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Thomas Broderick

What is the Highest ACT Score?

So you’ve come to learn about the highest ACT score, eh? Most people, once they learn that the highest ACT score is 36, go on their merry way. To them a 36 is as impossible as understanding the Universe’s deepest mysteries. But I can see by the look in your eyes that you’re after more. Do I dare assume that you want to achieve that lofty goal, something that’s rarer than summiting K2? You’re foolish, but brave. I’ll give you that. Pull up a chair.


highest act score -magoosh

Say “Hi” to K2, where summiting is more common than a perfect 36 on the ACT.


By the Numbers

The perfect 36 is a numbers game. Here are a few of the facts to get us started:

  • In 2014, only 7 out of every 1,000 test takers scored a perfect 36 on the ACT.
  • You can miss only two questions on the ACT to earn a 36, and only on the Reading Test.
  • The 99th percentile of test takers includes those who earn a 35 or 34 on the ACT.

Still interested? Don’t want to shoot for a 35 or 34? No, you say. Maybe you’re more foolish than I thought. Let’s continue.


How Do I Get It?

There are so many ways, so many guidebooks to help you reach the summit. Though I have never made it myself, I would only take advice from those who have reached that glorious vista.

But seriously, as you probably don’t personally know anyone who’s made a perfect score on the ACT, it’s time to pick up a guidebook or two to see what the true experts have to say. Check out our ACT book reviews to see which resources are the best.


Don’t have the money? That’s fine. Guess what students do with their test prep books after they graduate high school? That’s right, most books end up at a library. If your local library’s of any decent size, it should have a few shelves stuffed with test prep books.


What’s a 36 Worth?

Like real estate in Phoenix, a lot more ten or fifteen years ago. Now I’m not saying a 36 has lost its value over time, but many colleges and scholarships have adopted more holistic (well-rounded) approaches to giving out letters of acceptance and/or monetary awards.

A 36, though, will get your application moved to the top of of the pile. Colleges are selfish, and they love bragging that they accepted x number of perfect 36 students. Not the fairest game, but if you have a 36, you might as well play it to your advantage.

To have your 36 really shine in your application, make sure those grades are good, or at least shown improvement throughout high school. To be honest, admissions counselors are generally more sympathetic to students who stumbled a bit their freshman year and turned themselves around. If that’s you, make sure to ham it up a little in your admissions essays. Last but not least, make sure that there’s one or two extracurricular activities in there, too. You don’t want to make it seem that your only after school activity was test prep.

Well, I hope I’ve given you a proper introduction to the highest ACT score. Doubters among you might say that aiming for a 36 is quixotic, but your quest is a noble one!


highest act score -magoosh

“This is my quest…to follow that star…no matter how hopeless…no matter how far.”


I’ll see you out there tilting at windmills, ACT scholars. Good luck!


About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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