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Articles / Admissions / ACT Scores Unchanged

May 20, 2020

ACT Scores Unchanged

The ACT, which is an increasingly used college admissions test, has in years gone by been popular mainly in America's Midwest and Southeast. Lately, though, it has been gaining popularity in other sections of the country, notably the Northeast. Many colleges that require the Educational Testing Service's SAT II Subject Tests will accept the ACT as a substitute for SAT IIs. This works out nicely for ACTers.

The nationwide scores for the ACT have been released and the news is: No change. Jacques Steinberg of The New York Times reports:


The average score on the ACT, a standardized test colleges use (along with its main competitor, the SAT) to help make admissions decisions, was unchanged in 2009, compared with the previous year, the test maker said in a report to be released Wednesday. As in 2008, the average score among this year's high school graduates was 21.1, on a scale of 1 to 36, although the number of students who took the exam increased to nearly 1.5 million, from 1.42 million a year earlier. This year's graduates did better than those a year earlier in one main respect: 23 percent scored high enough on the ACT for the test company to predict that they were ready to earn a “C" or higher in first-year college courses in English, math, reading and science. A year earlier, the figure was 22 percent.

For those of you wondering how the ACT scores compare to the SAT I, here's a handy score conversion chart:

ACT to SAT I**
ACT Composite ScoreRecentered SAT I Score

V + M

361600
351580
341520
331470
321420
311380
301340
291300
281260
271220
261180
251140
241110
231070
221030
21990
20950
19910
18870
17830
16780
15740
14680
13620
12560
11500

So, you can see that this year's average ACT score equates to just under 1,000 for the SAT I (Math + Critical Reading). Is that good? Hard to say.

For high school seniors seeking admission to top schools in the Ivy League and other "elite" colleges, that score won't cut it. However, more and more colleges are going "test optional," which means that applicants don't have to submit any standardized test scores in order to be considered for admission. I addressed test-optional schools in an earlier blog article.

I suggest that you check out the ACT to see if it may be the better test for you. Here's a good place to start.

Don't forget to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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