If you’re a 10th grader, it’s smart to take the ACT as early as you can. Taking the ACT early can work as a diagnostic, especially if you struggle with tests. By taking the ACT before you absolutely need the score, you can understand the areas where you need to improve and give yourself more time to study to boost your score. Great ACT scores can help you qualify for college scholarships, and at some schools, certain ACT scores can help you fulfill general education requirements and even let you get out of taking certain classes.

How do you know if your score is good enough, and what is a good ACT score for a sophomore? To find out, you can’t just look at the graphs provided for all test takers because most of the students taking the ACT will be juniors or seniors. Students learn a lot between 10th and 11th grade, so comparing yourself to students a whole grade level older than you won’t be very helpful.


While the average ACT score for sophomores is 18, the average PreACT score is 21.

How to Compare ACT Scores for Sophomores

Since measuring yourself against older students doesn’t usually provide a helpful comparison, you can’t just look at the raw score data of 11th graders to know how you stack up. You’ll have to compare yourself to other 10th graders instead.

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How different can the two sets of data be? It turns out there is a pretty significant scoring gap between 10th and 11th graders. On average, 11th graders score a whole two points higher per section on the ACT compared to when they took the test in their sophomore year.

The best way to understand how you measure up to your peers is by comparing your scores with other 10th graders using a percentile table. You can find such a table on the ACT’s official website. Your high school’s guidance counselor may have resources to help you understand your scores as well.

What Is a Good ACT Score for a Sophomore?

Average test scores for 10th graders tend to be lower than the scores earned by most 11th graders, so don’t be disheartened when you see your score. If you keep making a concerted effort at your school work, your ACT score is bound to increase over the next year. However, if that knowledge still doesn’t ease your worries, plan to take an ACT prep course at your school or local test preparation center.

The average ACT score for 10th grade test takers is 18 points. A good ACT score for a sophomore would be anything above the average composite score. In other words, a score of 19 or higher on the ACT would be considered good for a 10th grader.

What if you scored much higher? ACT scores of 24 and above beat out three quarters of the scores earned by other sophomores. A score of 31 or higher is a great score for a test taker of any grade level, and it ranks higher than 95 percent of the scores submitted by other 10th grade test takers.

How to Improve Your ACT Score

Improving your ACT score isn’t something you can do all at once. There isn’t a secret trick that you can learn overnight, but there are several study methods and test-taking strategies that you can use to boost your score over time.

Start your ACT preparation by taking a practice test. If you already took the ACT as a sophomore, you can use that score to help you understand the areas where you need the most improvement. Make a game plan to study those subjects, and your score will improve more quickly than if you use a less-targeted approach. Find a tutor or study group if you need more help or focus than you can muster by studying on your own.

To improve your test-taking strategy itself, plan to take multiple unofficial practice tests. On these tests, focus on your time-management skills. Time how long it takes to complete each section, and focus on the sections that give you the most trouble when you’re making your study schedule. If your reading speed is slowing you down, devote more of your practice time to reading speed and comprehension.

What Is the PreACT?

Do you feel like you’re not quite ready to take the ACT? You’re not alone. In fact, the company that administers the ACT has even created a new test to help you out: the PreACT.

The PreACT is a multiple-choice test designed for students like you: 10th graders who want to do better on the ACT. The PreACT has the same setup and sections as the regular ACT, and it is also scored on the same 1- to 36-point scale. The questions on the PreACT are just as difficult as the ones you’ll encounter on the regular ACT. The catch is that you only get 1 hour and 55 minutes to complete the PreACT compared with 2 hours and 55 minutes for the regular ACT.

Before the PreACT came about, the ACT company already had a few tests that younger students could take to see how they measure up. The biggest difference between the PreACT and those other tests is that the PreACT allows test takers to see score predictions that forecast how they might do on the regular ACT based on their PreACT score.

What Is the Average PreACT Score?

Since the PreACT was designed to help 10th graders prepare for the regular ACT, the average PreACT score will be different from the average ACT score for sophomores. While the average ACT score for sophomores is 18, the average PreACT score is 21. How does that work? Well, it may depend on where you live.

Sometimes, the PreACT is called the PACT. PACT scores vary from state to state. This is good news because with standardized tests like the PACT, you are judged on how you do in comparison to your peers in your school district and state more often than you will be compared to the national average.

This may be good news if you live in a state with lower average PACT scores. However, if you live in a state like Massachusetts where students earn PACT scores of around 24 on average, you may have to study harder to keep up with your peers.

How to Improve Your PreACT Score

Just like with the regular ACT, there are several strategies you can use to boost your PreACT score, but nothing can replace good study habits. Do your homework every day and make sure you practice your reading skills daily. Since both the ACT and PreACT rely heavily on reading speed and comprehension, maintaining strong reading skills will give your score a boost regardless of the material.

Beyond bolstering your study skills, figure out which kind of learner you are and plan your PreACT and ACT studies accordingly. If you are a social learner, join a study group or class. You can also create your own study group if you can’t find one. If you’re better at memorization and studying by yourself, make a plan or check out an ACT preparation textbook from your school or local library. Follow your study plan every day and be careful not to get off track.

About the Author

Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.