Minnesota students still among the nation's best for ACT scores

Minnesota is first in the U.S. among states where over 90 percent of students take the test.
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Minnesota is still leading the nation when it comes to ACT college entrance exams.

The results of the 2018 exams found Minnesota ranked 1st out of 19 states where 90 percent or more eligible students took the ACT, which is the most popular college entrance exam.

While 99 percent of eligible Minnesota students took the test, only 55 percent did nationally.

And despite more students taking the test than the national rate, Minnesota still got a higher score than the national average, at 21.3 compared to 20.8.

This 21.3 score was down 0.2 points on 2017, but higher than what students achieved in 2016, when Minnesota first allowed juniors to take the ACTs.

The Star Tribune notes that increased participation in the exam has pushed the state's average scores down in recent years. In 2014, 79 percent of seniors took the exam for an average score of 22.9.

As well as assessing a students' level of education, the ACT also measures their ability to complete college-level work.

Just 30 percent of this year's graduating class met all four ACT college-readiness benchmarks, though this is higher than the 27 percent national rate.

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Why it pays off to take the ACT twice

The figures released on Wednesday show the benefits of taking the test more than once.

More than 40 percent of Minnesota's 2018 graduates have sat the ACT two or more times, and their average score of 23.7 is 4.4 points higher than those who only took the test once.

Minnesota offers the test for free to students who can't afford to pay, and waivers for those on free or reduced-price meals. 

However, education commissioner Brenda Cassellius said that 27 percent of students who qualify for waivers didn't use them.

"In Minnesota, we have worked to eliminate barriers between our students and access to postsecondary education," she said.

""I’d like to see more students taking advantage of these fee waivers to improve their scores significantly by taking the test a second time without incurring any fees. This is important to improve equitable access to career and college for all Minnesota students."

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Minnesota high school graduates continue to beat the national average in the ACT college entrance exam, even though 2012 graduates scored slightly lower than 2011 graduates, MPR reports. Minnesota ranked at the top among states where a majority of students take the test.