ACT Scores Explained

Don’t you hate how confusing it is to figure out SAT or ACT scores?  I deal with admissions tests every day and still have to think to convert from the SAT system (200 to 800 points on three sections – reading, math, and writing) to the ACT (a single score of 0-36).  Today I’m going to take the confusion out of ACT scores.  The ACT is a competitor of the SAT, like Coke is a market challenger to Pepsi.  Some students will prefer the ACT, just as some people prefer Pepsi to Coke.  The ACT is not easier or harder than the SAT; it is just different. An ACT composite score is the average of a student’s scores on the four parts of the test – English, math, reading, and science.  The written essay receives a separate score, but is not factored into the composite score. Students can score between 0 and 36 on each section and the national average is 21.  Students scoring 28 or above represent the top 10% of test takers. Some students benefit from the way the ACT averages scores because they can bring up their lowest score with higher numbers in the other sections. For example this student’s scores in English, reading, and science help make up for a math score of 16: English            21 Math               16                                Composite Score:  20 Reading           23 Science            20 However, averaging scores can diminish exceptional results.  In this example, the composite score does not show this student’s math and science talents: English            24 Math               32                                Composite Score:  27 Reading           23 Science            30 Some colleges and universities are experimenting with “superscoring” the ACT.  “Superscoring” is common on the SAT and means the school will take a students best reading, math, and writing even if they are from different test dates.  Ask if the schools on your list will superscore the ACT. Colleges and universities will accept either SAT or ACT scores.  To be on the safe side, go ahead and send all scores.  If you want to see how SAT and ACT scores compare, use this chart: http://www.act.org/aap/concordance/ Finally, I advise all students to take both the SAT and ACT sometime junior year.  You may find you do better on one test than the other. If you have any ACT questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section.  I will answer them personally.    ]]>

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