Understanding Your Scores

How ACT Figures the Multiple-Choice and Composite Scores

From Reporting Category to Composite

You’ve answered the questions and we’ve scored the results. Here’s how:

  1. First we counted the number of questions on each test that you answered correctly. We did not deduct any points for incorrect answers. (There is no penalty for guessing.)
  2. Then we converted your raw scores (number of correct answers on each test) to "scale scores." Scale scores have the same meaning for all the different forms of the ACT® test, no matter which date a test was taken.
  3. Your Composite score and each test score (English, mathematics, reading, science) range from 1 (low) to 36 (high). The Composite score is the average of your four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.
  4. Each reporting category includes the total number of questions in that category, the total number of questions in that category you answered correctly, and the percentage of questions correct. ACT reporting categories are aligned with ACT College and Career Readiness Standards and other standards that target college and career readiness. Reporting categories and detailed results are currently not available for international score reports.

How Do Tests, Questions, and Reporting Categories Relate to One Another?

Tests and Subtests

TestNumber of QuestionsReporting Categories
English 75

Production of Writing (29-32%)

Knowledge of Language (13-19%)

Conventions of Standard English (51-56%)


Mathematics 60

Preparing for higher math (57-60%)

  • Number & Quantity (7–10%)
  • Algebra (12–15%)
  • Functions (12–15%)
  • Geometry (12–15%)
  • Statistics & Probability (8–12%)

Integrating essential skills (40-43%)

Modeling (>25%)


Reading 40

Key ideas and details (55-60%)

Craft and structure (25-30%)

Integration of knowledge and ideas (13-18%)


Science 40

Interpretation of data (45-55%)

Scientific investigation (20-30%)

Evaluation of Models, inferences, and experimental results (25-35%)


Scoring for the Writing Test   

Taking the ACT with writing will provide additional scores to you and the schools to which you have ACT report scores. Find more information about how the writing test is scored.


Understanding Concordance

Relating ACT and SAT scores is a difficult problem. The fundamental difficulty is that the two test batteries measure somewhat different educational constructs. The ACT tests are curriculum-based tests of educational development. Their content is intended to be representative of knowledge and higher-order thinking skills that are explicitly taught in typical college-preparatory programs and that are essential for success in college. The ACT measures academic achievement in the areas of English, mathematics, reading, and science. The SAT, in contrast, measures reading, writing and mathematical reasoning, and is less closely linked to high school and college curricula. Because the ACT and SAT are not parallel in content, and different students have different strengths and weaknesses, there is really no such thing as an “equivalent” score on the two tests.

From a methodological standpoint, it is preferable to interpret and to use ACT and SAT scores separately. However, many institutions cannot develop and maintain separate systems; they must instead find a comparable score using concordance tables.

Concordant scores are defined as those having the same percentile rank with respect to the group of students used in the study. The tables are useful for determining the cutoff score on one test that results in approximately the same proportion of students selected by the other test (although not necessarily the same students). The table shows, for example, that an ACT Composite score of 20 has a concordant SAT CR+M score of 950; these scores would typically result in selecting approximately the same proportion of students. Use of the concordance tables to estimate individual student performance will provide comparable scores that are less accurate than would estimates based on other statistical procedures. If these tables are used for course placement decisions, then the contents of both tests need to be evaluated carefully relative to the content of the course of interest. Differences between course and test content could result in incorrect placement decisions.

Concordant ACT and SAT scores may vary significantly across students and colleges. Students included in this study are not necessarily representative of the students at a particular institution. Because of this, an institution might wish to investigate the relationship between ACT and SAT scores of its students. For institutions where this is not possible, the concordance tables should provide useful approximations, provided the relevant characteristics of their applicants do not differ greatly from the sample upon which the concordance was developed.

ACT information can be a valuable tool in admissions and orientation, course sectioning and student placement, allocation of financial aid and scholarships, advanced placement and credit by examination, academic advising, student retention and tracking, and other student personnel services. Because of difficulties in estimating individual student performance through concorded values, it is preferable to use actual ACT or SAT scores when possible.

ACT-SAT Concordance

The ACT and SAT are different tests that measure similar but distinct constructs. The ACT measures achievement related to high school curricula, while the SAT measures general verbal and quantitative reasoning.

ACT and the College Board have completed a concordance study that is designed to examine the relationship between two scores on the ACT and SAT. These concordance tables do not equate scores, but rather provide a tool for finding comparable scores.

In addition, ACT is providing an Estimated Relationship Table for institutions that also use the SAT(Critical Reading + Math + Writing) Score. This table provides a score on the SAT that is similar to an ACT Composite score. The values given are a very accurate representation of what you might get from a concordance table. 

See the ACT/College Board Joint Statement on ACT-SAT Concordance Tables (PDF) for more information. To view the concordance tables, including the Estimated Relationship Table, please open the PDF below.

ACT© - SAT© Concordance: A Tool for Comparing Scores (PDF)