The Struggles of a Shrinking Average ACT Score: Adverse Effects on College-Bound Students and how Test Prep Can Help.

The landscape of college admissions has recently seen a significant shift, with the average ACT score plummeting to 19.5. This change has brought about unforeseen challenges for students preparing to embark on their college journeys. While we’ll explore the adverse effects of this new norm on aspiring college students, we’ll also review the benefits of test preparation in more aspects than just the ACT.

Reduced Competitiveness:

With the average ACT score declining to 19.5, many students may feel that they need to work even harder to stand out in the increasingly competitive world of college admissions. Lower average scores could create the illusion that admissions have become less selective, pushing students to improve their applications and seek out additional extracurricular activities to compensate for lower scores.

Less Clear Benchmark:

Standardized tests like the ACT have traditionally provided a benchmark by which students could gauge their readiness for college. A lower average score can confuse students about what is considered a competitive score for their desired institutions, leading to increased uncertainty and stress during the application process.

Increased Reliance on Other Factors:

As standardized test scores become less prominent, colleges will likely place more emphasis on other factors like GPA (even inflated GPA), letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities. While this may seem beneficial, it can also create a more significant burden on students to excel in these areas and make it even more challenging for them to differentiate themselves from their peers.

Impact on Scholarships and Financial Aid:

Scholarships and financial aid packages often consider standardized test scores when awarding funds. A lower average ACT score might result in fewer opportunities for merit-based aid. Students who could have qualified for financial assistance may find themselves with limited options due to the reduced importance of standardized test scores.

Educational Preparedness:

The lower average ACT score could be seen as an indication of declining educational preparedness. While the test’s validity has been questioned, it has historically aimed to assess students’ knowledge and readiness for college-level work. The lower average score might raise concerns about the quality of pre-college education.

Get Smarter Prep Students:

While the average ACT score continues to drop, students who have come through GSP for ACT prep have seen more than just an increase in their own ACT scores. When preparing for the ACT, students build knowledge in English, Math, Reading, and Science which in turn helps their overall ability to score better in their core subjects in high school. Overall, students are more likely to increase their high school math scores, write more affluent essays, and test more confidently since applying test taking strategies. With multiple options for ACT Prep including our ACT Prep Course, Semi-Private or Private Tutoring, Get Smarter Prep students have a much higher rate of increasing their ACT scores. 

The new average ACT score of 19.5 reflects a changing landscape in college admissions. While it may ease the pressure on some students, it introduces a new set of challenges, especially for those who aspire to attend selective institutions or those who want to attain scholarships. Ultimately, a comprehensive approach to college admissions should consider not only standardized test scores but also a student’s entire academic journey, experiences, and potential to thrive in a college environment.