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Thomas Broderick

How to Get a 30+ Score on the ACT

If you’re hoping to reach the 95% percentile on the ACT, it can seem pretty intimidating at first glance. After all, scoring above 30 on the ACT means that you’d have the highest score in a group of 20 test takers. Yet earning a 30+ score on the ACT has become a goal for many students hoping to attend selective colleges, and you shouldn’t let the statistics discourage you! In this post, we’ll cover how to get a 30+ score on the ACT. You’ll see that it’s not only possible, it’s also achievable!

 

get 30 act score -Magoosh

No, it doesn’t have to be!

So if you’re one of those students who wants to see a 30+ on your ACT score reports, know that it’ll take some work—sky-high scores don’t happen overnight! And if you’re ready to put in the effort, let’s begin.

Why 30+?

If you’re applying to top-tier U.S. universities, a score of above 30 on the ACT will really help your application. Looking at the table below, you can see that, at the top-ranked 19 universities, 75% of students scored above a 30 on the ACT. If that doesn’t light a fire under you, I don’t know what will!

College ACT Score Range for the Top 100 Universities

College RankingCollege Name25th Percentile Scores75th Percentile Scores
1Princeton University3335
2Harvard University3335
3 (tie)Columbia University 3335
3 (tie)Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
3436
3 (tie)Yale University 3335
6 (tie)Stanford University 3235
6 (tie)University of Chicago3335
8 University of Pennsylvania 3335
9 (tie)California Institute of Technology (Caltech)3536
9 (tie)Northwestern University3335
9 (tie)Johns Hopkins University 3335
12 Duke University3335
13Dartmouth College 3235
14 (tie)Brown University3335
14 (tie)Vanderbilt University 3335
16 (tie)Rice University 3335
16 (tie)Washington University in St. Louis 3335
18 Cornell University 3235
19 University of Notre Dame 3235
20University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 2734
21Emory University3134
22 University of California--Berkeley2834
23Georgetown 3135
24 (tie)University of Michigan at Ann Arbor3134
24 (tie)University of Southern California (USC)3134
26 (tie)Carnegie Mellon University3335
26 (tie)University of Virgina 3034
28 (tie)University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)2733
28 (tie)Wake Forest University3033
30 (tie)New York University (NYU)3034
30 (tie)Tufts University3234
30 (tie)University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)2533
30 (tie)University of Florida2833
34 University of Rochester3034
35 (tie)Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) 3134
35 (tie)Boston College3134
35 (tie)University of California, Irvine (UCI) NANA
35 (tie)University of California--San Diego2433
39 (tie)University of California, Davis (UC Davis)2531
39 (tie)College of William and Mary 3034
41Tulane University3133
42 (tie)Boston University 3034
42 (tie)Brandeis University3033
42 (tie)Case Western Reserve University3034
42 (tie)University of Texas, Austin (UT Austin)2733
42 (tie)University of Wisconsin Madison2732
47 (tie)University of Georgia2732
47 (tie)University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign2733
49 (tie)Lehigh University2933
49 (tie)Northeastern University3235
49 (tie)Pepperdine University2732
49 (tie)University of Miami 2932
53 (tie)Ohio State University2832
53 (tie)Purdue Univesity-West Lafayette2532
53 (tie)Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute2834
53 (tie)Santa Clara University2832
53 (tie)Villanova University3134
58 (tie)Florida State University2630
58 (tie)Syracuse University2630
58 (tie)University of Maryland--College Park2933
58 (tie)University of Washington2733
63 (tie)Pennsylvania State--University Park2530
63 (tie)Rutgers University2532
63 (tie)University of Connecticut2632
66 (tie)Fordham University2832
66 (tie)George Washington University2933
66 (tie)Loyola Marymount University2731
66 (tie)Southern Methodist University2933
66 (tie)Texas A&M University--College Station2631
66 (tie)University of Massachussetts-Amherst (UMass Amherst)2632
66 (tie)University of Minnesota--Twin Cities2631
66 (tie)Worcester Polytechnic Institute2933
74 (tie)Clemson 2732
74 (tie)Virginia Institute of Technology (Virginia Tech) 2531
76 (tie)American University2731
76 (tie)Baylor University2632
76 (tie)Indiana University--Bloomington2431
76 (tie)Yeshiva University2430
80 (tie)Brigham Young University--Provo2631
80 (tie)Gonzaga University2530
80 (tie)Howard University2227
80 (tie)Michigan State University2329
80 (tie)North Carolina State University--Raleigh2732
80 (tie)Stevens Institute of Technology3134
80 (tie)Texas Christian University2531
80 (tie)University of Denver2631
88 (tie)Binghamton University2932
88 (tie)Colorado School of Mines2733
88 (tie)Elon University2530
88 (tie)Marquette University2429
88 (tie)Stony Brook University (SUNY)2632
88 (tie)University at Buffalo2429
88 (tie)University of California--Riverside2430
88 (tie)University of Iowa2229
88 (tie)University of San Diego2631
97 (tie)Auburn University2531
97 (tie)University of Arizona2129
97 (tie)University of California--Merced1722
97 (tie)University of California--Santa Cruz2430
97 (tie)University of Delaware2430
97 (tie)University of Utah2229

