Question about ACT and what's good enough

<p>Hi All...</p>

<p>My D took the ACT for the first time in Feb 6. She had no formal prep (did not even take a practice test) and was using the test as a starting point for areas of improvement. Her composite was 29, Essay 10 and her individual scores were really excellent, except she earned a 24 in reading, mainly because of time management (or lack of it)</p>

<p>She is pretty focused on University of Texas Austin, but really wants a shot at Plan II or DS program and is also applying at Northwestern, Stanford, Princeton and two other school TBD. So should she take the test again or just move on? Her Junior PSAT was not steller, but acceptable, and she really prefers the ACT. She will be a science major. She is ranked number 4 of 658 in a very competitive public HS that sends 3-4 kids a year to HYSP, etc and has very strong leadership and EC's.</p>


<p>Here's a table that shows how the ACT scores compare to SAT scores.
If the schools don't put ACT ranges in their profiles, you can use this to see where your score lands in their SAT range.
ACT-SAT</a> Concordance</p>

<p>I wouldn't consider a 29 composite on the ACT competitive for Stanford, Princeton or Northwestern. That doesn't mean it's impossible -- but it is definitely a weakness that would have to be overcome for those schools. Since that was her first go at the test, with no prep -- I think she would feel better in the long run if she retook the test along with doing some prep. </p>

<p>Here are some numbers for the mid-range (middle 50% of enrolled students) at various schools:</p>

<p>Stanford: 30 - 34
Princeton: 31 - 34
Northwestern: 30-33</p>

<p>It is possible to get into a school with weak scores -- my daughter had a 28 ACT and was admitted to both Barnard & Chicago -- but I think its worth another attempt if she is aiming for mega-selective colleges. </p>

<p>It would probably be a good idea to talk to your school's g.c. about the type of scores that other kids who have been admitted to the elite schools have submitted in the past. Your daughter's class rank is wonderful and is a significant positive factor -- so you may want to gather more info particular to the school to get a sense of what would be expected.</p>

<p>calmom has it right. Prepare. Re-take.</p>

<p>I concur. I live deep in ACT territory. I'm not questioning the accuracy of calmom's quotes on mid-50% ranges, but I've always been perplexed by how low the listed ranges are for ACT scores. They just don't jive with experience in either of my kids' high schools, one a large, highly competitive public and the other a small parochial. The Naviance Scattergrams tell the story. Without a hook, no kid has gotten into Stanford or Princeton with less than a 35 composite. Not a one. NU is not as tough, but still, a hookless student without a 32 composite or better has very little chance.</p>

<p>Keep in mind Stanford says they do not allow score choice. They want to see all sittings. I don't know about the other schools on her list.</p>

<p>For good standardized test takers, sometimes all they need is to take a practice test or become familiar with the questions (also...helps to time at least one of them so that they know if they need time management help.)</p>

<p>For Stanford, Northwestern and Princeton, she should take either SAT with prep or ACT with prep if she thinks she can get a higher score.</p>

<p>Score Choice is an SAT thing, ACT works differently.</p>

<p>Agree with the above posters, but I would also try to increase the score for merit aid awards.</p>

<p>Definitely retake. Also take the SAT. We live in ACT-land, too, but my kids took both tests. One did better on the ACT, and the other did MUCH better on the SAT.</p>

<p>Queen's mom, you are correct that score choice is an SAT thing. However, several schools have started requiring applicants to send in all of their ACT scores, thus eliminating the score choice that was built in to the ACT.</p>

<p>To the OP- I think your daughter needs to retake if she's aiming for Stanford and Princeton unless her SAT is extremely high. What was her SAT?</p>

<p>The good thing about the ACT is that it can be studied for, especially math. f she should get it up to a 32 that should much better. However, schools like Princeton prefer the SAT over the ACT.</p>

<p>That's a great, cold score. I would suggest that, with some prep, she can easily raise her score to the low 30's. Both my children re-took the ACT and increaed their score 2-3 points. The key with the ACT is the timing, and re-taking really improves your ability to time it. Have her re-take in June (end of school, all learning accomplished :) and then she can be done.</p>

<p>She should definately retake the ACT and also take the SAT for DS/ Plan II. Many students do much better on one than the other. UT will only consider the highest single-sitting score for admissions, so there is no downside. Be aware though that DS and Plan II are less focused on stats and weigh leadership and essays more heavily.</p>

<p>My daughter really benefited from a couple of hours of coaching from an experienced ACT coach who worked with her on time management during the test and who pointed out some structural aspects of the ACT reading that D hadn't understood. (She probably could have gotten similar information from reading a few of the ACT study guides, but she really wasn't interested in that. What was hugely helpful was that D's test was one where you could pay an additional fee ($15?) and get a printout of the actual multiple choice answers /correct answers and a copy of the test booklet. The tutor analyzed where she'd had problems and really highlighted the specific things she needed to work on. I think D ended up meeting with her 4 or 5 times -- it wasn't a huge amount, though D did have a couple of hours of work after each session.</p>

<p>It was completely worth it, though -- her scores increased markedly in the second attempt.</p>

However, schools like Princeton prefer the SAT over the ACT.


<p>Not true. There is no remaining institutional bias against the ACT, even at the most selective schools.</p>

However, schools like Princeton prefer the SAT over the ACT.


<p>Entirely "urban legend/modern folklore"</p>

<p>I'm going with wjb.</p>

<p>I'm going to say the same. The middle 50% at UMich engineering is 29-33 which puts it pretty near the same range as those (which I don't think really is). I don't know all the ACT of people going to a school more selective than our state flagship from our high school, but I think it's fair to say that you really need in the range of a 33+ with ECs and grades to match, atleast from my high school to have a "good" chance. Either that or those scored indicate that they really don't care about test scores at all, or maybe there's some abnormality with the school I went to the school wjb is familiar with.</p>

<p>ACT is so time sensitive that most kids do improve their scores one or two points the second time around simply from learning the timing. I know all three of mine got nailed on the first section, the first time they took it because they just moved too slowly. The second time around they knew what to expect and how to pace themselves. S1 took the SAT because there were still a handful of schools that required it in 2006/2007 including one that he was interested in, but it's a draining, long test according to the kids and then to think that kids might have to take additional subject tests is abit excessive in my opinion since many kids now take AP tests. (And isn't the same company that puts out both AP and SAT II tests?) His scores were almost statistically identical ACT to SAT so S2 didn't even bother with SAT. Plus, it's getting harder and harder to find a nearby SAT testing center these days. S1 had to drive an hour to get to a testing center. I have no problem if the kids want to take's their Saturday mornings, but I no longer think there is bias one way or the other. Either one will "tell" a college if the kids are prepared for college work even if they have slight inherent differences in what they test. "Succeeding" in college encompasses many more factors than academic preparedness. On top of it, how the heck do financially strapped families fork over for ACT and SAT and SAT IIs and AP tests not to mention talk about prep classes and all that...too much testing IMHO...</p>

<p>**However, schools like Princeton prefer the SAT over the ACT. **</p>

<p>Proof, please.</p>

<p>This is so not true. The ivies know that certain regions of the country are very ACT-heavy, and the ivies want students from every state. A school can't "prefer" the SAT, and then want kids from every state.</p>

<p>My D brought up her ACT using the ACT prep offered on the ACT site. It help her to manage her time on the reading section. She increased her math science and reading scores using this tool.</p>

<p>Tell your D nice job btw. Excellent first go'round!</p>