What is a good ACT score for a highly selective liberal arts college?
First you have to understand the structure of the test, which consists of four basic parts: English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science (Writing is optional but highly recommended). Each section receives a score between 1 (lowest) and 36 (highest). These four scores are then averaged to generate the composite score used by most colleges. The average ACT composite is roughly 20.
Unlike the SAT, achieving a perfect score—or 36—is next to impossible. Out of 1,666,017 members of the high school class of 2012 who took the ACT, only 781 received perfect scores. In Maryland, 6 students out of 13,334 test takers received a composite score of 36, and 7 Virginians out of 21,647 scored a perfect 36. In fact, anyone scoring a 34, 35 or 36 is among the top 1% of test-takers in the country.
With that in mind, the list below shows the middle 50% range of ACT scores for some highly selective liberal arts colleges as based on the 2011 Common Data Set (CDS) information provided by individual schools.