ACT college entrance test with pencil and graduation cap

Is there a correlation between ACT scores and college success? Yes, at times, an ACT score can give some prediction of success at college. However, the real indicator is typically performance at school. This is because the ACT is a snapshot of a student’s knowledge and stamina, while a full school portfolio of GPAs and more will describe how the student handles their workload over a longer period of time. 

This doesn’t mean that your ACT score isn’t important. A good ACT or SAT score is a smart way to show off your skills to the colleges of your choices, even if your school records and scores paint a different picture. 

Here’s everything you need to know about how the ACT can measure college success, and what you can do to improve your score.

Is the ACT a Good Measure of College Readiness? 

Research institutions have been studying the ACT’s correlation with college readiness for years. One 2012 study by the ACT studied over 190,000 students who enrolled in college from 2000 to 2006. It also included over 100 institutions, both 2 and 4 years. The study determined that both a student’s ACT score and their high school GPA effectively predicted long-term success during college. Overall, they found that ACT scores were a more accurate predictor, and that ACT benchmarks also provided compelling evidence.

But, this study was completed by the ACT. What about a study that is not affiliated? One 2010 paper from Princeton University backs up what the ACT says; however, they included the caveat that ACT scores were not associated with college graduation rates. 

What is the Best Predictor of College Success? 

Grade point averages are typically a better predictor of success in college. In 2020, a University of Chicago Consortium found that the high school GPA is 5x stronger than ACT at predicting college graduation. 

This study sums it up well: “As a predictor of college success, the most reliable prediction models consist of a combination of both high school GPA and ACT scores. In fact, combining high school GPA and ACT scores is a much stronger predictor of future success for students regardless of race or gender than using either of these scores alone as a predictor.”

Is the ACT Necessary?

It’s no secret that the anti-testing movement is growing. Especially due to the Varsity Blues scandal, more and more individuals are leaning towards test-optional colleges. Likewise, more colleges are changing to include more test-optional policies. In a 2014 study of 33 test-optional schools, 123,000 students either did or did not hand in standardized test scores. It was found that there was very little difference in the college GPAs between these students.

Taking the ACT Isn’t All About College Success

This doesn’t directly correlate with the necessity of the ACT test. Many states and schools still require it for graduation. And, even if the ACT is not required, it can set your college application apart from other students with similar high school records. 

The best part? You don’t even need to get a perfect ACT score to make your application look awesome. What is a good ACT score? Really, it depends on the average score of the students that have already been accepted to the school. A perfect score is a 36, but a number in the upper 20s is typically a great score.

Wondering when do you take the ACT?  Typically, you take the test in the spring of your junior year of high school. This gives you time to prepare and also to take it a second time, if you wish to improve your score.

Bolster Your ACT Score with Piqosity’s Test Prep Packages

So, what is the correlation between ACT scores and college success? Your ACT score probably indicates very little about your future success at college. So, don’t stress if your score is lower than you’d like. Continue to put in the effort during college, and you have every chance of succeeding. 

Thinking about how to improve your ACT score? Consider Piqosity’s ACT test prep and our ACT test strategies. By purchasing one of our competitively priced packages, you will have access to up to ten full-length ACT practice tests. Full-length means that they include ACT essay practice, as well as valuable prep for the rest of the ACT test. You will also be able to take a free diagnostic test that will tell you exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to taking the ACT.

New to Piqosity? You can register for FREE (no credit card information required) for our Community package, which gives you access to a diagnostic test and many of our key platform tools. After signing up, you will have access to these materials—and more—for 365 days.

So, don’t hesitate—start preparing for the ACT today with Piqosity! Good luck!

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