There is no easy answer to the question, “What is a good ACT Score?” This is because different colleges have different requirements for students’ ACT scores in the admissions process. Thus, the specific ACT score you aim for will depend on what college(s) you will apply to.
what is a good act score

What is a Good ACT Score: The National Average ACT Score

According to the ACT, the national average ACT score is 21.1. A score of 21 corresponds to getting a little more than half of the questions on the ACT correct. Although 21 was the national average ACT score, 21 would probably be considered a relatively low score for most colleges. This is because the national average ACT score includes every student who takes the ACT, and many students receive extremely low scores.

If you want to be competitive in the college admissions process, it is highly recommended that you aim for higher than a 21. A score of 21 puts you in the 55th percentile of all ACT test-takers. Nevertheless, a score of 21 on the ACT will qualify you for many colleges. For a better idea of what is a good ACT score, take a look at the chart below that compares ACT scores to percentile.


What is a Good ACT Score: Comparing ACT Scores to Percentile (ACT Score Chart)

ACT Score Percentile
31 97th Percentile
26 83rd Percentile
23 68th Percentile
20 49th Percentile
17 28th Percentile

As you can see, a score of 31 or above is an excellent ACT score that puts you in the 97th percentile of all ACT test takers, a score of 26 is a good ACT score that puts you in the 83rd percentile, and a score of 23 is a pretty good ACT score that puts you in the 68th percentile.

What is a Good ACT Score: Average ACT Scores for the Top 5 Colleges

Below you can compare the average ACT scores for top colleges across the United States. The range of scores from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile represent the average ACT scores for the middle 50% of students who were admitted to the college.

As you can see from this chart, your ACT score must be excellent (at least a 31) to have a good chance of being admitted to one of the top 5 colleges in the US. Fortunately, not all colleges have such high ACT score requirements (see the chart below this one), and most students do not go to such prestigious universities.

College 25th Percentile ACT Score 75h Percentile ACT Score
1. Princeton University 31 35
2. Harvard University 32 35
3. Yale University 31 35
4. Columbia University 32 35
5. Stanford University 31 34


What is a Good ACT Score: Average ACT Scores for Other Good Colleges

college building

There are many great colleges that do not require such high ACT scores. See the chart below to get a feel for what kinds of ACT scores colleges are looking for.

Although there are obviously countless colleges not in this list, hopefully this chart will you a general idea of what is a good ACT score and what ACT scores different colleges are looking for.

To find out ACT score information for colleges not on this list, you can simply Google “(college name) act scores”. The average ACT scores for colleges is public information that you can find easily yourself.

College 25th Percentile ACT Score 75h Percentile ACT Score
Colorado State University 22 27
Florida State University 25 29
Indiana University 24 29
Johns Hopkins 30 33
UC Berkeley 27 32
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) 26 31
University of Southern California 29 33
University of Wisconsin 26 30

How do I get a good ACT score?

Now that you know what is a good ACT score, you might be wondering what you need to do to get a good ACT score. To learn more about preparing for the ACT, check out these major sections of our articles:

ACT Study Guide: Content and Concepts to Know for the ACT

Go here for information about how to prepare for each individual section of the ACT.

ACT Strategies: Tricks to Master the ACT

Go here for the best test taking strategies to use for each individual section of the ACT, as well as some general tips for the ACT.

ACT Practice Test Page: Links to ACT Practice Tests

Go here for the largest collection of free ACT practice tests, as well as suggestions for how to effective use each practice test.