Every time new ACT scores are released, I get email asking what a “good” ACT score is or what colleges are good for a particular ACT score.
The answer depends on the student and the colleges to which they are applying. Private colleges will often view a somewhat lower score for a student from a small rural public school as similar to a higher score from a student at a top private high school. Why? Because they recognize that students from privileged backgrounds are more likely to do well on the ACT.
Public colleges tend to use just the score and not consider the background of the student.
To really understand your ACT score you need to know the range of test scores at the colleges you are considering. Most colleges will publish the middle 50% of test scores for students applying to that college. Can’t find it? Go to College Navigator and search for your college.
For most colleges, if your ACT scores put you in the top 25% of the colleges average test scores, you will have a good chance of admission. Similarly, if your test scores put you in the bottom 25% of the average ACT scores, admissions will be more difficult. But remember, very few colleges will make a decision for acceptance or rejection based solely on your ACT scores.
Also, keep in mind that at the most selective colleges, your ACT score will simply indicate if you are a competitive candidate for that school. The most competitive colleges look beyond grades and test scores to see what else makes you an interesting candidate for that college.