Practicing for the ACT is a stressful experience, and you definitely want to know whether or not you are on the right track to achieve your goals. If you are applying for schools then you will be wondering, is a 26 a good ACT score?
A 26 out of 36 on the ACT is considered to be a good composite score to achieve, and it would typically place you in around the 83rd percentile for that year. In the different areas of the ACT, a 26 may be higher or lower in terms of the percentile rankings.
In the rest of this article, we’re going to help you understand exactly what a 26 on the ACT might mean for you, including how you would compare to the others who take the test and what kind of schools you might be able to apply to.
How Does a 26 ACT Score Compare?
26 out of 36 can seem like a pretty good score at face value, but what does it really mean?
One of the best ways to understand how good a specific score is would be to compare it to what other people achieve when they take the test. This is generally done by looking at the percentage of test takers that scored lower than that particular score, and therefore how few people were able to score as highly.
If you were in the 99th percentile, for example, then that would mean that 99% of test takers got a lower score, and only 1% scored the same as you or above. With that in mind, take a look at this helpful chart that we’ve put together using the data from the 2022-2023 reporting year, to see where a 26 would stand.
|ACT Composite Scores||Percentile|
|34 – 36||99 to 100|
|32 – 34||96 – 99|
|30 – 32||93 – 96|
|28 – 32||89 – 93|
|26 – 28||83 – 89|
|24 – 26||76 – 83|
|22 – 24||67 – 76|
|20 – 22||56 – 67|
|18 – 20||45 – 56|
|16 – 18||32 – 45|
|14 – 16||19 – 32|
|12 – 14||7 – 19|
|10 – 12||1 – 7|
Of course, these percentiles do change every year based on how well students score, but it does give you a relatively good idea of how high a 26 would be compared to others.
In 2022, a 26 composite score on the ACT would put you in the 83rd percentile, meaning only 17% of people managed to get the same score or higher.
For the English part of the test, a 26 was also in the 83rd percentile in 2022, and it was in the 85th percentile for the Math section, the 77th percentile for reading, the 86th percentile for Science, and the 85th percentile for STEM.
What is the SAT Equivalent of a 26 on the ACT?
Another way to get your head around how good a score of 26 on the ACT would be is to compare it to the equivalent score for the SAT.
The SAT is scored in a different way, but you can convert between the two kinds of scoring systems to see what your results might look like.
In this chart, we’ve put together the SAT equivalents for ACT scores so you can see where you might fall if you took the SAT instead.
|ACT Score||SAT Score Equivalent|
|34 – 36||1520 – 1600|
|32 – 34||1450 – 1520|
|30 – 32||1390 – 1450|
|28 – 32||1310 – 1390|
|26 – 28||1240 – 1310|
|24 – 26||1160 – 1240|
|22 – 24||1100 – 1160|
|20 – 22||1020 – 1100|
|18 – 20||940 – 1020|
|16 – 18||860 – 940|
|14 – 16||760 – 860|
Specifically, an ACT composite score of 26 would be equivalent to somewhere between a 1240 and a 1270 on the SAT. This would usually put you in the 85th percentile for all of the people who could take the test and would have been in the 80th percentile of actual test takers from 2022.
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What Schools Can You Get Into With a Score of 26?
Since a 26 on the ACT would place you among the top 20% of all applicants that might be looking to get a place in any given year, that means that you would stand a very good chance of getting into a variety of different schools.
Some of the most highly-regarded institutions that usually take applicants with a composite ACT score of around 26 are:
- Pennsylvania State University – Main Campus
- University of Arizona
- San Diego State University
- Howard University
- University of Oregon
- Washington State University
- University of Houston
- Ohio University – Main Campus
- Colorado State University – Fort Collins
- University of Iowa
What Schools Would You Find It Hard to Get Into With a Score of 26?
Of course, around 17% of applicants will likely have scored higher than 26 on the ACT, and some of the more prestigious establishments look for particularly outstanding results. Among the most popular schools that expect a slightly higher ACT score, which you might struggle to get into, would be:
- Texas A ; M University – College Station
- University of Central Florida
- The University of Texas at Austin
- Purdue University – Main Campus
- University of Washington – Seattle Campus
- Michigan State University
- Syracuse University
- University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign
- Florida State University
- Baylor University
For schools like these, the average ACT composite is usually around 30, so a 26 might be a little too low to stand out from the crowd.
What ACT Score Should I Aim For?
In many ways, the question of what would be considered a “good” score on the ACT is not an easy one to answer. Ultimately, you will have different goals, different skills, and different life experiences from the other candidates who apply. You need to consider what you want to achieve, and where you are aiming to get to.
For example, to compete among applicants to Ivy League schools, then you would probably need a higher ACT score than a 26. The top 25% of Ivy League applicants typically score a 35 or 36, and a 33 would place you on the boundary of being in the lowest 25% of people who apply to these institutions.
There is more to an application than just your admissions test results too. You need to make sure you have great letters of recommendation, a great essay and/or personal statement, and you should aim to shine in the interview as well.
Summary: Is a 26 a Good ACT Score?
So, is a 26 a good ACT score? It is definitely among the better scores that you could achieve, and would usually place you in around the 83rd percentile of applicants who have taken the ACT.
A 26 would give you a lot of options for great opportunities in further education but, of course, some of the most competitive schools in the country will be expecting an even higher score than that if you want to stand out.