A step-by-step guide on getting the highest possible score on the ACT.

Highest ACT Score

If you want to know how to know what the perfect ACT score is or how you get the highest score on the ACT possible, don’t miss this SoFlo post. 

What Is The ACT Highest Score?

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 – 36, where 36 is the highest score on the ACT and 1 is the lowest ACT score. 

How The Scores Are Calculated

The ACT is made up of 4 required sections (i.e. Reading, English, Science, and Math) and 1 optional section (Writing). The optional writing section is an essay prompt.

When you complete the ACT, your raw score, which is the number of questions you answered correctly, of the 4 required sections is converted to the scaled score: a score between 1 and 36. 

The ACT has 4 required sections. The four scaled scores are averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number. This is your final ACT score. 

Comparatively, the optional writing section is scored on a scale between 1 and 12. The writing section is not incorporated into your 36 point scale. It is scored separately.

  • For example, you may get a 32 averaged across the 4 sections and an 8 on your essay. 

How to Convert ACT Raw Scores to Scaled Scores : 

So how are raw scores, which is the number of questions you get right in a section, converted to a number between 1 and 36?

In general, the table below works as follows:  

  • Count up the number of questions you got correct for each section (e.g. 74 for English, 54 for Math, …etc.)
  • Find the corresponding Math, Science, English, or Reading column
  • Find the row that corresponds to your score
  • Staying on that row, slide to the far left column to find the scaled score.

Confused? Let’s do an example:

Let’s say you got 74 questions correct on the English section. 

To convert your English Section scores go to the column that says “English” then find the row with your score 74. Following that row to the scale score column all the way to the left, we see you get a converted score of 36. 

ACT Conversion Chart 

Want to know more about score conversion? Check this out: ACT to SAT Conversion Chart for 2022 | SoFlo SAT Tutoring (soflotutors.com)

Is Getting A Perfect ACT Score Possible

Yes, but how many students really get a 36? Only 0.313 percent of students get a 36 on the ACT. Comparatively, according to the ACT Profile Report–National 2021 the average student gets a 20.3 on the ACT in 2021. To learn more about what a typical student gets on the ACT click here:  What is the Average ACT Score?

How Many People Get Max Score

ACT ScoreNumber of StudentsPercentage of All Student

Cumulatively, less than 3 % of students score a 34 or above on the ACT. However, don’t be discouraged, we are going to talk about how you can improve your own score and prepare to get that perfect score on the ACT

Tips On Getting Act Max Score For Each Section

There are a total of 215 required questions on the ACT. Stay tuned to get tips to ace your ACT on a section by section breakdown. 

Section# of QuestionsTime per SectionTime per Question
English7545 minutes36 seconds
Math6060 minutes60 seconds
Reading4035 minutes52.5 seconds
Science4035 minutes52.5 seconds
Writing (Optional)1 essay40 minutes40 minutes

English Section

The English Section is made up of 75 questions taken in 45 minutes. On average, you need to complete 1 question per 36 seconds on the English Section.  You’ll find that the English section consists of grammar, logic, vocabulary, and passage interpretation questions. 

Strategies for taking the English Section may vary from skimming, reading one paragraph at a time and answering questions then repeating, reading the whole passage at once, to only looking at sentences relevant to the question. However, one thing remains the same, improving your English score requires practicing the section in a well-timed environment. Namely, practicing a reading section every night while being timed, will (1) improve your pacing when test taking and (2) improve your familiarity with the questions and their corresponding strategies.

If dense and confusing passages confuse you, consider getting an ACT tutor for the Reading Section or if you need a list of grammar rules to start studying consider clicking here.

Math Section

The Math section consists of 60 questions in 60 minutes. That’s a minute per question.  The Math section consists of questions ranging from algebra to trig to geometry to probability and statistics. You can expect the following breakdown on your test:

  • Coordinate Geometry (15-20%)
  • Elementary Algebra (15-20%)
  • Intermediate Algebra (15-20%)
  • Pre-Algebra (20-25%)
  • Plane Geometry (20-25%)
  • Trigonometry (5-10%)

To begin studying for the Math section, start taking practice exams, determining your weaknesses from your mistakes, and focusing on improving your weaker areas

Furthermore, writing down your mental math reduces the amount of careless mistakes, which in turn increases your score. Plus, if you get stuck, when you come back to the question you have a good starting place to pick back up at when you write down your work. 

