Virginia students again outscore nation on ACT

Students in Virginia again outperformed their peers nationwide by significant margins this year on the ACT college-admissions test.

The performance of Virginia high school graduates improved in all subjects assessed by the four-part test, while the achievement of graduates nationwide declined in English and mathematics, and was flat in reading and science.

The percentage of 2020 Virginia graduating seniors who met the ACT’s college-readiness benchmark in each content area was 20 or more points higher than the percentages for graduates nationwide, with students performing as follows: 

82 percent of Virginia seniors met the benchmark in English, compared with 58 percent nationwide;

69 percent met the benchmark in reading; compared with 45 percent;

62 percent met the benchmark in mathematics; compared with 37 percent;

60 percent met the benchmark in science, compared with 36 percent; and

48 percent met the benchmarks in all four subjects, compared with 26 percent.

The college-readiness benchmarks identify students whose ACT scores indicate that they are prepared for first-year college English composition, reading, algebra and biology.

ACT results are reported on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest score. Virginia students achieved an average composite score of 24.2, compared with 19.9 for graduates nationwide. Public school students accounted for 129 of the 144 Virginia students who achieved perfect scores.

ACT estimates that 19.3 percent of 2020 Virginia graduates — including private and home-schooled students — took the assessment. The rival SAT remains the dominant college-admissions test in the commonwealth, with 65 percent of 2020 Virginia graduates taking it at least once.

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