ACT scores have been posted! Your teen calls you over and shows you the score report. Together, you take a look at it and, well, what does this even mean? Should we be celebrating? Should we be registering for the next administration of the test? What are we supposed to do now that we have the scores back? Here are three steps to guide you.

1. Interpret

Maybe you’re wondering “how good is a 25?” or “what counts as a good score?” Great thoughts. Your first step is to understand what your student’s score report means on the simplest terms.

Each ACT section (English, Math, Reading, Science) is scored on a scale of 1-36. The total (composite) score is found by taking the average of the four section scores. The average ACT score is usually around 21. A score higher than 21 means your student scored above the national average, lower means below.

Percentiles can also help you understand how your student did compared to other students who took the test. The percentile is the percent of people your student scored higher than. For example, if they are in the 75th percentile, they scored higher than 75% of students who took the test. The highest possible percentile is 99%.

2. React

Okay, so now you know how your student did compared to other students. But how are you supposed to feel about their score? Just because they didn’t score in the 99th percentile doesn’t mean they didn’t do well! What counts as doing “well” differs from student to student. Here are two things to consider:

1. Do their results line up with their grades? If your student is a straight A student but scored a 15 on the ACT, something’s not quite right. Maybe they have test anxiety. Maybe they ran out of time. In an ideal world, their scores will be on par with or better than their grades. Looking at the percentiles can help with that.

2. How do their scores compare to the averages for the colleges they want to apply to? If you already have an idea of the kinds of schools your child is considering, take a look at their admissions statistics together and see what the average scores are for admitted students. If they fall short, they’ll need to raise their score or make up ground in other areas of their application to have a good shot of admission. If they scored above the average, they should be in good shape on this aspect of the application. Additionally, some schools offer hefty scholarships to students who score above a certain threshold. For example, Baylor offers scholarships segmented by ACT scores. Take a look into the schools your teen is interested in to see if that’s a possibility.

So, once you’ve considered the above, you should determine where things stand. Are their scores in line with their grades or does their score not adequately reflect their abilities? Are their scores high enough to meet the average of their target schools. Or, do you think they’ll need to take the test again?

3. Plan

If your student is happy with their score: Great, congratulations! They are done! Let them celebrate, they’ve earned it. Encourage them to use their time to focus on other things, such as academics and extracurriculars. Next step: college applications. We have timelines available showing what students should be doing when to prepare for college applications. One for juniors, one for seniors.

If your student is not quite satisfied with their score: No worries, there are still opportunities left to boost their ACT score. But, don’t let them take the test again without doing something differently to prepare for it! Seize the opportunity and get them to focus on what didn’t go so well the last time and what they can do differently this time. Not sure what they need? A Testive Advisor can help you figure out a plan that makes sense for your family.

Schedule a call with a Student Success Advisor