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ACT score of 31. Should I retake it again?

KatieAppliesKatieApplies Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
edited July 2008 in Parents Forum
On the June ACT, I got a composite score of 31. I took it before and got a 29. Science is my big downfall--a 24 this time, 23 last time. This time my Reading went up to a 35, from a 28 maybe? 35 in English, same as last time. 28 in Math, also same as last time. I would love to get like a 33 or 34 but I would have to go up a lot in Science (I think the other 3 sections are at their max.) I have to say I don't really like science (I have taken them all--bio, chem, physics) and I especially hate the ACT science section.

My parents say there is no point in taking it again, that even if I did raise my composite score a few points it wouldn't really help me with college admissions. I will be a senior next year, looking to go somewhere like Carleton or Macalester or some similar LAC.

What should I do?
Post edited by KatieApplies on

Replies to: ACT score of 31. Should I retake it again?

  • abasketabasket Registered User Posts: 16,757 Senior Member
    Check the range of ACT scores at schools you'd like to attend and see where you fall. Are your other stats outstanding? Schools don't just look at one thing - they should be looking at the whole package. 31 is an awesome score - I bet overall in your school you're in the top 10% of people taking it overall.

    Here on CC you often feel like you're seeing 33-36 scores all over the place but I think in typical situations a 31 is very, very good! Also, for many schools which give merit aid based on ACT's 31 will do you well.

    My opinion of course! (My D got a 31 as well!)
  • historymomhistorymom Registered User Posts: 3,467 Senior Member
    Congratulations on doing so well! There will be much rejoicing in the history house if DDs bring home scores like that. Sounds like you need to work a bit more on your list. Once you do that you can get a clearer idea of what scores you need to get merit money as well as admission

    Some schools tell you their merit cutoff scores on their webpages so look at that. Have you checked out how your scores fit in with those of students accepted for the class of 2012? That is another place you would find the answer to your question. Your 31 puts you in the mid 50% for both schools you mentioned so it sounds like your parents are right as far as admission goes for those two anyway!

    Good Luck with your applications!

    cross posted w/ abasket
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 32,779 Senior Member
    Congratulations on getting a great score (do not believe anyone who says 31 stinks)! I think you can give that science another shot after some additional practicing, but if you feel that you have already ACTed out, then there is no need to suffer. BTW, my D got a solid 30 on the science part while being a total non-scientist. The section does not test your knowledge of science, it is more of a test of your ability to interpret graphs and draw conclusions on the basis of the presented facts. As soon as you get this, your score will go up.
  • bandnerd91321bandnerd91321 Registered User Posts: 396 Member
    Since you don't know where you want to go, I would buy a study guide, work on the science and take it again. The two schools you mention are selective and an extra point or two could mean the difference!! But don't think that is not a good score, because it is! Congrats and good luck!
  • chubeebochubeebo Registered User Posts: 489 Member
    The middle 50% ACT range for both Carleton and Macalester looks like 28-32. Your score is right in there. see the links below. For Carleton, it also says that almost 70% of students have a score of 30 and above. If you ever think of retaking, the nice thing about the ACT is you can wait for your score to come out, and if you like your score, then you can decide to submit them. With the SAT, there's that thing that when you submit, let's say your SAT2 scores, then they also get to see also your SAT scores. It also depends on how hard you prepped for the first 2 times. Do you feel you also maxed out on your ACT prep as well. Whatever you decide, best of luck to you katie.

    Macalester Common Data Set

  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,409 Senior Member
    IMO, math & science are the easiest to raise, particularly the science section. I like Barron's for both math & science review/practice.

    Definitely retake if you are looking for merit money (and with score choice, there is no downside except $40 and four hours on a Saturday morning). While a fine score, a 31 is not competitive enough for Emory Scholars.
  • catsushicatsushi Registered User Posts: 1,970 Senior Member
    I ended up getting a 31 for my highest score (I got sick of testing and after taking the ACT again and getting a 29 I decided I was done). It's not pointless for you to try again. A lot of schools will give students a full ride if they get an ACT score of 32, so just think of the different scholarships you can apply to if you get a higher score.
  • Dad IIDad II Registered User Posts: 2,281 Senior Member
    It is all relative to your goal. A 31 on ACT is at the high side of 98% if I remember it right. A 32 gets you into the 99%.

