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Articles / Applying to College / How does the NCAA Calculate Minimum ACT Score?

How does the NCAA Calculate Minimum ACT Score?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | March 24, 2011

Question: In order to be NCAA eligible, the minimum requirement is a GPA of 2.0 and a combined ACT score of 86. Can you explain to me what exactly this means? I cannot figure it out because the sub-score scales only go up to 18; 18 times 4 is 72 so the way I'm reading it there is no way to get a combined 86 on the test. Can you help me out and explain how to get a combined 86 on the test? Thank http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/how-does-the-ncaa-calculate-minimum-act-scoreyou.

An ACT score report includes a "Composite" score, which is an average of 4 subject scores: one in English, one in Math, one in Reading and one in Science. The highest score you can earn on each of these four sections is a 36, so the highest composite is thus also 36.


So when NCAA eligibility requires an 86, it means that the TOTAL of your 4 subjects must reach 86. (The "Composite" score is not included here ... just the individual scores for English, Math, Reading, and Science.)

You are correct when you say that "sub-scores" only go up to 18, BUT ... "sub-scores" are not the same as the SUBJECT scores. (An example of a "sub-score" would be the "Usage/Mechanics" section of the English test or the "Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra" section of the Math test.)

Note that, for Division III colleges, there is NO minimum score requirement. For Div. II colleges, all student athletes have the same score requirement, which is 68.

However, for Div. I colleges there is a "sliding scale." Thus, the higher your GPA, the lower your ACT can be. You can see that scale here: https://web1.ncaa.org/eligibilitycenter/hs/d1_standards.pdf

As you have already correctly noted, for a GPA of 2.0, the required ACT score is 86. So now you can see how to get there.

Hope that helps. It is a very confusing issue (but just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to NCAA recruiting and eligibility rules. :( )

(posted 3/24/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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