But don’t despair! With some work, a 30+ score may just be in reach.

Liam got a 35 on the ACT. Get a higher ACT score with Magoosh.

Your Starting Line

We’re all coming from different places when we approach the ACT for the first time. Our home lives, our educational backgrounds, even our parents’ educations all have some correlation to our ACT scores. But no matter where you’re starting from, remember this: your ACT score wasn’t carved in stone on the day you were born.

So if you’re discouraged by early practice test results, keep in mind that your determination and grit are the most valuable assets you have, and with some practice you can learn how to get a 30+ score on the ACT.

Discovering Weak Spots

The first thing to do, as you might have guessed, is to take a timed practice test. Once you do this, look over your results. Let’s say, for example, you got the following scores:

(Now, even though it’s not what you’re hoping for, a 28 is a really strong score, and we’re just using it as an example—your initial score may be lower and it’s still possible to bring it up to over 30!)

Now it’s time for the most important part of your early ACT prep: triage!
 

get 30 act score 2 - magoosh

Get this Math Test two hours of studying, stat!

Just like a doctor in an ER, you need to make some judgment calls about which “patients,” (or, you know, exam sections) you’ll treat first. In the above scenario, Science and Math are the lowest scores, so they take top priority. English might come later if there’s time, but Reading is good to go—for the moment. If you do have time, aiming for a perfect 36 in that strong section will help bring up your composite (overall) score, but it’s definitely your last priority right now.

Raising Your Score

So you’re focusing on the Math and Science Tests. The first thing to do is set some reasonable goals. Remember, you’re not aiming for perfection, just 30+. Using our handy-dandy ACT Raw Score Conversion Chart, we can see that on the Math Test, you answered 37/60 questions correctly. You answered 30/40 questions correctly on the Science Test.

To earn a score of 30 on both the Math and Science Tests, you would need to get these raw scores:

  • Math: 50/60
  • Science: 35/40

In the simplest terms, 18 missed questions stand between you and a 30+ score on the ACT. That’s going to take some work, but there are a few tips I can offer you.

The first thing is to take time to focus solely on the Math and Science Tests. As you review the results of your practice test and create a study plan based on your weaknesses, set aside topics with which you are already comfortable.

Also, consistently apply new knowledge and techniques to practice questions. Doing this will reinforce learned material. Finally, take multiple timed practice Math and Science Tests to determine whether or not your studying is having the desired effect.

If you are doing these things, your sub-scores—that’s those scores on the different sections, or tests—will improve. But let’s say that, in this scenario, weeks spent studying Math and Science have still not resulted in a 30+ score. At this point I would suggest turning to the English Test. Getting just two more questions correct would raise your English score from 29 to 31. On the actual ACT, that goes a long way to earning a 30+ composite score.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell: how to get a 30+ score on the ACT? Identify your weaknesses, attempt to fix them, and only then reinforce your strengths.

It’s a hard road to a 30+, but I hope this article makes your journey a little smoother. If you need more practice, check out Magoosh ACT prep for helpful videos and interactive tutorials. Good luck studying, students, and I’ll see you next time!

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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