    A 31 should make you competitive for admission to most of the universities, provided that you have GPA and E/C to go alone with that. However, a 31 may not be very competitive for merit money at the top universities.
  • EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 Senior Member
    31 is indeed a very fine score. But have you thought about taking the SAT? Different people perform better on different tests.
  • book_wormbook_worm Registered User Posts: 766 Member
    A higher ACT score could put you in the running for some very good merit scholarships.

    Check the 25%-75% score ranges of the schools you want to apply to. If your score is on the high side or higher than top of the range, you don't need to retake.
  • mammallmammall - Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    If your reading score is so extremely high (congratulations!) then you really should be able to bring up the science score. My kids tell me the trick with the science is just to read the questions really carefully. It's mostly a reading comprehension test! You just need to get more comfortable reading graphs and charts.
  • kristin5792kristin5792 Registered User Posts: 2,068 Senior Member
    I started with a 31, retook it and got a 32 and stuck with it. Here's something many of my friends overlooked when deciding whether or not to take it again...perhaps it will help you?

    ACT weighs each section the same way (essay is a component of English and is not its own separate fifth section) and "rounds up" to figure out your composite.

    For example, with 35 35 28 24 as your scores, you have a composite of 30.5 which rounds to a 31. In order to get up to a 33 or a 34, you will need at least a 32.5. To increase your score by 2 whole points, you need to get a total of 8 points better. It's unlikely that you will raise your 35s to 36s, so let's concentrate on math and science.

    If you raised them equally, you would need a 28 in science and a 32 on math. For most sections, scoring higher than 30 means getting fewer than 3 or 4 wrong. Is this reasonable for you with math? For science, you will recall that many of the questions are based on interpretation and application of material that you read on the test. While there are strategies available to more effectively take that section, many people I know (and I agree) think that this is ACT's most difficult section. In my opinion, raising a science score significantly is going to be very difficult for anyone, and likely cost lots of time and perhaps money if you decide to seek tutoring.

    If I were you? I'd buy a book (I liked Princeton Review) and focus on the strategies for science. I'd sign up for the ACT and give it one last shot. After all, the only thing you have to lose is a Saturday morning and application fees. However, going into it I'd also try to be realistic--"I'm giving it one more shot, and have prepared for this test, but it's okay if I don't get up to a 33. With a 31, I'm already in the 98th percentile and have already gotten an amazing score."

    Also remember that your test scores are only one facet of your application. If you're retaking this test so that you can be "guaranteed" a spot at either of your schools, realize that getting a point or two higher is not going to make that happen. However, a point or two can make all the difference in some merit scholarships (they often have an ACT requirement), and if that's what you're shooting for, then retaking is definitely a good idea.

    I'm sure it's been said here before, but realize that the parents and students on CC are hardly a representative group. Just because many students here report scores of 34, 35, 36 "Oh my god what am I going to do with this absolutely repulsive 32!?" does not mean that all students are like that. The national average for the ACT is slightly higher than 20. You are in the 98th percentile. In a room with 100 ACT students, barely two would have a higher score than you. Congratulations on an awesome score--I know many people who would kill for a 31 (my sister included)!!!

    Good luck!
  • Dad IIDad II Registered User Posts: 2,281 Senior Member
    I hope you also learn that test scores do not automatically get you in a top tier school nor any merit $$. My DD got a 34. But she did not get one penny of merit aid from any of the top 20 schools. She was even WL at Tufts.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,463 Senior Member
    Also consider the wow factor of your non math/science scores- some students will have a similar composite but never reach those high reading/English scores. Follow others' advice about one last shot at the ACT if you wish but don't obsess about your performance. Remember you are an excellent candidate for a liberal arts major/college- emphasize the positives when you think about yourself, keep confident.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,874 Senior Member
    >>But she did not get one penny of merit aid from any of the top 20 schools.>>

    Lots of those top 20 schools do NOT give any merit aid.
This discussion has been closed.