low act writing score

Based on your English score, no matter how poorly you did on the essay, it should be still be impossible to get a 23 on the writing based on the ACT Combined English/Writing Score Chart. http://www.actstudent.org/writing/combined.html

You definitely need to request a rescore

My son scored 35 ACT, 36 Reading and 36 Math, 33 Writing and 33 Science. But got a 21 on Writing. After taking it he thought he felt confident that he’d done really well on the Writing test. He’s a 4.0 GPA, and hoping to apply early to top schools for STEM. How could this happen and what should he do about it?

See: http://www.actstudent.org/faq/handscore.html

@RosalynNile Start your own discussion; hijacking a thread is rude to the original poster.

@entropist-unfortunately, the link that you provided is for tests taken prior to September 2015.
@Gibby-I read your link. Thank you. Isn’t the essay scored by two people? Ive also read that the essay readers are pretty valid and reliable with scoring. I have the sense this isnt a scoring error unfortunately. I think that the focus will now be on following your advice regarding college application essay writing demonstrating stronger actual abilities.

There is definitely an issue with the ACT writing scoring of the Sept and Oct 2105 tests. This is a revamped section, and while the norms for all the other sections and the old writing section are based on samples sizes in the millions, they haven’t disclosed what the new norms are based on – they just call it “a special study,” which sounds dubious. My DD also got a 35 composite and a 23 on writing. This sounds really low, but actually correlates to the 83rd percentile. But a 23 on the other sections correlate to percentiles in the 60s. So when colleges see a 23, will they also see the 83rd percentile, or will they assume it’s much worse than it is? The ACT are playing with kids’ futures. I am not sure they are up to the job.



My daughter also got a 35 C (36 in Science, 35s on everything else) with a 24 on writing on Sept ACT. The grading rubric was completely different for the Sept ACT. My daughter is a Junior so thankfully she has time. She is taking the Feb ACT to focus on the writing section. She is just being diligent because she does have the time. Her counselor told her that admissions will not care about the writing section…especially because it is new.

Wouldn’t his 23 be out of 24 in the revamped ACT?

I think the scores overall are pretty low :C

Is there anyone here who got into top schools with a good act composite but low writing score?

My D just took the ACT in Feb 2016 for the very first time. She took a 5 hour crash course and did a couple short exercises for practice. She got a 33 C but also scored 23 for the essay. Her small group of friends all got 23’s. Strange! One friend has a 221 in PSAT, the other scored 1400 in PSAT so 23 just seems really low.

I think people are misunderstanding writing scores. Based on information provided by ACT, average writing score is 17,2. A 23 is one standard deviation higher than the average, and is in the 83rd percentile, while the same score would put you in 60 something percentiles in other sub scores.This was just my humble opinion though.

Where are you getting your information that a 23 is in the 83rd percentile? I have not seen that anywhere. Thanks.

Here are the new percentiles for the new writing test that started in September. ACT has info on their website that says that the new writing test scores should not be looked at in the same light as the other sections. You will see on this chart that the percentiles are substantially higher for the writing at lower scores.


You have to click on the national ranks link below your report.

OK, thanks, CTmom610 and Soheils. That’s helpful.

This same thing happened to me for my Feb 2016 ACT scores. I understand that writing scores have higher percentiles than the other subscores would, but let’s look at OP’s scores: a 36 composite is 99th percentile, and a 23 in writing is 83rd percentile. Going from 99th to 83rd percentile is still a big jump, don’t you think?

I’m surprised to see this kind of issue pop up so frequently with the new test (I scored a 31 for my composite and a 29 on writing, which aren’t too different from another.) I would be a little bit concerned, since it’s so different from the other scores, but it’s also hard to tell how much it’ll matter because of the new format of the test and the fact that there’s so little information on these writing scores.

I highly doubt that it matters a lot, at least based on my own case (accepted with a composite of 34 and a writing score of 25)

Soheils, that’s great! Harvard? Can I ask your other stats?