Hamilton County is seeing some big improvements in students taking the ACT. 

More students in Hamilton County took the test last year than ever before and the county saw the biggest improvement in scores in the last five years. 

The district's average jumped by two tenths of a point, from 18.9 to 19.1. 

While that number is still lower compared to the national average of 20.8, district leaders say it's a step in the right direction. 

Those leaders spent Wednesday recognizing students for their hard work. 

"Ooltewah's ACT scores have outpaced the state and the nation in terms of growth," Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly announced to students Wednesday. 

Ooltewah High School saw one of the biggest increases in scores overall, from 19.5 to 20.6. 

"It's very hard to improve scores even by a tenth of a percent, so having our scores go up a whole percentage was incredible," OHS Principal Robin Copp said. 

While that score is good enough to get an incoming freshmen into the UTC (minimum score- 18), it's significantly below the average ACT score at UT-Knoxville (27) or UGA (29). 

But Kelly says the county average is the best out of the last five years and is closing the gap between the national average. 

"This is really good news for us and we're moving in the right direction," Kelly said. 

Better scores mean more opportunities. 

"That is the test that most students use to get into most colleges," Copp added. 

And now, more students will have the chance to re-take the ACT at no cost to students thanks to a re-take voucher the state is offering this year. 

"The more times, the better you're going to be so let me encourage each and every one of you to take the ACT as often as possible to try and improve your score," Kelly told students. 

Whether a seasoned ACT taker or new to the exam, students know how important it is to do well. 

"The first time I took it, I got a 27, the second time I took it, I got a 32," OHS Senior Madison Smith said. 

"I'm a little bit nervous for my first time. I'm just hoping it will go good. If I don't, I've always got more to take and time to study harder," OHS Junior Jake Sullivan said. 

To learn more about the ACT Senior Retake Opportunity, click HERE