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ACT 33 - chasing higher score or being done?

JDCaliMomJDCaliMom Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
Hi! DD2019 (HS) has taken the ACT twice. The first time she took it cold and got a 28, then she prepped and took it a few months later and got a 33. She did mediocre on the PSAT so we are thinking she has more of an inclination to the ACT. She has a very busy course schedule this year (every class but one weighted either AP or IB) which is a big part of why we pushed her to prep and take the ACT as a sophomore, knowing her junior year would be crazy busy. So now the dilemma is: try again chasing a higher score on the ACT, or just be done? Her dream school is BU and as of today she is saying she wants to apply early decision there. (Which could change of course! ) So now I am told that if she gets a 35 ACT and keeps her GPA high (4.5+) she could be potentially looking at substantial merit money from BU or similar. (Northeastern is also on her radar.)

She got 34 and 35 in every category on the ACT except a 29 on math. Part of the problem was she hadn't had that level of math in school yet and actually learned some of the content in ACT prep. So I think in a retake she'd do much bettter on the math.

My concern is: it's very confusing which schools require you to send all sittings of the ACT, which allow you to pick and choose, and which superscore. I think she has an excellent shot at 35 at a school that superscores, for instance. Even at the same school, it seems like the policy is program-specific. I also don't want to risk her pulling time away from maintaining high grades to chase a higher ACT.

I should add that she is sort of possibly thinking of applying to Columbia/List. That 35 would really be helpful (duh) for Ivy admissions. What do you guys think?
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Replies to: ACT 33 - chasing higher score or being done?

  • naviancenaviance Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    ACT math uses the same TYPES of problems each sitting. If she goes over a practice test, looks up the solutions to the ones she misses, memorizes the formulas or whatever then she will probably be rewarded with a higher score in the next sitting. If she weren't going for a top 20 school the 33 would be enough. As a sidenote, she may get much higher scholarships with a 34, 35 or 36. She can think of it as getting paid (possibly) an extra 40,000-80,000 (at schools with merit scholarships) for studying. That's a great paying job!! So it pays off even if IVY doesn't work out.
  • tdy123tdy123 Registered User Posts: 330 Member
    If you think taking another crack at the ACT is a good idea, but are worried about studying for the test negatively impacting studying for classes, the obvious solution is either the mid July or early September test dates. The first option probably gives your DD 2-4 weeks to study after finishing finals, the second gives the entire summer.
  • gusmahlergusmahler Registered User Posts: 193 Junior Member
    edited October 19
    33 is probably worth re-taking. I've also seen that merit aid ramps up with a 34.

    For someone with poor math, a 35 is hard to get. You can only lose 6 points, so the most reasonable way to do that is 36, 30, 36, 36.

    A 34 is much more doable because you can lose 10 points, so even a 35, 29, 35, 35 is a 34 composite. It sounds like your daughter extremely close. Probably 1 to 2 section points off.

    By the way. According to: http://www.collegeadmissionspartners.com/college-testing/colleges-superscore-act/, BU does superscore the ACT.
  • JDCaliMomJDCaliMom Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Thanks, guys. I didn't mention that she'll be in Israel all summer so the only viable test choice for her to not interfere with the tough 11th grade school schedule would be September. That would mean really pushing through. What do you guys think of the risk of getting a lower score?
  • JDCaliMomJDCaliMom Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    I should add -- the reason I think a lower score could be a risk is in her prep courses, she never got a practice exam over 30. She did a really hardcore prep class and took 12+ full-length test conditions ACT tests. She was always getting 27, 28, 29 on those practice tests. So the 33 was a nice surprise and (maybe??) a fluke....
  • JDCaliMomJDCaliMom Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Her scores for the 33 composite were: 29 math, 35 science, 35 English, 34 reading
  • BKSquaredBKSquared Registered User Posts: 462 Member
    Not all schools require you to send all ACT scores. You just need to research school by school. We prepared a chart on excel that had every school D and S were interested in and charted: due dates, Common App or not Common App, test requirements (all/select/superscore, w/wo writing, SAT2's, dates for EA/ED and RD purposes), LoR requirements, supplemental essay topics, ACT/SAT ranges and the probability of acceptance based on Parchment. It took some time, but we had 1 place to go to in terms of dates and requirements. As an aside, charting the essays was very useful as you can then see how many themes your kid needs to consider and how to best time manage the school specific supplements.

