The small pool of Maine’s 2010 high school graduates who took the ACT college entrance exam scored slightly higher than those who took it in 2009, the most recent ACT test data show.

Data released by the testing service Tuesday showed that Maine’s test takers from the class of 2010 averaged a composite score of 23.2 on a 36-point scale. That’s incrementally better than the class of 2009’s average composite score of 23.1.

While 47 percent of high school graduates across the country took the ACT as their college entrance exam – the test is widely used in the Midwest and South – just 10 percent of Maine’s 2010 graduates took it.

The ACT – American College Testing – is a national college entrance exam that’s used by colleges much like the SAT, which is more common in the East and West.

The ACT tests students in math, English, reading and science. The SAT has three sections – math, critical reading and writing – each scored on an 800-point scale.

The Maine students who took the ACT beat the national average in every subject area, tdata show. The national average composite score was 21.

In English, Maine’s test takers averaged 23.2 compared to the national average of 20.5.

In math, Maine’s average score was 23, compared with the national average of 21.

In reading, Maine students averaged 23.6 while all U.S. test takers averaged 21.3.

Maine’s average science score was 22.5, compared with the national average score of 20.9, according to the testing service.

Most students who take the ACT do so during their junior or senior years, said Ed Colby, an ACT spokesman. If students take it more than once, their most recent score counts toward the state average, he said.

Maine’s average ACT scores have increased each year since 2006, according to the testing service data.

Test takers from the class of 2006 averaged a score of 22.3. That number rose to 22.5 in 2007, 22.7 in 2008 and 23.1 in 2009.