Georgia outpaces 2017 national average on ACT college admissions test

The state is outpacing the nation on the average ACT score.

The state Department of Education just released 2017 ACT scores for Georgia students. The state’s average composite score on the college admissions test was 21.4, outpacing the national average of 21. The highest possible score is a 36.

I am finding more Georgia high school students taking the ACT. While the state heralded its 21.4 average, I have to point out kids need higher scores for competitive schools. Last year, the average applicant ACT composite score at Georgia Tech was 31, while the admitted ACT average was 32. (Most kids I personally know who got into Tech had a 34 or higher.)

Students must also have an ACT of 26, along with a 3.7 high school GPA, to qualify for the top level of HOPE, the Zell Miller Scholarship.

With the ACT, students earn scores in four different subject tests, math, science, reading and English. The ACT composite represents the average of those scores. (Parents, make sure your kids know about super scoring, in which colleges consider their highest score in each of the four individual areas of the ACT across all test dates. Not all colleges super score but many do. See my interviews here with Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

Here is the DOE release: (DOE does not have school-level ACT results yet. You can read the full report here.)

Georgia’s students showed continued improvement on the ACT in 2017, increasing the state’s average composite score and the percentage of students meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.

Georgia’s average composite score of 21.4 was higher, for the second consecutive year and the second time in state history, than the national average of 21. Georgia also outperformed the nation in English, reading, science, and mathematics.

“Georgia students continue to increase their scores – and outpace the nation – on the ACT,” state school Superintendent Richard Woods said. “This is a testament to the hard work of Georgia’s students and educators as they enjoy greater flexibility and fewer state restrictions in the classroom. We are seeing our students’ performance trending upward on multiple indicators of academic achievement, and seeing positive signs like a four-percentage-point jump in the percentage of students meeting the College Readiness Benchmark for reading is encouraging as we continue to focus on literacy.”

Georgia students’ scores increase

Georgia students’ average composite score rose from 21.1 in 2016 to 21.4 in 2017, with all subject area scores increasing as well: from 20.7 to 21 in English, 20.6 to 20.9 in mathematics, 21.8 to 22 in reading, and 21 to 21.3 in science. All of these subject-area scores outpaced the national averages of 20.3 in English, 20.7 in mathematics, 21.4 in reading, and 21 in science.

Between 2013 and 2017, the number of students taking the ACT in Georgia has increased by 8,926 students.

Gains across subject areas

In addition to a rising composite score, the percentage of students meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks increased in all subject areas: from 65 to 66 percent in English, 40 to 41 percent in mathematics, 47 to 51 percent in reading, and 36 to 38 percent in science. The College Readiness Benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject-area tests that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher, or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher, in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.

2017 ACT results also bought positive news in the area of equity, as the average composite scores for Georgia’s two largest minority groups increased. The average score for African-American students increased from 18 in 2016 to 18.1 in 2017, and the average score for Hispanic students increased from 20.2 in 2016 to 20.5 in 2017.

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4 comments
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21 isn't anything to write home about. I suspect the rise in score, such as it is, is due to more kids trying the ACT, like those for whom it is easier to get a better score than on SAT, due to regression to the norm.


For 2 of my kids, the ACT was a better test, as the SAT depended half on math skills, whereas for the ACT it counts less.  My math/science daughter, of course, did not bother with the ACT.


I took both way back in the day, and I thought my scores were quite comparable.  Turns out my ACT would equate to a fairly significantly higher SAT.  I never knew.  Of course, the SAT has been re-normed at least once and I think twice, so it might have been more comparable way back when.


At any rate, I was admissible to the schools in which I was interested.  One that I might have applied to, I could not because of being female. (Tell that to kids now, and they won't believe you!)