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Will my ACT math hurt me?

rachel89012rachel89012 Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
edited April 14 in College Admissions
I have been in honors math my entire high school career, yet my ACT math keeps being my lowest score. My composite is 33 (34 superscore) with 36R, 34E, 36S and 28 math!! Will this math score be a red flag for schools like Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, etc? My intended major is political science or international affairs. I have gotten all As in my math classes so I’m not really sure. Plz help :)

Replies to: Will my ACT math hurt me?

  • damon30damon30 Registered User Posts: 778 Member
    According to Big Future, 15% of JHU admitted students have an ACT math score of less than 30: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-university-search/johns-hopkins-university Your 34 composite is right in the middle of their range (33-35). For a PoliSci major, you should be fine.
  • RichInPittRichInPitt Registered User Posts: 214 Junior Member
    15% of the 53% of students who submitted ACT scores, so about 8%.

    And keep in mind, just being in the range of typically admitted students doesn't mean you're "fine" for admission. Only 11% of applicants were admitted. If they're like other schools, this would mean students with a 35-36 ACT Composite had about a 30% accept rate, 33-35 had a 15-20% accept rate, 30-32 had about a 6-8% accept rate, and it approached 0% below that.

    Does it "hurt" you? To the extent that a lower score is less competitive than a higher score, yes. 34 is better than 28. But does it disqualify you - no. Certainly not a "red flag". It puts you in the "test scores are good so let's look at the rest of the application" pile, not the "no" pile right off the bat.
  • damon30damon30 Registered User Posts: 778 Member
    15% of the 53% of students who submitted ACT scores, so about 8%.

    What is the point of the made-up number? 13% of admitted students had SAT math scores or less than 700. My own feeling is that a high composite with a low component is an "interesting" score. It means the 36R and 36S are likely not just the result of endless test-prep. Without hooks, the OP has the same 10-11% chance as the other applicants. Slightly less on average than applicants with a 36 composite ACT, but the OP knows that.
  • sunshine2019sunshine2019 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    I wouldn't worry too much. I didn't apply to those schools, but applied to some other competitive schools with a similarly 'low' math score (note - it is still far above the national average) however, my intended major is strategic communications and I received very high ELA scores. With a 33 comp, you should be okay, but as the others said, it is still no guarantee of admission. Best of luck!
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 5,906 Senior Member
    ^I wish I could "like" the above post 10 times.
  • rachel89012rachel89012 Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    Thanks so much for the advice anyone!!! I was already registered for the sat subject test in math 2 so I’m hoping I’ll do good on that to compensate!
  • rachel89012rachel89012 Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    @damon30 yes that is true. I’ve never studied for the act in any subject besides math (but very minimal). Thanks for that advice, never heard that outlook before!

    @bopper @Sue22 thank you!! I will definitely keep that in mind!!
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,453 Senior Member
    edited April 16
    You will be accepted (or not) based on overall merits, not a single piece of your test score. The ad coms will look for consistency & will want to see a test profile that fits your interests and goals. So the math score would be much more important for a prospective math or engineering major than for a prospective poli sci / international relations major. A 28 ACT corresponds to 91st percentile -- which is not horrible, especially given a major where you are unlikely to pursue a lot of higher math in college.

    So basically, do your best but when it comes time to applying, focus on your strengths. Keep in mind that the colleges you are targeting are reaches for most students, and admission decisions will ultimately be made on factors other than test scores. So for your prospective major, it might be much more important than that you have a strong history of studying foreign languages & social studies than math-- or that you have strong EC's tied to your interests (debate? Model UN? community service tied to an international service organization, such as Amnesty International -- etc. I'm not saying that any one specific EC would be required -- the point is that if you tell the ad com you are interested in poli sci/ IR, they are going to look at you through that lens )
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 26,277 Senior Member
    a couple of extra points on your math score could get your composite into rarefied air: 3 will get you a 34 composite, and 4 more will get you a 35c.

    Have you completed precalc / trig yet? If not, I'd recommend a retake as the ACT-M portion is probably the easiest on which to improve for a strong math student. (I see from your other threads that you are taking Calc and Stats next year.) Just take a some timed practice tests at home.

    Unlike the SAT, the ACT contains trig questions.. While considered the hardest math on the ACT, , the trig usually consists of 4 questions, 2 of which are solvable by the Pythagorean Thm. The other two are pretty basic trig problems as well, as long as you have studied the basic laws of sine, cosign, tangents and secants.. Bingo, 4 more points!

  • rachel89012rachel89012 Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    @calmom thank you for the advice. I have done multiple political/ir focused ECs and plan on doing more this summer as well.

    @bluebayou I am in pre calc right now and took trig last year as a sophomore. Obviously pre calc focuses on trig a lot as well so I have been doing trig for two years basically. That being said I don’t know why I struggle so much on the math section
  • tdy123tdy123 Registered User Posts: 595 Member
    edited April 16
    No idea where Big Future gets their ACT data. Last publicly available JHU Common Data Set I could find was from 2014-2015 and had 8.14% of enrolled freshman who had submitted the ACT with scores of 29 and under.

  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff Registered User Posts: 2,708 Senior Member
    Many math kids have an issue on the ACT due to the speed of the test. Work on that. If you can afford it get a tutor for a few times to hone down on your issues. Take practice tests untimed to see if your defienct in an area of math. Then take them timed.

    Many ACT tutors use this, https://www.amazon.com/Book-Practice-Problems-Manhattan-Prep/dp/194123450X

    Review your act subscores with your math teacher for suggestions
  • RichInPittRichInPitt Registered User Posts: 214 Junior Member
    @damon30 it’s not a made-up number, it’s factual basic math.
  • damon30damon30 Registered User Posts: 778 Member
    @damon30 yes that is true. I’ve never studied for the act in any subject besides math (but very minimal). Thanks for that advice, never heard that outlook before!

    @rachel89012 I got that from reading this essay: https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/what-we-look/valuing-creative-reflective
    Maybe you should consider applying to Harvard.
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