How To Calculate ACT Score

TPA-ACT-CalculateScores-Header

Are you wondering how the ACT company determines your composite score? Or maybe trying your hand at calculating your own scores on a practice test? Here’s a handy walkthrough to help you master every step of the process.

Composite Score

Your overall ACT score–also known as your Composite Score–falls somewhere between 1 and 36. It’s the (rounded) average of your four scaled section scores: English, Math, Reading, and Science.

If you got a 26 on Math, a 32 on English, a 29 on Reading, and a 27 on Science, your composite score would be 29:

26+32+29+27 = 114   

114 ÷ 4 = 28.5, rounded to the nearest whole number = 29

There’s also an optional Writing test, but it’s scored separately and doesn’t affect your composite score in any way.

So, how do you figure out those scaled Section Scores?

Step One: Calculate Your Raw Scores

On each section of the ACT, the number of questions you get right equals your raw score. Give yourself one point for each correct answer. There’s no scoring penalty for wrong answers, which is why you should bubble in a response for every question, even if you have to take a wild guess.

What’s the highest possible raw score on each part of the ACT? That depends on how many questions each section contains. The English section has 75 questions, so the highest raw score on English is 75. ACT Math has 60 problems, so the highest possible raw Math score is 60. The Reading test has 40 questions, so 40 is the maximum raw score there. Science also includes 60 questions, so a perfect raw score on that section would be (you guessed it) 60.

Let’s say you count up your correct answers and see that you’ve achieved the following raw scores:

SectionYour Raw Score
English61
Math54
Reading32
Science32

What’s the next step?

Step Two: Convert Your Raw Scores Into Scaled Scores

Next, you’ll take each one of those four raw scores and transform it into a scaled score.

No matter how careful the test writers are, some versions of the ACT end up being slightly easier (or harder) than others. To compensate for those variations, the ACT company adjusts the significance of raw scores from one test to the next. They do that by converting them into scaled scores ranging from 1-36. If you took the test twice and earned a raw 54 on Math both times, you might end up with a scaled 31 in June and a 32 in September, because the September Math section was slightly more challenging than the one in June.

To convert your own scores, you’ll need to use an ACT raw/scaled score conversion table. The table varies a little from one test to the next, so you should try to use the one that comes with the practice test that you’re scoring. Otherwise, you can use any available table to get a fairly accurate idea of how your raw scores would translate into the 1-36 scale, not to mention being able to pinpoint the areas where you need to study.

Here’s the table that ACT Inc. released for use with the 2017-2018 official ACT practice test:

Scaled ScoreEnglish (Raw)Math (Raw)Reading (Raw)Science (Raw)
3675604040
3572-7458-593939
3471573838
337055-563737
3268-695435-36
316752-533436
306650-513335
296548-493234
2863-6445-473133
276243-443032
2660-6140-422930-31
2558-5938-392828-29
2456-5736-372726-27
2353-5534-3525-2624-25
2251-5232-332422-23
2148-5030-3122-2321
2045-47292119-20
1943-4427-2819-2017-18
1841-4224-261816
1739-4021-231714-15
1636-3817-2015-1613
1532-3513-161412
1429-3111-1212-1311
1327-288-101110
1225-2679-109
1123-245-688
1020-2246-77
918-195-6
815-1735
712-1444
610-12233
58-92
46-712
34-51
22-31
10-1000

First, locate your raw score in the “English” column, then look at the left-hand column to see what its scaled equivalent is. Do the same thing for all four multiple-choice sections.

Using our imaginary raw scores, we discover that we’ve achieved these scaled section scores:

SectionRaw ScoreScaled Score
English6126
Math5432
Reading3229
Science3227

Step Three: Average Your Scaled Section Scores

Finally, you’ll take your four scaled section scores and average them to determine your ACT composite score. Round to the nearest whole number.

In our example, we earned a composite score of 29:

26+32+29+27 = 114   

114 ÷ 4 = 28.5, rounded up = 29

What About My Other Scores?

The Writing test (should you choose to take it) is scored all by itself on a scale of 2-12. Your Writing score doesn’t affect your ACT composite in any way.

If you take the Writing test, the ACT will give you a combined English, Reading, and Writing score called an ELA score. Though I’ve never heard of an admissions committee that cared deeply about ELA scores.

The numbers that really matter are your composite score (above all), followed by your four multiple-choice section scores. However, certain schools, specific university departments, do care about your Writing score. If you’re applying to one of those, you’ll want to make sure that you do your best on that section.

For those who have yet to take the ACT, check out study options for ACT test prep via The Princeton Review, ACT Online, Kaplan, and others to get the scores you want.