More than half of U.S. high school graduates took the ACT exam in 2013, the ACT testing service reports. The average composite score nationwide was 20.9, so a score of 33 represents an impressive accomplishment. While a high ACT score does not guarantee college admission, a 33 betters your chances.

The Number in Context

For each of the four subject areas on the ACT, the testing service counts your correct answers to get your raw score. They convert these to a scale score, which allows consistency across different testing dates. Finally, they average the four subject area results to get a composite score. A perfect score is 36, so 33 is an excellent score. The Princeton Review test-preparation service advises that, in general, higher scores are always better. Even a score near the national average gives you a chance at admission at a broad range of universities, while schools that are more selective look for higher numbers. UCLA, for instance, reports that 41.9 percent of admitted freshmen in 2012 had ACT composite scores over 30; only 11.2 percent had scores around the national average. Brown University boasts even higher scores; 24.4 percent of those admitted to the future class of 2017 scored a perfect 36, and only 21.9 percent scored below 33.