ACT scores rise for Utah class of 2021 as national results fall

Utah State Board of Education. Image: Google Streets

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 13, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Average composite scores for the ACT college entrance exam in Utah rose from 20.2 in 2020 to 20.6 this year, even though the number of Utah students taking the test fell by 11 percent as schools closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationally, 22 percent fewer students took the ACT while average composite scores dropped from 20.6 to 20.3, according to data released Wednesday by ACT.

Utah students bucked the national trend in individual components of ACT seeing average scores rise in English, mathematics, reading, and science, while individual test scores fell nationally, the news release said.


Utah scores for all racial and ethnic groups except for students who identify as Pacific Islanders also rose. Scores for students who are Pacific Islanders slipped from 17.0 in 2020 to 16.7 in 2021.

“Many factors could have contributed to 2021 results,” the news release said. “All Utah public schools take the ACT, but only students who took the 11th grade ACT test in the first testing window of 2020 were able to take the test at school due to the statewide soft closure of school buildings. Utah students who were set to take the 11th grade ACT test during either of the other two in-school testing windows were given vouchers and had to arrange to take the test on one of the ACT national testing dates available through 2020.”

ACT data showed that a disproportionate number of students who identify as other than white or Asian and students who are economically disadvantaged were more likely to be part of the 11 percent who did not take the test, the news release said. On the other side of the equation, ACT also notes that students who take the ACT multiple times are more likely to improve their scores and the number of Utah students who took the ACT multiple times in 2020 dropped by 36 percent.

“The past two school years have been challenging for everyone,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson. “The great news of our ACT results is a reflection on the students, teachers, and parents who made this happen through their commitment to education. This year we need to continue focusing on ensuring that all students who are age eligible take the ACT which will help them expand their choices and opportunities for the future.”

Utah’s ACT results compared to national results:

  Composite English Math Reading Science
Utah 2021 20.6 19.7 20.1 21.3 20.8
Nation 2021 20.3 19.6 19.9 20.9 20.4
Utah 2020 20.2 19.3 19.7 21.0 20.3
Nation 2020 20.6 19.9 20.2 21.2 20.6


Percentage of students who met college readiness benchmarks:

  English Math Reading Science All Four
Utah 2021 59 38 46 37 26
Nation 2021 56 36 44 35 25
Utah 2020 56 34 44 34 23
Nation 2020 58 37 45 36 26


More information about Utah scores is on the ACT site.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here