscores

We’re so glad you asked! The reading, writing, and maths sections also have categories with their own score ranges, as noted in the table below:


Overall Score




Usage/Mechanics (1-18)

Rhetorical Skills (1-18)

Essay (2-12)



Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra (1-18)

Algebra/Coordinate Geometry (1-18)

Plane Geometry/Trigonometry (1-18)



Social Sciences/Sciences (1-18)

Arts/Literature (1-18)



No Sub Scores

What is ACT Percentile?

Your ACT score cards are compared to other test-takers. Your score report provides you the details of the sectional and composite scores.

Scoring 80th percentile, would probably mean that you scored better than 80% (or 80out of every 100) test-takers. 

What is the Highest ACT Score?

As the ACT test has a scorecard from 1 to 36, so the highest act score can be 36.

To understand in-depth let us look at the following facts-

  • It depends on the sections you miss or leave. You can miss up to five sections and can still earn a 36. 

  • Those who earn 34 or 35, are considered as the 99 percentiles.

No doubt that scoring a 36 will be appealing to everyone and also counts as a plus point for your admission into colleges. The competition is not less, the number of students getting a perfect 36/36 is also increasing hence the college looks into the applications of all-rounder applications for the same.

Average ACT Scores

On average, the ACT sectional scores change yearly depending on the number of students taking the test and the difficulty level of the paper. However, the average of the sections approximately range as follows-

  • English: 19-20

  • Math: 19-20

  • Reading: 20-21

  • Science: 20-21

Scoring an average or above-average will increase your chances of getting into college.

You should also check the average scores of the colleges you are interested in figuring out. You should look up the average scores for schools you’re interested in to figure out what score you should target for. 

Some colleges might also want you to submit the ACT Writing score while some won’t ask. Thus it is important that you pay attention to the individual sections as well.

What is a Good ACT Score?

With a higher score, the more likely you will get into the colleges of your choice.

There isn’t a good score or a bad score. It entirely depends on your

  • Goals

  • Grades

  • Extracurriculars

Basically the schools you want to apply to, and a variety of other factors. Different people have different aspirations and hence the passing scores also differ.

It also depends upon the schools as some schools look into the sectional scores while some consider the composite scores.

A score of 32 is desirable to put you in a competitive spirit and for higher aims.

You should focus on your GPA and extracurriculars if you dream and spire to go to super-elite colleges. Thus it is important to look at the school rank.

You can read about what is a good act score in detail.


It is important that you take care of the following points

  • The ACT consists of four subjects mainly English, Math, Reading, and Science

  • The range of scores is from 1 to 36

  • The average of each score should be maintained and try to score above average

Hence with enough planning and focused studying, you should be able to beat the test!

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