Last Updated On: October 14th, 2015
Over one million students take the ACT every year. On average, less than one-tenth of one percent of these students earn a perfect score on the exam. So how can you score a 36 on the ACT? It’s not impossible to get a perfect score, but it does require hard work.
First, take a practice test to see where you currently stand. Since there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, answer every question. Do not leave any blank. You have at least a 25% chance of getting the question right if you guess. You have a 0% chance of getting it right if you don’t.
If you have already taken an official ACT exam and you earned a composite score of 33, 34, or 35, you are currently in the 99th percentile of all test takers. Hooray! Though, this situation does present a double-edged sword. Here’s the good news: the closer your current score is to a 36, the easier it is to achieve a 36. The bad news is, at this level, getting a perfect score on the ACT may not have the return on investment you are hoping for. We’ll address that in a moment.
Second, you need to answer almost all of the questions correctly. And, you need to answer all of the questions in the time allotted. This is the difficult part. In addition to knowing the material covered on the exam, time management is the key to achieving a perfect score of 36 on the ACT.
To get to all of the questions in each section, on average, you should answer each ACT question in approximately 45 seconds. For example, in the Mathematics section, you have the luxury of spending an average of one minute per question. Conversely, for the Reading section, you have only 35 minutes to read four passages and answer the 40 corresponding questions. That’s an average of 8 minutes and 45 seconds to get through one passage and 10 questions. Additionally, the Writing section is not included in the composite score, so performing well on this essay will not contribute to a 36 score. But, if any of your target schools requires an ACT Writing score for your application, you still need to perform well in this area.
Third, review the questions on the practice test that you answered incorrectly, understand why you got them wrong, and solve them again to confirm you know how to get them right. This includes noting careless errors, like forgetting to fill in the bubble on the answer sheet or not answering the question asked. Also, use The Real ACT Prep Guide as your main resource for practice questions as you study. It provides the best material to learn from: questions that come from actual ACT exams given by the company that created the test.
As you answer practice questions in the ACT guide, time yourself, and aim for an average of 40 seconds per question. Furthermore, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and take advantage of them. For instance, if you answer geometry questions more quickly than you answer function or combination questions, then get the geometry questions out of the way first. This will build your confidence and leave you with more time to address harder questions in the Mathematics section.
Fourth, be honest with yourself, and use your time wisely. As mentioned before, aiming for a 36 might not be the best way to expend your energy. For example, what if you spend the second semester of your junior year solely working on achieving a perfect ACT score, at the expense of your high school classes, your extracurricular activities, and every other aspect of your application? Even if you earn a 36 on the ACT, that score will not make up for the areas of your application that you have neglected, particularly if you started with a high score to begin with. For lower scorers who may need a boost to stay competitive, consider working with an experienced tutor who can help with your specific needs. For a free consultation on how to increase your ACT score, call 866.60.TUTOR today!
Finally, research the ACT ranges at the schools you want to attend to motivate your studies. Highly selective schools like Williams, Dartmouth, and Carnegie Mellon, will have higher ranges than less selective schools like Occidental, Auburn, or Iowa State. Depending on the institution, a 36 on the ACT probably won’t be the deciding factor on your admission. However, a high ACT score, combined with a high GPA, can qualify you for scholarships at schools like The University of Alabama, The University of the Redlands, and Louisiana State University.
To recap, attaining a perfect score on the ACT requires familiarity with the exam material, time management skills, awareness of your abilities, and commitment to self-improvement. Not everyone can earn a 36 on the ACT, but with these techniques in mind, you are on your way to reaching your goals.