The average Composite score on the ACT test fell to 19.5 for the class of 2023, a decline of 0.3 points from 2022, according to data released today by ACT, the nonprofit organization that administers the college readiness exam. The average scores in mathematics, reading, and science subjects were all below the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks for those subjects.
The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum ACT test scores required for students to have a high probability of success in credit-bearing first-year college courses. ACT research continues to show that students meeting a benchmark on the test have approximately a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in the corresponding college course or courses.
“This is the sixth consecutive year of declines in average scores, with average scores declining in every academic subject,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said. “We are also continuing to see a rise in the number of seniors leaving high school without meeting any of the college readiness benchmarks, even as student GPAs continue to rise and students report that they feel prepared to be successful in college. The hard truth is that we are not doing enough to ensure that graduates are truly ready for postsecondary success in college and career. These systemic problems require sustained action and support at the policy level. This is not up to teachers and principals alone – it is a shared national priority and imperative.”
The graduating class of 2023 were in their first year of high school when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. The proportion of “COVID cohort” seniors meeting none of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks reached historic highs in 2023. Twenty-one percent of students met all four benchmarks, while 43% met none of these benchmarks. The percentage of students meeting all four benchmarks dropped 1.3 percentage points, from 22.1% in 2022 to 20.8% in 2023, whereas the percentage of students meeting no benchmarks increased by nearly two percentage points, from 41.6% in 2022 to 43.3% in 2023.
- The average Composite score declined by 0.3 points, from 19.8 in 2022 to 19.5 in 2023.
- Between 2022 and 2023, average English scores declined 0.4 points (from 19.0 to 18.6), average mathematics scores declined 0.3 points (from 19.3 to 19.0), average reading scores declined 0.3 points (from 20.4 to 20.1), and average science scores declined by 0.3 points (from 19.9 to 19.6).
- The percentage of students meeting all four benchmarks dropped 1.3 percentage points, from 22.1% of students in 2022 to 20.8% of students in 2023, whereas the percentage of students meeting no benchmarks increased by 1.7 percentage points, from 41.6% in 2022 to 43.3% in 2023.
- Roughly 1.4 million high school seniors took the ACT test, an increase over the 2022 graduating class.
About the Data
The data released include ACT test score results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including 16 states that required all students to take the ACT test as part of their statewide testing programs, and another seven states that funded ACT testing on an optional basis.
View the data via the dashboard.