Science Section

The Science section consists of 40 questions in 35 minutes. The questions cover earth science, biology, physics, and the scientific method. 

A good tip for taking the Science section is to skip hard questions. Since you only have 52 seconds per question, getting stuck on one question can eat into your time for later questions. 

Similarly, for tricky questions try using the process of elimination. This can greatly increase your chances of getting a question correct even if you are not sure on what the correct answer is. Namely, it is easier to identify 3 wrong answers out of 4 than it is to pick the 1 right answer out of 4. 

Process of elimination is your friend!

Is science your least favorite subject? Here are SoFlo’s best tips for the ACT science section: The Best ACT Science Tips Revealed | SoFlo SAT Tutoring (soflotutors.com)

Reading Section

The Reading section consists of 40 reading questions in 35 minutes. You will find several reading passages with corresponding questions that check your reading comprehension. Make sure to read the passages carefully and read all answers before using the process of elimination to find the answer choice that best fits the passage. 

Pro-tip: Read each question carefully. For a two part answer, note that while one half of the answer may be correct, the other half may be wrong, and so the entire answer is wrong. Similarly, qualifiers like “never”, “only”, and “uniquely” may make your answer general or too specific to be true, and so this may too cause your answer to be incorrect.

Essay Section

If you are taking the ACT with the optional Essay section, the Essay section consists of one essay written in 40 minutes that either supports, partially supports, or refutes the one or more of the given prompt’s perspectives on a topic. 

To improve your essay’s score be sure to:

 (1) Organize your arguments and ideas logically and clearly before writing your essay. This ensures that your essay will have a good flow and be coherent. 

(2) Clearly state what your perspective on the prompt topic is. While it may sound simple, explicitly stating your stance in plain English improves your chances of being graded positively since your essay is written in a clear, non-confusing manner. 

(3) Make sure to provide analysis on the relationship between your perspective and at least one of the perspectives the prompt provides. If you do not recognize or address the prompt or its perspectives, this could take a toll on your score. Thus, be sure to compare or contrast your stance to the prompt’s provided stances. 

Need more tips to ace your ACT essay section: ACT Writing Tips to Ace Your Essay | SoFlo SAT Tutoring (soflotutors.com)

What It Takes To Get The Highest ACT Score Possible

Statistically, to get the highest ACT score you need to minimize the number of questions you get wrong. Also, you need to be well rounded in English, Science, Reading, and Math to get a perfect score. Try these tips to improve your score: check out this article!

How many questions can you get wrong but still get a perfect score on the ACT?

Recall that you just need a 35.5 averaged across all sections to get a 36 on the ACT since your average score is rounded to the next integer.

You can get an averaged score of 35.5 in one of two ways

Option 1:

Since there are four sections, if you get a 36 in two sections and a 35 in two sections, you get an averaged score of 35.5.

Mental Math: (35+35+36+36) / 4 = 35.5

Thus, the maximum number of questions you can get wrong on the ACT and still get a perfect score is 7 questions. Either by having 4 questions wrong in the English section, and 3 wrong in the Math section and perfect scores in Reading and Science. Alternatively, you could have 4 questions wrong in English, 1 wrong in Math and 2 wrong in reading, with a perfect score in Science, and still get a 36 perfect ACT score. 

Note you have to have a perfect score in the Science since even one question wrong drops you to a scaled score of 34. Thus, out of Reading, Math, and English, two of these sections can have a score of 35, while Science and one of these sections needs a score of 36. 

Option 2: 

Alternatively, you could have a 36 in three sections and a 34 in one section.

Mental Math: (36+36+36+34)/4 = 35.5

In this option, the maximum number of questions you can get wrong is 6. 

