TorchPrep Blog

What is a "Good" ACT Score?

Posted by Tom Hansen on Oct 2, 2018 3:18:23 PM



  • Don't ask yourself "What is a good ACT Score?"
  • Instead, set a Goal Score using the steps below
    1. Find your baseline ACT Score = take a practice ACT or national test to just find out where you are on the ACT
    2. Find out where your score stacks up against incoming freshman at your desired college
    3. Look at your opportunities for merit based scholarships based on goal score
  • Ask "What is a GOOD ACT score for YOU?" 

Video Transcript:

So a question that we get constantly at TorchPrep is what's a good ACT score? But a better question that you should be asking is, what's a good ACT score for you? Or even better, what do you need your ACT score to do for you? Do you need your ACT score to help you get outta high school? To get into college? Or win a scholarship? That's the better question. At TorchPrep, we help lots of students do this, and we have a very simple approach that I'm gonna walk you through.

What we do at TorchPrep is we help every student define a destination score. A destination score is just a goal ACT national test score, the destination that you need to reach with your score by the end of high school to do whatever it is that you need to do, whether that's just get out of high school, get into college, or win a scholarship. So really, a destination score is defined by three things. First, it's your baseline ACT score (first national test score). Second, it's where you stand for your desired college for incoming freshman and their average ACT scores. And the third thing is, your opportunities for merit based scholarships. So, baseline starting ACT score, where you stand with incoming freshman at your desired college, and what scholarships you're trying to win.

The first one, your baseline ACT score. The best way to determine that is just go take the ACT test. It's offered seven times a year.The links are below, and you just go take it to get the experience in taking it, but also get your baseline score and know where you are starting from. If you're worried about taking it, and how that's gonna reflect on you for college applications, I put a link below with a free ACT practice test that's offered by the ACT. It's a retired test. Take it on your own, grade it, and just see where you are in a very safe way. But that's where you're gonna be starting from.

Really, when you have that starting score, it falls into one of four camps. Whether that score might be below a 21. If you're below a 21, I just have to tell you, you are at risk at not getting into most colleges because you're likely not hitting the college and career readiness benchmarks. These are benchmarks that are defined by subject at the state level and the national level, okay? If you can't hit those with your ACT score, you're at risk at not getting into most schools. If your score is in the range of a 22 to a 25, you're above the national average, which is great. You are opening up a lot of opportunities for colleges, but the big thing that you're having to focus on there is you're likely missing out on some merit based scholarships.

Now, if your ACT score is 26 to 30, you're in the merit based scholarship range for most colleges, especially if your GPA is where it needs to be, but you're likely missing out on some of the elite, national, or ivy league colleges. And when you're at that range, every point matters to get those scholarships. If your score is 31 to 36 on the national test, then you are getting into most colleges, you're having out of state national ivy league opportunities potentially, you're winning scholarships, but again, every point matters at that level.

The second thing that you need to do to define your destination score is to look at where your score stacks up for incoming freshman at your desired college. All that information is published online. A website that I love to use is, again, check the links below. You can look at any college by state and look at what the average data is for incoming freshman. One thing that you have to keep in mind is you wanna be in the average ACT score range or above for your particular college to be safe, depending on your GPA, class load in high school, all those other things. Remember, colleges turn people away every year. So you wanna make sure you're in the average or above with your ACT score to be away from the risk of being cut based on test score.

The third thing you need to do to define a destination score is look at your opportunities for merit based scholarships. We made a great video on how much your ACT score's worth, so make sure you go check that out, because it can mean big money. So depending on where you stand on that scale, you need to define your destination score based on how much money you want or need to get into your college.

So again, the three things to define your destination score: your baseline, where you stand for incoming freshman at your desired college, and your opportunities for merit based scholarships. Again, when we're starting to answer this question of what's a good ACT score, it really comes down to what's a good ACT score for you, or what you need that ACT score to do for you, and the destination score, setting that goal is the best way to do that.



ACT Registration Page -

Free Printable ACT Practice Test -

College and Career Readiness Benchmarks -

National Ranks -

Merit Based Scholarships -

College Simply -

What's my ACT score worth? - 


Make sure to check out the rest of our post to find even more ways to beat the ACT and reach your goals in the pursuit of college. 

Topics: Case Studies, ACT, College Night, College, Test Prep, Test, Prep


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