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Digest of Education Statistics
2018 Tables and Figures All Years of Tables and Figures Most Recent Full Issue of the Digest


Table 226.50. Number and percentage of graduates taking the ACT test; average scores and standard deviations, by sex and race/ethnicity; and percentage of test takers with selected composite scores and planned fields of postsecondary study: Selected years, 1995 through 2018
Score type and test-taker characteristic 1995 2000 2005 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Total test takers                          
Number (in thousands) 945 1,065 1,186 1,480 1,569 1,623 1,666 1,799 1,846 1,924 2,090 2,030 1,915
Percent of all graduates1 38 38 38 44 46 47 48 52 53 2 55 2 59 2 56 2 52 2
  Average test score3
Composite score, total 20.8 21.0 20.9 21.1 21.0 21.1 21.1 20.9 21.0 21.0 20.8 21.0 20.8
Sex                        
Male 21.0 21.2 21.1 21.3 21.2 21.2 21.2 20.9 21.1 21.1 20.9 21.0 20.8
Female 20.7 20.9 20.9 20.9 20.9 21.0 21.0 20.9 20.9 21.0 20.9 21.1 20.9
Race/ethnicity                        
White --- 21.8 21.9 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.4 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.2 22.4 22.2
Black --- 17.0 17.0 16.9 16.9 17.0 17.0 16.9 17.0 17.1 17.0 17.1 16.9
Hispanic --- --- 18.6 18.7 18.6 18.7 18.9 18.8 18.8 18.9 18.7 18.9 18.8
Asian/Pacific Islander --- 21.7 22.1 23.2 23.4 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Asian --- --- --- --- --- 23.6 23.6 23.5 23.5 23.9 24.0 24.3 24.5
Pacific Islander --- --- --- --- --- 19.5 19.8 19.5 18.6 18.8 18.6 18.4 18.2
American Indian/Alaska Native --- 19.0 18.7 18.9 19.0 18.6 18.4 18.0 18.0 17.9 17.7 17.5 17.3
Two or more races --- --- --- --- --- 21.1 21.4 21.1 21.2 21.2 21.0 21.2 21.1
                          
Subject-area scores                        
English 20.2 20.5 20.4 20.6 20.5 20.6 20.5 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.1 20.3 20.2
Male 19.8 20.0 20.0 20.2 20.1 20.2 20.2 19.8 20.0 20.0 19.8 19.9 19.7
Female 20.6 20.9 20.8 20.9 20.8 20.9 20.9 20.6 20.7 20.8 20.6 20.8 20.7
                           
Mathematics 20.2 20.7 20.7 21.0 21.0 21.1 21.1 20.9 20.9 20.8 20.6 20.7 20.5
Male 20.9 21.4 21.3 21.6 21.6 21.6 21.7 21.4 21.4 21.3 21.0 21.2 20.9
Female 19.7 20.2 20.2 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.6 20.5 20.5 20.4 20.3 20.4 20.2
                           
Reading 21.3 21.4 21.3 21.4 21.3 21.3 21.3 21.1 21.3 21.4 21.3 21.4 21.3
Male 21.1 21.2 21.0 21.3 21.1 21.1 21.2 20.9 21.1 21.2 21.0 21.2 21.0
Female 21.4 21.5 21.5 21.4 21.4 21.4 21.4 21.4 21.5 21.6 21.6 21.8 21.7
                           
Science 21.0 21.0 20.9 20.9 20.9 20.9 20.9 20.7 20.8 20.9 20.8 21.0 20.7
Male 21.6 21.6 21.4 21.4 21.4 21.4 21.4 21.2 21.2 21.3 21.1 21.3 20.9
Female 20.5 20.6 20.5 20.4 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.6 20.8 20.6
                           
STEM4 --- --- --- --- --- --- 21.3 21.1 21.1 21.1 20.9 21.1 20.9
Male --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 21.3 21.5 21.2
Female --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 20.7 20.8 20.7
  Standard deviation5
Composite score, total --- 4.7 --- 5.1 5.2 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.8
Sex                          
Male --- 4.9 5.0 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Female --- 4.6 4.7 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
                           
Subject-area scores                          
English --- 5.5 --- 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 7.0
Male --- 5.6 6.0 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Female --- 5.5 5.9 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
                           
Mathematics --- 5.0 --- 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.5
Male --- 5.2 5.3 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Female --- 4.8 4.8 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
                           
Reading --- 6.1 --- 6.2 6.2 6.2 6.2 6.3 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.8
Male --- 6.1 6.1 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Female --- 6.0 6.0 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
                           
Science --- 4.5 --- 5.0 5.1 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.6 5.5 5.7
Male --- 4.8 4.9 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Female --- 4.3 4.3 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
                           
STEM4 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 5.3 5.2 5.4
Male --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Female --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
  Percent of ACT test takers
Composite score                          
28 or above --- 10 10 12 12 13 13 13 13 14 14 15 15
17 or below --- 25 26 27 28 28 28 30 30 30 32 31 34
                           
Planned major field of study                          
Business6 13 11 9 12 11 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 8
Education7 8 9 6 7 7 6 6 5 5 5 4 4 4
Engineering8 8 8 6 8 8 8 8 9 9 10 10 10 8
Health sciences and technologies --- 17 16 19 20 19 19 19 19 18 17 17 16
Social sciences9 9 9 7 7 7 8 9 8 8 8 8 7 7
---Not available.
1 Those members of the graduating class who had taken the ACT test as a percentage of all students who graduated in that school year. For example, the 2018 column shows test-taking members of the class of 2018 as a percentage of all 2017-18 high school graduates. Percentages were calculated by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) using NCES data on the total number of high school graduates.
2 Number of high school graduates is projected.
3 Minimum score is 1 and maximum score is 36.
4 The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) score is derived from students' scores on the ACT mathematics and science tests. The STEM score was developed to gauge students' overall proficiency in mathematics and science.
5 Standard deviations not available for racial/ethnic groups.
6 For years prior to 2011, includes business and management, business and office, and marketing and distribution.
7 For years prior to 2011, includes education and teacher education.
8 Includes engineering as well as engineering technology and drafting.
9 Includes social sciences and philosophy, religion, and theology. For 2011 and later years, also includes law.
NOTE: Data are for high school graduates who took the ACT test during their sophomore, junior, or senior year. If a student took the ACT test more than once, the composite and subject-area scores from the most recent test were used. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: ACT, High School Profile Report, selected years, 1995 through 2018. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 1995-96 through 2009-10; "State Dropout and Completion Data File," 2005-06 through 2012-13; Public School Graduates and Dropouts from the Common Core of Data, 2007-08 and 2008-09; Private School Universe Survey (PSS), 1995 through 2016; and National High School Graduates Projection Model, 1972-73 through 2028-29. (This table was prepared January 2019.)

2018 Tables and Figures All Years of Tables and Figures Most Recent Full Issue of the Digest