How can I bring my ACT score from a 34.25 to a 35?

On my last ACT, I got a 34.25 and I was extremely upset because I was 1 point from a 34.5, which would’ve got rounded up to a 35 (35E, 36M, 32R, 34S).

I’ve been trying my best to improve on reading. On my first ACT I got a 22 on reading. I improved it to a 27 and then to a 32, but I was really wishing I could get a 33 so I could have at least a 35 superscore. I’m signed up for the July ACT, but I’m worried that I won’t do as well as I did for my last test.

I’ve been searching online for Practice ACT tests (and I did all of the official practice ACT ones), but I can’t find any other official tests. I prefer to take my tests on paper like the actual environment (with the bubble sheet, etc), but many sites doesn’t have any actual full test pdfs. Does anyone have some tips for me?

My advice would be to move on and concentrate on writing a great essay. A 34 is like the perfect score that any school would be proud to have. But if you have to… Look at this…

If you can afford a tutor they might be able to narrow down somethings for you. But you have a great score and I wouldn’t waste the funds.


There are TONS of colleges where your ACT score would make you a strong applicant…assuming your GPA is commensurate with that ACT score. Is it?

Why are you fixated on getting a higher ACT. Perhaps start looking at colleges where your current ACT would be well regarded. There are plenty of excellent colleges in that group.

Adding…getting even a perfect ACT score doesn’t guarantee admission….anywhere.


I would spend time on EC’s or a job instead!


Something to consider: Even if you got a 35 rounded up, you still have to list your individual sections score. So if they do a quick mental calculation, a 34.25 is not much different than 34.5.


Can you ? sure. Will you ? I don’t know.

Will it matter for admissions - highly unlikely.

You are already at the 99 percentile.

My son also had a 9 or 10 point swing on reading. Crazy.

Don’t torture yourself.

You’re already in a great position.


I don’t think most of the responses answer the OP’s question. We should answer what they ask, and not offer extraneous opinion. Or leave it alone if we don’t believe in what the person wants to do.

Usually the standard opinion in CC is also that you should let the kid decide everything, even starting in 8th grade for a school change decision (a recent thread). In this case the kid wants to improve their ACT score. Respect that decision. End of story.

To the OP: Just spend another 2 hours a day (if you have the time) to practice just the section you are weak – maybe from the book suggested above. It doesn’t need to be bubble sheets and paper printed exams. Don’t look for the perfect solution. Do what you can with what you have. Language skills are developed over 12 years of reading habits during your schooling. This is the best you can do to fix the gaps given the time you have.

1 Like

I disagree. I think it’s potentially useful to the OP to learn to put effort into things that will matter/make a difference vs things that are a waste of time. OP, putting this much effort into a fractional difference on the ACT is a waste of time. What I mean is that .25 of a point will not affect your college admissions. And college admissions is the only reason for the ACT.

Do something better, or more enjoyable with that study time! Read a book! Go for a walk! Pet your cat. Bake cookies. Visit your grandparent (if that’s possible), hang out with friends. All these things would be a better use of time than continuing to study for the ACT.


Unless you can guarantee to the OP that a 35 will make no difference vs a 34.25, you shouldn’t presume that it won’t be helpful to them. Especially if they didn’t ask an opinion on whether it will be helpful or not.

1 Like

I’m a big fan of answering the question asked, particularly when the student is involved. But sometimes, they don’t know the right question to ask. This thread is an example where the additional points made are valid.

Regardless, debate is pointless, so let’s move on.


With the obligatory disclaimer that I also think this doesn’t actually matter . . . .

Off hand it looks to me like you may be slightly struggling with the time pressure element of the Reading and in fact Science sections (your Science score is already high, but it is a very learnable section and there are a couple more points there).

If you google around, you will see a lot of different advice on techniques to deal with the time pressure in those sections, and that advice is not necessarily compatible. Skim the questions first? The passage first? Target a certain fixed time window per passage? Or do the easier-looking ones first/faster? And so on. I think the bottom line is finding what works best for you would be the goal.

The other thing I would note is I think if you have the material to do this, focused practice is probably a good idea. Like, start with individual passages, not sections or whole tests, and again try to learn what passage-level techniques work best for you. Once you are really comfortable with your pacing on individual passages, move on to whole sections, and again evaluate what section-level techniques work best for you. Knock on wood, you might find your passage-level practice has made it pretty easy to pace out the sections too.

