Laura Berlinsky-Schine 5 min read ACT Info and Tips

When Do ACT Scores Come Out? Complete 2021 Dates

Waiting for your standardized test results is almost as nerve-wracking as taking the exam itself. You’re refreshing your browser daily, hourly, or maybe even more frequently — and nothing. Where’s your score?

 

To ease your anxiety — or at least give you a break from checking — keep reading to find out when you should expect to receive your scores.

 

How Long Does It Take for ACT Scores to Come Back?

 

Typically, it takes up to two weeks (about 10 days on average) for students to receive their multiple-choice results, and writing scores are available two weeks after that. However, the ACT cautions that score releases may take up to eight weeks after the test date. 

 

Due to equating, the process of ensuring that scores on different tests indicate the same level of ability, October and February scores will be available 3-8 weeks after test dates. 

 

When Will Colleges Receive My Score Reports?

 

It takes up to a week to process score report requests for schools. The exact dates colleges will receive scores vary by the college and when you ordered the report. Keep in mind that colleges receive writing and multiple-choice scores in the same report. In many cases, they will receive your scores before you’re able to see them.

 

Remember that you can send up to four free reports for colleges per test. You can also pay for an additional two when you register for the ACT, for a total of six reports to be issued per test date. Each additional score report costs $13, unless you qualify for a fee waiver.

 

We don’t recommend sending your scores directly to colleges via the four free reports, as you won’t know what your score is. It’s best to wait to see your score and then order score reports, if that’s financially feasible for your family. Also remember that many colleges are allowing students to self-report and only ask for an official report upon acceptance.

 

ACT Score Release Dates 2020-2021

 

Below are our anticipated ACT score release dates starting in October of 2020. Bear in mind that these are the earliest potential dates you could see your scores; it could take up to eight weeks for you to receive your scores, although typically, you’ll see them within two weeks of your test date, except for tests taken in October and February. 

 

Test Date

Multiple Choice Scores Release

Essay Score Release

October 10, 2020

October 31, 2020

November 14, 2020

October 17, 2020

November 7, 2020

November 21, 2020

October 24, 2020

November 14, 2020

November 28, 2020

October 25, 2020

November 15, 2020

November 29, 2020

December 12, 2020

December 22, 2020

January 5, 2021

February 6, 2020

February 27, 2021

March 13, 2021

April 17, 2021

April 27, 2021

May 11, 2021

June 12, 2021

June 22, 2021

July 6, 2021

July 17, 2021

July 27, 2021

August 10, 2021

 

What Time Are ACT Scores Released?

 

ACT scores are typically released at 12 am Central Time. You will likely get an email from ACT when your scores are available to view.

 

How Do I Get My ACT Scores?

 

You can view your ACT scores via your online ACT account. Log into your account, then click on “Your Test Dates and Scores” on the left. From there, you can click “view your scores” for each test date. For security reasons, you’ll be asked to re-enter your password.

 

Should You Send Your ACT Scores to Test-Optional Schools?

 

Most colleges are currently test-optional, at least for the current admissions cycle. Scores will be somewhat lower than is typical this year because many students were unable to take the test more than once (if they were able to at all). 

 

We recommend submitting your ACT scores to test-optional schools if your composite score falls within three points of the 25th percentile of accepted students at that school. For example, if the middle 50% percentile is 29-32, you should submit in the 2020-2021 cycle if you have a score of 26 or above. If you don’t submit scores, make sure to strengthen other aspects of your application.

 

For more info, see our post: Should You Apply Test-Optional for the 2020-2021 Cycle?

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How to Understand Your ACT Score 

 

Each of four sections, including Math, English, Reading, and Science, is scored on a scale of 1-36. These section scores are averaged into a single composite score, rounding up to the nearest integer. Your Writing section is scored on a scale of 2-12 and is not factored into your composite score. 

 

Subsection and composite scores correspond to percentiles. For example, a composite score of 35 corresponds to the 99th percentile, indicating that the test-taker performed better than 99 percent of test-takers.

 

Your ACT report will also indicate Benchmarks, which are the minimum ACT scores necessary for students to have a reasonable chance of success in typical, first-year college courses, such as English composition and college algebra. Here are this year’s benchmarks.

 

ACT Test Score

College Courses

Benchmark

English

English Composition I

18

Mathematics

College Algebra

22

Reading

American History, Other History, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Economics

22

Science

Biology

23

STEM

Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Engineering

26

ELA

English Composition I, American History, Other History, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Economics

20

 

Learn more about ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.

 

How Do I Know If My ACT Score is Good Enough?

 

“Good enough” is a subjective quality that varies from student to student. The best way to determine whether your score is up to par is to compare it to the average scores at your target schools. Typically, we recommend aiming for a score that’s in the upper half of the middle 50% range of accepted students at the college. For example, if you’re considering Cornell University, their middle 50% ACT range is 32-35, so you should try to aim for a 34 or higher to be most competitive.

 

However, as we’ve noted, this year will look a little different given ACT test date cancellations due to COVID. Because scores will probably be lower overall, you should be fine if your score is closer to the 25th percentile or even marginally below it.

 

For more info, see our post What is a Good ACT Score in 2021?

 

What Should I Do If My ACT Score Is Too Low?

 

Don’t panic if your score is too low. Most students improve their score by retaking the test. Many schools also superscore the ACT, meaning that they’ll create a new composite score from your highest section scores, even if they were from different test sittings. 

 

You do, however, need to practice and prepare for each sitting. Make sure you set a schedule and start with a practice test, simulating real testing conditions to find your baseline. Then, focus on strengthening your weaknesses.

 

Remember that you have plenty of resources available, too — including CollegeVine. We have countless ACT guides to get you started on your prep.

 

If you’re still not happy with your score, you can apply to test-optional schools. This is an especially popular option for the 2020-2021 cycle, as many students couldn’t take the SAT or ACT. 

 

Curious how your ACT score impacts your chances of acceptance? Or how applying test-optional will impact your chances? Use our Chancing Engine, which uses your standardized test scores (or not), transcript, demographics, and extracurriculars to estimate your real odds of admission to hundreds of colleges. We’ll also give you tips for improvement — all for free!

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.