Rising junior trying to raise ACT score

Hi! I’m a rising jr who has an act exam scheduled for the august date. No matter what I do, I can’t get my math composite above a 25, and my other practice tests read around a 28 E, 25 M, 32 S, 34-35 R. I’m trying to get my composite to be around a 34-36 to be more competitive for college. Right now, I’ve just been using act practice tests, and Princeton review act prep books. What should I do? I really don’t want to have to sign up for tutoring. Thanks!!

Private tutoring helps many but it is expensive. There are some cheaper classes through your public school or other sources. There is also on-line videos.

Taking practice tests is great. However, you need to learn the strategies to find the right answers. So simply taking tests again and again if you don’t understand the strategies may not be enough.

Some privates guarantee an increase and if you don’t will let you attend again…this is group classes vs. individual. While it’s expensive, you may recoup it and more in the form of scholarships.

One last thing - you want to do the best you can. A 34 is in the top percentile of the entire country - so 98% of people aren’t getting there. If you’re at a 28 in E and 25 in math, it’s unlikely - but so what. Tons of great colleges out there and you’ll get into fine ones.

For free, try the Khan Academy or see if any local groups / schools offer in person sesions - perhaps your school over the summer.

You might also look at the SAT.

Good luck.


On the practice tests look at where you are struggling and focus on those skills in Khan. Work on math and English to get both of those scores up.

Take the SAT as well, you may do better. The ACT has a tighter time to complete items. The PSAT is in the fall, so prep for that will help.

What math classes have you completed so far? This page has the percents of the different areas covered. Factoring ends up being one that students get several wrong on: Description of Math Test | ACT

What level of math are you at? My DD23 was able to increase her math score from 28 to 31 ( after a year of pre-calc)from sophomore to junior year. Her other scores increased significantly more leaving her with a 33 overall.

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What level math are you at and what are your grades in math. Prep classes will only help so much. The ACT and SAT measure your math knowledge. If you haven’t learned the math well enough, your scores would reflect that. Paying more attention to your math classes will give you the biggest boost.

Just noticed you’re a rising junior. Your score will likely go up on its own as you know more. You took it earlier, far earlier, than the masses.


Honors algebra 2 currently, I’m taking a precalc summer class next year to take AP calc as a senior

OP it’s difficult to score in the 30s in math until you are mid way thru pre-calc unless you teach yourself the material. Those last 10-15 questions will just be a lucky guess.

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Is there a reason why you are taking the ACT over the SAT? SAT is through Algebra 2 and may be a better fit. My S who also just finished Algebra 2 honors has learned all of the material on the SAT and finds maybe 1 or 2 questions that are unknowns to him on each practice test.

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I would agree that taking the SAT better. I only took the ACT once in middle school for a talent-search type program, and the math I saw on it was pre calc-level (matrix multiplication, trig, multivariable function, logarithms and exponents). In constrast, SAT math is mostly about solving tricky word problems. Both times I took the SAT, i focused heavily on linear equation and inequalities, but applied to word problems. There was also some annoying geometry as well, and the trig was a joke. Nothing that a typical high school Geometry and Algebra 2 class wouldn’t cover.

By “currently” do you mean you will take Algebra 2 in 11th grade ? Then precal summer before 12th? If you have not done Alg2 yet then that is likely why your math score is low.

My first thought is that you are repeatedly making the same types of mistakes over and over again. You don’t know what you are doing wrong, over and over. I know you don’t want a tutor, but maybe just a couple of sessions will help make a difference. A tutor can help you see where you are going wrong.

I suggest you look at this thread:

A LOT of a student’s test score is that a kid simply isn’t utilizing basic test skills.

I suggest you adjust your expectations for your eventual score. It’s going to be very difficult to raise all the other sub scores by enough points to give you a composite of 34. Also, spend time brushing up on your punctuation skills.

I have taken a few sat practice tests, and have done better, as in my practice tests are around a 1450-1470, which is fine for now.

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So why are you working on the act when your sat is so much better?

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Most of the schools that offer the SAT near me are pretty far away, they’re around 30-40 miles away. Plus, my school only administers the ACT and the PSAT, so I figured that it would be best to prep for that test. I could sign up for an SAT date though.

I don’t know if you telling me to “brush up on my punctuation skills” is an insult, but I’ll definitely try to implement some test tips. Also, I’m just a rising junior and I have a lot of time to improve my score and learn the content necessary to do well on the exam, so I am optimistic about being able to raise my score significantly.

Unless you have significant barriers or limited access to transportation to the SAT sites, I would strongly recommend you take the SAT no earlier than spring of junior year, and in fact June 2023 with a repeat chance in August 2023 might be the perfect time for testing. From your other post you will be doing Alg2 as a junior, which definitely explains some of the math issues. If your school offers ACT in the spring, work toward that. Many students start testing at the end of junior year, and in fact that is the recommended timing for someone in who has not started Algebra2.

No, not an insult. I’m saying that given your English subscore, it’s very likely that is where you have lost points. There are a lot of punctuation and grammar questions on the ACT.

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