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Minnesota Students Lead Nation on ACT Scores




Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

Data highlight importance of efforts to increase rigorous course taking

Minnesota students achieved the highest average ACT score in the nation in 2008, according to results released today by ACT. Minnesota's 2008 graduating seniors who took the ACT earned an average composite score of 22.6 on the college admission and placement exam, which was higher than last year's score of 22.5. The average ACT score for the nation is 21.1 out of a possible 36 points.

Minnesota has led the nation in average ACT sores for four consecutive years.

"Overall, Minnesotans can be proud of these ACT results," Deputy Education Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education Chas Anderson said. "We will build on this success by working with parents and the business and higher education communities to prepare Minnesota students to compete with students beyond our nation's borders."

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure the skills and knowledge deemed important for college success. The ACT is comprised of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science, plus an optional writing test introduced in February 2005. The ACT is administered in all 50 states and is taken by the majority of graduates in 26 states, including Minnesota.

Top 3 States (where majority take ACT)
State Average Composite Score % of Graduates Tested

"The data provided by ACT give us important clues about how to help do even more to prepare our students so they can compete in a global arena," said Susan Heegaard, Director for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

The data collected by ACT from students indicates a strong correlation between taking a rigorous high school curriculum and higher scores on the ACT. Minnesota's results show consistently higher scores in math and science for students who reported taking high-level courses in those subject areas. For example, the average ACT science score for Minnesota students who took only biology was 19.4 compared to 23.7 for students who took biology, chemistry and physics in high school.

Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed and the Minnesota Legislature approved a measure requiring students to take algebra I by eighth grade and algebra II and chemistry or physics in order to graduate from high school. The new requirement goes into effect for students in the class of 2015.

A new scholarship program called Achieve introduced this year provides a one-time college scholarship of $1,200 to students who demonstrate they met standards for taking challenging college preparatory courses while in high school. Students have several options for meeting the standard. The scholarship is designed in part to encourage more students to take rigorous courses in high school and become better prepared for college. Eligible students are Minnesota residents attending Minnesota institutions, from families with annual incomes of less than $75,000. More information on the scholarship is available at

"The most encouraging news from the 2008 ACT results is that a greater percentage of high school students report taking more core classes in English, science, mathematics and social science," said Heegaard. "For example, 43 percent of test takers reported taking four years of rigorous science in high school including general science, biology, chemistry and physics compared with 37 percent of test takers in 2007. This indicates students may be making better choices about the courses they take in high school. We want to see more students exposed to challenging coursework all the way to graduation day."

For more information on national and Minnesota ACT results for the high school class of 2008, visit the Office of Higher Education at or ACT at

More Information on the ACT Scores

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