How to Get an ACT Perfect Score

Carolina Jacobs

Nov 22, 2021

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Everyone who wants to get accepted to their dream college is after the same thing: the SAT or ACT perfect score. While scores aren’t the only components of a college application, they carry some weight when schools decide whether to accept a prospective student. As a result, you should prepare yourself to take the ACT and reach a Composite Score high enough to impress all of your dream schools.

What Is a Perfect ACT Score?

Unfortunately, you won’t find an easy answer on understanding the ACT’s perfect score. The perfect ACT score depends on what school you want to attend. Scoring a 21 on the exam means that you placed just above average, and you should celebrate that feat. To better understand the score you need for your dream college, look up their requirements. The closer you are to the ACT score they recommend, the greater your chances of acceptance.

The Composite Score is what you should pay the most attention to. The ACT scores each section you complete on a scale of 1 to 36, then it takes the average score between them. Then, you end up with your Composite Score, the one you’ll report on your college applications. The closer you get to a 36, the better. 36 is the ACT perfect score, and you can attain it if you apply yourself and study enough for this major exam.

You can break the ACT down into the following categories:

  • Science: 40 questions of data and interpretation
  • Reading: 40 questions of details and craft
  • Mathematics: 60 questions preparing you for more challenging math classes
  • English: 75 questions testing your knowledge of the English language and written word

If you prepare to see these fields on the exam, you’ll likely score higher. The key is to start studying for the categories you find yourself weaker in so that you can present yourself as a more knowledgeable test-taker when you sit for the exam. 

You’ll receive your ACT scores around two weeks after you complete the test, with some exceptions depending on when you sat for the exam. Many colleges choose to take the ACT over the SAT, while others accept both or prioritize neither. Look into what your dream schools require — and remember that you can always retake the ACT when possible if you didn’t score as highly as you would’ve liked to.

How to Prepare for the ACT

Aside from taking care of your registration, you should proactively prepare in other ways for your upcoming ACT exam. Do research ahead of time to see which schools you plan to apply to accept ACT scores and their Composite Score requirements. 

1. Take Sample Exams

Past ACT exams live online, and you can print them out and test yourself. ACT prep books also have plenty of practice exams you can take with answers in the back of the book. Taking sample exams is the best way to get your brain used to the test’s wording. Once you understand how the test formulates questions and prompts, you’ll have an easier time deciphering what it says in the moment.

2. Answer Everything

You won’t lose any points by guessing. The ACT doesn’t penalize you for making an educated guess, so take your time and think about a question before answering it. Even if you don’t think you’ll get it right, guessing can save you from losing points. Plus, even if you take a guess, you might get it right and add extra points to your score.

3. Get a Tutor

A tutor can help you understand the material on the test, especially if they’ve taken the ACT before, and help you prepare for it in general. Whether you need to know the subjects on the test or are seeking strategies to keep a level head during the test-taking process, tutors can help you with the ACT test prep. Since they’ve likely taken the exam before, they can tell you what to expect based on their own experience.

4. Go Over Frequent Mistakes

The only way you’ll improve your skills is to practice them often. If you’re acing some material, you may not have to worry about it so much. Instead, focus on the categories you’re weak in, ensuring that you stand a fighting chance when you sit down to take the exam.

By practicing in your weaker categories, you’ll improve your chances of bringing your Composite Score up. By practicing the mistakes you made on the practice tests, you’ll come to understand the material better and feel prepared for similar questions during the actual ACT exam.

5. Don’t Procrastinate Studying

Creating a study schedule is crucial to understanding the concepts that are challenging to you. While it might get repetitive, studying every day is key to building and keeping new habits and skills that will help you attain the ACT perfect score you need to get into the schools you want.

Cramming is a terrible strategy that doesn’t pay off in many cases. Students who decide to cram for an exam the night before end up with only average scores, which could’ve improved if the students had been practicing over time. Take time out of each day to study, and you’ll find that you’ll have a much easier time with the test material.

Securing That ACT Perfect Score

Test-taking strategies don’t come easy to many people. Sometimes, you need to learn through trial and error the best way to study and retain information. Even if it might feel overwhelming, hang in there and target your weaknesses. With enough practice, you’ll achieve that ACT perfect score for the colleges you hope to apply to.

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