A lot of students have mixed emotions about having to take the ACT in Moraga. Some feel that they have a good chance of scoring high and getting into the colleges of their choice. Many students, on the other hand, feel a bit uneasy after taking the test, and they can’t help wondering if they will be able to enter college at all.

First, let’s start with a short introduction to the ACT scoring. The ACT has four sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science). Each section is given a scaled score between 1 and 36. Then those scaled scores are averaged to become a composite score, which also ranges from 1 to 36. If you’re asking about the average ACT score (that is, the composite score), it’s usually 21.

You may have also heard of the percentiles in the ACT. A percentile is a comparison of your ACT score to the scores of everyone else who also took the test. Your percentile tells you how you have fared in the test — or more particularly, how high your ACT scores are compared to others who took it.

For instance: the 25th percentile score is 18. This means if you got an 18, you would have fared better than 25% of everyone else who took the test. On the other hand, let’s say that the 75th percentile score is 30. This means if you got a 30, then you fared better than 75% of all the test-takers.

Many students, especially those who are uncertain of their college admission chances, would wonder about the minimum ACT score to get into college.

The answer is: it depends, mostly on the colleges where you want to apply. For instance, if you’re aiming for prestigious universities like Harvard, CalTech, MIT, University of Chicago, or Princeton, you should have a score of at least 31. If you get a score lower than 30 but higher than 25, you still can get into several selective state schools like Temple University (26), University of Alabama (27) and certain private schools like the Rochester Institute of Technology (29).

But if you score way lower than 25, don’t lose hope! There are smaller state schools who will gladly accept your scores in the 18-24 range. These include Ohio University (24), University of North Texas (23), Washington State University (23), San Jose State University (23), Texas State University (23), and California State University (21).

It doesn’t mean that these public colleges and universities that accept lower ACT scores are weak and not competitive. In fact, there are excellent schools. Even so, many of these schools require special admission criteria for applicants who have low standardized test scores but high academic marks such as GPAs or have a wealth of extra-curricular activities.

If you have an extraordinary talent in other areas such as art, acting, or music and you want to maximize it, you may want to enroll in specialized schools such as an art school, a drama school, or a music conservatory. These schools do not require high standardized test scores as they look at an applicant’s creative work as a primary requirement for admission.

Whether you get the higher or lower than the average ACT Moraga scores, one thing is for sure: there’s a chance for everyone to study at a college though there is more than one way to get into them.