How is the ACT Composite Score Calculated?

If you’re a Junior in high school, you may have already signed up to take the ACT. Chances are good that you know that a composite score of 36 is the highest you can achieve on the ACT. But do you know how an ACT composite score is calculated? Learning how graders arrive at your ACT composite score can help you feel more at ease as you sit down to take the test.

How Are ACT Scores Calculated?
To get to your composite score on the ACT, you must begin with your raw scores. You receive a raw score for each of the four sections on the ACT. Your raw score represents the number of questions you got right. There are 75 questions in the English section, 60 in the Math section, 40 in the Reading section, and 40 in the Science section. (The ACT essay is optional, and its score is not factored into your composite score.) So if you answered 55 questions correctly out of 60 in the Math section, your raw score for Math would be 55.

After arriving at a raw score for each of the four sections, you are now given a scaled score for each one. Your scaled scores will range from one to 36. Each individual version of the ACT has a chart used to make this conversion, adjusted based on the difficulty of the specific questions used on each test date. For instance, a raw score of 55 in the Math section usually converts to a scaled score somewhere around 33. Now, add your four scaled scores together and average them: The average of your four scaled scores is your ACT composite score.

What Is on an Official ACT Score Report?
Now that you know how an ACT composite score is calculated, you know what to look for on your official score report. But there’s a lot more on your score report than just your composite score. You’ll also see a detailed breakdown of your scores for the skills tested within each section. For example, you’ll see scores for “Production of Writing,” “Knowledge of Language,” and “Conventions of Standard English” beneath the scaled score you receive on the English section. There is also information on how your test performance ranked compared to other students taking the ACT in your state as well as throughout the country. The information on your official score report can be very useful if you decide to retake the ACT.

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