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ACT college entrance exam scores have improved across Illinois this year as the number of students taking the test has dropped.

Across the state, students posted the highest score in the last five years with a 21.4 score across all four subjects on the exam.

The number of test takers has dropped by about 21,500 since 2016. ACT spokesman Ed Colby told the Chicago Tribune the decline in test takers has probably helped boost the statewide 2017 results. He said the results likely don't have as many students who weren't preparing for college than previous years.

"But we won't know until next year," Colby said.

Colby said there's a chance the number of students taking the ACT will drop again in 2018, because Illinois "administered the SAT to all students in that grad class."

Illinois topped the national average of 21 and exceeded national averages on percentage of students considered college-ready in English, math, reading and science.

In math, 44 percent of students were college-ready, up from 41 percent; in reading, 48 percent were prepared, up from 42 percent; and in science, 39 percent were college-ready, compared with 36 percent. Thirty percent of the students who took the test statewide were considered college-ready in all four subjects, up from 26 percent the year before.

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