Highest ACT Score Possible

Wondering what could be the highest ACT Score that one could get? Learn more about the highest Score on ACT, colleges that accept the top score, how the ACT is scored and more.

Updated by Selva Kumar on 22nd October 2020

The highest ACT score possible is 36, it's tough getting it, but still achievable. However the current average ACT score is recorded as 21, you can still achieve a high score. 

Before applying for the ACT students who like to aim high often ponder over the thought of - "What is the highest ACT score? How can I achieve it?" In this article, you can find all the possible ways in which you can explore the benefits of having the perfect ACT score, tips to prepare for the ACT, how it is scored, and much more.

It is important for the students who are aiming for the highest ACT scores to know how the ACT test scoring works

  • For each correct answer, 1 point can be scored. Omitted or incorrect answers are not marked at all.

  • The sum of the total number of questions answered correctly in a particular section is known as your raw score for that section. E.g. - a  raw score of 55 in the Science section would mean the total number of questions answered correctly in the Science Section is 55.

  • The raw score is further processes into the scaled score, which is marked between 1 to 36. All of the four multiple-choice test sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science) are scored similarly.

  • Finally, the composite ACT score is calculated. It is evaluated by calculating the average scaled scores of each test section. E.g. if the scaled scores of an individual in each test section are - 25, 27, 27, and 22, the composite ACT score would come up to (25 + 27 + 27 + 22) divided by 4, i.e. 25.25, which is rounded-off to a score of 25.

It is a common belief that a score of 21 and above might be considered good (National Average ACT Score), but with that score, a candidate may face certain limitations when getting into your dream school or any university with a low acceptance rate, or anything as such. But, with an ACT score of 30+ or 94th percentile and above, you can rob an opportunity of getting into any of your preferred educational institutions.

Also Read - Which Colleges Superscore ACT?

How is the ACT scored?

Some of you might have a question of “how is the ACT scored?” understanding the mechanism gives you a clear mindset that helps you score more in ACT with ease.

The ACT test has four subject areas (English, Maths, Science, and Reading), from each subject area a scaled score between 1 and 36 is given, these scaled scores are calculated from raw scores.

These raw scores are derived by calculating the total number of correct answers for the given question in each section. Then the scaled scores for each subject area are averaged that also ranges between 1 and 36. The average score is known as the composite score.

How to get the perfect ACT Score?

The composite score plays a very crucial role in determining the student’s performance, these composite scores in the ACT are calculated by the average of the scaled scores from each subject area. As the composite scores are averaged, you don’t need to score 36 in every section by answering all the questions.

For example, if a student has earned a composite score of 35.5, only whole numbers are taken into consideration, so the score of 35.5 will be rounded up to 36 as the ACT score.

Raw Score to Scaled Scores

The following chart shows the estimation of raw scores being converted to scaled scores for a perfect composite score of 36.

English

Mathematics

Reading

Science

Scaled Scores

74-75

59-60

40

40

36

71-73

57-58

38-39

__

35

70

55-56

37

39

34

69

54

36

38

33

68

53

34-35

__

32

67

51-52

33

37

31

66

49-50

32

36

30

Scoring a perfect score of 36 in the ACT is difficult, it becomes rare too. According to the survey conducted by the official website of ACT, in the year 2018, nearly 1,914,817 students took the ACT test out of which only 0.195% of test-takers earned the perfect score of 36, which is only 3,741 out of 1.9 million candidates.

Scoring the highest ACT score is hard but not impossible, with proper practice and dedication you can achieve it.

What are the statistics for a perfect ACT score?

In 2018, more than 1.9 million students had appeared for the ACT. The success rate for a perfect score was only 0.195%, meaning, only 3,700 candidates could acquire a perfect 36. 

The ACT 2019 had witnessed 17 students from Walnut Hills High School as the bearers of the highest ACT score.  

40 universities accepting high ACT scores

Here’s the list of colleges/universities that accept only the high ACT scores.

Rank

College Name

ACT Composite Score

1

California Institute of Technology

36

2

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

35

3

Harvey Mudd College

34

4

Yale University

34

5

University of Chicago

34

6

Northwestern University

34

7

University of Notre Dame

34

8

John Hopkins University

34

9

Harvard University

34

10

Columbia University in the City of New York

34

11

Duke University

34

12

Carnegie Mellon University

34

13

Vanderbilt University

34

14

Rice University

34

15

Olin College of Engineering

34

16

University of California Berkeley

33

17

Northeastern University

33

18

Williams College

33

19

Washington University in St Louis

33

20

Dartmouth College

33

21

Princeton University

33

22

Cornell University

33

23

Haverford College

33

24

University of Pennsylvania

33

25

Brown University

33

26

Stanford University

33

27

University of California Los Angeles

32

28

Claremont Mckenna College

32

29

Emory University

32

30

Amherst College

32

31

Boston College

32

32

Tufts University

32

33

University of Michigan

32

34

Hamilton College

32

35

University of Virginia

32

36

Connecticut College

31

37

Boston University

31

38

Stevens Institute of Technology

31

39

New York University

31

40

Barnard College

31

Now that we have seen the list of universities that accept high ACT scores, this list also includes Ivy League schools and other elite colleges/universities. Hence, you have a strong reason to aim for high ACT scores.

To know more visit: What is a Good ACT Score?

What are the new guidelines for the ACT?

The ACT has introduced changes into its constitution, with effect from September 2020.  

  • ACT Superscoring has been initiated for students who attempt the test multiple times. The candidate’s best scores from each section would be taken into account to formulate the final ACT score.  

  • Students are allowed to retake the ACT for individual sections of the test, instead of sitting for the entire exam. 

Tips that help you achieve the highest ACT score

Now we know that the maximum ACT score you can get is 36, Here are the few tips that will help you achieve the top ACT score.

1. Less Time, More Pressure

To get a perfect score of 36, the only thing that you need to remember is that you are limited by the time constraints, you will need to keep track of the time and also be clear with the types of questions that are to be expected.

2. Master Everything

Know your weaknesses and work on them. Start studying and practicing until you master and no longer struggle in that particular area.

3. Never Skip

It is advised not to skip any questions. Giving it a try would be a good idea and you might get it right.

4. Small Mistake Matters a Lot

Make sure you look out for minor mistakes. Though your time is very limited in the test, try to avoid skimming, it is the reason for pushing your marks down sometimes.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

Practice as many times as possible given the time period and resources, the more you practice, the more you get clear and confident.

Now that you know the Highest SAT score and how it is actually scored, It'd be easier for you all to prepare. The list of universities that accept ACT scores has also been mentioned which may come in handy while choosing colleges best suited for you. Good luck.

You may read: Tips to score 12 on your ACT essay

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