How High Schools and Colleges Use ACT Results

Below are some examples of how high schools and colleges may use ACT results:

High schools

High schools use ACT results in academic advising and counseling. They also use ACT results in:

  • evaluating the effectiveness of instruction
  • identifying students who need assistance with certain subject areas or academic skills
  • planning changes and improvements in the curriculum


Colleges use ACT results in a variety of ways:

  • Admissions decisions
    ACT test results, high school grades, academic preparation, out-of-class accomplishments, and future plans—these and other kinds of information help admissions officials identify applicants who can benefit most from their programs.
  • Course placement
    Colleges usually try to take into account individual strengths and weaknesses as they place students in first-year courses. For example, a college may offer three sections of a subject—developmental, regular, and advanced. A student's ACT test results, academic background, and high school grades might be used to determine which section would be most appropriate.
  • Academic advising
    College academic advisors may consider ACT results, high school academic program, high school grades, planned extracurricular activities, areas in which there is a need for assistance, and part-time employment plans to tailor an appropriate program of study to a student.
  • Scholarships and loans
    Some scholarship and loan agencies may use ACT test results with other information such as high school grades to identify qualified candidates. However, the agencies may not look at academic potential alone. The ACT score report provides information about a student's educational needs, extracurricular achievements, and educational plans. This information, along with high school grades and test scores, helps the agencies evaluate applications for scholarships, loans, and other financial assistance.

Using ACT writing test results

If you took the ACT with writing, the colleges and high school to which you have ACT report your scores will receive your writing scores along with your subject-area scores and Composite score.

These colleges and your high school will also have the option to access an image of your essay online.

  • Colleges may choose to review individual essays to help make admissions or course placement decisions.
  • High schools may choose to review individual essays to monitor student achievement levels and guide their curriculum decisions.