Is 23 a Good ACT Score?

Is 23 a Good ACT Score

Fighting for your place in higher education can feel like an uphill battle, so you want to have as much in your arsenal as possible when you start sending out applications. One of the most important things that schools will look at is your test scores, so is 23 going to be good enough?

As a composite score for the ACT, 23 is within the top 1/3 of all results, but there are a high number of schools that will be expecting more and receiving applications from people that have achieved significantly better. With that being said, you will be able to apply to a lot of fantastic institutions with a score like this.

If you want to better understand what a score like 23 will mean for your academic future and how it will be perceived by the schools you may want to apply to, then read on and find out!

Will A 23 ACT Be Good Enough?

With most of the tests that you will have done in your life, you tend to be given a grade that tells you how well you have done – but this is not the case when it comes to college admissions. Instead of an A or a B, you just get a score, so how can you tell whether or not you have done as well as you need?

That all comes down to percentile ranks. Your percentile position gives you an idea of where you fall compared to others who also sit the test, and it is essentially how the schools you apply to will be deciding what they are looking for.

According to the ranking report for 2022 to 2023, a composite of 23 for the ACT would place you in the 72nd percentile. This is well above the overall average, but it still means that over 25% of the other students applying that year are expected to achieve even more.

The data gathered from people taking the ACT in 2020, 2021, and 2022 is used to calculate these percentiles, and this is the same data schools will be looking at while applications roll in. To see how your rank would change if you achieved a little higher or a little lower, you can see more of the data in this table:

Composite Score ACTPercentile Position
24  76

Keep in mind that, due to the way percentiles work, there is more change within the scores that are more common – meaning that a score difference of just one or two within the middle range can greatly affect your percentile rank.

For example, getting just one more point would give you a 24 and push you into the top 25% of all candidates.

Also read:

What Would ACT 23 Be On SAT?

Is a 980 a Good SAT Score

If you’re practicing for the ACT then you’re probably having a look at the SAT as well, but it can be hard to tell how scores on one of these tests could be compared to the other. Their methods of scoring differ massively, and the scores themselves couldn’t be further apart.

You can convert your ACT score, though, and see the sort of range it compares with on the SAT.

A 23 is around the equivalent of 1130 to 1150 for the SAT, although this is a relatively rough estimation. In the 2022 testing year, these scores ranked between the 65th and 68th percentile.

In this table, we’ve compiled the SAT equivalents for some of the other ACT scores you might achieve, so you can see how they could change:

ACT ResultSAT Result Equivalent
301390 – 1410
291350 – 1380
281310 – 1340
271280 – 1300
261240 – 1270
251200 – 1230
24  1160 – 1190
231130 – 1150
221100 – 1120
211060 – 1090
201020 – 1050
19980 – 1010

Institutions That You Can Apply To With A Composite Of 23

While a 23 is quite a good score, actually applying to a school with these results is far from a clear-cut process. For some schools, a 23 will put you well amongst your peers and will easily be enough for your application to be looked on very favorably, but for others it may not be enough to wow the admissions board.

To get an idea of the kind of institutions you would probably be aiming at with this score, here are a number of excellent schools that admit students with an average ACT of 23 or slightly lower:

  • Washington State University
  • Central Michigan University
  • Texas State University
  • Georgia State University
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Sam Houston State University
  • Illinois State University
  • San Jose State University
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Institutions That Are Hard To Apply To With A Composite Of 23

Having a high enough score to be considered is one thing but standing out from the other candidates is something else entirely. If you’re looking to be accepted somewhere that has a more competitive intake, then the scores of your peers will definitely be higher.

To give you a sense of the places that may be a little harder to get a “yes” from, here are some of the best schools that generally take people with a 24 to 27 on the ACT:

  • Michigan State University
  • University of California, Davis
  • Howard University
  • University of Houston
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Iowa
  • DePaul University
  • University of Cincinnati, Main Campus
  • James Madison University
  • University of Kansas

Do I Need More Than 23 Composite ACT Score?

When it comes to your future, it’s all about achieving your best – not what is seen as “good” by anybody else. With that in mind, you need to ask yourself whether a 23 is going to demonstrate what you are capable of to the schools that you are hoping will notice you.

It may be the case that your dream institution would be very happy with a composite of 23, in which case you should be very happy too. Equally, however, you may need to drive for a more excellent score if you are going to show the excellence that you can achieve.

If you get a 23, then approximately 28% of the other students who are jostling for a place alongside you will have scored more highly, and they are likely to all be applying to the best places in the country. If you want to feel confident that your application is going to be at the top of the pile, then a better score will certainly help.

Even increasing your composite by just 1 point would move you into the top 25%!

Conclusion: Is 23 a Good ACT Score?

So, can you make it into a great school with a 23 on the ACT? Definitely, but there is a lot of room to do even better. While many higher education establishments are happy to accept candidates that score 23 or below, many of the most well-regarded and prestigious will look for significantly more.

If you want to be considered by the best of the best, then you may well need to aim a little bit higher. Begin practicing as soon as you can, get your preparation started early, and make sure to take the test more than once to give yourself more opportunities to show what you are made of. 

Josh Hutcheson

E-Learning Specialist in Online Programs & Courses Linkedin

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