Understanding the New ACT Score Report



When the College Board rolled out the current version of the SAT, it changed its score report to reflect student performance in much greater detail. Not to be outdone, the ACT recently announced that it would be introducing its own new, more detailed score report starting with this September’s test administration.

If you have taken or plan to take the ACT this school year, here’s a preview of how your score report will appear. The following are some highlights.


  • More Specific Math Subcategories. The old ACT math subcategories used to be called “Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra”, “Algebra/Coordinate Geometry”, and “Plane Geometry/Trigonometry”. The categories were strangely grouped and too broad to use for gaining detailed insight into student performance. The newer Math section subcategories are much more granular, allowing students and educators to pinpoint particular mathematical strengths and weaknesses with much greater specificity.
  • Somewhat Meaningful Reading and Science Categories. Previously, the ACT score report indicated only the type of passage each Reading question belonged to (either Arts & Literature or Social Studies & Science). This was unhelpful in actually revealing whether students had issues with things like comprehension or inferential thinking. Using the new report, students will learn about the types of questions they’re getting wrong. Some of the categories are pretty broad (one is called “Integration of Knowledge & Ideas”, which, in our estimation, seems like it could apply to pretty much any question), but having some question-level detail is helpful. As for the Science, the old ACT score report featured no subcategories whatsoever; in contrast, the new report splits the questions into data, investigation, and evaluation, which can help students and their educators determine whether they tend to struggle with one or multiple types of Science questions.
  • Visualized Percentiles. Percentile ranks are often overlooked, with students and parents instead focusing on the scaled section and composite scores out of 36. Percentiles, however, are relevant: they help everyone understand how individual performance compares to the performance of test-takers nation-wide. On the new ACT score report, both the national and state-level percentiles receive a revisualization, appearing clearly below the scaled scores.
  • Retest Information. In efforts to improve their scores, many students take the ACT multiple times. But what are the chances of scoring higher on a retake? These are clearly outlined on the right side of the report.


As a user of our self-paced program, you might be wondering: how do I know whether a concept on Method Test Prep aligns with the subcategories present on the new ACT score report? You’re in luck! We’ve produced concept alignment charts that show exactly how the concepts in our web-based program concord with the new ACT score categories. You can find these in Resource Materials under “User Guides”, or in our Resource Center, both within the self-paced program.


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