Namely, you can get 5 wrong in the English (to get a score of 34), 1 wrong in the Math section (to get a score of 36) and 0 wrong in the Reading and Science Sections. Similarly, you could get 1 wrong in the English section, 5 wrong in the math section, and 0 wrong in the Reading and Science Sections. 

Note that there are other combinations of getting a score of 36, 36, 36, and 34, but the ones listed above describe the maximum number of questions you can get wrong.

Typical Students’ Mistakes During The Preparation

Next we will go over common mistakes made by students preparing for the ACT: 

  1. Using Bad Materials

Typically, students may try to use highschool textbooks, Youtube videos, or AP practice books as study materials for the ACT. However, these materials neither have the format, style, nor structure of the ACT and do not adequately prepare students for the actual exam. 

Need recommendations for ACT study materials? 

  1. Focusing On Strong Points, Not The Weak Ones

Students may like to practice what they are good at and focus on honing one skillset. However, the ACT tests on 4 subjects and to get a 36 you need to be good at all four subjects. Instead try focusing on your weaknesses and improving these to effectively improve your ACT score. 

  1. Making Careless Errors

If you are not prepared for being timed during the ACT, rushing through may lead to careless mistakes. Habitually practice timing yourself whenever taking a practice ACT to prepare yourself for the actual testing environment. Ideally you will spend less than a minute per question and have time at the end to check over questions. 

Pro-tip:  Keep a blank sheet of paper with common mistakes you make in order to learn from them. (e.g. don’t forget to distribute negative signs, etc.)

  1. Not Practicing Enough

Ideally you want to start as early as possible when studying for the ACT.

Start studying daily, a minimum of 10 weeks before your ACT, is desirable. The more exposure to the test you have, the better your score will be. Students who think one practice ACT is sufficient or students who try cramming a lot before the exam will likely not be as prepared or score as high as a student that has practiced their test taking pace over a long period and is familiar with the ACT questions and their corresponding strategies. 

  1. Trying To Prepare On Your Own

Simply put, students may not be equipped with the curriculum or strategies to perform their best on the ACT. Having a tutor, prep book, or ACT study group can greatly improve your chances of getting a higher score. Moreover, using a tutor allows for accountability and structure, which can improve the amount of content you cover. Also, having a tutor can shed light onto areas of strengths and weaknesses you did not recognize before, so that you are better prepared for the ACT. 

List Of Schools That Only Accept Only High ACT Scores

Your ACT score is used to calculate your Academic Index, which colleges use to determine how strong of a candidate you are. Thus, having a good ACT score improves your chances of getting into college and getting merit based scholarships. 

What Is A Good ACT Score?

Typically, a score above 21 puts you above the national average of 20.3 but may not be high enough for more selective colleges. 

Is 31 a Good ACT Score?: A score of 31 puts you in the 96th percentile, which means your score is better than 96 percent of other student’s scores. Below we can see that most IVY league colleges and universities, which have lower acceptance rates, require a score above a 31.

American Undergraduate UniversitiesAverage ACT of Accepted Students
California Institute of Technology36
Carnegie Mellon University34
Columbia University34
Cornell University33
Duke University34
Emory University33
Harvard University34
Johns Hopkins34
Massachusetts Institute of Technology36
Northeastern University33
Stanford University34
University of Pennsylvania34
University of Southern California32
Yale University34

Get Your Best ACT Score With SoFlo Tutors

Are you looking for tutors that can help you improve your ACT score?

SoFlo Tutoring provides 1-on-1 tutoring with real tutors, who know what it’s like to stress about standardized tests but still manage to perform excellently on them. You can schedule meetings that work with your schedule and focus on improving your weakest areas on the ACT. We provide structure, strategies, and practice problems.

Meet our highly trained tutors in your pajamas via Zoom and start improving your score today.

If you’re still debating on whether to get a tutor, try reading this passage to help you off that fence: Should You Get an ACT Tutor? | SoFlo SAT Tutoring (soflotutors.com)

About the Author


Gabriella Colletti attends to Johns Hopkins University and is studying Cybersecurity there. She had an SAT score of 1520. Her favorite plant is a eucalyptus tree and her favorite dish is noodles.

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