Understand your scores
- How ACT calculates the multiple-choice test scores and the Composite score
- Relationship between the tests, questions, and subscores
- What are national ranks?
The information on this page applies only to the scores for the four multiple-choice tests (English, mathematics, reading, science) and the Composite score. Scoring information for the writing test is also available.
You can also download the student interpretive publication:
This publication explains what your scores mean. It can also help you compare your scores to those of other students who took the ACT, learn more about which colleges may be a good fit for you, and explore careers and majors before you decide which college you want to attend.
How ACT calculates the multiple-choice test scores and the Composite score
- First we count the number of questions on each test that you answered correctly. We do not deduct any points for incorrect answers. (There is no penalty for guessing.)
- Then we convert your raw scores (number of correct answers on each test) to scale scores. Scale scores have the same meaning for all the different forms of the ACT, no matter which test date a test was taken or what set of questions you took.
- Your Composite score and each test score (English, mathematics, reading, science) range from 1 (low) to 36 (high). The Composite Score is the average of your four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.
- We compute your seven subscores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.) in the same way, but subscores range from 1 (low) to 18 (high). There is no direct, arithmetic relationship between your subscores and your test scores—this means your subscores do not necessarily add up to your test score.
Relationship between the tests, questions, and subscores
|Test||No. of Questions||Subscore(s)|
|English Test||75||Usage/Mechanics (40 questions)
Rhetorical Skills (35 questions)
|Mathematics Test||60||Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra
Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry
Plane Geometry/Trigonometry based
|Reading Test||40||Social Studies/Natural Sciences reading skills (20 social studies & natural sciences questions)
Arts/Literature reading skills (20 prose fiction & humanities questions)
|Science Test||40||None: the total test score is based on all 40 questions.|
What are national ranks?
As your score report explains, the ranks show the percent of recent high school graduates who took the ACT and scored at or below each of your scores. (See also National Ranks for ACT Scores.)
You can use the ranks to get a sense of your relative strengths and weaknesses in the four general subject areas represented by the test scores and in the seven specific areas represented by the subscores. If you haven't yet read the part of your report that explains the ranks of your scores (to the right of your scores), do so now.
Your high school grades are another way to identify your academic strengths and weaknesses. When you registered for the ACT, you reported your grades in up to 30 specific courses. Your GPA, as calculated by ACT on an unweighted 4-point scale, is shown on your Student Report. Test scores and high school grades together are usually better indicators of future academic success than either is alone.
If you want to know more about what your test scores can tell you about the skills you are likely to know and what you are likely to be able to do in each content area measured by the ACT, see ACT College Readiness Standards.