ACT reports lowest average test score in over 30 years

(WHNT) — The average ACT across the country is the lowest in more than 30 years, according to new data released Wednesday.

The national average ACT composite score was 19.8 out of 36 for the Class of 2022, marking the first time since 1991 that the average score fell below 20.

“This is the fifth consecutive year of declining averages, a worrying trend that began and continues well before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Janet Godwin, CEO of ACT, in a press release Wednesday.

Additionally, an increasing number of high school students did not meet any of the ACT’s departmental benchmarks — demonstrating a decline in readiness for college-level academic achievement.

The test results, released in a report on Wednesday, show that 42% of ACT-tested graduates in the Class of 2022 failed to achieve any of the subject benchmarks in English, reading, science and math, which are indicators of how well the students will perform in corresponding university courses.

In comparison, 38% of test takers in 2021 did not meet any of the benchmarks.

The lowest ACT composite score in the nation went to Nevada at 17.3, according to the latest data. The District of Columbia received the highest composite score at 26.9, followed by California at 26.5.

“The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming as we see a rapidly growing number of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure,” Godwin continued . “These declines are not simply a by-product of the pandemic. They are further evidence of long-standing system failures that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

She added that a “return to the pre-pandemic status quo would be insufficient and a disservice to students and teachers.”

“These systemic failures call for sustained collective action and support for the academic recovery of high school students as an urgent national priority and imperative,” Godwin concluded.

For more highlights from this year’s ACT report, visit

The number of students completing the ACT has declined by 30% since 2018 as graduates increasingly skip college and some universities no longer require admissions tests. But participation among black students fell 37%, with 154,000 taking the test that year.

Standardized tests like the ACT face growing concerns that they are unfair to minority and low-income students, as students with access to expensive test preparation or advanced courses often do better.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. ACT reports lowest average test score in over 30 years

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