ACT tips to increase already high score

Before anyone thinks I’m crazy, my school requires all juniors who haven’t gotten a 36 to take the ACT in March. I would just stay where I am with my score, but since I have to take it anyway, I figured I may as well try for a 36. I’m not stressing about it, but I will have time to study between now and then, so why not. Anyway onto my main question:
I got a 35 on my ACT. Any tips to raise it to get that perfect 36? I’ve taken it 3 times and got a 33, 35, then 34 (oops). I’m thinking a big part is test-taking anxiety, so hopefully, that won’t be a factor this time since I’m more chill about it now. My individual scores on the first one were 29 in math, 32 in science, 34 in English, and 35 in reading. The second time was 35 in math, 35 in science, 36 in English, and 32 in reading. The third time was 32 in math, 33 in science, 36 in English, and 35 in reading. So, my super score has a 35 in everything except English, which is a 36. Which of the others is typically easiest to raise from a 35 to a 36? The math on the act feels like they wake up and decide that morning how hard they want it to be. The most recent math section felt really difficult compared to the one before. I was in precalc last year as a sophomore and AP Calc BC right now, so one would think that math would be my easiest section, but no. I think with the time crunch it’s impossible for me not to make some careless mistakes. So, between science and reading, which should I focus most on? What would you recommend I do to study? Again, I’m not super concerned about this because I’m perfectly happy with what I have. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I doubt colleges even care between a 35 and a 36, especially a school that accepts a super score because my super score is one point in one subject from being a 36. But since I have to take it again I may as well try. Thanks!

Yeah, it’s nutty that you should have to waste a few hours taking the ACT again, because you’re right, an overall 36 won’t get you in anywhere that a 35 wouldn’t have, and a 35 won’t keep you out of anywhere that a 36 would have gotten you in. Honestly, wouldn’t you rather just call in sick that morning and go back to sleep? But if you want to play by the rules, the one that I think you could more easily raise to a 36 is the science, simply by doing all the science sections in a fairly recent copy of the Official Guide to the ACT book, and correcting them. The science section is not about science content - it’s about data interpretation, so the more times that you see the different ways in which they present the data, the more likely you are to achieve a perfect score in science.

Me? I’d call in sick that day and take the morning off. High achieving high school students have enough stress in their lives that they shouldn’t need to waste any time re-taking a test on which they have already achieved a very high score.


Thanks! I’m pretty sure I’d get in trouble, so I’ll just go. I have no idea why they do it that way, but oh well. They didn’t ask the students, that’s for sure. I’ll practice the science though

Looking at your scores that would be my take as well. It does not look like you are weak on any specific topic. That means that it would just be practice and maybe some extra strategies to answer more quickly. However, I think that it’s a waste of time - 35 is good enough for any college. That time would be better spent on everything else that you need to do, in school and outside of school, as well as the time that you need to take for yourself.

Congrats on a great ACT score, and good luck!

There are a few colleges with scholarships for GPA + test scores where a 36 ACT can get a better scholarship than a 35 ACT (University of Alabama campuses in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, for example).

There may also be colleges with admission or scholarship by formula where the 1 extra ACT point adds to the formula.

But if you are not targeting those scholarships or colleges, it is unlikely that 35 versus 36 matters.

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I am not sure what possibly would motivate your school to have this requirement. Your scores already are simply superb, and you should rightfully be proud of them. As a parent, if my kids’ school had this absurd requirement, there is no way that I would be silent about that with the school.

All of these standard tests are a roll of the dice. Like I said, and as I hope you truly know, your scores are amazing.

Does your school have a similar “cut-off” for the SAT? As others have suggested, try that one.

One further question: is your school’s requirement that students who don’t get a 36 on the ACT as a one-time re-test? Or is it that you keep re-testing until you get a 36? If it is the former, you’ve done your time. If it is the latter, then…well, I don’t know what to say about this school. Either way, superb job!

On the math section, the Black Book series seems to be very good. I am paging @Lindagaf, who will probably have far more specific advice on ACT, SAT, etc.

You are a really good sport about this. Best of luck!

It’s just all juniors. The state administers it for free to juniors, so they make us all take it. They decided there’s no point in making people with a 36 test and everyone else is required. It’s just a 1-time thing. It’s in the south, so we don’t take the SAT’s through the school. Just the PSAT/NMSQT. Thanks!

Cool. If it’s a one-time thing, haven’t you already done more than your fair share?

AFAIK, there is NO way that a 35 or 36 will make a difference in your college apps. But remember, college apps are far more than standard tests. Many of the good people here on CC can advise you better than me, but your grades, the rigor of your coursework, your letters of recommendation, your essays, and your extracurriculars, are all part of the mix, in addition to the standardized tests. Most of all, showing passion for the colleges to which you want to apply is important. However, realize nothing is guaranteed.

As to your ACT, unless you HAVE to take it again, why do so? Concentrate on your schoolwork and, most of all, have great fun (within reason)!