Information Brief 2013-39

Bachelor’s Degree Completion by ACT Composite Score and Gender

Among Students Enrolled in a Four-Year Postsecondary Institution

Students’ Chances of Completing a Bachelor’s Degree within Six Years of Enrolling in a Four-Year Postsecondary Institution by ACT Composite Score and Gender

ACT ScoreFemale studentsMale students
1020%17%
1121%19%
1223%20%
1326%22%
1428%24%
1530%26%
1633%27%
1735%30%
1838%32%
1941%34%
2044%36%
2147%39%
2249%41%
2352%43%
2455%46%
2558%48%
2661%51%
2764%53%
2866%56%
2969%58%
3071%61%
3174%63%
3276%65%
3378%68%
3480%70%
3582%72%
3683%74%

Note: Results based on data from nearly 126,000 ACT-tested students who enrolled in a four-year postsecondary institution as new students in fall 2000 through 2003. More than 60 institutions were represented. Degree completion from initial institution was tracked. For a more detailed description of the study, see ACT Research Report 2013-5.

A recent ACT study1 that included data from more than 60 four-year postsecondary institutions found that the typical six-year bachelor’s degree completion rate across institutions was 9 percentage points higher for female students than for male students (46% versus 37%, respectively).

Similar differences in six-year bachelor’s degree completion rates between female and male students were seen among students with higher academic achievement levels (as measured by Composite score on the ACT® college readiness assessment). For example, for students with an ACT Composite score of 25, female students had a 58% chance of completing a bachelor’s degree from their initial institution, compared to a 48% chance for male students.

These findings suggest there are factors besides academic achievement contributing to differences in degree completion rates between female and male students. These factors might include academic behaviors and other noncognitive skills (such as commitment to college) that can influence students’ chances of college success. Future research should examine this issue.


1 Justine Radunzel and Julie Noble, Differential Effects on Student Demographic Groups of Using ACT College Readiness Assessment Composite Score, ACT Benchmarks, and High School Grade Point Average for Predicting Long-Term College Success through Degree Completion, ACT Research Report 2013-5 (Iowa City, IA: ACT, Inc., 2013).


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