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Difference between 34 and 35 and 36 on ACT?

AntonioMacaronioAntonioMacaronio 2 replies3 postsRegistered User New Member
I just took the ACT and got a 34. My parents really wanted me to get a 35 so they told me to take it again. I kinda don't want to but I will if there is a big difference between a 34 and a 35 in terms of college application.

The question is: is there a difference?
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Replies to: Difference between 34 and 35 and 36 on ACT?

  • FlyerDadFlyerDad 37 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think it depends where you're thinking of applying. A 34 is a great score, but if you are looking at the elite schools, it's close to a bare minimum--it won't keep you out, but you'll need to rely more on grades to make it through the first screen. If you are considering a broader range of schools, you'll be (more than) fine.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Depends on what colleges and scholarships you are looking at. For example, there are some colleges with scholarships for specific stats, and at least one of them has a better scholarship for 3.5 GPA / 36 ACT than 3.5 GPA / 34-35 ACT (University of Alabama, see https://scholarships.ua.edu/freshman/out-of-state/ ).
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 667 replies8 postsRegistered User Member
    Not sure I'd agree 34 is "close to a bare minimum" for top schools. From the data I see, it's average or better for every single school other than Caltech. It's 75th percentile at Columbia, Stanford, Duke, Penn, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell.... and only a few schools have a 25th percentile above 32 - MIT at 33 and Caltech at 34.

    Higher is always better, so yes, there is a difference, if marginally so. If practice tests and other factors indicate that a 35/36 is realistic, it may be worth the investment in time. But I wouldn't say it's urgent.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1262 replies4 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 1
    Agree with @RichInPitt , even for the super elite schools, a 34 puts you in the middle of the 50 percentile. At this level, whether your ACT is a 34 or 35 is not going to be the reason you are accepted or rejected. Spend your time working on your essays, preparing good summary sheets of interests and accomplishments for your LoR writers, and pursuing your academic and EC interests. Will you need to submit SAT2's to the schools you are targeting? If you need to test prep, work on those if you haven't ticked the box there.
    edited August 1
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  • PublisherPublisher 7587 replies79 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think that an ACT composite score of 34 or above places one in an elite category.

    Bigger difference between a 34 to a 33 than a 34 to a 35 as 34 is sometimes a cutoff point for merit scholarships.
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  • FSUdad93FSUdad93 189 replies6 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    34 is a great score if you are Holistic enough or not planning on Elite schools. Otherwise, you will need a 35 or 36 to get rejected from the top tiers.
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  • AntonioMacaronioAntonioMacaronio 2 replies3 postsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks guys, I have a kinda solid application but Idk if its good enough to get accepted into super prestigious universities. Will getting a 35 improve chances of admission? I hope there isn't a big difference but rn Im not looking at scholarships yet
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1262 replies4 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Is a 35 better than a 34? Yes. Will it make a difference in light of the rest of your application? Who knows for sure. Plenty of applicants to tippy tops get in with 34 or less, and plenty get rejected with a 35+, so a 35 is not some magic number. The question is how you spend your time in the remaining months to enhance the rest of your application. There is no guarantee that you will even score higher than a 34 next time -- you may even go down. If you were my kid, I'd tell you your time is better spent elsewhere.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3673 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 14
    A 34 is what I accept as the Holy Grail and what students should shoot for. It's a great score. No one knows if a 35 will help with admissions.
    But.. Your only a few questions correct away to get there. Did you land in the upper or lower section of the 34 on the tables?
    I would personally work on the essays etc.
    But if your applying to something like engineering and your math /science scores were not 34/35 then I might consider retaking.
    edited August 14
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6604 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Plenty of applicants to tippy tops get in with 34 or less, and plenty get rejected with a 35+, so a 35 is not some magic number.

    This. You are already 99th percentile. Work on the rest of your application.
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  • bgbg4usbgbg4us 1233 replies37 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    we are not encouraging our kid to take it again with a current 34. Why? because he's taken it 3 times and we've seen a pattern and a max-out with the different sections. In one section he can't get above a 31 after 3 tries. I don't think he'd get any higher in that section; and he can't get any higher in two other sections. So - my thoughts before you take again is to see if you have any patterns, and if there's any real room for growth.

    When it comes to admissions at top schools, we are in the same boat as you! Wondering about it all.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3673 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @bgbg4us. It's a great score. It's what my son had. People get a little to taken with all of this. 3 times is plenty. Many studies show a decline in the scores also after taking it more then twice. No one is perfect and I don't think schools are looking for perfection.
    Work on the rest of the application and make it as good as possible.
    You will never know if a certain score would help or hinder you either. Such a mixed bag on acceptance day. If your school has naviance check it out for your target schools.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2331 replies5 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    A lot depends on demographics, where you apply, your major, as an example if you're an Asian male applying STEM to the MITs and Cal Techs of the world, you're advised to take it again, as a 34 will not be competitive.
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