    I think a 34+ is a relatively important break point as that is where the applicant is safely in the top 50% of admitted applicants for almost all schools and maybe a break point for merit aid. It sounds like math may be a relatively easy sub-score to improve upon since it sounds like she has not learned some concepts which are tested, so I think it is definitely worth a shot.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 2,767 Senior Member
    edited October 19
    My son had a similar experience. He took the ACT cold before HS and got a 25, then in fall of his sophomore year and got a 33 (34,31,30,36). He was told that would be sufficient, but when he starting looking at elite engineering colleges over the summer between sophomore and junior years, he decided to take another shot (especially with a 31 math)

    He studied off and on for a few weeks and concentrated only in his weak areas (reading,math). The math score was not surprising because he took algebra and geometry in middle school and had forgotten a lot of it. When he retook the test in spring of his junior year he improved across the board to a 36 (36,36,35,36).

    As a result he was admitted to about half of his reach schools (full pay, unfortunately), and received full merit offers from a few more despite being an ORM. It was well worth retaking the test. She has plenty of time to re-take it again if she wants too.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,076 Senior Member
    I don't think the issue is test prep, or trying to time out when she takes the test.

    I think the issue is working on the math skills she doesn't have (or the content she hasn't seen yet). Not for the test- but because a solid base in math is going to help her throughout her life regardless of what she ends up doing. If the side benefit is an uptick in her score, and the possibility of more merit money- then you've hit the lottery.

  • TrisherellaTrisherella Registered User Posts: 932 Member
    I think the math score is the easiest to raise. (relatively speaking)
  • ProfessorMom1ProfessorMom1 Registered User Posts: 152 Junior Member
    My son raised his science score by 10 points in second ACT. He did 4 practice tests of only that section the week before in preparation. I'd have her do math sections in the 1-2 weeks before with 1-2 full sittings (for endurance).
  • Parentof2014gradParentof2014grad Registered User Posts: 596 Member
    One of mine scored a 27 on ACT with no prep and a 32 a few months later after spending about a week prepping on her own. She also took the PSAT and had a very mediocre score. She spent a week prepping on her own for the SAT (either right before or right after the week spent on ACT prep) and got a very high score, equivalent to a 34-35 ACT, so maybe don’t give up on the SAT yet?
    Otherwise, if you’re targeting merit aid, higher is better, and if she has it in her to try one more time I guess I’d let her.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,383 Senior Member
    Fortunately some schools do not superscore so do not play that game (I think it is terrible for a student to concentrate on one area with each test time at the expense of other areas). She will have learned a lot more math and critical thinking by the end of junior year. In September she will be back in the swing of studying- go for it. Also- even perfect test scores will not guarantee acceptance. Refreshing with a practice test and let her improved skills show who she is.

    Always keep in mind your child is who she is, she should end up at an appropriate college for her, not the top one possible.
  • trackmbe3trackmbe3 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    @JDCaliMom Based on my recent experience with two kids taking the ACT, they did their best on the April and June of junior year. She can study from the ACT practice books and her test prep notes on her own in the months before the test. She will be in study mode and sharp at end of her academically rigorous junior year and she will have taken all the math and English that could pop up on the test. It should not be too difficult for her to study a little each week and on the weekends in the second semester of jr year.If she takes it in September of her senior year she likely will be rusty from being abroad all summer and out of her study mode zone. And scores won't come back till October --beginning of senior year is hard enugh with all the college essay writing and applications on top of extra-curriculars. Your time in September should be on finalizing your daughters college list and working on all the essays and applications and even perhaps visiting a few colleges. Not taking more standardized tests. And the only schools that require ALL ACT scores to be submitted are mostly just the Ivy League and top 20 national universities and LACs, with a few exceptions. The increased chances of getting more amount of merit aid with a higher ACT score of 34 and above (especially if a college super scores) makes it worth taking a few more times. (Columbia and other IVYs and top 20 elite schools usually won't offer any merit aid only need-based aid.)
  • TamarixTamarix Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    Maths section is the only section of ACT that is content based. Therefore, it is relatively easier to improve the score in Maths section by reading up specific content.
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