ACT Scores for Public Universities

A Side-by-Side Comparison of ACT Scores for Highly Ranked Public Universities

University of Georgia Consumer Sciences Building
University of Georgia Consumer Sciences Building. David Torcivia / Flickr

This article compares the ACT scores of accepted students for 22 highly ranked public universities. If your scores fall within or above the range in the table below, you're on target for admission to one of these great public universities. Also be sure to check out the ACT comparison chart for the top 10 public universities.

Top Public University ACT Score Comparison (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)
 ACT Scores
James Madison2328----
Ohio State273127332732
Penn State253025312530
RutgersNot reported
Texas A&M253023312429
UC Davis253222312531
UC Irvine253223302531
Virginia Tech253024312530
See the SAT version of this table

To have a competitive application to any of these universities, you will ideally have ACT scores that are above the lower numbers. That said, if you are strong in other areas and your ACT scores a bit lower than ideal, you still have a chance of getting in. 25 percent of admitted students scored at or below the lower number.

Note that if you are an out-of-state applicant, you may need to have scores significantly higher than those shown here. Most public universities give preference to in-state applicants.

Grades Matter More than ACT Scores

ACT scores matter, but your academic record is going to be the most important piece of your college application. Colleges want to see that you have taken the most challenging courses available to you. Success in Advanced Placement, IB, Honors, and dual enrollment courses will be a better indicator of your college preparedness than your scores on an exam you took on a Saturday morning.

Your grade trend will also be important. A university would much rather see grades that are tending upward during your high school career than downward.

Holistic Admissions

All of these top public universities have holistic admissions. Admissions requirements will vary from school to school, but all of the universities take into account non-numerical factors.

Many require one or more application essays, and your extracurricular involvement will also be important. Universities want to enroll students who are engaged both inside and outside of the classroom. Some of the schools will also ask for one or more letters of recommendation, so make sure you get letters from teachers who know you well and can speak about your potential for college success.

To see a full profile of each college including acceptance rates and financial aid information, click on the names in the table above. You'll also find a graph of GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for admitted, rejected, and waitlisted students.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics