One of the most common questions we get asked at Testive typically happens during the very first coaching session, and it has a few different iterations:
“is my baseline practice test score good?”
“Is my score good enough for submission?”
“what score do I need to get in to [insert first choice school here]?”
The central theme in each of these versions (and several others I’ve heard) is a certain standard of success, a certain level of “good”—which brings us to our pivotal question today:
What is a “good” ACT score?
As I’m sure you can tell by my quotation marks, “good” is an incredibly varied term. The first thing that a student must recognize when starting their work in standardized testing is that, in fact, there is no singular level of oh-my-Goodness-Gracious-you’ve-got-the-Goods! good that is going to make or break your standardized testing experience. Every student has a different level of both proficiency and test-taking strategy on each subject on the test, and this plays a huge role in determining what might be a “good” score.
When it comes to a time-intensive, quickly-paced exam like the ACT, I prefer to think of improvement not from bad-to-good, but rather from initial-to-improved. Not quite as clear cut, but nothing about test prep truly is; the only thing a student can rely on is increased dedication and effort leading to greater confidence and consistency on the test. With some students, 20-25 questions a night for two months straight can lead to an 8 point improvement overall, while others may gain a less massive (but still rewarding!) 1-3 point improvement. The common ground between these different test takers becomes not the score, but rather the concepts mastered, individual goals reached, and confidence gained through the process of dedicated preparation.
Now, some of you may be reading this and crying “Malarky! There IS such a thing as a good test score and I want one!” To which I say okay, Veruca Salt, let’s get into some specifics then:
Colleges let you know the median ACT score from the previous round of admitted students on their websites.
As an extreme oversimplification of 2017’s stats: Sun Belt* colleges hover around a 23-point average, Pac-12* universities hang out at a 27-point average, Big 10* universities hold a 28- point average. NESCAC* schools chill near a 31-point average, and Ivy League* universities lie at a 33-point average. This means that, depending on what schools, honors programs, and merit scholarships you are seeking, the “good score” that is required at an Ivy will be totally irrelevant. In fact, last year, merit scholarships were offered from several public and private universities based on ACT scores that ranged from 22 up to 36—quite the variety!
Find the average ACT score of admitted students.
The most important aspect of ACT scoring is how it relates to the colleges that you want to go to, or that have programs that you feel you will thrive in, not how it relates to the aspirations of other students across the country.
A “good” score must always be tailored to an individual student’s needs and abilities.
When I kick off a program with any Testive family, my primary goal is to get a student from where they are to where they’d like to be, or even further if the student has the time and focus necessary for such an achievement. However, if a student has consistently gotten a 24 on the ACT and the “good” or goal score for the student is a 36, it may require a slight change in mindset to make sure that the blood, sweat and tears going into the study program lead to a positive experience overall. Every student is capable of good test-taking, but not every student needs a perfect ACT score to feel confident and to get in to the school of their choosing—that’s why most colleges list their “average’ ACT scores; there’s always a range.
At Testive, we have each student update their testing history and complete a baseline practice test so that we can make an informed choice when it comes to a study schedule, curriculum and ultimate goal, switching the focus away from a sole number and towards a mastery of skills. This is why Testive learning software tailors your child’s program based on their specific needs, why Testive coaches encourage students to take detailed notes on all of the material they cover on the website, and why students often show improved grades in their academic subjects like math and english when they’re completing a Testive program: when there’s a fundamental emphasis on learning, studying for a standardized test goes beyond those pesky word problems!
How do students reach their “good” ACT score with Testive?
- Students begin by completing a baseline practice test
- They work with their Coach to set a goal for the ACT
- Their Coach sets a curriculum and study schedule
- Students meet with their Coach every week via video chat to make sure they’re on track to reaching the goal score
While there may be a “good” score, there is often a more representative score.
If you know that your child gets a lot of testing anxiety and/or is not scoring in a percentile that matches his/her/their GPA, it could be time to focus in on test prep. Testive provides students with a number of different resources, including learning software, one-on-one coaching, and bootcamp coaching programs, to make sure that each family gets the individual attention that they need, be it relaxation methods, reading strategy, concept review, or just holding your child accountable for the additional work that the ACT often requires.
Here at Testive, we want each student’s score to reflect their success, which is why each and every improvement is “good” in our eyes.
*Sun Belt schools are Appalachian State, Arkansas (Little Rock), Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State, Louisiana (Lafayette), Louisiana (Monroe), South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, and the University of Texas. Pac 12 schools are Arizona, Arizona State, Berkeley, Colorado, Oregon, Stanfod, UCLA, USC, University of Utah, Washington, and Washington State. Big 10 schools are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. NESCAC schools are Amherst, Bates, Tufts, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Wesleyan, and Williams. Ivy League schools are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia and Dartmouth.