how do colleges use ACT scores?

Posted : August 2, 2010
Last Updated : September 6, 2016

how do colleges use ACT scores?

Colleges want to learn more about you. Just as you can use ACT national ranks to get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses, so can potential colleges. A high rank in a content area may suggest a good chance of success in related college majors and careers. A low rank may indicate that you need to develop your skills more by taking additional coursework in that area. This information is helpful for you and for any future schools.

Higher education institutions look at scores to help predict class profiles and overall academic success and to address other factors needed during admissions and enrollments. Here are five examples of ways universities use score reports:

  1. Admissions. ACT test results — along with high school grades, academic preparation, and extracurricular activities — help college admission officers identify which students will thrive at their institution. Scores alone do not determine admission.
  2. Course placement. Colleges usually try to take into account individual strengths and weaknesses as they place students in first-year courses. For example, a college may offer three sections of a subject—developmental, regular, and advanced. A student's results on the ACT, academic background, and high school grades might be used to determine which section would be most appropriate.
  3. Academic advising. College advisors look at ACT results, high school grades and classes, projected college grades, employment plans, and other factors to help students find the perfect fit for their course of study.
  4. Scholarships and loans. Some scholarship and loan agencies may use results from the ACT information such as high school grades to identify qualified candidates. However, the agencies may not look at academic potential alone. The ACT score report provides information about a student's educational needs, extracurricular achievements, and educational plans. This information, along with high school grades and test scores, helps the agencies evaluate applications for scholarships, loans, and other financial assistance.
  5. ACT Writing Test. If students take this optional test, any college that receives their scores will also receive writing scores and comments along with subject area scores and a composite score. Colleges may review students' essays to help them make admissions or course placement decisions.

For more information about using your score results, visit

Source: ACT's News You Can Use

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