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Average ACT Score by State

By Zach Skillings

Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: April 1st, 2024
Average ACT Score by State

Wondering how your ACT score compares to that of other test-takers? While average scores shouldn’t be your only gauge of success, they can serve as good benchmarks to aim for. In this guide, we’ll discuss average ACT scores at both the national and state level.  

See also: Average SAT Score by State

What is the national average ACT score?

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36. The national average ACT score is 19.9, but it doesn’t stop there. There are also average scores for each section of the test. These include English, Math, Reading, and Science. Here’s a breakdown of average scores for each section at the national level: 

Test Section National Average Scores in 2023
Composite (Total) Score 19.9
English 19.0
Math 19.4
Reading 20.5
Science 20.0

Average ACT scores by state

Average ACT scores vary from state to state. A key factor to keep in mind is participation rate, which is the percentage of students in the state that take the ACT. States with higher participation rates typically have lower scores because the pool of test-takers is larger.

Meanwhile, states with lower participation rates generally have higher scores. Because of this, scores between states can only be accurately compared when the participation rates are similar. For instance, Minnesota (68%) and Missouri (66%) can be compared accurately. 

Here are the average ACT scores by state in 2023: 

State Participation Rate Average Composite Score
Alabama 100% 18.0
Alaska 15% 20.2
Arizona 98% 17.7
Arkansas 96% 18.6
California 4% 25.7
Colorado 9% 24.5
Connecticut 8% 26.4
Delaware 4% 24.8
District of Columbia 17% 26.0
Florida 46% 18.9
Georgia 28% 21.3
Hawaii 64% 17.9
Idaho 12% 23.0
Illinois 16% 24.5
Indiana 8% 22.9
Iowa 48% 20.8
Kansas 74% 19.4
Kentucky 100% 18.7
Louisiana 100% 18.2
Maine 2% 24.8
Maryland 7% 24.5
Massachusetts 8% 26.4
Michigan 7% 24.4
Minnesota 68% 20.8
Mississippi 100% 17.6
Missouri 66% 19.8
Montana 98% 18.8
Nebraska 96% 19.2
Nevada 100% 17.2
New Hampshire 5% 25.2
New Jersey 10% 24.4
New Mexico 14% 20.2
New York 9% 25.3
North Carolina 90% 18.5
North Dakota 89% 19.6
Ohio 82% 19.2
Oklahoma 100% 17.8
Oregon 13% 20.9
Pennsylvania 6% 23.9
Rhode Island 5% 24.5
South Carolina 40% 18.8
South Dakota 59% 21.1
Tennessee 100% 18.4
Texas 23% 19.3
Utah 90% 19.9
Vermont 6% 23.6
Virginia 8% 24.6
Washington 6% 24.5
West Virginia 26% 20.3
Wisconsin 95% 19.4
Wyoming 100% 19.0

All data sourced from American College Testing (ACT)

What is a good ACT score?

We’ve discussed average scores, but what is a good ACT score? That depends on the schools you’re applying to and the type of scores they expect from applicants. To get an idea of what you should aim for, check the average scores of the colleges you’re considering. The more selective the school, the higher the average score will be. 

A great way to evaluate your score is to look at percentile ranks. Percentiles are numbers between 1 and 99 that indicate how your score compares to other test-takers. For instance, scoring in the 50th percentile means that you scored higher than or equal to 50% of other test-takers. Scoring in the 75th percentile of above will give you a great shot of admission at a variety of schools. But if you’re aiming for a top tier school like Harvard or Stanford, you’ll probably have to score in the 95th percentile or above. 

In the end, you should set a realistic (but also ambitious) goal based on the ACT scores at your target schools. And regardless of the type of score you’re aiming for, the key to success is preparation. That means studying hard, taking practice tests, and taking the ACT multiple times if needed. If you do all that, you should have no trouble earning a good score and increasing your chances of admission. 

Also see: 2023-2024 ACT test dates

Additional resources for students preparing for the ACT

If you’re getting ready for the ACT, you’re probably getting ready to enter the busiest part of the admissions process. The process can be overwhelming, but luckily, we’ve got resources at your disposal. We can help get you through the test taking process with a guide to when to take the SAT or ACT, and a guide to the differences between the two tests. You can also look at our guide to find the right test prep tutor. And if you don’t get the results you want, don’t fret. There are great college options for low test takers.

Once you’ve got your tests out of the way, you’ll be getting into your college application process. We’ve got answers on whether you should apply early action or early decision. We can also help you find financial safety schools, pick a college, and interpret your financial aid award letter. Good luck with the process, and don’t forget to apply for all the scholarships you quality for!

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