Given your other section scores, whole tests might largely be irrelevant for you at this point. Just as a brush up, you might want to do a whole practice test again before the actual test, but I doubt that you need to do more than that.

OK, again, I personally don’t think you need to do any of this. But I think if you are truly committed to pursuing this goal, a timing-focused practice plan might combine your best chance of meeting this goal with leaving the most time available to do other things this summer.

Hi everyone. I’m sorry for not explaining my other high school experience but I already have a pretty good GPA (3.95 UW, 4.46W (with max 4.5W)), as well as good ECs (2nd in the state for clarinet, internship, USACO Gold, etc). I’m also writing essays/supplements right now to prepare. It’s just that when I checked my school’s admission history for my dream school, most of the people who got 35’s made it in.

1 Like

I would suggest that you spend some time finding other colleges you really like too. It’s fine to have a favorite, but elevating it to a “dream school” isn’t really such a great idea.

You are a strong applicant. If you don’t get accepted to a specific college, you will never know why.

Others have given you some good ideas to prep for a retake of the ACT. But remember, even with a perfect ACT score, you are not guaranteed acceptance to any college.


Before Covid my daughter had a 34 act, 3.9+ UGPA, she got a top scholarship but I believe (based on results threads) that a 35 would’ve made her competitive for a higher merit scholarship (that only 100 were eligible for).

1 Like

Wow - you’ll be a strong candidate anywhere.

I don’t think a quarter of a point is why you get in or out.

You did bring up a good point earlier though - your reading went way up.

My son’s went way down on one test.

I think - studying - that’s a controllable.

But each test is not equal - and that’s important to know too - some are harder than others - and that might account for some or all of your change. And you don’t know if the next test will be hard or easy.

A few things - 1. Don’t have a dream school - even valedictorians and 36s get turned down to schools. Is your Clarinet something you want to pursue - that can help?

If you want to take the test for a higher score, do so - but how can you do better:

  1. Spend 30 - 45 minutes a night for a few weeks studying a section or two where you want to improve. Don’t forget, unless you got a 36 on each section, you might find your point in a different area than you think - in your case English or Science. But certainly forcus on reading - maybe alternate on the three areas but do reading, science, reading, english, etc. so it’s doubled up in focus.

  2. Make sure your desired school superscores. There was a student the other day looking at UMN - I was thinking .25 gets him another point until I looked up their policy - they don’t superscore. In that case, your entire test would have to be better.

  3. If you don’t grow your score, don’t panic - most schools are holistic and it’s unlikely a 34.25 to 34.5 will matter. A lot of times, it’s out of your control - i.e. I doubt you were a 22 and then got a 32 no matter how much you studied - I’m sure was some based on the difficulty of that test and not based on you specifically. Again, my son fell 8 or 10 points from test to test in reading - so it can’t solely be the person.

Finally - forget the dream school - there are many schools out there that will meet your needs and that you’d have a great experience at. But given your profile, you are certainly worthy of any school in America.

Best of luck.

1 Like

Fair enough – if one is gunning for a stats-based merit scholarship with a hard cutoff, increasing the score make sense. The OP did not say this was their situation though.

At highly rejective colleges, a fraction of a point on the ACT is not going to be the deciding factor with admissions.


Looking at our certitude, people who post questions would think we all worked at various admissions committees in our past.

If you can find ANY support for the proposition that a fraction of a point on the ACT makes a material difference in admissions decisions at selective schools, I (seriously, not sarcastically) would love to see it. I am happy to be educated.

1 Like

I will refer the two preceding users to my earlier post and "ask* that they continue the discussion via PM if it’s really worth continuing.

For the OP, nobody here is an AO unless their profile clearly indicates that they are. Everyone else is providing info based in their experience. As in any situation, it’s up to you to determine what best applies to you.

This is also my impression, that in some specific cases, a 35 rather than a 34 might lead to a higher level of merit support, even if it has no influence on admissions itself. In addition to information gleaned from shared results, this is also indirectly supported by merit scholarship descriptions that say something like that the typical scholar is in the top 1% by academic qualifications.

As it happens, “high precision” percentiles for the ACT suggest a 35 composite is in the top 1%, a 34 composite is not. And while maybe some scholarship committees would recalculate the composite score to 0.25s and draw the line differently, I haven’t really seen anyone suggest that happens much, if at all.

So while that wasn’t the OP’s stated concern, I agree it is one of the possible reasons someone in the OP’s position could potentially put in the effort to try to do a little better.

1 Like