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What ACT Score Do I Need? The Magic Number

More and more, colleges are beginning to consider students holistically. Admissions committees acknowledge and reward a breadth of interests, like athletic achievement, artistic endeavors, or other activities. Your application includes a variety of information: personal statements, academic records, and recommendations all play important roles. In light of this, you may wonder how important are your ACT scores? The answer: they are crucial. Although there may not be a huge difference between a 34 and a 35 in an admission officer’s eyes, there is a big difference between a 25 and a 35. You must, with few exceptions, score within a certain range to attend the nation’s best colleges.

So what is a good ACT score? It largely depends where you want to go! The nation’s most elite colleges, like Williams College, Yale, or Stanford, all have average ACT composites of 30-34. This means that only 25% of students scored below 30, and 25% of students scored above 34 at these schools.

Interested in schools like Washington and Lee, Georgetown, or University of Virginia? You’ll want to score between 28 and 31 or 32.

Lastly, make sure that you score comparably in all sections! It may raise a few eyebrows if you score 35 on your science, English, and reading sections, but earn a 25 on your math. Make sure to work on your weaknesses so that you earn a similar score on each section. This will demonstrate that you are a well-rounded student prepared to succeed in many different disciplines.

Keep in mind that these numbers do not secure an offer of admissions. You could score a 36 on the ACT, but if you have a few bad grades that you can’t explain, or you haven’t participated in any activities in high school, you still might not get an offer! Ideally, colleges are looking to confirm that your standardized testing complements your grades. Are you a straight-A student with a 33 on your ACT and a few strong extracurricular activities? You are well situated for the admissions process!
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This article was written by Beryl Manning-Geist, who is on the admissions counseling expert team at Top Test Prep. For more information on ACT Prep and Tutoring, contact (800) 501-Prep today.