Is a 20 a Good ACT Score?

Is a 20 a Good ACT Score

The ACT is one of two major college entrance tests in the United States and is an important metric considered by colleges for admission into their programs. It includes four sections, namely English, Math, Reading, and Science, and has a maximum score of 36, with the 75th percentile being at 24.  

Is a 20 a good ACT score? Although a 20 on the ACT means you’ve scored higher than 50% of all test takers, it isn’t accepted by top competitive colleges in the country that have much higher score requirements.

Read on to learn more about whether a 20 is a good ACT score and find answers to other popular questions.

What Is a Good ACT Score?

So, what is a good ACT score? A decent ACT score ranks you above most of the test takers in the country. Thus a composite score above 19-20 or the 50th percentile can be considered good.

Different colleges have different expectations and benchmarks when it comes to ACT scores. Whether a score can be considered good depends on where you’re applying. Less selective colleges often accept scores closer to the 50th percentile (between 19 and 20) whereas highly competitive ones prefer those in the 95th percentile or higher (between 31 and 36).

As a general rule, if you’re intending to apply to top colleges in the country, aim for a score of 24 or above in each of the four categories. This will give you a composite score of 24 or above, ranking you in the top 25% of test takers.

To give you an idea of how common ACT scores stack up against those of other test takers in the country, we have included a useful table below. Please note that percentiles aren’t fixed and can vary slightly each year.

ScoreComposite PercentileEnglish PercentileMath PercentileReading PercentileScience Percentile

This information is sourced from ACT’s website.

Is a 20 a Good ACT Score?

Yes, a 20 on the ACT is a decent score and is also roughly the national average. While a score of 20 ranks you higher than 50% of the test takers, it isn’t enough to make you eligible for the best colleges in the US.

This doesn’t mean you’ll have no good options when it comes to applying for college programs. There are plenty of institutions around the country that accept an ACT composite score of 20. These are mostly public universities and while they might not be the best in the country, they do offer plenty of good programs. More on this in later sections.

What Is the SAT Equivalent Score to a 20 in ACT?

Like the ACT, the SAT is a standardized test that gauges students’ performance and indicates their preparedness to take college-level courses. The SAT is nearly similar to the ACT in terms of format and structure and covers the same fundamental subject disciplines. Moreover, the SAT is also accepted by all US universities and colleges.

An ACT composite score of 20 converts to an SAT score range of 1020 to 1050, according to The Princeton Review’s online conversion tool.

Should You Retake the ACT If You Score 20?

You can retake the ACT multiple times if you’re not satisfied with your scores and want to meet the requirements of top colleges.

Whether or not you should opt for a retake if you score 20 depends on where you’re applying. If this score falls within the 25th to 75th percentile range for your target college(s), retaking the test to improve your score probably won’t be required. If, however, you’re applying to competitive institutions requiring a 30+ composite ACT score, retaking the test would be necessary.

Before going ahead with the retake exam, make sure you’re fully aware of the score requirements for the colleges you intend to apply to.

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What Schools Can You Get Into with a Score of 20?

While an ACT composite score of 20 might not be the most competitive one, there are several colleges across the country that accept it, such as San Francisco State University and Radford University. Below is a list of 15 such institutions and their average composite ACT scores:

CollegeAverage Composite ACT Score
San Francisco State University20
Radford University20
California State University-Fresno19
Montclair State University21
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee21
University of California-Merced20
Indiana State University20
Coastal Carolina University21
University of Texas at El Paso20
Kean University20
Tennessee State University18
University of West Georgia21
The Evergreen State College24
Alabama State University17
Marymount University21

This information is sourced from PrepScholar.

What Schools Would You Find It Hard to Get Into with a Score of 20?

While an ACT score of 20 is accepted by several colleges across the country, many competitive institutions, such as Bowdoin College and Boston University, require a much higher score. Here is a list of 15 popular colleges you would find it hard to get into with a score of 20:

CollegeAverage Composite ACT Score
Bowdoin College32
Boston University32
Pennsylvania State University28
University of Georgia30
University of Pittsburgh31
Colorado College31
Miami University29
University of Connecticut29
University of Richmond32
Columbia University34
University of Minnesota Twin Cities28
Indiana University Bloomington28
Rice University34
Wesleyan University32
Tulane University32

This information is sourced from PrepScholar.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, while a composite ACT score of 20 is a decent one that ranks you higher than 50% of all test takers, you’d need to score much higher to be considered by competitive institutions.

A score of 20 is accepted by plenty of colleges across the country (15 of which we mentioned in this guide). But if you’re targeting some of the best colleges in the US, you’d need to score more than 20 to have a strong chance of getting accepted into their programs.

Josh Hutcheson

E-Learning Specialist in Online Programs & Courses Linkedin

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