ACT Test Scoring

How is ACT Scored?

Since ACT test scoring is a little different from that of the other standardized tests, students usually get confused about the ACT scoring pattern. The following article attempts to explain students all about the ACT test scoring.

ACT Test Scoring Terms

There are a few specific terms used in ACT test scoring.Given below is a list of terms used in the scoring pattern of ACT test with their explanations:





  • Raw Score

    Raw Score is simply the score obtained by correctly answering the questions in the test paper. For example if a student has answered 45 questions correctly in the English section, his raw score for English section will be 45. Each correct answer is awarded one point. In ACT test scoring, no point is deducted for incorrect answers.

  • Raw Sub Score

    Raw sub score is the number of questions answered correctly in a sub section of a particular section. Raw sub scores add up to get the raw score for a section. For example, the English section is divided into two sub sections, English usage/mechanics and English rhetorical. If a student answers 21 questions correctly in English usage and 31 answers are correct in English rhetorical, his sub scores for English will be 21 and 31 respectively.

  • Scaled Score

    In ACT test scoring, the scaled score varies from 1-36 points. Raw score is converted to a scaled score by ACT. Each year ACT is conducted 5-6 times and the questions asked obviously vary. One edition of the test can be of a higher difficulty level than the other. So ACT has some formulae to convert raw scores to scaled scores in order to present uniformity to the test-taker's scores.

  • Composite Score

    Composite score is the average of all the four scaled scores of the different sections of ACT test. For instance if a student achieves 18 points in English, 20 points in Reading, 17 points in Mathematics and 21 points in Science, his composite score will be (18+20+17+21)/4=19. Colleges ask for composite scores.

  • Percentile Ranking

    This ranking tells how a particular test-taker performed in the exam in comparison to the other test takers. For instance if a particular test-taker gets a percentile of 85%, it means that 15% test takers are ahead of him.

How ACT Test Scoring Works

There are a total of 1-36 scaled scores in any section of the ACT. A test taker is awarded these scores where 1 is the lowest score and 36 is the highest score. Apart from scaled scores, students are awarded scaled sub scores which vary from 1-18; 1 being the lowest and 18 being the highest. Scaled sub scores are meant for sub sections of a particular section

The scores which matter most to colleges are the composite scores and the overall percentile ranking. Test takers will receive these two scores in addition to scaled scores and sub scores in a score report. The score report can be obtained after about four to seven weeks of taking the test.

Apart from the subject tests, the scores of the optional Writing test are computed on a scale of 1-6. In this test, two readers read and award individual scores ranging between 1 and 6. The scores from both the readers are added to get sub scores ranging from 2-12. A test taker's English score and Writing sub score are further scaled to create his combined English/Writing score. The English score contributes 2/3 to the combined score while the Writing score contributes to the rest 1/3.  A student's combined English/Writing score will range between 1 and 36. Neither the combined English/writing score nor the writing sub score affects a student's composite ACT score.

If the ACT test scoring pattern is kept in your mind while preparing for the test, it will help you immensely to form your strategy and study plan.




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