The average ACT score, for the 2015-2016 school year, is a 21, with a standard deviation of 5.4. The distribution of scores looks a little something like this:
From that, the scores are broken down into percentile rankings. These rankings show the percent of test-takers that you scored better than. For example, if you score a 25 on the ACT, you scored better than 79 percent of those who take the test.
Here’s a brief percentile rank breakdown:
- 33+ — 99th percentile
- 27 — 90th percentile
- 24 — 75th percentile
- 20 — 50th percentile
- 17 — 30th percentile
For a complete list of scores and percentile ranking, see ACT’s chart here.
The individual sections (i.e., English, math, reading, and science) have different percentile ranks for corresponding scores. Keep that in mind if you are applying to a specific program within a college or university. For example, if you’re applying to an engineering program, they will look closely at your math and science scores, so ranking higher in those areas will be to your benefit.
There are some schools who superscore the ACT. This means that if you take the ACT multiple times, they take your highest score from each section, and the average of those scores becomes your new “superscore”.